Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

This is it folks, the recipe upon which I built my cupcake empire! I recently calculated that I have personally made close to a million of these cupcakes! I developed this recipe at the very beginning of my baking business and used it faithfully in every store and every kitchen we had. It never failed me – so you know it’s a good recipe!

I love it because it’s not too sweet, but it’s just beautifully fluffy and crumbly in your mouth. It holds its own and doesn’t break apart too easily and it gives a lovely rise with a flat top which is perfect for decorating. This cupcake recipe has been my secret weapon for over a decade – and now it’s yours!

Should I use Margarine or Butter?

I have tried this recipe many times with both margarine and butter and I like the way it comes out better with margarine. This is totally down to personal preference so if you want to use butter instead, go right ahead! I find that the margarine is easier to aerate and makes for a better consistency in this particular recipe. I also find that since I will always be decorating these cupcakes with frosting, I don’t want the sponge itself to be too rich, and the margarine helps with that. But it is totally your choice!

What kind of frosting to use

This is also down to personal preference. The usual topping for these would be a classic American Buttercream, that’s what we always put on the vanilla cupcakes in the bakery, but there are so many options out there! My classic buttercream recipe has been tweaked to make it a little less sweet than a lot of other buttercream recipes which I found was way more popular and helps you to eat a lot more cake!

If you don’t want to use a classic American buttercream, my current favourite is an Italian Meringue Buttercream, which is silky smooth and a much more sophisticated flavour than the super sweet traditional buttercream. It’s a little more complex to make, but totally worth it in my opinion!

These vanilla cupcakes are honestly the perfect addition to your baking repertoire. I have taken them along to almost every party and social gathering I have been to over the past decade. Cupcakes are always a crowd pleaser and this recipe really shows off the best of that ‘homemade’ taste that you just can’t get from a store.

This is also a super versatile cupcake recipe, it’s a great base for making a myriad of different flavour combinations – I’ll post some of my favourites in the next few weeks.

Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

Vanilla Cupcakes

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Difficulty Easy
Servings 12 cupcakes


  • 1/2 cup Margarine
  • 1 cup Fine Sugar (caster sugar in the UK)
  • 1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 batch Classic Buttercream


  • Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners
  • Beat together margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. It's important to get enough air into the mix at this stage as this will make for a nice light, crumbly sponge. The mix should be visibly lighter in colour and should look slightly aerated
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time
  • Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl then add a third of it to the batter and stir on low until combined. We're going to alternate the flour and milk additions to make sure it all incorporates properly
  • Once the first third of flour is totally mixed in, add half the milk and continue to mix on low. It's. important not to add the milk when there is still flour visible as this will cause a gloopy, glue-like mix in your batter.
  • Repeat this process with the next third of flour, the rest of the milk and then the last of the flour, making sure to combine everything in between each addition
  • Finally, add your vanilla extract and make sure everything is mixed together evenly
  • Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes or until a skewer inserted comese out clean
  • Cool entirely before decorating with your frosting of choice
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