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

316 Responses to “Vanilla Bean Cupcakes”

  1. Stacey's — July 29, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Just wondering when you ask for sugar what type is best to use.


    • Jamie — August 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Granulated sugar unless otherwise specified. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Kimi — July 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Any suggestions for substituting vanilla bean paste instead of the extract? I prefer the paste over the extract, I find it tastes better without having to use so much, and the vanilla bean paste makes it have that little extra oomph.


    • Jamie — August 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      I would try the same measurement of the paste, let me know how it turns out.


  3. Peggy — August 1, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    These cupcakes came out perfectly. I actually wanted to make them a little crazy so I divided the batter into four bowls and added bright food coloring. Then I added four layers into each cupcake paper. Really pretty inside. The compliments I received from these cupcakes “The best I’ve ever had.” “Tastes like they came from a bakery.” “Totally yummy.” And I agree. I’m not exactly a butter cream frosting fan, but if I was, this would be the best :)


  4. 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 15, 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 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Most grocery store carry Vanilla Beans

  5. 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 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

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


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

      Amanda how much vanilla bean paste did you add?

    • Hilary — May 3, 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 4, 2015 at 8:34 am

      Thanks for stopping by with your tips!


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

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


    • Jamie — August 26, 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 23, 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 24, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Thanks for the information and for stopping by.


  7. 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 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm


      Yes, that should be completely fine. Enjoy!


  8. 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 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

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


  9. 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 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

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


  10. 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 4, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your tips.


  11. 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 19, 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.

  12. 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 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm

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


  13. 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 22, 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 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

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

  14. 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 19, 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.

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

    These are absolutely delicious. Thank you Jamie!


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


      Thanks so much! Have a great day.


  16. 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 28, 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

  17. 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 6, 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.

  18. 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 24, 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.


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

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


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

      Just until they are combined. I hope this helps.


  20. 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 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

      You can substitute vanilla extract. I hope this helps.


    • Deasha — May 27, 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 27, 2015 at 9:14 am

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


  21. 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 18, 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.

  22. 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 25, 2015 at 8:43 am

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

  23. Alicia — October 24, 2015 at 12:34 am

    do I have to use seeds scraped from one vanilla bean? I do not have any and was wondering if it matters? 


    • Jamie — January 13, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Hi, Alicia! One teaspoon of vanilla extract should work. The vanilla bean does add an amazing flavor, but the vanilla extract should work just fine. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  24. Crystal — January 16, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    How many whole eggs could I substitute for the egg whites? I feel like the egg whites make it kind of dry, and I am not in need of a “pure white” color for the cupcakes….



    • Jamie — January 17, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Hi, Crystal! One whole egg equals one egg white. I hope you enjoy them!

  25. Stephanie — March 10, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Hello! Wondering if you’ve tried substituting the butter with vegetable oil? And what the measurements would be? Love how moist your chocolate cake comes out so wondering if using oil will yield similar results? Thanks for you response! 


    • Jamie — March 11, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Hi, Stephanie! I think you could probably substitute the vegetable oil for butter. You would probably want to use about 1/3 oil for the butter measurement, so that would be about 2.5 tablespoons of oil. Let me know how it goes!

  26. Coreen — March 17, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I am in the process of making these and the batter looks really really runny is that normal?  They are in the oven now but just curious? :)  Thanks!


    • Jamie — March 19, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Hi, Coreen! How did the cupcakes turn out? I hope you enjoyed them!

  27. Silvia — May 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I am wondering how do you store these cupcakes? Can I bake them, frost them and keep them in the fridge till the next day? Or is it better to bake the cupcakes and frost them the day off…if not eaten the same day, do I have to refrigerate the cupcakes?


    • Jamie — May 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Hi, Silvia! I think a good solution would be to bake the cupcakes and store them in an air tight container on the counter. Make the buttercream and then frost before you serve. I hope this helps!

  28. Ashley — May 16, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    I’m wondering which tip you used to frost your cupcakes. I love how they look!


    • Jamie — May 17, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Thank you, Ashley! I used a round tip to frost these. I hope you enjoy them!

  29. Shefali Kacker — May 29, 2016 at 7:40 am


    I had a question about this recipe . I am in india and we use Vanilla essence here in cakes and everything we make , will this recipe taste as good if I use vanilla essence ( it’s in liquid form ) and if so how much should I use ? 


