Moist and tender Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes from scratch with buttercream frosting is a 6 cupcake recipe to make your day a little sweeter.

Vanilla cupcake with paper liner unwrapped

It’s hard to believe I have yet to publish Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes here.

I’ve done Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes, Small Batch Red Velvet Cupcakes, and Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes, but yet here we are in 2021 with vanilla cupcakes from scratch. Finally.

This Small Batch Vanilla Cupcake recipe (based off of my Small Vanilla Cake recipe) makes 6 cupcakes, which is ideal when there’s only a few of you around and not having a big party.

Perhaps it’s your partner’s birthday. Or maybe you got that big work promotion and ready to celebrate. Maybe you’re stressed out and baking calms you down but don’t want to throw out leftovers.

I personally don’t always have someone to share my homemade cupcakes with, especially during the pandemic.

Whatever your reason is, I got you covered with this easy cupcake recipe.

And since these are VANILLA cupcakes from scratch, I doubled the amount of vanilla extract you would normally see for 6 cupcakes.

If you have vanilla bean, you can add that as well for an extra flavor boost.

To top them off, I used my strawberry buttercream. They look so pretty in pink, but you can use almost any frosting flavor your heart desires.

Group of vanilla cupcakes on white cutting board

What is the difference between vanilla, yellow, and white cake?

My small batch vanilla cupcakes are different from my Small Batch Yellow Cupcakes because it uses less butter and more vanilla extract.

Yellow cake uses more butter and whole eggs, which helps with the cake’s yellow color.

White cake uses egg whites and sometimes shortening so it stays as close to white as possible.

Buying A Cupcake Pan

Of course you can’t bake this simple cupcake recipe without a cupcake pan! I use a standard 12-cup cupcake pan (affiliate link) you can buy from most stores.

Don’t want to make small batch cupcakes? Check out my small vanilla cake recipe, which uses a 6 inch pan.

Group of 3 vanilla cupcakes

How To Make Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes From Scratch

To make the best vanilla cupcake recipe, first beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl then beat in the egg and vanilla.

Next, alternate your dry ingredients with the milk. This method is important because adding the milk all at once could cause the batter to split from oversaturation.

However, adding all of the flour at once will thicken the batter greatly and will likely overmix, causing a tough cupcake.

Add the dry ingredients in three additions while adding the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Transfer your batter to 6 cupcake liners and bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

Do I have to use whole milk?

I highly recommend using whole milk because the fat helps keep homemade vanilla cupcakes tender and moist.

If you’re stuck at home with 2% milk, the recipe will still work. Just note it may not be as moist as it should be.

Try not to use fat free milk as that’s basically water at this point.

Can I use cake flour?

Because most home bakers don’t use cake flour, I used a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch for a tender crumb.

That’s one less pantry item for you to buy since you likely already have all-purpose on hand.

However if you do have cake flour, omit the cornstarch and use 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour. The extra tablespoon flour helps balance the extra amount of vanilla extract in this 6 cupcake recipe.

Group of vanilla cupcakes on white cutting board

Which frosting goes with vanilla cupcakes?

To decorate my small batch vanilla cupcakes, I used strawberry frosting.

But really, this vanilla cupcake recipe pairs well with almost any frosting! Try out strawberry cream cheese frosting, raspberry cream cheese frosting, chocolate frosting, vanilla buttercream, lemon buttercream frosting, and even cream cheese frosting

Want another flavor? Check out my full list of small batch frosting recipes.

Can I leave small batch cupcakes on the counter overnight?

Small batch vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting don’t need to be refrigerated. You can leave them out on the counter overnight for up to 3 days.

However, if your kitchen gets too warm or you’re using cream cheese frosting, you will need to refrigerate them for up to 1 week.

Vanilla cupcake unwrapped

Can you freeze vanilla cupcakes?

Like with most baked goods, yes you can freeze this vanilla cupcake recipe.

To freeze unfrosted vanilla cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. Once firm, wrap each one in plastic wrap then stick in a freeze-safe plastic bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

If you’re worried they’ll get squashed in the freezer, you can put the plastic bag in a container to maintain their shape.

How To Freeze Frosted Vanilla Cupcakes

Although I recommend freezing unfrosted vanilla cupcakes, you can also freeze frosted cupcakes.

Use a buttercream frosting as that type of frosting freezes best. Cream cheese frosting can become grainy after freezing, although it’ll still be edible.

To freeze frosted cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. Once firm, place each one in a deep enough container that won’t squash the frosting. Freeze for up to 3 months.

How To Thaw Frozen Cupcakes

To thaw frozen vanilla cupcakes, place them on a wire rack and let them come to room temperature, about 15-30 minutes.

The wire rack helps keep the cupcake bottoms dry as they thaw.

Single vanilla cupcake with bite in it

More Small Batch Cupcake Recipes

Looking for more cupcakes for two? You can check out my full list of small batch cupcake recipes including my Carrot Cake Cupcakes.

Don’t want to make cupcakes? Check out my full list of 6 Inch Cake Recipes.

Equipment You Will Need

Vanilla cupcake with paper liner unwrapped

Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 6 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Moist and tender Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes from scratch is a 6 cupcake recipe to make your day a little sweeter.


  • 3/4 all-purpose flour (*see Note about using cake flour)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (*see Note about using cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Frosting (Choose One)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with 6 liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch then stir in baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (with the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer), beat together the sugar and butter until light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the bowl then beat in the egg and vanilla for 1 minute.
  5. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
  6. Transfer the batter to the cupcake liners, filling about halfway full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle is clean. Cool for about 15 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. Once cool, decorate with frosting of choice.

    If using buttercream, store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    If using cream cheese frosting, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let them sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before serving to get rid of the chill.


  • To substitute for cake flour, use 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour and omit the cornstarch.
  • Enjoyed this recipe? Check out my full list of Small Batch Cupcake Recipes, including chocolate, strawberry, and more.
  • Want to make a cake? Check out my Small Vanilla Cake recipe

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