Everyone should have one good vanilla cupcake recipe and one good chocolate cupcake recipe. You’ll have to decide whether this will be your “one good vanilla recipe” or not, but it is an excellent recipe.
Vanilla cupcakes should have a good amount of vanilla flavor to distinguish them from a “plain” cupcake and there should be a buttery flavor to the cakes, but without any greasiness to detract from the vanilla flavoring. These cupcakes have a combination of butter and buttermilk, which lends a very rich and buttery flavor to the finished cake without making them greasy, and the vanilla flavor is brightened up with a touch of almond extract. Overall, the balance of flavors is just about right.
Texture-wise, these cupcakes are tender and fluffy but have just enough weight to them that they stand up to any kind (or amount, if you have kids who like to pile it on) of icing very well. This weight also makes them quite satisfying.
I frosted these with a simple buttercream icing, but as I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes to pair with them, you’ll have to stay in suspense for that recipe just a bit longer.
Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and almond extracts until mixture is smooth.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Makes 12 cupcakes
StarJune 28, 2007
I noticed one of the comments recently listed powdered buttermilk as an essential in their kitchen. Have you used it? What do you think?
JEPJune 28, 2007
Had never thought of adding almond extra–thanks for the hint. The recipe size is perfect for baking with grandkids.
LAmonkeygirlJune 28, 2007
I have used powdered buttermilk, and, for cakes and muffins, it’s a fine substitute for regular buttermilk. Just add the powder with the dry ingredients, and add water with the wet, then combine as per the recipe’s instructions. I’ve not done a side-by-side comparison regarding taste, but I haven’t thus far detected a difference.
However, I really dislike artificial almond flavor. I find it overwhelming and unpleasant. What are other people’s experiences using it?
LinCJuly 2, 2007
I love almond extract. Used sparingly it can really enhance a cake or cookie. The amount in these cupcakes is perfect. The one thing you need to be careful of with almond extract is that people who have nut allergies may also be allergic to it.
OuroJuly 4, 2007
I tend to avoid almond extract, replacing it with amaretto. Similarly, I find that Galliano is a fine replacement for vanilla extract. I’m not sure why we still use these spirit extracts when there are richer flavors available on the bar-shelf.
Melisa SalmonsSeptember 13, 2007
what makes these cupcakes so moist
NawalMay 5, 2008
what did you put on top of the icing?
im trying to figure that out lol
AnonymousMarch 10, 2009
Do u think I could use just milk instead of buttermilk? And how should I double the recipe? I mean 2 cups of milk sounds so many..
CrystalMay 6, 2009
This is my go-to recipe for vanilla cupcakes. I love your website Nicole. You have the best recipes – always moist, delicious and easy! U rock:-)
ChatoAugust 26, 2009
I tried so many vanilla cupcake recipe…..and I have to say that this is the best one ever….Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!
ChristaAugust 29, 2009
I made these last night…. HUGE hit, so yummy and easy to make. Thanks for sharing this recipe… I’d made one earlier in the day off of FoodNetwork’s site and it was blucky tasting. So thanks for saving my “I’m going to make buttermilk cupcakes, now I need a recipe” endeavor 😉
elisaMarch 21, 2010
cant use the almond extract because of food allergy. is it okay to double the vanilla?
deweystarMay 26, 2010
These are fantastic moist cupcakes, I will be using this recipe again and again!
JenniferSeptember 5, 2010
This is the best vanilla buttermilk cupcake recipe that i have tried! I didnt use almond extract instead I used orange extract and the taste was uplifting!
Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Pam (pamcakes and eggs)September 22, 2010
I just made these cupcakes tonight and they didn’t turn out well at all. I made 12 cupcakes and still had extra batter and then the ones I did make overflowed. I’m not sure what the issue was. They taste great though. I think it might make a better cake recipe than cupcakes.
RoseOctober 21, 2010
can you make the cupcakes without using baking soda or almond extract?
rgcOctober 23, 2010
Great vanilla cupcake recipe. My 7 year old and her friend loved decorating and eating them.
AbbyNovember 23, 2010
saying this recipe is AMAZING is a understatement. ITS FANTASTIC. thank you so much(:
AnnJanuary 30, 2011
these tastes great! My only problem was the cake stuck to the cupcake liner. Perhaps I should spray it next time.