    • Jamie — June 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Hi, Shefali! You can definitely use vanilla essence. Substitute the same amount for the vanilla extract, and one teaspoon vanilla essence should equal one vanilla pod. I hope you enjoy it!

  30. Mercy — June 27, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Hello Jamie thanks a million for this beautiful recipe, I tried it and it turned out perfect and yummy. I have some questions thou, I want to use this same recipe to make about 1000 cupcakes to be sealed in small plastic bags with no frosting in it, this is for a charity camp program that will last 2weeks. Is there anything I can use as preservatives to make these cupcakes last through this period of time? as there will be no fridge provisions during the camping, and second question is, will using oil in place of butter give a satisfying result ? Hoping to get a response. thanks a lot.


    • Jamie — June 29, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Hi, Mercy! I’m a little concerned about the cupcakes holding up for two weeks. Sealing them in an airtight container will definitely help, but I’m not sure they’ll be at their best after two weeks. I think you could probably use oil as a substitute, but the cake will lack the buttery flavor. Have fun at the event!

  31. Rufaida — July 4, 2016 at 10:30 pm


    I was wondering if I could make the icing a day before and then use it the next day? Or do I have to make icing the same day I make the cupcakes?



    • Jamie — July 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Hi, Rufaida! I think you could definitely make this icing a day ahead. Let me know how it goes!

  32. esha — July 15, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    How much Is 3 sticks of butter in cups? Where I live we don’t butter is sticks


    • Jamie — July 17, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Hi, Esha! Three sticks of butter is 1.5 cups. I hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

  33. LeeAnn Eng — January 4, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I made a cake instead of cupcakes. I used 2 ( 9″) round cake pans. My cakes came out very thin and I was wondering if you know what might have went wrong.


    • Jamie — January 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Hi, LeeAnn! I would check the expiration date of your baking powder and see if that might be the culprit. I hope this helps!

  34. Sagar Parikh — March 15, 2017 at 2:57 am

    I tried to make from recipe above but when it comes out from oven bottom part was uncooked nd top part was hard i dont understand what mistake i did. Can you help me with possible reasons.


    • Jamie — March 15, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Hi, Sagar! What size pan did you use? I think it may have been to small. Let me know if this helps!

  35. Linda — March 22, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Made these for my daughter’s 5 year-old birthday, yum! Wanted to do an encore, but now in a 9×13 form. Do you think it could work? How long do you think I should bake it for? Butter snd flour the pan, line it with parchment? Thanks!


    • Jamie — March 23, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Linda! I’m concerned this recipe might not be enough for a 9×13 pan….I think it might be a little thin. If you want to give it a try, maybe bake it for about 15 minutes and check? I’ve never tried this recipe in a 9×13 pan, so I don’t know how to give you the best advice. Let me know your outcome if you give it a try!

  36. Samantha — April 18, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Good morning! 
    So I’m absolutely in love with your chocolate cake recipe I just can’t get enough! However I still struggle with a good vanilla cake recipe. I have tried countless recipes and each time the result to me just tastes like flour and doesn’t have a nice seeetness to the cake? Can you help me? Lol. How would I make the cake more sweet? I’m going to try this one tonight but I notice there isn’t a lot of sugar in comparison to flour so it makes me nervous too lol. I loveeeee your chocolate cake so to have a vanilla to compare would be amazing!!


    • Jamie — April 18, 2017 at 10:20 am

      This one is by far and away my favorite. I find it to be perfectly sweet, especially if you are adding frosting. I promise, you’ll love it!

  37. Kaleigh — August 26, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Is it possible to replace the butter with canola oil? I need to make a (slightly) healthier birthday cake for my father in law, and this is already my favorite recipe using egg whites only!


    • Jamie — August 28, 2017 at 11:08 am

      I have not tried this, so I would definitely give it a trial run before his birthday. Let me know how it goes. Thanks for stopping by.

  38. Laura — September 16, 2017 at 12:32 am

    This is a beautiful cake recipe. I’m a baker, but haven’t quite found “the one” when it comes to a nice vanilla cake. This is very different from my standard yellow vanilla cake, but it’s SO much better. This is it! This is the one! Thank you so much for sharing your gift with the world! 


    • Jamie — September 21, 2017 at 10:02 am

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Laura! Thanks for stopping by an leaving your feedback!

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