Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Vanilla lovers, rejoice! Rich and sweet, this vanilla cupcake recipe has double the vanilla flavor thanks to real vanilla beans and pure vanilla extract. Make a batch for your next gathering, potluck, or birthday party.

Side view of vanilla cupcakes with the wrapper pulled down from the center one of the best vanilla cupcake recipe.

Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

It raises my hackles when someone calls something "plain vanilla." Plain? Plain?! Are they insane?! There's nothing plain about vanilla!

Given, I'm a little more passionate about the spice than most (if it wasn't apparent enough). Heck, I named my blog after the stuff.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are Every Vanilla Lover’s Dream!

I have no less than nine varieties of vanilla beans in my pantry! Not to mention six kinds of vanilla extract — three of them homemade. Vanilla oil, vanilla sugar, chopped up vanilla beans. I even keep a dried bean in the filter of my vacuum so the place smells like vanilla when I clean.

Different Types of Vanilla

Even when we discuss the flavor of vanilla, there's nothing plain about it. Mexican vanilla has a velvety, sweet, and creamy scent that begs to be made into puddings.

Tahitian vanilla has a heady aroma of figs, that reminds me of summers eating the sticky fruits stuffed with cheese and honey.

The dark and rummy smell of Madagascar vanilla hints at a slight, musky nose of tobacco. My favorite, the Tonga vanilla bean which, after deep inhale, will bombard you with images of black cherries.

Side view of a platter of vanilla cupcakes.

Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

The Best Vanilla Cupcakes Are Made With Real Vanilla

Any of these beans are perfect in this delightful vanilla cupcake recipe, a recipe that I'm very proud of. It's a fantastic way to show off vanilla, a spice that does love center stage.

I like to think of vanilla as my humble, endearing, sweet-smelling obsession. Personally, I feel this particular vanilla cupcake recipe will seduce you to the way of vanilla as well.

If you don't have a vanilla bean you can get away with just the vanilla extract, but this vanilla cupcake recipe is infinitely better with the beans.

Ways to Use the Leftover Vanilla Bean Pod

While they can be expensive (buy online), keep in mind that even after you scrape the seeds out of the pod, you can use the pod many times over.

Steeping the pod into cream for ice cream or storing it in a jar of sugar for vanilla sugar are just some suggestions. No matter which way you choose, these homemade vanilla cupcakes will be delicious.

Side view of vanilla cupcakes from scratch with the center one with a bite out of it and set on a plate.

Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

Other Frosting Recipes for Vanilla Cupcakes

This recipe includes a recipe for (you guessed it) vanilla-infused frosting! If you're looking for something a little different, though, try a cream cheese frosting or even this extra-rich chocolate frosting!


Watch This Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

What’s the Best Vanilla Extract?

Let's start out with what's not the best — imitation vanilla. It's easy to spot on the store shelf because the label says Imitation Vanilla Flavor. For a recipe like this one that's all about the vanilla, pure vanilla extract is the way to go (we're partial to Nielsen-Massey).

If you really want this recipe to shine, though, use vanilla beans. If you only have one vanilla bean, prioritize adding half of it to the frosting, where the taste will come through more than a vanilla bean added to the cake batter.

Buying Whole Vanilla Beans

When you purchase vanilla bean for culinary purchases, what you're getting is a cured and dried seedpod from a vanilla orchid plant. Producing them is labor intensive, and that's why they are expensive.

When buying vanilla beans look for ones that are plump and flexible, not dry, split or withered. At home, wrap the loosely and keep them in a cool, dry spot in an airtight container. When kept correctly, they will last a very long time, although their potency may fade over time. If your beans develop a white fuzz, they've gotten moldy and you should discard them.

How to Store These Cupcakes in the Fridge for Later

These cupcakes will last keep well at room temperature for 2 to 3 days if they're stored in an airtight container and the kitchen stays under 70°F. If your kitchen is warmer than that or you want to keep them for longer than 2 to 3 days, refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Keep in mind that they will slowly dry out in the refrigerator.

More Homemade Cupcake Recipes to Try!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1/2 whole vanilla bean (or 1 whole bean if you can spare it)

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 egg whites

For the frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer


  1. Preheat the oven:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin or cupcake tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

  2. Steep the vanilla bean pod and seeds in hot milk:

    While the oven preheats, cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean.

    Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat for a few minutes until the milk is just starting to steam. Be careful not to boil or scald the milk.

    Remove from heat and allow the milk to cool with the vanilla beans. After it cools, remove the bean pod. (Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)

    Scraping a vanilla bean with a spoon to show how to make cupcakes.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Steeping vanilla bean in cream for the best vanilla cupcake recipe.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients:

    In one bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  4. Whisk the vanilla milk, extract, and sour cream:

    In another bowl whisk together the vanilla-steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

    Whisking cream in a glass bowl to make the best vanilla cupcake recipe.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

  5. Begin the cupcake batter:

    Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment 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. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.

    The paddle attachment with creamed butter and sugar on it to show how to make cupcakes.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Overhead view of a bowl of batter to show how to make cupcakes.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

  6. Finish the cupcake batter:

    Add half the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low until combined. Then add all of the milk mixture, and mix to combine. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined and you see no more visible dry flour. Be careful not to over-mix.

    Batter for the best vanilla cupcake recipe in a glass stand mixer bowl.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Adding vanilla cream to make the best vanilla cupcake recipe.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Batter in glass bowl for vanilla cupcakes from scratch.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

  7. Bake:

    Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners in the muffin tin. Bake at 350° F for 18 to 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Rotate the pan after 10 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get over-baked quickly.

    Batter in a muffin tin to show how to make cupcakes.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

  8. Cool:

    Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

  9. Make the frosting:

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

    Making buttercream in a stand mixer for vanilla cupcakes.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Making buttercream for vanilla cupcakes in a stand mixer.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

  10. Frost the cupcakes:

    Frost each cupcake individually and serve. Cupcakes are best served the same day they are made, though will keep fairly well for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Piping vanilla buttercream on a vanilla cupcake.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Overhead view of vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting set on a light colored background.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
334 Calories
17g Fat
42g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 334
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 101mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 29g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 59mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.