Double Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes made with vanilla beans in both the cupcake and the buttercream frosting.

  • Yield: Makes about one dozen cupcakes.

Ingredients

Cupcake

  • 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or one whole bean if you can spare it)

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven preheats cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean. Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk into a small saucepan. Heat to just under a simmer for a few minutes being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to steep and cool. (Be sure to remove the bean after it cools. Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)

2 Beat the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each.

3 In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another whisk together the vanilla steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

4 Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter sugar egg mixture in alternating additions (dry-wet-dry method), starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined being sure to not overbeat.

5 Divide the batter into cupcake papers in a muffin tin and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be sure to rotate the cupcakes after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get overbaked quickly. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Frost when cooled.

Frosting

Beat the butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in.

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Comments

  1. Memoria

    These cupcakes look divine. I agree; vanilla is NOT plain. I actually prefer vanilla over chocolate. I would like to buy vanilla bean paste and vanilla beans. Where do you purchase your beans?

    I love the tip about the dried vanilla in the vacuum cleaner!

    I get mine from Beanilla, they have a wide variety of beans to choose from. ~Garrett

  2. Dawn

    Thanks, Garrett! What should I do with your recipe to make a cake? Double it and increase the baking time?

    Sounds about right, though I haven’t tried that way. If it works I hope you’ll leave a comment and let us know. ~Garrett

  3. arugulove

    These look fantastic. I’m definitely someone that has always preferred vanilla over chocolate and it bugs me that chocolate cake is always considered the height of decadence and vanilla is the boring option, when in reality, I think it should be the other way around.

    Last year around the holidays, I found 12 Mexican vanilla beans at Costco for $10, so be sure to check there if you are looking for a good deal! Probably not the most luxurious vanilla ever, but still an excellent value as I’ve baked some wonderful things with them.

  4. Emily

    Just finished baking this recipe and I am trying really hard to not get any frosting on my keyboard as I type this comment! These cupcakes are sinful! I had ordered so many vanilla beans from Beanilla two weeks ago, I was running out of things to make. So I actually used a whole Tonga vanilla bean (rather than 1/2) for the frosting and found it to be the perfect amount for my tasting. Tomorrow I think I might try this recipe with either the Indian or Madagascar beans and hold a little taste testing with my friends. Great post, Garrett!

  5. mantha

    Ohhhh . . . let me tell you about vanilla. You ladies want one of those old-fashioned luxurious perfumes that starts out complex and goes down to a deep vanilla base by the end of the evening — Shalimar comes to mind — if you want to be irresistible, go to bed smelling like a cookie.

    Penzeys has good beans too, and they do tend to cost meaningfully less in larger amounts. Do vanilla beans take well to carefully wrapped freezer storage to preserve strength?

    These are gorgeous cupcakes — I hope the recipe handles well made up at least double, because a dozen is not going to last very long. Rotating the tins in the oven is always a good idea, a very good tip. Always did it with brownies and blondies too.

  6. JoAnne Jenkins

    I want to make these, but don’t have a vanilla bean handy. I do have some very nice madagascar vanilla paste, that I can substitute. So I was wondering, do I still need to heat the milk?

    My friends think I’m weird because my dream vacation would be a Tahitian cruise that includes the “vanilla island.”

    I wouldn’t worry about heating the milk with vanilla paste. ~Garrett

  7. Shannon

    These cupcakes are mouth-watering. I was just wondering if the recipe would be completely screwed up if you substituted reduced fat sour cream and also skim milk? Please let me know. :)

    Shannon, skim milk shouldn’t be a problem, but when it comes to reduced fat sour cream or cream cheese it can thin out the cake batter. I haven’t tried it myself with this recipe, but feel free to test it out. I hope you’ll let us know how it works out. ~Garrett

  8. Steve

    Thanks for the recipe, it looks great!!

    I have a question, I recently moved to Sacramento and am curious if there are any stores that would carry the variety of vanilla beans mention in the intro here. Do you know of any? Corti Brothers?

