Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes

There’s nothing worse than eyeballing an adorable cupcake that looks too good to eat….stuffing it in your face….and realizing that actually, it really was too pretty to eat and should have been left alone. If there’s one thing I hate doing, it is sacrificing taste for appearance. So imagine my joy to be able to share with you the only vanilla cupcake recipe I’ve been making for the last year. It is so moist, so delicious, and so perfect in any application. Frosted up cute like these polar bears and snowmen cupcakes or simply garnished with frosting and a few sprinkles – either way, the cupcake is beautiful and gloriously tasty. These cupcakes are the best and are my go-to cupcakes (for non-chocolate purposes, of course).

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes

In addition, I wanted to share a quick and easy buttercream frosting that I use all the time. Yes, I love this magical frosting, but the vanilla buttercream recipe, below, makes an equally frequent appearance because not only is it simple, it has a divinely creamy, silky texture that beats out all other easy buttercream frostings. I use this recipe on my kids’ birthday cakes and on most cupcakes I make, especially if I am going to pipe any decorations. It’s fantastic.

Incidentally, both of the cupcakes pictured above are from the brilliant Hello, Cupcake series. Those books make me look like a cupcake-decorating rockstar.

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Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes and Fantastic {Easy} Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Makes between 16-24 cupcakes

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes and Fantastic {Easy} Buttercream Frosting


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (here is a guide for making your own buttermilk)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 for light, aluminum or silicone muffin pans or 325 for dark, nonstick muffin pans. Line about 16-24 muffin cups with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in eggs and egg yolk one at a time and then mix in the vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine. Add 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix. Add the final 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix and then add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and the batter is smooth. Spoon out batter into lined cupcake pan, filling only halfway or just barely over halfway.
  3. Bake for about 15-18 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven based on the type of muffin pan you have), until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with moist crumbs. Don’t overbake!
  4. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired!

Recipe Source: adapted from Becca H., a reader, who got it from a Parade magazine

Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Printable Version

*Note: you can substitute milk for the heavy cream but the frosting will be missing an element of silky creaminess.

*Makes about 4 cups of frosting

½ cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
16 ounces powdered sugar (about 3 ½ cups)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until it is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix in fully after each addition. Cream at low speed until well blended and creamy. Pour in the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Recipe Source: adapted from The Recipe Girl

162 Responses to Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes and Fantastic {Easy} Buttercream Frosting

  1. Made a trial batch as I have an up coming event and wanted a good cupcake. These are delicious and even better the second day. I added a teaspoon of coconut flavoring to the frosting. My hubby loved them too. Will make this recipe often. Makes about 15 to 18.

  2. andi winslow says:

    Just stopping in to say that I made your Buttermilk cupcakes (like very much) and have posted them on my blog at I had no prolbems with them sinking in the middle. Just watch your baking so you don’t overbake them. Yummy Thank you for a nice recipe………….andi

  3. Barbara says:

    I’m sorry Mel, I was completely disappointed. I am an experience baker and followed instructions to the T. Mine rose a TON in the oven, and then fell horribly once I got them out. I am so bummed to have to resort to a box mix for my little ones birthday. 🙁 I am not sure where I went wrong. Extra sad.

  4. […] Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes Makes 16-24 (I got 18), adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  5. Jenn says:

    I made these cupcakes for my daughters birthday and they were delicious! I find myself searching and using your recipes a lot. Thanks for family friendly ideas!

  6. Erika says:

    Oh my gosh! This polar bear is so cute I can’t wait for December to make it!

  7. Mindy says:

    I’ve been loyal to my Mom’s buttercream frosting recipe for years, but it calls for a bit of shortening, and I live out of the country where shortening isn’t available. This frosting turned out PERFECT. My hubby and kids and I voted, and we like this frosting even better than the one I’ve been making for years! (Shhh, don’t tell Mom)

  8. Tonya says:

    These were fantastic! We had a Sesame Street party and wanted to make homemade cupcakes. They were so tasty! The buttercream icing was amazing too! Love your site:)

  9. Nicole says:

    I can’t wait to try this! Is it advisable to frost a cake with your vanilla buttercream frosting recipe and refrigerate it overnight? I have to bring a cake into work and don’t want to wake up early to frost it!

