Vanilla Cupcakes

There is no cupcake more classic than the Vanilla Cupcake. It is such a neutral flavor that is beloved by most if not all people who enjoy cupcakes. When I was younger I used to think vanilla was such a lame flavor since it was EVERYWHERE. Now as I have gotten older I have come to appreciate the nuances of the real vanilla flavor. It has slowly but surely become one of my favorites.

Cupcakes are one of my favorite things to bake next to cookies and biscotti. There are 3 major reasons for this. One is that cupcakes are easier to decorate and frost compared to full cakes. The second is that cupcakes are quite simply easier to store and transport. I can grab one of those disposable aluminum baking trays with a lid, fill it with cupcakes and take it wherever I need it to go. They are not as bulky, so if necessary they don’t take as much space in the fridge as a full multi-layered cake either. And the third reason, I can sneak one in, and nobody will be all the smarter for it! It’s not like a cake where the second you cut into it everybody would know! This also makes cupcakes easier to share with more people. You can make a batch and then share a few with multiple people and not feel guilty about handing them what looks like a half eaten cake. Don’t get me wrong, cakes are great for certain occasions, but generally speaking, I prefer to make cupcakes for these reasons.

This particular recipe, the vanilla cupcake recipe I first started making when I had graduated from college. I had just started getting into baking and the birthday of my older cousin brother, my Bhaiya, was approaching. They lived right by us, so I was lucky enough to be able to see my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin often. At that time he was super, super picky with which foods he would eat. He’s gotten much better now, many years later, since his amazing fiancé has helped introduce him to more adventurous foods, but at that time he was pretty much stuck in a rut of super basic stuff. I had asked him what he wanted me to make for him and his request was vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. At the time I thought that was the most boring combination and let him know that very clearly! I still made them though, and luckily they were very much enjoyed by the whole family! For years afterwards whenever I would see them, I would make a batch of those cupcakes and take them to my cousin’s house for everybody to enjoy! I don’t get to see them very often anymore now that I live in Florida with my husband, but I definitely think of them every time I bake a variation this recipe. Now looking back at it, I am grateful for that day, because ever since then I have kept this recipe close at hand and used it as a base for so, so many different flavor combinations and applications. Sometimes its important to go back to the basics because it makes your base that much stronger for everything you build on top of it.

This is the reason I am sharing this recipe first before any other. These days I don’t make the plain vanilla cupcake often, I’ve ventured into a much more exciting territory of flavor combinations, but I always use this recipe as the base to which I make adjustments. That is why I thought it would be important to share this recipe first before any other so even you would be able to experiment on your own! I wish I could share with you where I originally found this recipe, but it was over 7 years ago and I only copy and pasted the recipe part (with no link) into my email that I have kept flagged for the last 7 years. I have gotten so used to making this recipe that I now just glance at it for a refresher every so often. When I was making it for the blog, I measured everything the way I would normally do it (by eye) but then afterwards precisely measured it so that I could be concise in my recipe card. To my surprise my “eye” measurements, and the original recipe were not really the same at all. I added quite a bit more of some stuff and a little less of others. So what I have included in the recipe card are my adjusted measurements for the way I make the recipe. 

Lets get started!

First thing’s first, preheat the oven to 350deg and then we have to prepare our dry and wet ingredients. In a cup/mug/or bowl put your milk (I used almond milk since thats usually all we have at home) and splash of vinegar together and set it aside. In another bowl (this will not be your main mixing bowl) put your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, keep this on the side.

In a bigger bowl, that will be your main mixing bowl put your sugar and your eggs. Whisk them together until they become homogenous/uniform. One of the best parts about this recipe is that you don’t need a stand mixer or electric mixer. Just a bowl and whisk works great. This is a good Whisk Set.  

Add the oil (I use canola oil) and whisk it until its all combined homogeneously.

 Then add the vanilla and whisk that in. In total honesty, I never measure my vanilla, I just pour it until it looks good. So don’t feel weird about just eyeing it. This is the Vanilla Extract that I use in all of my baking.  

Next bring your dry and wet ingredients back to the table and keep nearby. 

First we will add half of the flour mixture and whisk it in gently. From now on, all of the whisking is gently. We do not want the flour to develop a gluten it’s not bread, it’s cake.

Then we add half of the milk/vinegar mixture. And whisk that in gently.

Next we add in the remaining flour mixture, but this time don’t whisk it all the way, it’s okay if there are some clumps, at that point add the remaining milk and whisk it gently until it all comes together.

Once your batter is together, line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. This is my favorite Cupcake Pan and my favorite Cupcake Liners. The batter may be a little bit thinner than you are used to with cupcake batters so do not be alarmed. It will start to get a little bit bubbly, this is good, thats the baking soda reacting with the vinegar. You want to use all of the batter at once, so that the reaction is fresh when it is going into the oven. I cannot vouch for what happens if your batter sits outside for a long time before going into the oven.