    Thanks for any input! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    I’m not really sure of any place that sells a variety of types of beans. I would suggest shopping and comparing online where usually you can find sampler packs that have four or five beans grown in different regions. ~Garrett

  9. Liz

    I too love vanilla….. I admit that I’m not as picky about my extract as I should be, but I have fallen *IN LOVE* with the Vanilla Sugar from Penzey’s. Whenever I’m feeling down, I just unscrew the lid and take a whiff and it makes me happy. :) http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeysvanillasugar.html it is just a little bit of heaven!

    Take your old, used, dried up beans and toss them into a jar with some sugar and let it sit a week. Instant vanilla sugar and a great way to use old beans. ~Garrett

  10. Scott

    We went to Beanilla for Vanilla Beans like Garrett suggested. They seem to have the best prices and largest selection of vanilla beans. We also bought vanilla paste as well. Does anyone know how much vanilla paste I should use as a substitute for the vanilla beans in this recipe?

    1 vanilla bean = 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. vanilla paste = 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 vanilla bean = 1 tsp. vanilla paste
    ~Garrett

  11. Vicky

    I have something special that bonds me with each of my children in a different way. With my 11 year-old son, it is our passion for vanilla. My friends are amazed at my variety of vanilla beans, paste, powder and extracts. My newest discovery is Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Vanilla Bean Crush, which is a premium extract chock-full of crushed vanilla beans and vanilla bean seeds. It is heavenly! I will never go back to plain old extract again…

  12. Kate

    Hey wait whoa – can you give us some specs on how you rigged this vacuumilla-scent contraption?

    I just snuggled it in next to the air filter. ~Garrett

  13. mantha

    Rumana —
    Using yogurt instead of soured cream works better for me if I make it into a yogurt cheese first, since yogurts tend to be more liquid or “runny” than soured cream. (I would use whole milk yogurt for this, since skim milk yogurt is really thin, and the cheese comes out grainy.) Take a coffee filter, put it into a wire strainer, set the strainer over a bowl, and pour in your yogurt. Put it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. The whey will separate and drain into the bowl, and the thick stuff that’s in the strainer is your yogurt cheese. It reduces by about half, so a quarter cup in the recipe means you should start out with a half cup of yogurt. (How about a really good quality vanilla yogurt to start?)

  14. Amber Oswalt

    I baked these cupcakes yesterday and they are definitely my new favorites! AMAZING! My husband went crazy for them even after he nearly fell over at the cost of whole vailla beans. (he obviously doesn’t cook much!) Anyway, Thanks so much!!

  15. Melissa

    I just made these last night for a friend’s birthday and they went over VERY well – so much so that a skeptic chocoholic friend rated them a 99 out of 100, one point less than a chocolate dessert. Quite an accomplishment for good ole ‘plain vanilla’ if I do say so myself! Thank you Garrett and Elise for this incredible recipe! It will see many a repeat performance in my kitchen.

  16. Melany

    We made these tonight for my son. I did not have a vanilla bean on hand and I decided to make them anyway. I increased the vanilla extract to 2 teaspoons for the cupcake batter.

    The cake texture is fantastic, light and tasty. This is also one of the better butter cream frosting recipes I’ve come across.

  17. Carolyn Harris

    I made these cupcakes and they were delicious. I even enjoyed some w/out the frosting and a cup of coffee. Can this recipe be altered? I would like to make a vanilla bean cake with chocolate or lemon frosting.

    Feel free to use any frosting you want. =) ~Garrett

  18. Emily

    I made these cupcakes and they were just perfect! Gone within the day and now have people begging me for more! =)
    I kept the outer vanilla bean pods and I was very interested in putting them in my vacuum. Do I need the whole bean or will the leftover shells be okay?

    Glad you liked the cupcakes. Just a dried out old pod is fine. ~Garrett

  19. Tracy

    These look gorgeous and I’m excited about trying them out. I, too, am a lover of vanilla. I always, always, ALWAYS try out new ice cream brands with their vanilla first. If they won’t get that right, then I guarantee I won’t like anything else they do, either.

    And thank-you for linking to Beanilla! I just ordered 10 Bourbon vanilla beans for a really knock-out price and I’m so excited to get to using full beans again! It’s been a long time since I could afford them and, for whatever reason, I had never really thought to look online.