  10. Abbey says:

    Came across this site…she’s using a lot of your recipes and photos with a TINY little link to your posts…then she goes on her social media and shares the whole recipe. I know I would want to know, so I thought I’d pass this along to you. Good luck 🙂

  11. Ashley says:

    I made mini cupcakes out of this recipe and they are so tasty!
    I got about 52 mini cupcakes. My batter was thick enough to just pipe it into the tiny cups. They are surprisingly light. I will use this as my “go to” recipe from now on! Thank you so much!

  12. Kerri says:

    I never need to try another vanilla cupcake recipe. These are perfect.
    I made them into coconut cream pie cupcakes- after cooling, I cut a little cone shape in the cupcake, piped a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake and dipped the frosting in toasted coconut, then filled the center with the custard from your coconut cream pie recipe. They were so pretty and they were gone too fast for me to try one, but I hear they were delicious! 🙂

  13. […] and Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes YIELD: MAKES 12 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 […]

  14. Annalisa says:

    I’ve made this so many times, I’ve lost count. So yummy!

  15. sue says:

    Hi Mel,

    Big fan – love SO many of your recipes .. tried, true and delicious!!

    Using your easy butter cream frosting – if I make and frost 3 dozen cupcakes Friday afternoon and the party is Saturday afternoon – would you suggest refrigerating the cupcakes until party time? Also, is it fine to add a little coloring to this recipe to tint the frosting?

    Thanks for sharing your talent!

    • Mel says:

      Sue – Yes, that is fine to add coloring although I recommend the gel coloring instead of liquid. I would refrigerate the cupcakes and take them out about 2 hours before serving to let the frosting soften. Have a fun party!

  16. Joanne says:

    I found your cupcake recipe after searching google for a “fluffly vanilla cupcake recipe”. I made a batch of the cupcakes today and they turned out beautiful! I wanted to write and praise you for sharing this recipe, it will be my number one vanilla cupcake recipe forever now. My husband and I love a fluffy cupcake, these are perfect. I am making two dozen cupcakes for Easter and this will be my recipe of choice paired with three colours of coconut swiss meringue butter cream frosting. Thank you very much!!

  17. Kirk says:

    These recipes are great. I filled the cupcake to just over half, as directed, and it made 16 cupcakes. I can’t see how it would ever make 24 unless they were very small cupcakes.

  18. Katie says:

    I wanted to make these but realized I was out of salted butter…since I know that’s what you use…how much extra salt do you think I should add if I used unsalted? Thanks!

  19. viktoriya says:

    Does and can the frosting need to be put in the fridge to firm up? Will it ruin it? Or do I frost right away?

    • Mel says:

      Viktoriya – I usually frost right away. If you refrigerate the frosting, it will need to sit at room temp a few hours before using to soften a bit (and I find it doesn’t have quite the same creamy consistency).

  20. Emily says:

    A friend let me borrow a dress for a dance and I made these for her as a thank you present. That was the easy part-the making them. Unfortunately giving them away was nearly impossible. Especially after our 3 mile run together. These are the fluffier most delicious cupcakes I have ever had in my life!!! And the frosting has the amazing consistency if whipped cream while still being mouthwateringly sweet. I got turned off of cupcakes when they started becoming such a gourmet desert because I find most specialty cupcakes too dense and rich. Needless to say, I no longer have any objection to cupcakes. Thank you sooooo much for posting this recipe Mel.

  21. Tyleia H says:

    Made these tonight for the first time- these are amazing and delicious!

    Btw I went on a cooking spree today and made these, your buttermilk drop biscuits and your chocolate cake (into cupcakes)…your one of my def go to websites for recipes…thanks for such great stuff

  22. Melissa says:

    Thank you for such wonderful recipes! I have a question: does this buttercream “crust” like a buttercream that contains shortening? I’m looking for a buttercream that will hold up in warm weather, and I’ve heard it’s best to use a buttercream that crusts… any suggestions? Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Melissa – No, unfortunately, this buttercream frosting doesn’t crust like ones that use shortening. You might try googling a recipe for “crusting buttercream” or substitute some of the butter in this with shortening. Good luck!

