Yellow Cupcakes

So, cupcakes. Let’s talk.

You need a really great yellow cupcake recipe. Whether you know it or not. One you can turn to when yellow cupcakes pop up in your immediate future. Funny how often that happens. Or is that just me?

Probably.

Anyhow, these yellow cupcakes are fantastic. Light and fluffy and really perfection in a yellow cupcake. The merits: the recipe uses all-purpose flour which is nice when you don’t have cake flour laying around (and the cupcakes are still moist and tender) and the recipe yields 12 so you won’t have cupcakes coming out of your ears if you don’t want to (huh?) but easily doubles if you do and, finally, they are just completely delicious.

Yellow Cupcakes

I will always love these Buttermilk Vanilla cupcakes; consider this yellow version…simply a better classic yellow cupcake.

As a little teaser, Friday I’ll be sharing with you the simplest, best chocolate buttercream frosting ever. Friday can’t come soon enough. And, I haven’t really publicized this because it furthers the fact that I have no life, but I’m in the midst of perfecting the.best.yellow.cake recipe on the planet. I’ve been searching my whole life for The One. I’m not kidding, I’ve made it no less than 15 times over the last few weeks (that is no exaggeration; my kids kind of sigh when they see another yellow cake on the counter) and I am this close to it being perfect enough to share with you. So these yellow cupcakes are the preface to the ultimate yellow cake (funny enough, cupcakes and cakes don’t always translate into the same batter which is why I’m still working on the cake).

Phew! Lots to look forward to…

Yellow Cupcakes

P.S.: You may have seen on Facebook, but I’m busy updating some of my old, ugly-picture-but-amazing-recipe-posts. The first three up? Lemon Pudding Cake, Parker House Rolls and Buttermilk Waffles. Um, yum.

One Year Ago: Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Soup
Two Years Ago: Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread
Three Years Ago: San Francisco Chops {Slow Cooker}

Light and Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes

Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes

Light and Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes

This recipe is easily doubled. This quick and easy buttercream is an excellent frosting solution if you need something simple. This magical frosting? A bit more work but completely unreal.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, light or regular
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure an oven rack is positioned in the middle of the oven. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl (or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer). Add the butter, sour cream, egg, egg yolks and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix for a few more seconds, if needed, until no more dry pockets of flour remain. The batter will be thick - don't be alarmed!
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes (adding time, if needed) until the tops of the cupcakes spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As always, don't overbake or the cupcakes will be dry.
  4. Gently lift out the cupcakes from the muffin tin onto a cooling rack to let cool completely. Frost as desired!
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/light-and-fluffy-yellow-cupcakes/

Recipe Source: barley adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (decreased salt, used light sour cream)

76 Responses to Light and Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes

  1. Sheila says:

    Mel, you are such a sweetheart! When I brought up this post, I laughed out loud. Your heart attitude goes to such lengths striving to please all of your 47,000 plus followers. In the recent beef and barley soup (a super great recipe!) post, you almost apologized for posting such an uninteresting, non- trendy recipe. Today, for those followers who need “trendy” you have a “sprinkles” recipe that the beef barley soup lacked. :-) So excited this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes. We love sweets and enjoy them a couple of times a week. I can cut this recipe in halve making it a one serving treat and then get to make a different, new Mel treat later in the week. One of the biggest reasons why I love this blog is the inner beauty of the person who established and maintains it. You rock, Mel!

  2. Kim in MD says:

    First and foremost, can I just say AMEN to everything Sheila said? Seriously.
    Yellow cake is one of those cakes that usually turn out dry and disappointing, and the only saving grace is the frosting. I am so excited to try this cupcake recipe! I can’t wait for you to post the yellow cake recipe, too. Please post it soon, Mel! :-)

  3. Gen says:

    Thank you for this post! :) My daughter has been asking for cupcakes so this is just perfect! She loves pink too and this will be my first foray into non choco cupcake territory. May I ask what’s your recipe for the pink frosting? It looks so yummy! :)

  4. These cupcakes just scream spring!!! Love them!

  5. Dawn says:

    Mel, your buttercream frosting has become my go to and everyone raves about it. We just had 15 kids here for a party last week and all of them ate every bit of their cupcakes (the yummy hershey ones from your site) and the frosting. All the parents were watching in awe as cupcakes and frosting were eaten and not just the frosting! Thank you!! I can’t wait to try this recipe when I need some yellow cupcakes and I’m already drooling at the thought of your chocolate buttercream! Thank you for sharing your love of food and a part of yourself with us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  6. Hilary says:

    All I’ve ever wanted was a good yellow cake recipe AND a good yellow cupcake recipe. Making these babies tonight!!! I’m sending you tons of kisses from New Jersey!!!!

