Well, I promised you a celebratory cupcake.

So get some Eye of the Tiger blasting. Throw on something audaciously sparkly and sequined (think Forever 21). And give me some spirit fingers.

Because, hey Friday! We.Did.This.


Now before you all start arching your eyebrows in disbelief and saying things like, “Plain vanilla. Really. That was the best you could do.

Let me inform you that these are not just vanilla cupcakes. They are THE vanilla cupcake.

Major, major difference.


I’m always a bit reticent to call anything the “perfect” recipe but when you encounter a cupcake such as this…you gotta do what you gotta do.

They are soft and fluffy and so intensely and unapologetically vanilla, that they induce happiness with just one bite.


And with a drizzle of rainbow sprinkles on top, we can totally get this party started.


Sequins and all.


I made these for my brother’s birthday almost a whole month ago, per his vanilla-centric request. (Seriously, though…he hates all other flavors.) And he and my sister fought each other for the leftovers.

Now, almost a month later, it is my mother’s birthday and while I probably won’t make these again (since as a variety-obsessed food blogger I rarely make anything twice, much to everyone’s chagrin)…I am strongly considering it. And that says a lot.


One year ago…Coriander and Nori Pesto Soba with Wok-Seared Greens
Two years ago…African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter and Black Beans
Three years ago…Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic and Black Pepper Syrup
Four years ago…Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins, Very Blueberry Muffins

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 30 cupcakes, adapted from Tide and Thyme and Confections of a Foodie Bride

For the cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp milk
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • pinch of salt

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line two cupcake tins with liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
  3. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a mixing cup. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions, ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds more.
  4. Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

For the vanilla buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Reduce mixer to low and add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until totally combined. Add the vanilla bean paste and a pinch of salt, beating to combine. Beat for 1 minute, then frost cupcakes.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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89 Responses to Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. There is something to be said for a “perfect” cupcake recipe… once I find one I have a hard time trying anything else. These look so good, though, and so so pretty!

  2. Just looking at those photos makes me want to celebrate! Beautiful!

  3. Monica says:

    These do look perfect, with those lovely specks of vanilla beans! I love the simple swirl and nonpareil sprinkles are my favorite. Great job!

  4. I agree – a perfect cupcake! I adore a delicious vanilla cupcake! These look so fabulous, Joanne!

  5. Johanna GGG says:

    so gorgeous and colourful – I know a little girl who would love them – so would E – but I am not a vanilla girl unless it is really good vanilla – oh go on give me one too!

  6. london bakes says:

    I’m totally in favour of plain vanilla cupcakes – you can’t beat it!

  7. Audra says:

    I’m always on the hunt for another perfect vanilla cupcake- these look wonderful!

  8. Everyone needs a good vanilla every now and then. Definitely going to bust out my paste for these next time I need one!

  9. Your cupcakes are beautiful and a PERFECT way to start the weekend! I love the sprinkles on top!

  10. happiness with just one bite is something we need badly during all this rain.

  11. These do look like the quintessential, classic, perfect vanilla cupcakes! Super fun and tastyyy :)

  12. sandra says:

    Variety-obsessed food blogger. I can relate. These are so beautiful and I would not hesitate to call them perfect (even without tasting them).

  13. Beth says:

    Beautiful cupcakes! You’ve sold me on them. I’m picturing them with a whole lot of fresh berries – yum!

  14. The perfect vanilla cupcake is an art, and you totally succeeded with these, Joanne! They’re flawless, and I’d love to dig into one for dessert!

  15. There is just something about a classic vanilla cupcake. These are gorgeous, Joanne!

  16. This sound terrific. Plain vanilla indeed! I really have to try these. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

    Joanne, I am now on Google+ and have a facebook fan page. I’d love to have you join at both places.

  17. I don’t have a problem with vanilla cupcakes, in fact I wish I had them all here. They look gorgeous Joanne! Perfect butter cream and lovely choice of colored sprinkles, makes it a grande cupcake for the senses.

  18. Colynn O says:

    These are perfect. I rarely make anything twice either, but these look like they’d be a recurring dessert in my kitchen. Of course I’ll have to sub out a few ingredients, but the overall recipe is great.

  19. Plain vanilla cupcakes are one of my favorites. Your pictures are awesome Joanne – I especially love the one of all the cupcakes lined up on the baking sheet – so pretty!

  20. Kalyn Denny says:

    The cupcakes look delish, but I must confess that when I read “we did this” in my feed reader, I had something else in mind!

  21. Man, I have been on an endless search for perfect vanilla cupcakes, so I will definitely give these beauties a try next!

