Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

I get so caught up with trying to create new cupcake flavor combinations that I often forget that sweet simplicity is still insanely delicious. So after countless requests from readers, I am finally sharing a basic vanilla cupcake recipe.

I tried a few different recipe adaptions in search of vanilla bliss and after a couple of test batches, I think this recipe may just be one of my favorite combinations to date. It starts with a vanilla bean infused white cake that has an incredible crumb. It’s light, fluffy and is the perfect foundation for a huge dollop of vanilla bean buttercream.

Although this combination may certainly be a little traditional, it’s anything but boring. In fact, my dad, a die hard chocolate fan fell in love with this cupcake immediately and said it was one of his new favorites.

Jazzing these babies up with bright liners* and a sprinkling of pearlized jimmies*, makes them sassy enough to serve for any occasion. And there you have it, my absolute favorite vanilla on vanilla cupcake recipe.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 18-20 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20

Cook Time: 18-22 minutes

Total Time: 42 minutes


For the Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used Swan’s Down brand)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Buttercream

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (this helps maintain the bright white color)
  • 1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk


For the Cupcakes

  1. Center a rack in the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  5. Once ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter between 18 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

For the Buttercream

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and seeds from vanilla bean until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until well blended.
  2. Add in vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened.
  3. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • Cake recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

284 Responses to “Vanilla Bean Cupcakes”

  1. tina — August 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    For the cake you have to use pure vanilla extract or will using the imitation clear be okay? Also where can u buy vanilla beans? Besides online.

    • Jamie — August 15th, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Pure vanilla extract is best but just use what you have on hand. Vanilla beans can usually be found at your grocery store near the extract. Thanks for stopping by.


    • Vicki — September 4th, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Most grocery store carry Vanilla Beans

  2. Amanda — August 18, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I made these cupcakes except i used vanilla bean paste and regular flour. They came out GREAT!! Thanks for sharing this recipe! It is by far the best recipe I have ever went by.

    • Jamie — August 19th, 2014 at 11:27 am

      So glad you found success with this recipe! I appreciate you stopping by.


    • viri — November 30th, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Amanda how much vanilla bean paste did you add?

      • Hilary — May 3rd, 2015 at 11:36 am

        I’ve been using this recipe for a while and I’ve always used vanilla bean paste. I typically use 2 Tbsp in the batter and 2 Tbsp in the frosting.

        • Jamie — May 4th, 2015 at 8:34 am

          Thanks for stopping by with your tips!


  3. Suzan — August 25, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    We don’t have cake flour in Australia. What can I do?

    • Jamie — August 26th, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Hi Suzan,
      You can use all-purpose flour and remove two tablespoons of the flour and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for each cup of flour. I hope this helps!


      • Bianca — September 23rd, 2014 at 4:09 am

        Hi Suzan (and Jamie) I’m very new to baking (or anything food related) I looked it up you can use as Jamie said or in the flour aisle of your supermarket they have lighthouse brand pastry and cake flour. Apparently it works really well. :) I’ll be trying it once I get the courage to attempt this recipe. :/

        • Jamie — September 24th, 2014 at 11:13 am

          Thanks for the information and for stopping by.


  4. veronica pallante — September 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Can I make the cupcakes in advance and freeze them and then thaw them and frost them?

    • Jamie — September 2nd, 2014 at 11:19 pm


      Yes, that should be completely fine. Enjoy!


  5. Ashley — September 19, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I made these today for my sons birthday and they are seriously amazing!! I love Panera Breads vanilla cupcakes, but these are 100x better!! Well worth the $12 I paid for 2 vanilla beans! …excuse me while I go gorge myself on cupcakes lol…

    • Jamie — September 20th, 2014 at 10:11 am

      I’m so glad the recipe worked for you. Thanks for stopping by.


  6. Maria — October 9, 2014 at 4:49 am

    i just want to know that can i use regular salt instead of kosher salt because it is unavailable in my local grocery stores

    • Jamie — October 9th, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Maria –
      Regular salt will work just fine. Thanks for stopping by.


  7. Michelle — November 4, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Hi! So I have made these a few times and changed a few things as well. I made a batch with buttermilk, and one with 2% and I found the the one with the 2% to be much better in flavour. It gave the cupcakes a rich buttery flavour and really let the vanilla come through. Just thought I’d share that ;) Great recipe!

    • Jamie — November 4th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your tips.


  8. Barb — November 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm


    Can you tell me how to convert this to a cake? What size pan would I use? Thanks!

    • Jamie — November 19th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      This recipe is actually adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. You should be able to divide the batter between 2 9-inch cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. I hope this helps.