  7. Krista says:

    This is great! I was just searching for tips on making a great cupcake. Mine always end up dry or tasting more like muffins. How fun to click on your site and see a light fluffy delicious looking cupcake staring me in the face.

  8. Julia says:

    Thank you Mel! I have searched far and wide for the perfect yellow cake and cupcake recipes. I think I even emailed you for your recipe a couple of years ago and you told me you used your yellow cake mix recipe most of the time. I’m so excited to try these.

  9. Teresa R. says:

    I think I will make these cupcakes today and share them with my niece who is having a rough time right now. Thank you for the recipe and I can’t wait for the chocolate buttercream frosting recipe!

  10. Anne says:

    Which frosting did you use in the picture posted? Magical or quick buttercream?

  11. Yes, I’ll have one please! Always a sucker for a good fluffy cupcake!
    Cook’s Illustrated has never let me down yet. Love their recipes.
    Looks delicious, Mel!

  12. Pam says:

    My mother does not like the smell and taste of boxed cake mixes. I think I will have my daughter make these cupcakes for her grandma. Thank you for the recipe.

  13. Laurel says:

    Ooh I love you! You are making this 38 week pregger VERY happy today!! Yellow cakes, chocolate frosting, and a super easy Parker house roll update! Eek!! I see happy eating/baking in my weekend!! Thank you thank you!

  14. Army.of 7 says:

    I really can’t wait for that cake recipe- I hope I have everything on hand when you post it! Your buttermilk wattles are for dinner tonight- we love them so much & I use your recipe with dairy substitutions to keep a stash in the freezer for my dairy free son.

  15. Beth Bilous says:

    Please say how you get that rippled frosting to look like that. Most of eye appeal of cupcakes is beautiful piped icing. Do you use a tip and bag? If so which ones please.

    • Mel says:

      Beth – I used the quick vanilla buttercream that I linked to in the notes of the recipe. I think for these cupcakes I used a large Wilton #32 tip.

  16. Tami R says:

    This is perfect!! I have been looking for an awesome yellow cupcake recipe! Can’t wait to try it! Thank you!

  17. Auntiepatch says:

    Looks lovely!

  18. Melissa C says:

    Just made these and they are so yummy! –Not that I expect anything less if it’s one of your recipes! They are almost like a sugar cookie transformed into a cupcake, I almost don’t want to add icing ;)

  19. Jackie says:

    Thanks for another great recipe. I love that this only yields 12 cupcakes. I just have a family of three and strangely my toddler won’t eat cake or cookies (he doesn’t get that from me!). So that just leaves me and my husband to consume desserts. Even if we have people over a whole 24 is sometimes overwhelming. Can’t wait to try these!

  20. Keri says:

    What!? You can make cupcakes that don’t come from a box mix? ;) Thanks for the recipe. I’ve needed a good recipe for a while and have found it sometimes easier to just use a box mix then have a counter full of dry or sunken cupcakes.

  21. Melissa says:

    These look perfect for my daughter’s upcoming birthday! How did you get the frosting pink? I am looking for a way to make pink frosting without using food dye.

  22. Sierra says:

    Which frosting did you use in these pictures?

  23. Cristal says:

    YEAH! I’m so impressed with this recipe! I don’t make homemade cake / cupcakes because they just taste ‘off’… These are awesome! Easy, always have ingredients and the yield is PERFECT! THANK YOU!

  24. Germaine says:

    Don’t use butter in my baking. Can margarine be used. And can’t wait for the chocolate butter cream on Friday.
    Germaine

  25. Ashlee says:

    Super excited to make these! My 4 yr old saw me reading about these and wanted me to make them. Tomorrow we are going to have a cupcake making party! Thank you!! They look divine!

  26. Lien says:

    This recipe works really well with vanilla yogurt too! If I use homemade yogurt, I don’t change anything else, but if I use store bought I decrease the sugar by 1/4 cup. Excellent with vanilla powder as well!

