These small batch vanilla cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and topped with a creamy vanilla buttercream! This recipe makes 6 perfect cupcakes and takes just 20 minutes to prepare. This is perfect for when you want a sweet treat for your family or a small gathering!
I love making cupcakes for birthdays, bake sales and gatherings, but sometimes you don't need a big batch of cupcakes! Enter these small batch vanilla cupcakes. This makes 6 soft and fluffy cupcakes that you can top with whatever frosting you like, though I've covered them with a super creamy vanilla buttercream!
These cupcakes use the reverse creaming method, first created by Rose Levy Beranbaum. We will combine the dry ingredients with the butter, creating a sand like texture. Then we add the wet ingredients, giving us cupcake batter! Not only is this faster to do than traditional creaming, but it will make the cupcakes much more tender. This is a technique I've used in some of my cake recipes, like my white forest cake.
Why you'll love this recipe!
- Simple Ingredients - you'll need simple pantry ingredients that you probably already have at home. The cupcakes only need 9 ingredients while this vanilla buttercream needs 5 ingredients!
- Quick to Make - it takes just 20 minutes to prepare the cupcakes and the frosting, then another 20 minutes to bake the cupcakes.
- Perfectly Portioned - using a medium cookie scoop means you'll have 6 identical cupcakes!
- Reverse Creaming - using the reverse creaming method will give us very tender and soft cupcakes, plus it's a faster technique compared to traditional creaming.
- Super Moist - using a combination of butter and oil gives us a moist texture but with a buttery flavor.
- Extra Vanilla Boost - I use vanilla bean paste in these cupcakes to get a strong vanilla flavor.
- Flour: I've only tested this cupcake recipe with all purpose flour.
- Buttermilk: feel free to swap out buttermilk for sour cream or full fat yogurt.
- Oil: you'll want to use a neutral oil like canola oil or vegetable oil, not an oil with a strong flavor like olive oil.
- Vanilla Bean Paste: I use vanilla bean paste when I want a pronounced vanilla flavor, but you can swap it out for vanilla extract if that's what you have on hand!
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, combine the flour with the salt, baking powder, and sugar. Add in the room temperature butter, mixing on low speed. The butter should break up and eventually the mixture will look like clumpy wet sand.
Step 2: In a large jug or another bowl, whisk together the egg with the vanilla bean paste, oil and buttermilk.
Step 3: While the mixer is running on low speed, slowly pour in the wet ingredients. Continue mixing until you have a thick cupcake batter.
Step 4: Use a medium cookie scoop or a tablespoon to fill up 6 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan about half way (you don't want them to overflow!). Bake in an oven preheated to 350°Fahrenheit/175°Celsius for 18-20 minutes. They should turn a light golden brown. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 5: While the cupcakes cool, make your frosting. In a large bowl with a hand mixer combine the butter with the confectioners' sugar. Mix on low until combined, then beat on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy.
Step 6: Add the vanilla extract and salt, mixing once more until well combined. If your frosting isn't spreadable enough, drizzle in the heavy cream and mix once more. Top your cupcakes with the frosting and enjoy!
Baking Tips & Tricks
- Weighing Scale - I always recommend using a weighing scale to measure out your ingredients as it is the most accurate way to bake! Also please note if you do use cup measurements, US and UK cup sizes are different. I'm using US cup sizes in the recipe card.
- Colorful Frosting - add a drop or two of food gel to the frosting if you want colorful cupcakes!
- Let the Cupcakes Cool - make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before you frost them, otherwise the buttercream might melt right off the cupcakes.
- Fruit - instead of sprinkles, how about topping the frosting with fresh fruit like strawberries or raspberries?
Frequently Asked Questions
First it's making sure you are weighing the ingredients - especially the flour. If you add too much flour you'll end up with stodgy and dry cupcakes. Next, the reverse creaming method that I've outlined will give you fluffy cupcakes. Finally, make sure not to overbake these cupcakes!
Keep the cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.
Try these cupcakes next!
Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1 cupcake pan
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ¼ cup buttermilk room temperature
- ½ tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit/175°Celsius. Place 6 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
- In a large bowl with a hand held mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Add the room temperature butter and mix on low speed until the butter and dry ingredients almost looks like clumpy sand.
- In a large jug, whisk together the egg with buttermilk, vanilla bean paste and oil.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
- Using a tablespoon or a medium cookie scoop, scoop out 1 ½ tablespoons of cupcake batter to spoon batter into the liners. This should fill up 6 cupcake liners, about ½ way full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and letting them cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, combine the room temperature butter with the confectioners' sugar on low speed.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and salt, beating once more. If the frosting isn't as creamy as you would like, add in the heavy cream and beat on medium speed until spreadable.