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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

by Jamie on July 27, 2011

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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, Brian, 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.

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Vanilla Cupcakes

July 27th, 2011

Yield: 18-20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

For the Cupcakes

1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees 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.

Notes:

- Cupcakes were frosting using the large round tip from Bake It Pretty
- *Cupcake liners from Bake It Pretty
- *Pearlized Jimmies were purchased from Bakers Nook
- Cake recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

Copyright © My Baking Addiction


{ 227 comments… read them below or add one }

April July 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Jamie,
I can’t wait to try these for my son’s birthday party. I have to make 60 cupcakes (sigh). I’m wondering if I can double the recipe so I only have to make two batches (same goes for the frosting recipe)? Also, do you think the frosting will hold up for a couple of hours at the park? There are so many cupcakes that I have to transport; I can’t keep them in a cooler. It’s not super hot here, only in the low 70s…
Thanks for the recipe and for your input!
-April

Reply

Jamie August 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm

April-
I typically don’t recommend doubling recipes, I just find that I end up with a better product if I mix them separately – but that’s just personal preference. I think they’d be fine at the park for a couple of hours. Hope this helps.
-Jamie

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Faith August 3, 2012 at 7:57 am

Hey! I like those sprinkles! Are’nt they like a Jewel color or something I went in this store in McKinney and they had those! :) :D

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Melanie August 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing your fantastic recipe! I made these with oreo frosting for my son’s 2nd bday & they were a huge hit! The texture is so wonderful & they taste like heaven! My go-to vanilla cupcake recipe now :-D

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Jamie August 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Melanie-
I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes recipe. Thanks so much for coming back and telling us your thoughts! Have a great day.
-Jamie

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Tara March 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I’d give the cupcakes 10 stars out of 5. Amazing! Unfortunately I ate too many today! Looking forward to more recipes.

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Cynthia September 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

Love the presentation!

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Emma September 30, 2012 at 8:44 am

I’m so excited about making these later! Being from the UK, we don’t really have cake flour over here, but a flour mill near me has started bringing out a flour called ‘cake and pastry flour’, so I’m going to use this recipe to test it against the standard plain flour + cornflour substitute. Fingers crossed it will go well, I’ve been looking for the perfect vanilla recipe for ages :).

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Kelly October 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I made these for a baby shower and they were a hit. I wanted to make something that would be universal enough that they would be loved by all, but that would still have that special touch that makes it feel a bit more special than everyday cupcakes. These were perfect! I love how gorgeously flecked with vanilla beans they were and how the cake and frosting were lightly sweet but not aggressively so. I don’t like a ton of frosting so I halved that recipe and they were perfect. Love the texture on these too!

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Jamie October 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Kelly-
I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe – thanks for stopping by and leaving your feedback! Have a great day.
-Jamie

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Pam Ehrhradt October 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I just made these and they are AMAZING!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

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Jamie October 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Pam-
I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the cupcakes! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback – have a lovely day.
-Jamie

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Tanya November 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

I have been trying for MONTHS to find a wonderful white cupcake recipe that works and this is AWESOME!!! I am so glad I found this. I tomorrow I am making 80 cupcakes for a baby shower and then my daughters 3rd birthday saturday and I am using this. I did have to change a couple things because I did not have real vanilla bean or whole milk so I used 2 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and buttermilk and they turned out WONDERFUL!!! I am so EXCITED!!!! Thank you so much I wish I would have found this earlier! I am now on to try your frosting for this and off to work this trial batch goes :) Thank you again!!!!

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Jamie November 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Tanya-
I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback. I hope your trial batch went over well – have a great day!
-Jamie

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Tanya November 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Everyone at work LOVED the trial batch!!! Thanks again! I will be looking throughout your website more since this one worked so well for me :) Thanks again!

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tamy November 24, 2012 at 1:54 am

Could i use this recipe in a cupcake macker ?

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MBA December 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Tammy-
I’ve never used a cupcake maker so I am not equipped to answer that question.
-Jamie

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Vanessa December 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I just made 60 of these for a bridal shower, and they not only look beautiful, they taste divine! I followed the recipe exactly & then sprinkled iridescent white sugar on top. The vanilla bean is such an elegantly pure flavor. My new go-to recipe! Thank you for sharing!
–Vanessa

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Susan (Oliepants) January 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I made this and it’s WONDERFUL!!! My favorite vanilla cupcake ever!! You have such great recipes and this is clearly one of them!

http://oliepants.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/vanilla-bean-cake/

Reply

MBA January 4, 2013 at 9:16 am

Susan-
I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback – have a great day!
-Jamie

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Nicole January 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I made these this morning for my daughters second birthday! They turned out great, we got so many compliments!! I tried one tonight and LOVED the icing, but I thought the cake was a little dry… I will cook a little less next time or lower the temp… Our oven tends to run hot!