  20. nia

    So I think I did something wrong. I made these following the recipe exactly, except I used vanilla paste instead of a bean, and mine came out really pale after 20 minutes. I took them out because they were cooked through. I don’t understand what I did wrong. I am usually really good with making cupcakes. Any suggestions??

    If they cooked through and came out pale it sounds like the recipe worked fine. ~Garrett

  21. Laura - Family Spice

    I made these for my 4-year old daughter’s princess tea party birthday party. I used the maga-sized cup cake foils (because a princess doesn’t get a little cupcake!) and the girls ate them up! I made a different dessert for the moms, but they all wanted the pieces of cupcake that their girls didn’t finish! Only change I made was to use strictly extract (some kids won’t eat speckled cupcakes) but I will definitely make these again with my vanilla beans! Thanks!

  22. Brandy

    I made these for my boyfriend who had been wanting some vanilla cupcakes recently (he is another member of the vanilla is better than chocolate crowd). They are absolutely fantastic! Even I, the die-hard chocoholic, loved them! I especially liked the frosting and I am not usually much of a frosting person so that’s saying something. I still have 3 left and I’m already thinking about when I might make them again! This recipe is definitely going into my ‘keeper’ box.

  23. Emoon012

    I came across this blog when searching for cream cheese frosting and saw this recipe when browsing thru. In my country, sour cream is hard to get and reading thru the comments someone used yoghurt cheese, but other than this any other suggestion instead of sour cream? Also if using salted butter, don’t have to add any more salt?

    Hmm, maybe you could use crème fraîche? Not sure I understand your butter question. I use unsalted butter because in this frosting I don’t want any salt. ~Garrett

  24. ginger1981

    I’m another committed vanilla over chocolate fan, and one of my other vanilla-holic friends requested I make vanilla bean cupcakes for her party. These turned out fantastic! Thanks for the recipe. One thing I did slightly different was I didn’t put quite as much powdered sugar in the frosting…I thought a more buttery frosting would complement the vanilla more.

    I don’t know if you have a Marshall’s or TJ Maxx where you live, but I find vanilla beans there occasionally and good vanilla extract and paste on a regular basis. I think they are generally overstock from Williams Sonoma as it is usually the same brand as they carry. I got 3 massive high quality beans for $5 there (I think originally retailed around $18). It’s hit or miss whether they have them but you can always give them a try!

  25. vanessa

    These have got to be by far the best vanilla cupcakes I have ever made and had!!! Every single cupcake was gone in a matter of 10 minutes.

  26. rayna

    Mmm, these were delicious. My friend actually commented that she might use this vanilla icing on a chocolate cake, over the typical chocolate icing she loves to use. I used 1 whole madagascar vanilla bean in the cupcake, along with 1/2 of one for the icing coupled with additional vanilla extract. I also used cake flour instead of all-purpose. This would probably make a great wedding cake, I imagine. I’ve been trying different cupcake recipes on this site, and so far have only been wowed by the results. Keep them coming.

    Will do, Rayna! ~Garrett

  27. Deborah

    Made these yesterday & topped them with a vanilla & almond cream cheese frosting; absolutely delicious. The cupcakes were moist & tender with a wonderful vanilla flavor-the icing was a perfect compliment, infusing some almond flavor into every bite. Thank you for a wonderful recipe – this one is a keeper.

  28. Debi

    When I made these cupcakes, I was told they were better than any from “Sprinkles” a specialty cupcake bakery here. My husband who is a big chocolate fan, said they were the best he’s ever had, and I’ve had some pretty good chocolate recipes. Thanks for the recipe, we will continue to enjoy them.

  29. Harlow

    I was wondering if I could use Vanilla Extract to substitute for the Vanilla Bean (Not available for me.) If so, how much?

    2 teaspoons. ~Garrett

  30. Rosie

    Like Harlow, I will have to use Vanilla Extract, will I still need to heat up the milk?

    Let it come to room temperature to allow for easy mixing. ~Garrett

  31. Indianapolis Wedding Cakes

    I wonder if I could substitute the whole milk with soy milk instead, not really a big whole milk person. They look delicious, especially that icing!!! Def gonna have to try making these cupcakes today! Thanks for the recipe, you rock!

