Go-To Vanilla Cupcakes

by Maria on May 29, 2013



Like many kids, my kids LOVE cupcakes. My husband loves them too. I have hesitated to blog about cupcakes, since they are not exactly health food. However, I believe strongly that a healthy diet can include treats.  If you are offering your family healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at most meal times, then there is room for the occasional treat. The good thing about making your own cupcakes is that you can control the size and ingredients. They will almost always be lower in calories than their store- or bakery-bought counterparts.

This is my go-to cupcake recipe. Since coming across the recipe on the blog Glorious Treatslast year, I have used it again and again. If you can make pancakes from scratch, you can make cupcakes too. So skip the cake mix and give these a try. They are so easy and come out beautifully every time.

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Go-To Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes on

Makes 16 cupcakes


1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour or cake flour* 

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

 ½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ cup canola oil

½ cup low-fat buttermilk or plain kefir (I usually use kefir)

*use cake flour if you have it, but I usually just use all-purpose and the cupcakes still turn out amazing

  1. Put cupcake liners into muffin tins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, add eggs and beat with an electric mixer for 20 seconds. Add sugar and beat on medium speed for another 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil and beat to combine.
  5. With mixer on low speed, slowly add half of the flour and mix until combined. Then add half of the milk and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Beat until just combined.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling until about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  8. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then carefully transfer cupcakes to a wire rack.
  9. Frost when completely cool.


I often frost them with a homemade buttercream frosting—confectionary sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla, all whipped together until light and fluffy. I usually base my recipe on the one found on the back of the Domino confectionary sugar package.  Making just half the recipe is usually plenty. Our family favorite is chocolate buttercream, which calls for the addition of melted unsweetened chocolate.

If I want to lighten things up I may skip the frosting and top them with a dollop of light whipped cream just before serving. There is also a plethora of healthier frosting recipes on the internet, but I have yet to try them. If anything, I think the easiest thing to do is eat them sparingly and cut down on the portion size of the frosting.


Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough to frost about 24 cupcakes

1 stick of butter, softened

3 ¾ cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons milk

Combine ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Beat at low speed to combine and then on medium to high speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Add more milk if needed.

To make chocolate buttercream add 2 ounces melted, unsweetened chocolate to the above and beat until combined.


Nutrition Information

For 1 cupcake without frosting (1/16 of recipe): 145 calories; 17.5 g carbohydrates; 1.9 g protein; 7.5 g fat (0.7 sat); 125 mg sodium

For 1 cupcake with 1/24 of frosting recipe: 255 calories; 36 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 11.5 g fat (3.1 g sat); 150 mg sodium


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