  27. Pete says:

    I convinced my wife to make these for me last night! She topped them with a thick layer of her delicious peanut butter frosting, they were awesome! I ate 2 of them after my 3 boys went to bed, I’m fairly certain there won’t be any left when I get home from work.

  28. Amy says:

    Do you know when your yellow cake recipe will be ready? My daughter’s birthday is the 19th and she asked for a “yellow cake in the shape of a heart with pink icing”. I’ll probably just make ATK’s version but I’d love to have your “perfected” recipe instead. Actually, I wish you could send me one of your test cakes! ;-)

  29. amanda_ab says:

    Do the eggs REALLY have to be room temp? Have you ever experimented to find out if it actually makes a difference?

    • Mel says:

      amanda_ab – you sound like me! I’m always so skeptical/annoyed when I see recipes that call for specialized instructions like that (room temp eggs, room temp milk, cake flour, etc) but I have to say, in all the cake experimenting I’ve done lately, with these particular cupcakes (and the cake recipe I’ll share soon), the room temp eggs really do make a difference. Funny enough, it doesn’t alter my favorite chocolate cake (and several of my chocolate cupcake recipes) to use cold eggs, but when I made these cupcakes with straight-from-the-fridge eggs, the cupcakes were much more dense and the texture wasn’t as light and fluffy. I never plan ahead and take eggs out in enough time so you’ll usually find me putting the eggs in a liquid measuring cup or bowl and pouring a bit of lukewarm water over them to let them sit for 5 or so minutes.

  30. Cupcakes are always a hit and these look crazy good!

  31. Leslie says:

    Made these yesterday afternoon. So easy and delicious. It’s hard to find desserts that all of my boys love, but this one accomplished that difficult task. One likes chocolate chip cookies, one likes buttermilk pie and the other likes key lime pie. I obviously love to bake! Thanks for the recipes!!!

  32. Kelly Ungerecht says:

    I made these today (this recipe was re-posted at the perfect time, my son will be 12 tomorrow!), and mine turned out perfect. They weren’t dry or grainy at all like cornbread. They were fluffy, but at the same time very moist. I did weigh my flour and sugar though! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  33. Julie says:

    Look awsesome but I don’t have any sour cream in the fridge – can I use thickened cream and sour it with vinegar? (Thickened cream here in Australia has a bit of gelatine added to it for easier whipping)
    Thanks

  34. TC says:

    Yum!! Just tasted one (without any frosting)… Think I’ll go back for another ;)
    Didn’t have enough sour cream, so half was greek yogurt… awesome. Never making box again! Thanks for the great recipe!

  35. Melanie says:

    Has anybody tried making these as mini-cupcakes. Wondering what we would need to adjust the temperature and baking time to….

  36. Lisa says:

    Mel…. I’m recently new to your site via The Kitchn, voting you the best something…. and I’m thrilled. I have been using your site extensively over the past week or so. I’ve delved into your cookie section, your yeast bread section, soon to do your beef stew. I made these cupcakes last night, while waiting for your french bread hamburger buns to rise. The cupcakes were super quick, literally throwing everything into the mixer and letting it do it’s thing. They are the best cupcakes I have EVER eaten. To top it off, I made the magic frosting.
    It was, indeed, magical. Among everything else I have used your site for.

  37. Sheila says:

    These were delicious! I weighed the flour. They were moist and fluffy. I love the taste of boxed cake mixes but hate using processed, chemical laden foods. This is the very first recipe I have found that is “better tasting” than the boxed mixes. Next time, I am not going to frost them but serve them warm from the oven. They are so good you don’t need frosting. Thank you, Mel, for all the pleasure your shared recipes give to my family.

  38. Sharon says:

    I made these the other day. When I combined the butter, sour cream and eggs, it would not become smooth. It resembled eggy cottage cheese. Maybe the butter was not quite room temp. Or maybe because the sour cream was cold? I added sugar and beat the mixture and it became creamy. While the cupcakes were delicious, they were not light and fluffy but dense. I will definitely try these again. Any suggestions to why the butter/egg mixture would not become smooth and creamy? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Sharon – Sounds to me like the butter needs to be a bit softer. Try getting the butter soft enough that your finger easily presses into it but not so soft that it is puddly. It might be worth a try to have the sour cream at room temp but that hasn’t been an issue for me and others so a softer butter might do the trick. Good luck!

