Best Cupcakes Recipe Ever

Looking for the best cupcakes recipe ever? Cupcakes: The dessert holy grail of the millennium. Sprinkles in Beverly Hills and Magnolia in New York both regularly boast hour-long lines for their cupcakes, and cupcakeries across the country have exploded in popularity, with bakers charging $3 and up for their perfectly proportioned sugary creations.

But why wait in line when your own kitchen can be a bakery, and your cupcake variety is limited only by your own imagination?
Here’s a recipe for the best basic vanilla cupcake out there – plus 5 cool ways to use this recipe as a base to make your own extraordinary creations! Feel free to use this as a basis for your own creations too. Add in your favorite candies or berries, or use food coloring (10-20 drops per recipe) to create cupcakes perfect for holidays (green for St. Patrick's Day, for example, or red, white and blue for the Fourth of July) or for the big game (Cupcakes in your team colors will be a hit!)!

Makes 24 cupcakes:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (try to find extract rather than imitation vanilla)
  • Buttercream frosting (recipe below)
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins (each with 12 cups) with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter until it’s smooth. Add the sugar, ½ cup at a time, and continue beating until thoroughly blended and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, as you continue to beat the mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients in 4 parts to the butter mixture, beating each time just until the ingredients are mixed in. Add milk and vanilla halfway through the dry mixture additions.
  5. When you’re done beating, mix once more with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl, to make sure that the batter is blended.
  6. Using a soup ladle or spoon, fill each of the paper liners about ¾ full with the cupcake batter.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center a couple of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  8. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from tins and place on a wire rack or on the counter until they’re completely cooled, about 45 minutes.
  9. Frost with buttercream frosting (see recipe below) or storebought frosting. You can use with a spatula to frost, or you can spoon frosting into a Ziploc bag, cut a ½ inch slit in one corner, and use it as a cake-frosting device.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Beat butter in bowl using electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar.
  3. Beat in milk and vanilla. Continue to beat for 2-3 minutes, until smooth, creamy and dense.

Five cool spins on a classic:

  1. Strawberry cupcakes: Decrease milk to ½ cup and mix in ½ cup strawberry jelly with the milk. Add ½ cup chopped strawberries and mix in with wooden spoon just before filling liners.
  2. Key lime cupcakes: Substitute ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup key lime juice for the 1 cup milk. Add 2 tsp lime zest.
  3. Chocolate chip cupcakes: Mix in 1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips with wooden spoon just before filling liners.
  4. M&M cupcakes: Mix in 1 ½ cups M&Ms with wooden spoon just before filling liners. Sprinkle additional M&Ms on top of frosting once cupcakes are finished.
  5. Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes: Coarsely chop 1 ½ cups of peanut butter cups and mix in with wooden spoon just before filling liners. Top each finished cupcake with ½ mini peanut butter cup.
  6. Cookies and cream cupcakes: Mix in 1 ½ cups crushed Oreo cookies with wooden spoon just before filling liners.
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