Reply

MBA January 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

Nicole-
I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback – have a great day!
-Jamie

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Isabel January 28, 2013 at 9:43 am

Hi there! Saw these beautiful cupcakes on Pinterest. I intend to make these for my nephew’s 1st b-day! One question though, I can’t find CLEAR vanilla extract anywhere. Where do you get yours? Can I just use regular vanilla extract for the frosting if I can’t find the clear kind. Will it change the color of the frosting too drastically? THANKS!

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Jamie February 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Isabel-
I purchase my clear vanilla extract from Michael’s – it’s made by Wilton and perfect for keeping white frosting nice and white! I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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Kate February 1, 2013 at 2:06 am

Hi Jamie,

I love your website and these look amazing. I was just wondering – I tried making them today but they were quite flat and not at all the texture that I was expecting – but I am in Australia and I think maybe the measurements differ between countries. Do you think this is possible? Thanks

Reply

MBA April 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Kate-
I am sorry to hear that you had an issue with the recipe. If you have specific questions about what could have went wrong, feel free to email me at questions@mybakingaddiction.com. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your valuable feedback. Have a great day.
-Jamie

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Courtney February 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hi there i was wondering what type of sugar was used in the cupcakes? And if i could exchange vanilla bean paste for the vanilla bean used in the icing? I love your site and find your recipes so great and helpful. Thank you!!!

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Courtney February 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Also as im in the UK i cant get cake flour. What can I use instead? Thank you!!!

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MBA April 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Courtney-
Instead of cake flour you can take just under one cup of all-purpose flour and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and this should give you the same desired effect. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!
-Jamie

Reply

MBA April 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Courtney-
I typically use Domino brand sugar. I have never replaced the vanilla bean with paste. Stop back and let us know how they turned out – have a great day!
-Jamie

Reply

Mayra February 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I have a question.
Does it matter if you don’t use vanilla bean just pure vanilla extract?
And would it matter if the milk was 2%?
Thank you but these look great can’t wait to try them.

Reply

MBA April 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Mayra-
I haven’t tried this recipe with the extract. The milk shouldn’t make too much of a difference. Stop back and let us know how they turned out – have a great day!
-Jamie

Reply

Marcia Caldwell March 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I NEVER EVER EVER write a review… but omg!!!!!! this was almost too amazing. They were
the whitest, the most lightest, softest, most moist cupcake I have ever witnessed in my entire life!!! They make me want to scream from the mountain tops!
But I was wondering could I add unsweetened cocoa powder to this to make chocolate or would I melt chocolate and add that to the mix?

Reply

Roxy March 28, 2013 at 10:40 am

These are phenomenal cupcakes! I’ve made them for several occasions now, and they are always a huge hit. Thank you for this and your other great recipes. I know I can come here and always find something unique and delicious and Ive never had to worry about it not turning out, all your recipes seem fail-proof!

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BeverlyOsgood April 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I have extra-fine graulated sugar. Can I use that? if so, how would the amount change?

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Jamie May 18, 2013 at 9:09 am

Beverly-
I have not attempted this recipe with extra-fine sugar, but I think it will work just fine. Have a great day.
-Jamie

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amber May 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm

thing look so good I am going to give them to my teachers

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Jennifer June 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

These are my husband’s FAVORITE. He wants them for every party, every holiday, and everything ever. I’ve even used this recipe as a cake and covered it with fondant. Everyone loves it!

Reply

Jamie August 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Jennifer,

That’s awesome to hear! Thank you so much for following MBA and have a wonderful day!

Jamie

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JB June 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Jamie, I just wanted to say “thank you!”
I have tried many vanilla cake recipes, and have been disappointed often.
However, THIS recipe is wonderful — moist with a nice crumb, a real winner. Thank you very much for sharing it.

My cupcake tins are very dark, so I turned down the oven to 325′ to avoid “tan bottoms”, and next time, I might even set the tin on an insulated cookie sheet while baking, as well.

Your recipe halves beautifully, and also tolerated my combination of 1% milk and half-and-half as a substitute for the whole milk.

Thanks again. I love your thoughtful blog and eye for photography.

Reply

Jamie August 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm

JB,

Thank you so much! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe and appreciate you stopping back to let us know about your experience with it. Have a wonderful day and thank you for following MBA!

