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Learn to make the best yellow cupcake recipe with just a handful of baking staples in under 25 minutes! Cupcakes made from scratch should be a staple recipe in every baker’s arsenal, and these are buttery soft, tender, and pair perfectly with your favorite frosting!

a yellow cupcake sitting in a cupcake wrapper.

Buttery Homemade Yellow Cupcakes

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that an easy yellow cupcake recipe like this one would also be known as the VERY best yellow cupcake recipe. We all know there’s nothing quite like a soft, moist, and fluffy yellow cupcake topped with a rich chocolate buttercream frosting or vanilla bean buttercream with or without sprinkles.

It’s what comes straight to mind when we think of the good old days when birthday parties were simple, and cupcakes made from scratch (or yellow cupcakes from a box when no one was looking) put smiles on everyone’s faces.

Some things never change because my kids also love homemade yellow cupcakes. I love that I can make a dozen of them in just 25 minutes!

Why you’ll love the Best Yellow Cupcake Recipe

Made with just 6 Ingredients – These homemade cupcakes are made with just 6 basic pantry staples. If you don’t have self-rising flour, I have a hack for you!

Goes well with any frosting! – Cupcakes without the cupcake frosting are just muffins! These pair well with everything from chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream, and chocolate frosting to cream cheese frosting, raspberry frosting, and peanut butter frosting.

Make ahead and freezer-friendly – Double the batch and store half unfrosted for later!

yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting & sprinkes.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.

  • Butter – Softened at room temperature for about 1 hour before. This is to ensure that it creams and blends easily.
  • Sugar – What’s a cupcake without a little sweetness?
  • Large Eggs – Bring these out to room temperature as well. Having all your ingredients start at room temperature helps with even baking.
  • Self-Rising Flour – If you’re like me and don’t often keep self-rising flour stocked in my pantry, do this – whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Boom – self-rising flour.
  • Water – Adding just a bit of water will result in moist cupcakes, thanks to the steam it creates in the oven.
  • Vanilla Extract – For flavor.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make yellow cupcakes.
Vanilla Cupcakes made from scratch should be a staple recipe in every bakers' arsenal. This recipe makes a small batch perfect to satisfy a craving. | www.persnicketyplates.com

How to make the Best Yellow Cupcake Recipe

This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

  1. Step One: Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Step Two: Add in the warm water and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  3. Step Three: Beat in 1 egg, followed by a bit of flour until incorporated. Alternate between adding 1 egg and some flour until everything is well blended. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
vanilla cupcake batter in a mixing bowl.
  1. Step Four: Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake tin and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until fully golden. This should be about 15-17 minutes.
overhead shot of cupcake batter in a cupcake pan.
  1. Step Five: Allow them to cool for a bit in the tin before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost them once they are cool.
overhead shot of yellow cupcakes in a pan.

Tips & Suggestions

  • Measure your flour. The last thing you want is dense, heavy, or dry cupcakes. As with all cupcake and cake recipes, correctly measuring flour is super important. Use the spoon and level method if a kitchen scale is not available.
  • Don’t get hasty with your butter. Remember to bring it out early. Don’t try and take a shortcut by using the microwave, otherwise you risk melting it.
  • Mini muffin tin – Turn this easy yellow cupcake recipe into mini cupcakes! Bake for 13 minutes instead.
  • Cupcake liners – Use them. I can’t stress this enough!

How to store Homemade Yellow Cupcakes

How to store leftovers

These cupcakes can be kept either at room temperature or in the fridge. Cover them in an airtight container to maintain moisture so they don’t dry out.

How long will yellow cupcakes last in the fridge?

They’ll stay fresh for up to 3 days whether in the fridge or the counter.

Can I freeze them?

Absolutely! Once they are completely cooled off and haven’t been frosting yet, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or layer them in a container separated with parchment paper. Keep them frozen for up to 3 months.

a yellow cupcake on its side with bites taken out.

FAQs

What is the difference between yellow cake and vanilla cake?

If you’ve ever wondered what the distinction between yellow cake, vanilla cake, or even white cake is, it all comes down to the egg yolks. A vanilla cake is technically both a white and yellow cake, as they are both not chocolate cakes. I’d say it’s because they use vanilla extract, but so does chocolate cake, so there goes that theory.

A yellow cake uses the whole egg, including the yolk, which gives it a nice yellow hue. White cake (as in angel food cake, wedding cakes, etc,) only use egg whites. They may go so far as to use clear vanilla extract as well.

Can I use milk instead of water?

Sure you can. Since it won’t create as much steam as the water would, you want to keep it nice and moist by using whole milk. Buttermilk or sour cream would also be great.

How do I know when my cupcakes are done?

The best way to check is to insert a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If it comes out clean, your batch of cupcakes is ready.

Since each oven will run differently, it’s best to check at the 15-minute mark and go from there. Watch that they aren’t browning too much.

Need more cupcake recipes? Try these:

Patriotic Brownie Cupcakes

Strawberry Jello Poke Cupcakes

Spring Chick Cupcakes for Easter

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

Chocolate Milk Cupcakes

Click here for my entire collection of cupcake recipes.

yellow cupcake with a bite missing.

Did You Make This?

If you made this recipe, I’d love to know how it went in the comments section below.

You can also tag me on Instagram – @melissa_pplates or share a pic in the Persnickety Plates Community Facebook group. I love seeing what you’ve tried!

Vanilla Cupcakes made from scratch should be a staple recipe in every bakers' arsenal. This recipe makes a small batch perfect to satisfy a craving. | www.persnicketyplates.com
a yellow cupcake sitting in a cupcake wrapper.
5 from 5 votes

Best Yellow Cupcakes

Servings: 15 cupcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Learn to make the best yellow cupcake recipe with just a handful of baking staples in under 25 minutes! Cupcakes made from scratch should be a staple recipe in every baker's arsenal, and these are buttery soft, tender, and pair perfectly with your favorite frosting!

Ingredients
 
 

  • 12 Tablespoons salted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups self rising flour

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
    12 Tablespoons salted butter, 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • Add in the warm water and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
    1 Tablespoon warm water, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add an egg, mix until thoroughly incorporated, then add half the flour and mix. Add the next egg, mixing until incorporated, then the rest of the flour. Finish with the last egg, mixing until fully incorporated. It is a dense batter.
    3 large eggs, 1 ½ cups self rising flour
  • Use a cookie scoop to evenly divide the batter into the prepared cupcake pan. Evenly divide batter into your prepared cupcake pan.
  • Bake until golden, 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool then frost.

Notes

  • Make substitute self-rising flour by whisking 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour.
  • The batter will make 12-15 cupcakes depending on how full you fill the cupcake wells.
  • Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 87mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 334IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published March 2010; photos updated March 2015

Vanilla Cupcakes made from scratch should be a staple recipe in every bakers' arsenal. This recipe makes a small batch perfect to satisfy a craving. | www.persnicketyplates.com
Vanilla Cupcakes made from scratch should be a staple recipe in every bakers' arsenal. This recipe makes a small batch perfect to satisfy a craving. | www.persnicketyplates.com
four cupcakes with sprinkles on a white plate.


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