  39. Oh my gosh, I am so glad someone understands me! It is my life mission to find the perfect yellow cake recipe. I cannot wait to try yours because I am still not 100% happy with my best version.

  40. I have a great chocolate cake/cupcake recipe but every yellow cake recipe I have tried has ended in disappointment. Can’t wait to try these cupcakes and I especially can’t wait to see your perfect yellow cake recipe!

  41. Shannon says:

    Can someone help me? I have made these twice and both times, they are very dense. They come out more crumbly, not fluffy. What am I doing wrong? (I even used a scale to measure my flour to make sure I didn’t use too much.). Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Shannon – Are your eggs at room temperature? That can definitely make a difference. Also, the batter shouldn’t be overmixed – just until no pockets of flour remain.

  42. Lien says:

    Biggest culprit is over-mixing and over-baking.

  43. Nita says:

    Wow! These cupcakes were the best. I have made many yellow cake cupcakes and cakes and these were light, fluffy, and tasted delicious. I’m sure that I won’t be be trying another yellow cupcake recipe because these were so great. I used your choclate buttercream frosting which was also the best I’ve ever tasted. My husband and kids absolutely loved them. I was also happy that it only made 12 so there were just enough so I wouldn’t eat more than 2. Lol I also like how simple this recipe was and that it only used 1 bowl. I made them for dessert last night and the kids are begging to make them again tonight.

  44. Nicole says:

    Best cupcakes ever! My husband and I each had two lol! Glad there are only 8 left ;)

  45. Viktoriya says:

    These look amazing! Thank-you so much for perfecting the ultimate yellow cupcake!:) My baby sister has a thing for cupcakes, and with a birthday coming up she’s definitely going to be expecting something with a load of pink frosting and lots of sprinkles! :)))

  46. Daniella says:

    I have made these twice, once with sour cream and once with heavy cream. Both times they came out slightly dry and tasted like sweetened cornbread. What am I doing wrong? I didn’t weight the flour and sugar, could that be the problem?

    • Mel says:

      Daniella – it’s hard for me to know exactly what might be wrong but a few things: the sour cream is pretty important in the recipe because the acid helps tenderize the cupcakes (and is the reason for the baking soda in the recipe) so I probably wouldn’t sub milk or heavy cream. Also, weighing the ingredients will always give the most precise results. If you don’t have a scale, try measuring with a lighter touch. They might be dry because of too much flour. Good luck!

  47. Lien says:

    Isn’t it strange?! I’ve had that happen to me with a few yellow cake recipes! I thought I was crazy and the only one that described it as “sweetened cornbread”! I have no clue what happens or how it tastes like that, but I wish I knew! This recipe didn’t do that for me, so I don’t even have a suggestion. For the dryness though, you could be over mixing the batter. It says to mix until smooth, but I only mix until it’s just moistened. I also do the reverse creaming method for this, which is to throw the butter in with the dry ingredients until it resembles wet sand, or pea sized clumps. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe. Good luck! Let me know if you find anything out!

  48. bluebaker says:

    Mel- I made these just now. They are perfect A really nice dome and soft texture .
    I just want to check something, though. In a comment above, to Danielle you mentioned that baking soda is in the recipe, but only powder and salt are listed. I had great results
    following exactly how you listed it, but just wanted to clarify that so I do it right.
    Btw, my daughter and I are having so much fun making the flatbread. I roll them out while she flips them in the skillet. We use those flatbreads for everything.

    • Mel says:

      bluebaker – I think I was getting these cupcakes and the new yellow cake recipe I posted confused. Sorry about that! You are right, there is no baking soda in this cupcake recipe.

  49. Stephanie says:

    Hi Mel,
    Question – I have found that regardless of recipe, cupcakes that I bake are consistently done in significantly less time than the recipes call for. Cupcake recipes generally say to bake anywhere from 20-25 min, however, mine are always done after 13 min – they spring back to the touch and toothpick comes out clean. I’ve even read on many blogs not to even open the oven door for the first 15 min of baking! I can’t imagine baking them for 15 min, let alone 20 min or longer. Is it possible that my oven just cooks freakishly faster than all other ovens or am I under-baking mine and not realizing it? Seems like a silly question, but I’m starting to question my sanity at this point – haha! (BTW, I have a basic GE gas stove/oven that’s several years old). Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Mel says:

      Stephanie – I’m almost certain it is because you have a gas oven. Most recipes are written based on a conventional electric oven (and usually give modifications for convection bake, etc). My friend has a gas oven and has to significantly alter baking times. So the good news is: you aren’t going crazy! The bad news is: you’ll probably always want to keep a close eye on baked goods – they’ll probably act a bit different in your gas oven. Hope that helps!