BobFebruary 23, 2011
For those of you who have had success with this recipe, how long did you beat the butter and sugar until it looked creamy? The butter and sugar never look creamy to me and I run by mixer at least ten minutes.
SandyFebruary 23, 2011
I have been using this recipe for a few years now and it is my favorite! It is perfect. I use all vanilla and I have made cakes, cupcakes, mini cupcakes, etc. I agree that the cupcake liners can’t be too full or it will overflow.
Thanks for this recipe!
Kelly D.April 3, 2011
I live at 8,362 ft and these cupcakes came out perfect with very little adjustment (I used cake flour because I prefer it, a little less of the levening agents and a touch more buttermilk). I creamed the butter and sugar less than 2 minutes. Bake time was 19 minutes in foil wrappers.
Erin P.June 4, 2011
This is a great recipe!!! I have been looking for a firm, but light cake recipe for ages and am happy to say, “This is it!” It is now officially our family birthday cake recipe! And, Bob, I found that the butter/sugar didn’t get very creamy either, so I added a spoonful of plain yogurt and that did the trick!
TrinaJuly 29, 2011
I have finally found the perfect recipe for my vanilla cupcakes! My cupcakes tasted so yummy and moist! Good Job for sharing!
MelissaJanuary 17, 2012
I Made These And They Had A great Taste But They Are Super Dense
lauraMarch 6, 2012
I made these…they really are moist and non-greasy, like she mentioned. Delish! I’m allergic to almonds, so I used Amaretto as a replacement. Worked great.
Jen AApril 5, 2012
These cupcakes turned out really well. I made 24 mini ones and six large. I frosted them with a rich chocolate frosting (kind of like a ganache). Definitely recommend this recipe!
Eva @ Eva BakesApril 23, 2012
Thank you for sharing this delicious cupcakes. I had a ton of buttermilk left over, and these cupcakes were the perfect way to use it up and satisfy my sweet tooth! I’ve linked back to you here: http://evabakes.blogspot.com/2012/04/vanilla-buttermilk-cupcakes.html
Gatagirl3May 14, 2012
I’ve tried several recipes for vanilla buttermilk cupcakes and keep coming back to these. This is really the best recipe out there. Yesterday, I made a double batch for the family and experimented and simply added some room temperature butter, powdered sugar, some liquid whipping cream, and a little bit of salt and whipped a quick frosting in my mixer, topping off the cupcakes with frosting and decorating three chocolate chips in the center…YUM!
afuaMay 16, 2012
Ive been looking for a vanilla cupacke recipe that wasnt too dry and this one is the answer. Moist as moist can be with the right balance of ingredients.
To Pamcakes, think logically…..you overfilled the liners, thats why they overflowed….easy fix and yes they do make a little more than 12 depending on the size of the liners. Every company has different definitions of standard, medium, large etc. Solution…make more cupcakes to enjoy and stop blaming the recipe!
chrisseyDecember 28, 2012
any buttermilk substitute? But the rest works gr8!!
JessJanuary 11, 2013
Amazing vanilla cupcakes! I doubled the recipe, and had about 22 cupcakes…I also used milk mixed with apple cider vinegar because I didn’t have buttermilk and omitted the almond (because I’m not a fan). They came out beautifully! I did have to cook about 22 min in my oven, but I’m pretty sure that is because my oven isn’t right, not the recipe! 🙂 thank you for this recipe – now my go to vanilla cupcake recipe!
IrinaFebruary 27, 2013
Thank you for the recipe! I made some today with my girl and we were both very pleased with the result. The cupcakes were easy to make and delicious. I’ve bloged about them and included a link to your blog.
bakingcherryMarch 21, 2014
I just baked up a batch of these and turned out awesome! It was so moist and fluffy, all the way to the top without that awful hard crusty top! I was about to give up on baking vanilla cupcakes after so many failed attempts, but i’m so glad i stumbled onto your site! Thank you so much for the recipe!
LouLouJune 26, 2014
This IS the only vanilla cupcake recipe you need. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. And EASY! Thank you so much for posting.