This recipe for small batch vanilla cupcakes is going to be the best Valentine's Day dessert for two! This recipe makes 4 fluffy, soft vanilla cupcakes. It's great to make with kids, and the perfect portion for two people to enjoy. Don't sleep on the vanilla buttercream frosting on top!
In 11 years of running this small batch dessert recipes website, I have never shared a small batch vanilla cupcakes recipe. Isn't that crazy? Maybe it's because my head is in the clouds with my lemon cupcakes or my chocolate and blackberry cupcakes. Or, maybe it's because I have been appeasing the chocolate lovers so much here on this site, that I completely neglected vanilla.
Whatever the reason, the wait is now over. Truthfully, I've been making my small batch coconut cupcakes and leaving out the coconut to make my own little vanilla version for years. In an instant, I will choose a vanilla dessert over a chocolate one. My love for an authentic rich, vanilla cupcake recipe is deep.
You might be wondering:
- Yes, you can double the recipe to make 8 cupcakes. No, I have not tried to triple it to make one full dozen. I don't scale down recipes and then scale them back up to test, because that would be the definition of insanity.
- Most of my small batch cupcake recipes use just the egg white or just the egg yolk, but yes, this recipe uses the whole egg.
- You can use any type of frosting on these, not just the small batch vanilla buttercream recipe I've included here.
- If you've never seen a cupcake pan that only has 6 spaces, I linked my 6 cup cupcake pan.
- The cupcakes bake up perfectly flat, which is the best for piling buttercream frosting on top. I usually let them rest in the pan for a few minutes and then move them to a cooling rack near the oven.
How to Make Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
These vanilla cupcakes come together in just one bowl, and they're made with pantry ingredients that I'm sure you already have. You can add sprinkles to the batter, mini chocolate chips, or even scoop out the center using a piping time to fill with any type of filling your heart desires.
This recipe can be endlessly adapted and made your own! If you're looking for my small batch chocolate cupcakes, I have those, too. This recipe is written in metric and U.S. cups and spoons so that you have guaranteed success.
While most cupcake recipes contain milk, this recipe does not. I find that when I leave out the milk, the top of the cupcakes get the slightest sugar crisp crust, and they're insanely delicious. Muffins should have super soft tops, but cupcakes should have a sugar crust--trust me on this!
- Oil. Any neutral, flavor-less oil, like safflower, canola, or avocado oil. You can use melted butter, too, but know that they shouldn't be refrigerated, because butter firms up when cold. For this reason, I usually bake cupcakes with oil instead of butter.
- Granulated Sugar.
- Egg. One whole large egg.
- Vanilla Extract. Use high-quality special vanilla extract here, because it really shines in these small batch vanilla cupcakes.
- All-Purpose Flour.
- Baking Powder.
- Unsalted Butter. This is for the vanilla buttercream frosting.
- Powdered Sugar. Also for the frosting, only.
- Heavy Cream. Only to lighten and make the vanilla buttercream super fluffy. You can use milk, if you don't have it.
- Gather all ingredients, and preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Place 4 cupcake liners in a muffin pan. Combine the oil and granulated sugar in a bowl, and whisk until combined.
- Add the whole egg and vanilla extract, and whisk again. Next, sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt on top. Whisk until combined, but do not over-mix or stir too much.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, and bake for 15-20 minutes. When the cupcakes are done, a toothpick inserted will come out clean. These cupcakes bake up perfectly flat, not domed. This is so we can pile plenty of vanilla buttercream frosting on top. After a few minutes out of the oven, move them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, make the buttercream frosting. Combine the softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and splash of cream or milk.
- Beat the buttercream with an electric mixer on HIGH until super fluffy, and be sure to scrape down the sides as you go. Scrape it into a piping bag fitted with a star tip, and decorate the cupcakes however you would like.
Other Cupcake Frosting Ideas:
In case you don't want to make vanilla buttercream, you can try instead:
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- Ricotta Frosting
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream
Can you make these small batch vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting?
I hear you and I see you, chocolate lovers! Make this cupcake recipe, and then use the chocolate buttercream recipe from my Football Cupcakes.
Can I get this small batch vanilla cupcakes to yield 6?
Gosh, I'm sorry I developed this recipe to make 4 cupcakes! Why don't you double it to make 8, and then eat 2 before anyone knows you baked? Or, you can stash them (unfrosted) in the freezer. You're doing great! yes, the photo above has 6 cupcakes, but that's because I doubled the recipe for photography.
For the cupcakes:
- ¼ cup (56 grams) oil
- ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (50 grams) flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
For the vanilla frosting:
- 57 grams (4 TB) of unsalted butter, softened
- 130 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 15 mL (1 TB) of heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350, and line a muffin pan with 4 cupcake liners. In a bowl, combine the oil and granulated sugar. Whisk until very well combined.
- Next, add the egg and vanilla extract. Whisk again. Then, sprinkle the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt over the bowl. Whisk until just combined.
- Divide between the 4 cups, and bake for 14-16 minutes. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out with only moist crumbs, and the tops spring back when you lightly press on them.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then, make the frosting by combining the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream in a bowl.
- Beat together until fluffy, adding extra cream, if needed. Frost the cupcakes and serve.
Oil: Any flavor-less oil, like safflower, canola, or avocado oils all work. You can use melted butter, too, but the cupcakes will firm up if refrigerated when made with butter.
Egg: One whole large egg.
Heavy Cream: This is to lighten and make the vanilla buttercream super fluffy. You can use milk in its place, if you don't have it.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 83mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 0gSugar: 28gProtein: 2g
If you like this, be sure to check out my entire collection of Small Batch Cupcakes here.