  50. Stephanie says:

    Thanks, Mel! That does make me feel much better! I have generally found that most baked goods do take less time than recipes call for. Usually by 10 min give or take. So, yes, I tend to babysit whatever it is I’m baking. Thanks again for your reply!

  51. Michele says:

    Thanks for this great recipe. The taste is so delicious! I have made these several times now and I can’t seem to get them just right. For some reason my middles sink. I thought that maybe they weren’t cooking long enough so this last time I left them in a little longer and they still sunk in the middle and now they are dry! Do you have any suggestions as to what it could be? Have you ever had this happen? I just really want these to turn out perfectly and I think I am close to it. I do have a gas oven.

    • Mel says:

      Michele – I’ve never baked with a gas oven but many people have left comments about using a gas oven and their issues with it. When I’ve googled about it, using a gas oven can really make a difference in outcome. If I remember right, there are some suggested alterations (like baking time/temp) so you could google to find out. Also, are you at high altitude? Cakes and cupcakes like to sink when baked at high altitude. Usually adjusting the leavening and adding a tablespoon or two more flour will help with that. (Here’s a good guide: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/high-altitude-baking.html#a1). Good luck.

  52. viktoriya says:

    What kind of sprinkles did you use and what kind of food dye for the frosting (and how many drops?) Its my little sisters birthday:)

    • Mel says:

      Viktoriya – I used random sprinkles from the grocery store (Wilton brand I think) and I always use gel food coloring and just dab a bit on the toothpick and add it to the frosting, adding more as needed).

  53. Laura says:

    I just made these for my daughters birthday party. As opposed to being light and fluffy, they are actually the densest cupcakes I have ever had. Reading through the comments it’s so funny to see others describe them as tasting like corn muffins because that is exactly the way we described them. I did use eggs right out of the fridge and I see from above comments that that could be my problem. Next time I’ll warm them in bowl as suggested since I rarely plan ahead either!

  54. Dillon says:

    Did you grind your own flour for the cupcakes? If so, which variety?

  55. viktoriya says:

    These are quite possibly the best cupcakes I ever had. I am never going back to storebought!:))

  56. Deb says:

    Mel you’ve done it again! These are PERFECT! I made them for my husband’s birthday two days ago and frosted them with that deliciously easy chocolate buttercream and it was like taking a walk back through my childhood – yellow cupcakes, chocolate buttercream and pure happiness. The texture on these is amazing, they are still fresh two days later. I doubled the recipe and they made exactly 24 just like you said :) Love how easy the recipe came together too. Thanks so much!

  57. Diana says:

    I’m planning to try your perfected yellow cake and these cupcakes for my son’s birthday this week. Unfortunately, no time for a trial run! I was thinking I might add some sprinkles or jimmies to the batter to make it more colorful and fun. Will that affect anything? Thanks!

  58. Jillee says:

    Just made these and they COMPLETELY FELL and have caves in the middle. I’m SO SAD! I followed all the directions. I am wondering if altitude is the problem (Utah – 5000 feet). I have had another of your recipes come out similar and I added TWICE the flour and it worked much better the second time. I am thinking the same thing with these – not enough flour, so the dough wasn’t thick enough. Please help. Maybe you could list on your recipes the adjustments for altitude, that would help a non-professional like me.

    • Mel says:

      Jillee – I’m sorry that these fell when you tried them! High altitude (among other factors) can be fickle. I’ve had readers who live at high altitude try them with no adjustments and they come out fine and others have problems so it’s really impossible for me to list a high altitude adjustment that would be perfect for everyone (especially since I live close to sea level). There are some good baking sites online that give high altitude fixes if you google it. I am sorry again, and hope if you have the heart to try them again they turn out better.

  59. Phoebe says:

    I was thinking of using these cupcakes for fairy cakes with passionfruit cream. Do you think the flavour of passionfruit would go with the yellow?

  60. Stefanie says:

    Made these today! The cake was very good! Maybe a little sweet, if cut back on the sugar for next time. However, the tops of my cupcakes were hard. It almost reminded my of a cornbread. Any suggestions to help fix this?

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