Very Vanilla Cupcakes

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day! It’s been vanilla madness at the Cake Merchant residence this week, so really, everyday has felt like Vanilla Cupcake Day. In preparation for a charity event that I am baking for this Sunday, I wanted to find the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe. Several pounds of butter and 5 recipes later, I found it…but this recipe isn’t it. However, it is really good, and really easy. 4 of the recipes that I tested were from scratch, and the 5th (this one) was from a doctored cake mix. I had some friends over for a tasting party, and while this recipe wasn’t at the top of the list, it consistently ranked pretty high. In fact, no one could tell it was from a mix.

This recipe is a take on what is originally known as White Almond Sour Cream Cake. I upped the vanilla flavor by replacing the sugar with vanilla sugar, which I received as a Christmas gift last year. If you’ve never experienced vanilla sugar, you can find a description and tutorial on how to make it here. Regular sugar will work if you don’t want to make vanilla sugar. I also replaced the vanilla extract with vanilla bean paste (and added a little extra), which I’ve been doing a lot lately. I just really love seeing the flecks of vanilla beans in the cake and frosting, but a good vanilla extract will work just fine. The original recipe also calls for almond extract, which I think just enhances the flavor (and doesn’t make the cupcake taste like almond), but you can leave it out if you prefer.

I promise to share my favorite vanilla cupcake with you soon, but for now, here’s a super delicious, foolproof cupcake recipe with no fuss.

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

Very Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from Cake Central
makes about 36 cupcakes


For the Cake:

1 18.25 oz box vanilla or white cake mix (I used a French Vanilla white cake)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup (8oz carton) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 tsp almond extract

For the Frosting:

1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

To make the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven the 325 degrees fahrenheit. Line the cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and beat on medium low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, about 2 minutes.
3. Use an ice cream scoop to pour the batter into the paper liners for even distribution. Bake for 15-20 minutes, and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

1. With an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium until it becomes pale and creamy (2-3 minutes).
2. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium, about 3 minutes. Add the cream 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Notes: I used a Wilton 2D tip to pipe the frosting.


  1. Looks so delicious!
    I’ll try it this weekend =)
    Thanks for the recipe

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  3. Great job! Love a nice simple vanilla cupcake, don’t need all that fluff stuff to make a nice cupcake.

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  6. Thank you for posting this recipe. I tried it this weekend with some minor modifications. I could not find the vanilla bean paste near my area so I just used a very good quality pure vanilla extract and instead of the almond extract, I used lemon extract. The cake was fluffy, but nicely dense a the same time, it was delicious and a big hit!! I’ve been experimenting with vanilla cake recipes I find and so far, this is the best! Thanks again!!

    1. I’m glad you liked it, Dunia! It’s one of my favorites too. I found the vanilla bean paste at online, but I’ve also seen it at Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma.

  7. Recipe sounds wonderful, will definitely try! I’ve made something similar with orange extract & vanilla bean paste. I don’t use vanilla extract anymore! I just love the more potent, deep taste the paste brings to all sorts of recipes calling for vanilla. By the way, I have also purchased the paste (like the Massey Madagascar Vanilla brand) at discount stores such as HomeGoods, Marshall’s & TJMaxx. It’s half the price ($5.99 in NJ) & with pretty long sell-by dates. The last time I was in Sur la Table it was selling for $11

  8. Is there a substitute for vanilla bean paste? Thank you

    1. You can use pure vanilla extract

  9. I have made this recipe it was the best vanilla cupcake i have ever made thank you so much

    1. Thanks, Roky! I’m glad you like them.

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  12. I was wondering if it was possible to freeze these? They sound superb but I don’t know that my family could eat 36. Thank you so much!

  13. How many days are these safe to eat at room temperature?

  14. Is it okay to omit the almond extract? I don’t have any :( but i do have an awesome vanilla paste (from whole foods). anyone with suggestions, thanks!

    1. Yes, you can definitely omit the almond extract. You may want to increase the quantity of vanilla paste if you do.

  15. Hello the box of french vanilla from Duncan Hines is 16.5 oz do I follow the measurements for this recipe.

    1. This is an old recipe. They’ve changed the size of the boxed since I posted this, and I haven’t tried it with the new size.

  16. Hello, Any advice as to baking times for this recipe in a mini version? I’ve been recruited for my son’s wedding reception and these sound like a perfect ‘white’ recipe!

    1. I usually bake mini cupcakes for 10-13 minutes.

  17. Baked as directed, they came out perfectly! And very good! I’ll make these again for sure!

  18. Do you think Greek yogurt could be used in place of the sour cream?

    1. Yes, definitely.

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