These yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting are super moist with a buttery flavor and golden color. I love to top them with creamy milk chocolate buttercream for birthdays (or just about any occasion), but they’re equally delicious with vanilla frosting too.
**This post was originally posted October 3, 2017. The post, recipe and photos were updated February 12, 2020**
When it comes to vanilla cupcakes – there are 2 main categories: yellow cupcakes and white cupcakes. Yellow cupcakes are made with whole eggs (yolk and white), whereas white cake is made with just the egg whites. If you’re looking for a vanilla cupcake recipe with a richer flavor, a more tender texture, and a little more moist – then these yellow cupcakes are definitely the way to go.
And since yellow cupcakes are a little sturdier in texture – they also hold up to even more creamy chocolate frosting.
The Perfect Yellow Cupcakes
There are a few key ingredients that make these cupcakes delicious:
- They use real butter for more flavor
- 2 eggs plus for tenderness, a richer flavor, and golden color
- Real vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour – as opposed to cake flour, which is typically used in white cake
- Buttermilk & sour cream for perfectly moist cupcakes – no dry cake crumbs here.
You’ll want to make sure all your ingredients are room temperature before getting started so you don’t over mix the batter (otherwise – tough cupcakes and sad faces). Take the butter, eggs, sour cream and buttermilk out of the fridge about 30 minutes before getting started.
The recipe uses the creaming method – meaning you’ll start off by beating together the butter and sugar until fluffy. This adds air to the batter which is key. You’ll then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Then you’ll alternate between additions of the wet ingredients (buttermilk and sour cream) and the dry ingredients (four, baking powder, baking soda and salt). This process of alternating between additions of wet and dry ingredients makes for a more uniform cupcake crumb and helps everything mix together without overmixing.
For the Chocolate Frosting
Then the chocolate frosting is my personal favorite. It’s fluffy, and creamy, and life changing-ly perfect. It’s made with real butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, whipping cream – plus a little vanilla and salt.
You can use natural cocoa powder or dutch processed if you prefer a stronger chocolate flavor. I really recommend using heavy cream or whipping cream instead of milk for the fluffiest texture and creamiest taste. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
Baking Tips & Substitutions
- Prevent dry cupcakes by carefully measuring the flour. Always whisk the flour first, then spoon into a dry measuring cup and level off the top. Or for more accuracy, use a kitchen scale. 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour weighs 7 ounces or 208g.
- If you’re in a pinch, sour cream can be substituted with plain Greek yogurt.
- If you don’t have buttermilk – add 1 ½ teaspoons of distilled (or white) vinegar to ½ cup milk (I like to use 2% or whole milk). Stir, and let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.
- Always bake cupcakes 1 tray at a time on the middle rack of your oven.
- This recipe will make about 14-15 cupcakes total. Do not try to fit all the batter into 12 cupcakes, otherwise, they can overflow.
- I do not recommend doubling this recipe, as it can lead to over mixing and therefore dry, tough cupcakes.
These vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting are the perfect recipe for birthdays, get togethers, or just really whenever you need a cupcake. (Every day???)
They’re fluffy, moist, so soft and have the most delicious vanilla flavor. Then with creamy chocolate frosting AND sprinkles – you’re definitely in for a treat!
Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour not self-rising
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk*
- 3 tablespoons sour cream*
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons whipping cream
Make the Vanilla Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees & line muffin trays with muffin papers. (You'll get 14-15 cupcakes total)
- In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Give them a whisk.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until very fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
- Mix in the sour cream.
- Beat about ½ of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then beat in the milk.
- Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then mix in the rest of the butter mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each about ⅔ full. You should get about 14-15 cupcakes total. Do not try to fit all the batter into 12 muffin papers - otherwise, they can overflow.
- Bake 1 tray at a time for 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Make the Chocolate Frosting
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.
- Carefully beat in 2 cups of powdered sugar.
- Then beat in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt.
- Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time alternating with 1-2 tablespoons whipping cream until the desired consistency and sweetness level is reached.
- Frost the cupcakes using a knife or a piping bag (I used a piping bag with a 1M tip).
- Plain Greek yogurt can be substituted for sour cream.
- If you don't have buttermilk, mix 1 ½ teaspoons of distilled vinegar with ½ cup milk. Let sit on the counter for 5 minutes to sour before using.
- If you only want a thin layer of frosting on top of each cucpake frosted using a knife, then half the frosting recipe.
- Storage & Make-Ahead Tips:
- Cupcakes are best enjoyed the same day that they're made.
- Store leftover cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 24 hours, or in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To make the cupcakes the day before:
- Make the cupcakes and cool fully, then store in an airtight container overnight.
- Make the frosting the day of. Or make the frosting the day before and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Let the frosting sit at room temperature to soften (about 1 hour), then frost the cupcakes. If the frosting is still hard, beat it with an electric mixer (you may need to add in 1-2 tablespoons more cream or milk).
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 2 months in an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge.
- Nutrition information is based on 1 cupake with frosting, assuming 14 cupcakes were made with the recipe.