  9. Agnes — November 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I tried this recipe but it turned out dry and not moist! But the taste was good and not sweet!

    • Jamie — November 17th, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that your cupcakes were dry. Thanks for visiting.


  10. Sarbjit — November 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Jaime:

    First off I want to let you know that every time I am about to bake a new recipe I come to your page first to see if you have a recipe for it! Thanks for all the amazing recipes!

    Second would this recipe work for a cake? and if so would I use two 8 inch pans or two 9 inch pans? Thank you in advance!

    • Sarbjit — November 22nd, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      Ugh! Someone just asked you a couple of days ago I just saw your reply to that, thanks Jaime!

    • Jamie — November 23rd, 2014 at 11:29 am

      I see you found the response I left for another reader. Enjoy!

  11. Jodi — December 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I’m excited to try this recipe for my boyfriend for his birthday. Vanilla is his favorite. I’m wondering if I’m able to make the frosting a few days ahead and store in the fridge? I’m going to make the cupcakes ahead as well and freeze, just wasn’t sure about the frosting.

    • Jamie — December 19th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      The frosting will keep in the fridge for a few days. Just take it out about an hour before you’re ready to use it, let it come to a little colder than room temp and re-whip with an electric mixer. I hope this helps.

  12. Jodi — December 21, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    These are absolutely delicious. Thank you Jamie!

    • Jamie — December 22nd, 2014 at 9:46 am


      Thanks so much! Have a great day.


  13. Angie — January 20, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I’m looking to make around 20 cupcakes but wanted some to be vanilla and some chocolate. Could I make this recipe, scoop out 10 cupcakes then add some cocoa powder?? Not sure that works but thought I would ask!!

    Thank you!

    • Jamie — January 28th, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Hi Angie,

      I don’t think that would work too well. The added dryness and acidity of cocoa powder would probably make them very dry. You could split the dry ingredients in half and potentially replace some of the flour in one batch with cocoa powder (equivalent to what you remove), and that might work, but I’m not entirely sure. You might be better off entirely to halve this recipe, and find a chocolate cupcake recipe to halve as well.

      – Jamie

  14. Erin — February 6, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Love this recipe. I go to pastry school and wanted to teach a friend how to bake cupcakes but didn’t have a good recipe on hand. I checked this and figured it would be good because of past experiences with your recipes but I was beyond impressed. The cupcakes came out picture perfect and they were very tasty. Thank you for this great recipe I will be sure to share it!!

    • Jamie — February 6th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Erin! Thanks so much for stopping back and leaving your thoughts.

  15. SusanV — March 22, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I used this recipe last summer for my daughter’s birthday party (made 96 mini cupcakes!) and absolutely loved it. I was wondering, though, as my son’s birthday approaches, will this recipe be ok for a regular cake (rather than cupcakes) or do I need to adapt it somehow? Thanks!

    • Jamie — March 24th, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      You should be fine baking this as a cake. Depending on the size of your cake pan, you will need to adjust the cooking time. I hope this helps.


  16. Francine — April 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Hi there! How long do I whisk the milk and egg whites? Thanks!

    • Jamie — April 15th, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Just until they are combined. I hope this helps.


  17. Deasha — May 25, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Have you made these without the vanilla bean? I’m currently in Japan and vanilla bean is almost impossible to find and I do not have time to order them. Thank you

    • Jamie — May 26th, 2015 at 11:50 am

      You can substitute vanilla extract. I hope this helps.


      • Deasha — May 27th, 2015 at 4:45 am

        Great! Thank you so much for the quick reply. Will be trying the recipe tonight for a going away party.

        • Jamie — May 27th, 2015 at 9:14 am

          I hope you have good luck with the recipe. Thanks again for stopping by.


  18. Brandy — August 18, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Okay, I KNOW this recipe is, like, four years old, but I just found it on a quick Google search while at work.  I have a co-worker whose birthday is today, and I adore her to pieces, so I made her cupcakes – and I have been wanting to use my vanilla beans…. WOW!!  This one is definitely going in the rotation!  The crumb is nice and soft and fluffy and PERFECT!  Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    • Jamie — August 18th, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      YAY!!!! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback. Happy Baking.

  19. Jamie — August 24, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Hello! So I’m going to make these for my niece’s birthday,  but I’m going to make rainbow cupcakes. Is the batter liquidy or thick? I’m just wondering because I would have to color them and don’t want them to become all brown and gross if it’s liquidy. Thank  you so much!

    • Jamie — August 25th, 2015 at 8:43 am

      The batter is on the thicker side! I hope this helps. :)


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