This recipe makes exactly 12 cupcakes. So just divide the batter evenly between 12 cupcake spots. It will be a little bit more than the standard 2/3rds of the way, but that’s okay. 

Once your cupcake liners are filled, make sure you clean off any batter that may have gotten on the cupcake pan. This will be a pain to clean off after baking, so just do yourself a favor and wipe it away with a paper towel now. Trust me, you will be grateful you did. =) After the pan is ready, place it into your preheated oven for 20-22 min. Check with a toothpick after 19 min and then every minute after that. Mine took 21 minutes, but every oven is different, so just keep that in mind.

Once they are out of the oven they should look something like this. Let them cool inside the cupcake pan for 10 minutes.

Once 10 minutes goes by they should be cool enough to handle enough to transfer them to a cooling rack. This is my favorite cooling rack.  Leave them here for 30 minutes so they can cool completely before you add any frosting. After that they are finished! 

You can top your cupcakes with any frosting you desire! I will be sharing the recipe for the super light and not too sweet Vanilla Bean American Buttercream that I used to top these cupcakes next! 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as me and my family do! 
This cake batter comes out super light and spongey with just the right level of “crumb”! This texture also makes it super easy to eat more than one of these in 1 sitting! I may or may not be guilty of this on occasion ;-). 

I hope you give this recipe a try for yourself! Please be sure to let me know in the comments if you do! I would love to hear what you thought of it! Be sure to subscribe so that you can be notified when I post new recipes! (link in the sidebar). Follow me on Instagram @saltyoversweet and find me on Facebook (the link is in the sidebar). Next I will be sharing the recipe for the Vanilla Bean American Buttercream that you can see on these cupcakes! =) 

Vanilla Cupcakes
Serves 12
A super simple super basic Vanilla Cupcake recipe that makes a beautiful base for all sorts of flavor combinations!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
21 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
21 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1 1/4 Cups - All Purpose Flour (Unbleached) - 195g
  2. 1 1/4 tsp - Baking Powder - 5g
  3. 1/2 tsp - Baking Soda - 5g
  4. 1/2 tsp - Salt - 1g
  5. 2 - Large Eggs - Approximately 100g
  6. 3/4 cup - Cane Sugar - 135g
  7. 1 1/2 tsp - Vanilla Extract - I normally do not measure this, just eye it in.
  8. 1/2 cup - Vegetable/Canola Oil - 70g
  9. 3/4 cup - Milk/Almond Milk - 195g
  10. 1/2 teaspoon - Vinegar - Or just put a splash of vinegar it doesn't have to be exact.
  1. Preheat Oven to 350deg.
  2. Add Vinegar to the milk in a mug, cup, or bowl, put it aside for later.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients into a smaller mixing bowl - Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt. Put this aside for later.
  4. Into a bowl that will become your main mixing bowl (so make sure it is big enough) add the sugar and eggs. Whisk them together until they become homogeneous.
  5. Then add the oil and vanilla - Whisk this until it becomes homogeneous.
  6. Add half your flour mixture and whisk gently. You do not want to develop a gluten this is a cake, not bread, so after adding the flour, be gently with your whisking.
  7. Once combined add half your milk/vinegar mix. Whisk gently until combined.
  8. Add your remaining flour mixture. Whisk until just a few small clumps remain.
  9. Add your remaining milk/vinegar mixture - and whisk gently until it is all combined.
  10. Line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. I prefer to use unbleached cupcake liners.
  11. This cake batter makes enough for 12 cupcakes, so distribute the batter evenly between 12 cupcakes. It will be more than 2/3 of the way full, that is okay.
  12. Make sure to clean up any spillage on the cupcake pan before you put it into the oven.
  13. Once the cupcake pan is ready, put the pan into the preheated oven for 20-22 min. Check with a toothpick from 19min onward.
  14. Once the toothpick can come out cleanly(not wet) remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool on the counter in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes.
  15. After 10 minutes remove the cupcakes from the pan and place onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  16. They should be completely cooled after 30 minutes on the cooling rack and ready to frost or use in whatever way you want to use them.
  17. Enjoy!
  1. *This recipe is great when you don't want too many cupcakes, as it only makes 12.
  2. *You can use regular milk or almond milk... I have tried both, both work equally well, for this reason, this recipe can be considered dairy-free.
  3. *If you have a kitchen scale, this recipe will come out even more accurately than if you are measuring by cups or teaspoons.
  4. *I have never tried this recipe with gluten-free flour but I would be very interested to hear in your results if you do! I cannot see why it would not work.
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