Take your boxed cake mix cupcakes to the next level with a few simple additions. These Easy Vanilla Cupcakes taste like they are from scratch and are fluffy, moist and bursting with vanilla flavor. Topped with chocolate buttercream–these will be gone in no time, every time.
Easy Vanilla Cupcakes–A new baker’s dream
These days I find myself wanting more and more to be a baker. I guess you could say I am a wannabe baker, or something like that.
Slowly but surely I am upping my game and even enjoying it so much more than I ever have. I am taking baby steps to going all out into my own from scratch cupcakes and cakes but not quite there. Close, but still not quite.
These easy vanilla cupcakes have been a fun and super duper simple way to up my boxed cake mix cupcakes and to be honest, not sure I ever need another cupcake recipe in my life ever. Simple, super moist, bursting with vanilla flavor, and spot on texture–but seriously, it all started with a cake mix, a bowl and a spoon.
Now, some would say this is cheating and if you are going to make cupcakes, then make them for real.
Well, there are a few reasons that is not always the best option.
- Time–not everyone has the time to do it all. But with a recipe like these super simple cupcakes, there is really no extra time needed. So you can have something even better than the cake mix but without spending loads of time.
- Resources–perhaps you don’t have a mixer, or even a hand-held mixer. You should still get to have some fun too, right?
- Patience–this one goes for those who have little ones. Sometimes they want the fun of making cupcakes but they also don’t have quite the attention span to do it from scratch. Or they may be super duper messy so only a few stirs are necessary in the help department.
After making my very first dump cake, aka the easiest cobbler like cake recipe you will ever make, I realized that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to baking from a box. There really are lots and lots of ways to take a basic boxed cake to a whole new level. The Blueberry Lemon Dump Cake I have on the blog is a prime example.
So I started my own form of research to find out how to up the cupcake game. I found several ingredients listed as things to add to a cake mix to make them taste even more like from scratch.
Some options to help make your boxed cake mix easily taste more like homemade:
- add sour cream
- toss in a pudding mix
- use milk instead of water
- add a couple egg yolks
- use melted butter instead of oil
Now, I guess I could have easily gone all out and tried every single one of these options, but I decided to test out a few shifts to the mix and see how it went.
Let’s just say these doctored up Easy Vanilla Cupcakes turned out very VERRRY well. And I mean, VERY.
So let’s talk a bit about cupcakes before we move on.
What exactly makes an amazing and perfect cupcake?
I am sure this can change slightly from person to person but there are certainly a few things that stand out over all when it comes to getting your cupcakes just right.
- First and foremost: INGREDIENTS! Using the best ingredients will surely help make the best tasting, highest quality cupcakes. Using ingredients that are fresh is a big deal for sure. You don’t need baking soda or powder in this recipe, but having one of these that is expired can make your baked goods not so lovely at all.
- Making sure that you don’t over mix. Not really gonna get into the science of this, but overmixing basically lessons the amount of air bubbles and that sets off a not great domino effect that in turn messes up the density of your cake. You want to mix to incorporate, not mix for 10 minutes straight. Promise.
- Temperature–things like eggs and butter should be at room temperature. I have also read that a lot of ovens are not 100% accurate and to use an oven thermometer if possible, but I am gonna be real here, I am not doing that one. Good on you if you do!
- As for presentation, I find it important not to overfill the cupcake liners. This is what makes for lop-sided cupcakes that bake over the edge. No one wants that!
- Finally, I am a big icing fan, so I think so much of the perfection of a cupcake is the best frosting to compliment the cake flavor. I also believe there should be a LOT of icing, but that is me. And if you are not a fan, I will just take all of your frosting please and thank you!
Fun fact about these Easy Vanilla Cupcakes:
I was so proud of myself for venturing out of my comfort zone and buying a fun icing kit. I was certain that I was gonna be the next cake boss for sure.
After making and tasting a few large spoonfuls of the chocolate buttercream frosting, I transferred it into the icing bag and put on the tip. I started to gently squeeze the icing bag and a little icing came out. Like a very very small little amount. Hmmm. So I tried squeezing much harder, but still not quite the amount that was going to ice an entire cupcake like you see at the bakery.
Sure enough, my tips were more in the category of cookie decorating or making small details on cakes and cupcakes. A dime sized drop of icing was not gonna work. So I got creative and just cut a slit off the end of the icing bag, said a prayer and started. Muuuuuuuuch better.
However, the more and more I stared at the cupcakes, the more I realized the horror of what I had actually just created. If you take a nice look at these little guys, you will recognize the emoji they resemble. Oooooops.
Never fear though, nothing a handful of sprinkles can’t help, right? But if you do need a good emoji themed cupcake, I have got you covered as well. Ha!
So here is all you need to make these vanilla cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
- yellow boxed cake mix
- sour cream
- vanilla–I add it to give it even more vanilla flavor
- vanilla instant pudding
For the chocolate buttercream frosting:
- powdered sugar
- cocoa powder
- milk or cream
Feel free to add sprinkles or any other fun topping to make these a tad more fancy. Other than that, whip these easy vanilla cupcakes in no time and let everyone think you spent hours in the kitchen.
Try these other baked good recipes:
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Easy Vanilla Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
- yellow cake mix box (15.25 oz.)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 c oil
- 1 c milk (I used whole)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 box vanilla instant pudding (3.4 oz. package)
- 3/4 c sour cream
For Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 4-5 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 c cocoa powder
- 2-3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 T whole milk or cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add in vanilla, oil, sour cream and pudding mix and whisk to combine. Slowly add in cake mix and stir to incorportate fully. (Remember you do not want to overstir here.)
- Scoop batter into cupcake lined cupcake pan and fill each liner about 1/2 full. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
- While cupcakes are cooling, using a standing or hand mixer, beat softened butter and vanilla until nice and creamy. Add the cocoa powder along with one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Continue to add in the rest of the powdered sugar and beat. Slowly add in milk or cream one tablespoon at a time until frosting is to desired consistency.
- Ice cupcakes with a knife or use a fun icing tip and icing bag.* Either way is amazing! Store cupcakes for several days in an airtight container at room temperature.