  32. Isabella

    I have finally found a moist vanilla cupcake recipe! All the other vanilla cupcakes I have tried from previous recipes turned out dry. Thanks so much for sharing this with us! The cupcakes were delicious! I was wondering if it was ok if I put in 2.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead of half a vanilla bean. It shouldn’t make a huge difference, texture wise, but I am more worried about taste. Thanks again!

    Shouldn’t be a problem! But if you can, go for the bean. ~Garrett

  33. Meena

    Hi Garret, I am a regular visitor to this blog. Love this recipe for vanilla cupcakes – the first time I made cupcakes I used this recipe and Viola I had this perfect batch. Infact the egg when being whisked in were in peaks and wow I was amazed. This time I have had a problem – my egg mixture curdled. So I chucked the first lot and read up other blogs which suggested that I have over beaten the eggs, so like I said I scraped that batch and started again. Guess what, this happened again. I am not sure what went wrong. Help me here; please why did it curdle, why were the eggs not whisking to soft peaks? what did I do wrong this time? I followed the recipe to the T.

    Meena, well the eggs shouldn’t curdle because you aren’t having to whip the whites or anything. To be honest, chemically there is no way they could be curdling as we aren’t adding heat and we aren’t trying to whip egg whites for the purpose of meringue. It sounds like you just have very cold eggs and butter that simply do not want to mix together and it appears visually to be “curdled.” My advice is what I’ve been told by many pastry chefs and professional bakers: just keep mixing and continue on with the recipe. More than likely it will correct itself. Furthermore, be sure you are mixing well before the addition of the eggs, continue to scrape down the sides, and be sure that the butter and eggs are at room temperature to ensure even mixing. ~Garrett

  34. Meena

    Hi Garret, This is me -”meena” again. I followed your recipe and made sure all the ing were room temp and I did get a good batch of cupcakes. Now I will go back to exploring and experimenting from your blog again. Thanks again. I am going to try a choc cupcake will keep you posted

  35. Rosa

    So, I followed the suggestions for converting this recipe into one for a cake. It came out very dense but still moist. The texture is more like a sweet bread than cake. I should have made a layered cake instead of a single 9″ layer. I also had to thin the icing with a little milk to make it spreadable. Maybe I got these results because I mixed by hand. But the cake was still very flavorful. I will try it again.

  36. Misty

    I cannot even say WOW enough!!! I am in vanilla bean heaven (I used a whole bean in both the cupcake and the frosting)!!!! Thank you for this recipe! These are by FAR better than any cupcakes I’ve ever bought- even from the high end bakeries! My tummy says THANKS!!! Even though my waistline is cursing at you… ignore that.

  37. Janet

    I just made these cupcakes (literally — they are still cooling on the racks!) and I am delighted with how they came out. Light and moist, nice vanilla flavor.
    Since I live at high altitude (over 5500 ft above sea level), I have to adjust every baking recipe. Cupcakes have been my nemisis. But these came out great with just a couple of modest changes. I reduced the leavening to 1 tsp of baking powder, and added 2 Tbsp of milk.
    I’ll be serving these to my daughter’s class for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and again for her 9th birthday party a week later. She is a huge vanilla fan, as well.
    Thanks for the recipe! Once again, I can always count on you to come through.

  38. Lizzie Mom

    I made these last night for our daughter’s first birthday party, which was today. They were *AMAZING*! I’m usually a chocolate person but since we’re waiting to introduce chocolate to our daughter, these sounded like they would work well. Thank you so much! I will certainly be making these again. I also took photos of her eating the cupcake, so if you want a little advertising, I’d be happy to email them. :)

  39. Pet

    You are a GOD! I have been looking for this for a very long time. All vanilla cupcake recipes that I’ve tried have come out as bread, dry, plain and boring. But this one; there are really no words!

    I must admit I made a few changes. I didn’t have vanilla beans or paste for one. I made a couple of batches, the first one which was very lightly beaten was very fluffy. After beating the rest of the batter a little extra the next batch came out a little denser, and still extremely moist and vanillaish (is that a word? :p). They are just as I want my cupcakes.

    Perfect. Just perfect! I think love you.

  40. Kate

    Hi, I had a question for you…I made these and my frosting came out kind of course and runny…Is there some kind of order I should be mixing the ingredients together (usually I do wet then add dry)…They tasted great I just didnt really like the texture of it.