  23. Jessica says:

    If I want to make a vanilla cake in two cake rounds rather than cupcakes, how long do I bake it for?

    • Mel says:

      Jessica – I’ve never converted this cupcake recipe to a cake so I’m not sure. You’ll have to experiment and/or read through the comment thread to see if anyone else has tried it. Good luck!

  24. rabia says: seems like wonderful recepi…just want to ask which cream cheese shall I use in it..i am,cobfused

  25. Teresa says:

    Hi Mel, I just made your AMAZING Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes yesterday, and am so thrilled that I’ve finally found a vanilla cupcake recipe that doesn’t end up tasting kind of like cornbread. This will be my go-to recipe from now on! They came out perfectly…not dry….not too moist…not “caved in”…..just the perfect cupcake. And the flavor is amazing. I used a regular buttercream frosting since my daughter doesn’t care for cream cheese, but look forward to trying your frosting recipe soon. (I love cream cheese myself!) Thank you for ALL of your fabulous recipes! :o)

  26. Bev says:

    I made these and they were perfectly delicious!! Making them tonight again as they have became highly requested by my 3 babies. Thank you so much for sharing (-:

  27. Angela says:

    This may sound like a silly question, but is this recipe white or yellow? I ask because I noticed it had yolks in it. Trying to find a white cupcake recipe so I can color it light purple. Thank you! Looking forward to trying this recipe soon!

    • Mel says:

      The batter is more yellow than pure white.

      • Angela says:

        Thanks! I actually tested them today and they are awesome! I may try to do a test with subbing egg whites to get the whiter color in the future but these will be perfect as is for my daughter’s birthday this weekend. Thanks for another great recipe!

  28. Nell says:

    Hello Mel! I made these and they tasted absolutely WONDERFUL! My entire family loved them (especially my little brother), and they stayed moist and yummy days after I baked them. I just have one question… I noticed that within a minute of removing them from the oven, the cupcakes shrink away from the sides of the pan 🙁 Tried it a few times but I keep getting the same result. Do you have any idea what could be going wrong? Because I can’t seem to figure it out. And I followed all the measurements and instructions exactly.
    Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Do they shrink away from the liners or do the liners and cupcakes shrink away from the sides of the pan? What coating is on your muffin pan (is it light or dark, nonstick)?

      • Nell says:

        The liners and cupcakes shrink away from the pan, and it’s an aluminum pan.

        • Mel says:

          That’s puzzling. I’ll keep an eye on my baking pan next time I make them. I’ve found that grease-proof liners tend to shrink less but it’s been a while since I’ve made these particular cupcakes so I’ll check back in next time I make them.

  29. Amy says:

    Is this enough frosting to frost 24 cupcakes like you do in your frosting tutorial?

    • Mel says:

      If you are just swiping the frosting on with a knife then yes, but if you are planning on doing a swirly design (with a piping bag and tip), I’d recommend doubling the frosting.

  30. Stephanie says:

    Hi Mel, these are my family’s favorite vanilla cupcakes! I make them all the time. My little is turning 4 in a couple of weeks and has requested a vanilla Hello Kitty cake. I was wondering if you’ve ever baked this recipe as a cake rather than cupcakes? I bought a Wilton cake pan that is shaped like Hello Kitty’s head and it says it holds the same amount of batter as a 2 layer cake would be. I’m wondering if this recipe would work? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Stephanie – I’ve never baked this in a cake but I believe others have in the comment thread (but I don’t remember the details; sorry). I’m not sure how the quantity measures up but I think this cupcake recipe is just a little short of what would normally fit in a 9X13 or maybe 2 layers.

  31. Misty says:

    I’ve made these twice (a year apart) and both times failed to get the fluffy soft texture I’m looking for. After baking mine sink down and get crispy/chewy/gummy on top. Going to research online and see why.

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