  22. I think vanilla is sooooo underrated – these sound seriously awesome! I think I’ll make them for myself – my birthday is next month :)

  23. I just made gluten-free vanilla cupcakes that were pretty bomb, too! These look so good… and so carby… and so bad for my diet… but it’s Friday. Once 5:00 hits, calories don’t count again until Monday. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  24. Vanilla are my favorite cupcakes. I must find a good gluten free vegan recipe I can make. It MUST exist!

  25. Eileen says:

    Hooray for Friday! These cupcakes sound perfect. Sometimes you just want something simple & high-quality, and these obviously fit the bill!

  26. @700words says:

    These look lovely, and ideal for some Friday celebrations. The Husband insists that vanilla is a valid flavour and prefers it to any other, much to my disdain. I must admit though, good vanilla, which I don’t doubt these are, is difficult to resist.

  27. Pam says:

    Bookmarked! They look fantastic and I totally understand why your siblings fought over the leftovers.

  28. bakeorbreak says:

    They look pretty perfect to me!

  29. I dig these. Hard! Vanilla cupcakes, done well like these, don’t need anything fancy! Also, I love the little flecks of vanilla bean in the frosting!

  30. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love these. You swirl the icing so well. And the sprinkles do lift these to special status. We call them 100’s and 1000’s over here. Thanks so much for your advice re the stress fracture. Really appreciate it. I’ll get some crutches. It’s so difficult not to weight-bare! How does one manage that? xx

  31. P says:

    I love a classic vanilla cupcake…especially one with cute rainbow sprinkles :)!!

  32. G’day How cute for today, TRUE!
    Love the staging of your photos and sprinkles too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  33. Gloria Baker says:

    These are absolutely lovely, I have to print, still I have other adorable cupcakes you made times a go look perfect!!

  34. Kari says:

    These certainly look perfect Joanne! Sometimes simple is best…so long as you add sprinkles, anyway 😉

  35. I love all types of crazy flavors, but when it comes down to the essentials, I am a vanilla lover too. These cupcakes will grace my kitchen soon hopefully- they look delicious, my mouth was watering.

  36. Yes, I’ll have some thanks! I’ve never used vanilla bean paste before but maybe that’s what gives your cupcakes the true vanilla experience?

  37. I read celebrity not celebratory on Facebook but both words would do! Love the use of buttermilk in this recipe :)

  38. Nizz says:

    Oh my…. too good to be true! Simple and perfect vanilla flavour that makes me so delighted just the smell of it! <3

  39. I think a classic vanilla cupcake that turns out perfectly every time is something to get excited about for sure!! And the sprinkles make them extra celebratory :)

  40. OK, usually I’d say vanilla is a waste of time, but NOT these. They look so fluffy and pure vanilla-ey. My boyfriend is like your brother – he loves vanilla cakes/cupcakes, so I will definitely make these for him soon!

  41. Dining Alone says:

    There is nothing better than a GOOD plain vanilla cupcake in my opinion.

  42. Barbara says:

    That’s perfect, all right. I actually wrote a post about vanilla being my favorite flavor. Everyone else thinks I’m boring….not so. Vanilla is perfection.

  43. Cathleen says:

    I LOVE plain vanilla! Probably the safest bet when trying something new. I would LOVE these :)

  44. Karen says:

    I rarely make cupcakes, but those pictures and your description makes me want to get up and make them right now!

  45. grace says:

    no shot of the innards?! vanilla bean paste is a magical tool. now that i think about it, so are sprinkles. :)

  46. Kim says:

    Yes, it’s definitely the true test when a food blogger makes a recipe for the second time (especially within such a short time frame). In all honesty, these do look pretty perfect! I just received 6 vanilla beans for free the other day and I’ve been looking for ways to use them. I notice this recipe uses the paste (I’ve never used that) but I’m sure I can adapt it to use the beans. These just look too fun to pass up!

  47. These cupcakes do look perfect! So pretty – great photos. And i bet they tasted just as good as they appear!

  48. Ruthy Kirwan says:

    Sometimes plain vanilla is anything but- uh, vanilla! These look gorgeous and the perfect recipe to keep on hand for a birthday treat. Everything is festive with sparkles, amiright?

  49. Sippity Sup says:

    Don’t tell anyone, but I made strawberry cupcakes today. Now if we could just find someone who made chocolate cupcakes, I think we’d have a trifecta. GREG

  50. Sometimes you need a little vanilla in your life. And this recipe defiantly fits the bill. Also, holy jumping jacks! Your frosting skills are fab.