    This is a basic buttercream. All you do is toss them in a bowl and beat until smooth. I would suggest adding more butter or possible a bit of cream cheese to smooth it over, but which will add some tang to the final product. ~Garrett

  41. Ashley

    Hi, I was wondering if I switched the all purpose to cake flour, would the measurements be the same? Or do I need to adjust. I like a very light, fluffy cake do you think by changing that it will make any difference? And will vanilla bean paste taste and look the same as a vanilla bean? Thanks so much.

    Yes, but reduce the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon and the salt to a pinch. However, I would suggest trying the original recipe first before making changes. As for the vanilla bean paste it will taste like vanilla bean. ~Garrett

  42. Monica

    About the vanilla extract: When you say 2 teaspoons, do you mean 2 teaspoons plus the 1 1/2 teaspoons, or just 2 teaspoons?

  43. Monica

    Hi, it’s Monica. I’m not much of a baking person, so I guess you can call me a beginner, but, I was wondering about the frosting. The vanilla would taste great, but I was wondering if there was a frosting that would compliment the vanilla. I was thinking of chocolate at first, but I don’t want chocolate to take over and take away the floating sensation of vanilla. Any suggestions?

    Chocolate would be just fine! ~Garrett

  44. Kate

    Not sure what I did wrong but the batter was really thick and then the baked cupcakes had more of a muffin texture. The vanilla flavor is great but I am not a fan of the texture.

  45. Ashley

    The flavor is amazing, but I found this cupcake to be very dense. It also does not rise much. If you like a denser cupcake, it’s great. If you like them airy, light and fluffy…. it’s not the cupcake for you. however, the flavor is something I have not found in any other recipe. It’s a burst of vanilla bean heaven in every bite. I just wish the texture was different ( I’m a baker, so I know I did nothing wrong with the batter, etc.) Also, do not switch to cake flour… I tried that , it was terrible.
    The frosting is delicious! Esp if you add a teaspoon of pure vanilla and a dash of heavy cream. The combo of vanilla bean on vanilla bean is pure heaven.

  46. Condor

    Is it okay to use vanilla extract instead? I can’t seem to find any vanilla beans.
    Thanks.

    Of course. You can, however, purchase vanilla beans online. I usually shop at Beanilla. ~Garrett

  47. serena

    I have been looking for a moist vanilla cupcake recipe for a very long time. Every one I tried came out too dense or dry. I will be trying this one soon. Question, can buttermilk be substituted for milk? Using buttermilk with other cakes and cupcakes seem to make it moist. So will it make a difference if buttermilk is used?
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I can’t say what buttermilk will do. In baking, altering the acid/base reaction will greatly affect a recipe. I can only say that using milk will work. If you do try this with buttermilk, I hope you’ll let us know how it turns out. ~Garrett

  48. adam

    What happens if the sugar doesn’t dissolve ?

    There isn’t a step where you dissolve sugar so I’m not sure what you are referring to. The sugar does get mixed into the frosting and cake batter, and will if you beat it as instructed. ~Garrett

  49. C.C.

    Hello, the cupcakes turned out pretty good…a little dense, I will probably cook them for about 16-17 min next time. Tried the Icing and it was very buttery added another cup of sugar and a tbsp of vanilla extract it was still nasty. So I threw it out…I couldn’t even add the vanilla bean didn’t have the heart to waste it.

  50. Ivy

    THANK YOU! This is the cupcake recipe I was looking for; moist, fluffy, and light. Although I don’t like sour cream, so I substituted for an additional 1/4 of milk and the final result was excellent! Thanks again!

  51. Phat

    Can I use the regular salt instead of kosher salt? What’s the difference?

    Iodized salt has a chemical flavor from processing and is almost too salty. I suggest never using it again. Ever. ~Garrett

  52. Evelin Mari

    Living in Europe really makes you stupid when it comes to cups and Fahrenheit temps. It really is a foreign language.

    Could you post the measurements in Gram’s and degrees Celsius? Pleeeeasee?

    Thank you so much,
    Groetjes, (that is Dutch for greets)
    Evelin

    Evelin, a google search or the conversion tool on the left should be of great help to you. ~Garrett