Jamie

Reply

BeverlyOsgood July 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

How long do vanilla beans last? I’m thinking of ordering in bulk from Beanilla, but I only bake vanilla cupcakes about 2-3 times a year. I don’t want to buy a bunch and then have them go bad/stale. Thanks much!

Reply

Jamie September 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hi Beverly,
I’m told vanilla beans last indefinitely if kept in an airtight container (like a ziploc bag) in the freezer.
- Jamie

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BeverlyOsgood July 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Also, which vanilla would you recommend? Madagascar, Tahitian, bourbon, etc? I didn’t realize there were so many different types of before I went on the Beanilla website.

Reply

Jamie September 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Beverly,
Each vanilla is going to have a different profile. For example, Tahitian is the flavor most people associate with “vanilla”. Bourbon will be richer. Mexican vanilla is lovely, with a bit of extra ‘spice’ to it. You could also try a few in the same bottle to make a custom blend.
- Jamie

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BeverlyOsgood July 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Last question, I’m having a devil of a time finding a large (giant?) round piping tip locally. Tried Michaels, JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby. They’ve got every tip under the sun EXCEPT the one that makes the beautiful decorations in your photos. Thanks.

Reply

Jamie September 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Hi Beverly,
I normally would have directed you to the Bake It Pretty website, where I purchased mine, but they no longer carry it. This is the tip on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/62673567/extra-large-round-pastry-tip-for-cupcake

I don’t often find the extra large tips in big craft stores. You might have more luck if you can find a specialty cake decorating store.
- Jamie

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Lauren July 13, 2013 at 1:21 am

Just made these tonight they are delicious. I recommend making them and I would make them again. Although, I did make less frosting than suggested I cut it down by a third and it was just right for my taste. I also was inspired because my family bought vanilla beans in bulk about 40 of them. They are way cheaper if you by them in bulk.

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Jamie August 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Lauren,

Buying them in bulk is such a good idea! I’m so happy to hear that you like the cupcakes and thank you for stopping back to share your experience making them. Have a great day and thank you for following MBA!

Jamie

Reply

Sabrina August 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Hi Jamie

Love your stunning photos and awesome recipes. May I please clarify how long should the whisking of milk and egg whites be? And if there are any changes i should notice before i stop whisking? Your advice would be very helpful! Thanks in advance!

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Jamie September 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Hi Sabrina,
Thanks for your sweet comment! You just need to whisk them together until they’re evenly combined. When you can’t tell the difference between egg white and milk, you’re there. Maybe 30 seconds?
- Jamie

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Mary Brock October 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Thank you for this recipe! I made these yesterday for my childrens’ birthday party and they were delicious. My sons are turning 7 & 3 and my daughter turned 1 all within the last 6 weeks! I colored the icing a light pink and used Wilson’s Pink Cake Sparkles on top for my daughter’s first birthday. The only thing I would do differently next time is bake them the night before because they ended up sticking pretty badly to the baking liners although that didn’t keep anyone from eating them right off the liner! I highly recommend these!

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Jenn Fresnedi November 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

These look so yummy! Perfect that I need to bake vanilla cupcakes for my goddaughter’s christening in 2 weeks and I just loooove vanilla bean! I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thank you for posting! =)

Reply

Jamie November 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

Jenn-

Thanks so much! Please stop back and let us know your experience with the recipe! Have a wonderful day and thanks for following MBA!

-Jamie

Reply

tracy duncan November 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I made these yesterday and have gotten the most amazing results. AMAZING cake and the frosting double AMAZING… Wow, thank you so much for this recipe, really no joke beyond amazing. I have been making so many cupcakes trying to find that perfect recipe, and here we are they are so good!!!!! Have you made the cake and frosting without vanilla beans? Taste okay still?

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Jamie January 10, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Tracy, thank you so much! I haven’t ever made it without vanilla beans, and I wouldn’t want to because they add so much flavor.
- Jamie

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Katie November 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

2 questions.
1. Will the recipe still be sweet without using vanilla beans?
2. Can I use salted butter but no salt with the same taste with adding salt and using unsalted butter?

Reply

Jamie January 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Katie,
1. Vanilla does not add sweetness to the recipe, but flavor. These will no longer be vanilla cupcakes, but white cake. And they will basically taste of sugar.
2. Yes, you can use salted butter and skip the salt in the ingredients list.
- Jamie

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Dina November 22, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Hi I wanted to let you know I have tried dozens of vanilla cake recipes and this was by far my favorite!! I did not use a vanilla bean, but 1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste, but it had the speckle and I imagine it was quite similar. Light, fluffy, nice rise! Loved them! Filled them with homemade strawberry filling and they were a huge hit!