  51. Monet says:

    These look delicious Joanne. I love vanilla cupcakes, and I’ve been wanting to try a new recipe (I want to make cupcakes for Lucy’s birth day). I’m bookmarking this! As long as I can bake during early labor…I’ll try to make these happen! Thank you for sharing!

  52. These look so fun and festive Joanne. I love a good vanilla cupcake! And your baking cups are adorable. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  53. These cupcakes really do perfect! Maybe I’ll make this for Father’s Day dinner tonight. It’s really more for myself but hey, no one needs to know, right?

  54. Jessie says:

    Any recipe I make more than once is a sure winner, and so I totally understand. That says a lot about this gorgeous cupcakes! The frosting is just perfect, and the sprinkles add that bit of jazz that says “birthday!” (Love the Forever 21 reference, by the way 😉 ).

    I hope you’ve had a great weekend, Joanne!

  55. Mother says:

    Meravigliosi questi cupcakes!!!
    Deliziosi, un saluto Mother.

  56. Dang girl, these really, truly look PERFECT! I want one! And by one, you know I mean 5. xo

  57. daphne says:

    the simple things are often tricky! and u can’t just make normal vanilla cupcakes- these looks like perfect vanilla cupcakes. Fit for your brother’s birthday for sure!

  58. I just love it when bloggers do the hard work of finding the perfect recipe so I don’t have to. Thanks, I pinned this for future use!

  59. These look like absolute perfection, I bet they tasted as good as they look!

  60. Ha, your call about being variety-obsessed and unable to make things twice totally resonated. I mean, I repeat recipes all the time, but there’s always the hunt for the new to blog about. But, we do get to eat so many good things, so it’s all fine, really.

    Also, these look wonderful – very classic. Vanilla bean paste is amazing stuff.

  61. Amy says:

    “Just” vanilla? That’s like when people apologize for smelling like garlic. It’s all good.

  62. Gorgeous muffins, Joanne, the swirls are so dang sexy and perfect.

  63. That Girl says:

    I actually prefer vanilla to chocolate – so these look delightful!

  64. I can tell these are amazing just from seeing all those vanilla bean specks. I rarely make things twice as well, but it’s always good to have a reliable vanilla cupcake recipe.

  65. Ashley says:

    Way to sell it, girl! These sound downright delectable! Yum :)

  66. Julia says:

    Vanilla bean specks, YES!!!! Um, and hello perfect little swirly cupcake tops! Looks fantastic!

  67. Natalie says:

    i am often bleh about vanilla flavored cupcakes but i will totally take your word for it and try these!

  68. Reeni Pisano says:

    You can’t go wrong with a cupcake you can call perfect! I happen to love vanilla ones – especially when they’re pretty like these! Makes eating them double the fun.

  69. They’re so pretty! Almost too pretty to eat…

  70. Victoria says:

    Vanilla paste is one of my favorite discoveries and I love that it’s used in both the cupcakes and frosting! Much cheaper than using vanilla beans and you still get the beautiful flecks! I love a good vanilla cupcake. Your brother has good taste :)

  71. definitely one worth pinning :) and i need to practice my cupcake decorating skillz!! beautiful.

  72. It seems to me that I need to get my hands on some of this vanilla paste, as I feel that’s the secret ingredient (besides buttermilk which makes every cupcake better) Hooray! Yey for birthdays!

  73. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    These cupcakes truly do look perfect. Love them :)

  74. Laura says:

    LOVE the new look! And LOVE these cupcakes. I love vanilla cupcakes, and these look perfect!

  75. […] Recipe available from Eats well with others. […]

  76. […] Read all the instructions at […]

  77. […] Find the recipe at : […]

  78. I’ve featured this recipe on my blog, hoping that you don’t mind, but if you do, please contact me and I’ll remove it. All the best.

  79. […] I definitely wanted to make red, white, and blue cupcakes. I had just read about Joanne’s Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes and thought they’d be the perfect batter for my cupcakes. There was only one problem; I […]

  80. amy Hoyt says:

    I can’t find vanilla bean paste in time…..what is best substitution?

  81. debbie says:

    Sounds like to much baking powder. Sorry? Is it 1 tsp or 1 Tbsp for real had z bad experience recently with addition of tablespoon of bp in pund cake recipe.

    • joanne says:

      It is really a tablespoon of baking powder! The recipe makes for a LOT of cupcakes (30), so that is why you need to add a lot. They are my favorite vanilla cupcakes, though, and definitely worth making!!

  82. Donna says:

    I also don’t have vanilla bean paste but I do have my own homemade vanilla extract, and also the vanilla beans, how much of which do I substitute the paste for? These look SO amazing I want to make them for my nieces birthday in 2 days!

  83. syd the kid says:

    can u cut the recipe in half

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