Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

This vanilla cupcake recipe is easy to follow. It makes softly textured sponge cakes that look very pretty as either full-sized cupcakes, or as small cupcakes. If you use a hand-held mixer or a food processor, these cupcakes can be whipped up in just five minutes, and they cook and cool quickly making them ideal store cupboard goodies for unexpected guests.

We use vanilla extract for flavour, but if you use vanilla sugar in this recipe then the vanilla flavour comes through really beautifully. Vanilla sugar takes a couple of weeks to become fully flavoured, so we usually have a couple of jars on the go - one that we are using and one that is in the making. We don't use it in all baking - just where the vanilla flavour really needs to come through.

To make vanilla sugar, take a vanilla pod, slice it down the side and scrape out the seeds into a jar containing around six cups of sugar. Stir the seeds and pod thoroughly through the sugar and leave the jar for a couple of weeks.


Vanilla cupcakes are definitely a favourite in our family and we often serve them in the afternoon along with a sandwich, piece of fruit and cup of tea for a nice filling snack if we've been out for the day.

Cupcakes look really pretty on tiered cake stands with other treats like finger sandwiches and little cookies. I love this cake stand. It's absolutely beautiful.

Royal Albert china is so classical. This blue would look lovely with vanilla cakes - and with chocolate too. You can buy it here from Amazon.


Vanilla Cupcake Recipe


Level: easy
Time: 45 minutes
including cooking and cooling
Makes 12 small cupcakes



20g butter
70g sugar
60g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
60ml milk
1/2 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract





Suggested Toppings

Fluffy frosting (our personal favourite) is vanilla flavoured and works beautifully with this vanilla cupcake recipe. If you want something a little more robust, try the pile it high chocolate cream cheese frosting or for something really pretty, you can try the powdered sugar frosting, using different colours to top the cakes.


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F, Gas mark 4.
  • Put the sugar, butter and salt into a bowl and whisk them until combined. The butter doesn't cream together like it does when making a victoria sponge. See image for how it should look.


  • Add the flour and baking powder and whisk until no more dust comes up from the mixture and the mixture has a sandy consistency, as in the image. 

  • Pour the milk into a jug and add the egg and the vanilla essence. Whisk the liquid until just combined (only a few seconds).

  • Gradually pour this mixture into the flour, whisking all the time.

  • When completely combined scrape any bits down from the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula and whisk for just two minutes. Be careful not to overmix.

  • Fill the cupcake papers about two thirds full, and put in the middle of the oven for 15-18 minutes. The cakes will spring back when pressed gently on the top.

  • When the cakes are cooked, remove them to a cooling rack as soon as possible and leave to go completely cold before topping with the frosting of your choice.

Serve with

Vanilla cupcakes are delicious for afternoon tea with a few slices of apple and a sandwich.

As part of an afternoon tea spread, vanilla cupcakes look lovely on a cake stand with other small treats - cucumber sandwiches, ham sandwiches, meringues and little chocolate eclairs would be lovely served with earl grey tea or mint tea.




If you enjoyed our Vanilla Cupcake Recipe,
maybe you'd enjoy Dark Chocolate Cupcakes.