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Courtney Morris November 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm

The buttercream was amazing! Super delicious! The cake was tasty but a little dry, it wasn’t as moist and fluffy as I had hoped and expected. I followed the directions to a T

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joie January 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

could u use pastry pride whipped topping in exchange for heavy cream when making the frosting?? I wont be able to refrigerate for an outdoor vender event. and i want it to be stiff , not melty

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Jamie January 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Joie-
I have no experience with pastry pride whipped topping, so I cannot attest to the results. Sorry that I am not more of a help. Thanks for stopping by.
-Jamie

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Bobbie January 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Hi I can’t find fine kosher salt anywhere. Could I use regular salt without iodide and would the taste be much different?

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Bobbie January 15, 2014 at 9:59 pm

I went ahead and made the recipe with regular salt without iodide. It still came out great.

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Angie January 23, 2014 at 3:06 pm

OMG thank you!!! I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to make a decent buttercream for the past two years. First it was my butter not being the right kind, and once that was figured out, something else went wrong, and just ARGH. But this recipe…perfect! Absolutely perfect! I made the frosting first, to determine if the cupcakes should be made, so I apologize for not being able to comment on the whole recipe, but man, I cannot thank you enough for the buttercream recipe. I’m taking it and adapting the heck out of it in the future, heh. You’ve definitely earned a fan out of this person, and her boyfriend (who used to endure the sulks after failed frosting recipes, but not anymore). So thank you again!

Reply

Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Angie-
Yay! So glad to hear – thanks for reporting back!
-Jamie

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Christine Wills February 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

I am so looking forward to trying this recipe! I want to turn these into mini cupcakes. What do you think the bake time should be? 9-12 min since they are half the size?

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Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Christine, that sounds about right. Just watch them closely for browning.
- Jamie

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Christine Wills February 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Jamie,

They came out perfect at about 11 minutes and were a HUGE hit at work and at my kids school. That buttercream is to die for and I got countless emails from coworkers and my kids’ teachers about it! This will be my go to recipe for buttercream from here on out!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes!!!

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Kitty Cat February 12, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Made these delicious cupcakes as mini ones for my cupcake bar this past weekend during my wine &cheese!! I loved them as did my guests!! I recieved more orders that evening for this flavor then any others!!! thank you so much! Lovely recipie and blog!

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Jacqueline February 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Can this recipe be used for cake? How long would you bake it? (2: 8″ rounds)

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Jamie Lothridge May 5, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Hi Jacqueline,
I’m sure it could. I’d start checking the cake for doneness around 35-40 minutes.
- Jamie

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ruchika April 10, 2014 at 8:39 am

Hi, i tried the recipe and it was fab, its just that i did not lay my hands on cake flour so i used all purpose flour and my cake did not rise much. do i need to any thing extra if i dont get a cake flour. please advice

Reply

Jamie Lothridge May 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Ruchika,
Cake flour has less protein than All Purpose, which makes it lighter. That is why your cake didn’t rise as much. You would need to remove 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour per cup, and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to make cake flour.
- Jamie

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Nia May 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Hi Jamie. I was wondering if putting sour cream in the cupcakes would change the difference in taste. I just want to make sure that the cupcakes will be moist. Thanks!

Reply

Jamie May 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Nia-
I have not used sour cream in this recipe. I definitely think it would alter the texture and more than likely the flavor. Thanks for stopping by!
-Jamie

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Sharon L. May 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Do you use two liners to get the to stay so pretty while baking? Also, do these freeze well? I’m thinking of making them in advance for my daughters birthday party.

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Jamie June 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

Sharon, sometimes I do, and a lot of times I use the foil liners that purposely stay bright.
- Jamie

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lahunha May 27, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I plan to make these for my daughter’s 3rd birthday but I want to make a three layer cake from it instead. So you know approximately how big of a cake this would make? I am using 9 inch rounds.

Reply

Jamie July 9, 2014 at 12:20 am

Lahunha-
It should yield 2 9-inch round cakes. I hope this helps.
Jamie

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Navi June 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Hi Jamie,

great website!!
I got vanilla bean extract instead of vanilla extract by mistake. I want to make simple vanilla cake. Do you think it ll make a difference if I put vanilla bean extract instead of vanilla extract?

Many thanks!!
Navi

Reply

Jamie June 26, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Navi, they’re the same thing.
- Jamie

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Michal June 28, 2014 at 8:57 pm

I love cupcakes so much and they look fantastic.

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Mae June 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I love your technique of beating it’s for the 2munutes in the end to make sure it’s aerated!! That was most impressive:) all this while in all recipes I tried must always becareful with the folding and not over beating towards the end. Thank you :) I love it..

Reply

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