Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

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  • There are days, you know the kind, where there is a three-alarm fire kind of craving in your brain for sweets. For me, that craving typically involves cake. (Don’t laugh, it’s true.)

    Close up of vanilla cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles

    Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes are unbelievably easy to make and the perfect portion for when you want a sweet treat but don’t need the full dozen. 

    Small batch vanilla cupcakes are great for those days when you need a quick hit of sugar but don’t want all of the hullabaloo that goes along with baking a cake.

    small batch white cupcakes

    Easy Dessert Idea

    While this recipe is great for those days when our brain is pestering us for something sweet, but it works in other scenarios as well. Maybe you want a little treat for the kiddos (or hubby) on the counter when they get home. Perhaps you are hosting a small gathering and you need to make a dessert. 

    side view of a cupcake with frosting

    Whatever the occasion, these little beauties are the perfect blend of sweet and treat in a little two or three-bite package. And do you know the best part?

    You can brag about making them from scratch. No box mixes here.

    To be honest, as much as I love baking cakes, it can be tedious and time-consuming. At the very least, you are using a bunch of different bowls, the stove, the oven, spatulas, and more. 

    close up of cupcake frosting

    And sometimes, you just don’t need a whole cake. Half a dozen cupcakes seemed like the perfect magic number so I built things around that. 

    Easy Vanilla Cupcakes

    This recipe means: 

    • No busting out the stand mixer.
    • No waiting for butter to soften. 
    • No scalding milk. 
    • No giant cake lingering on the counter beckoning to you at 10 pm to have at it with a fork. (Just me?)

    By melting the butter with the milk in the microwave, you skip the pot you have to watch like a hawk on the stove as well as the time it takes for butter to soften on the counter.

    close up of small vanilla cupcake

    Be careful not to fully melt it though. Fully melted butter means your cupcakes won’t set up and then you’ll overcook them, it’s a whole nasty cycle of cupcakes no-nos.

    Decorate Cupcakes

    This recipe is great for getting creative with your cupcakes. I like to call it cupcake customization. This is a fun and fancy term for add-ins that amp up the classic vanilla cupcake’s deliciousness factor.

    vanilla cupcakes without a wrapper surrounded by sprinkles

    Say you have some picky folks in the house. One likes chocolate chips, one likes butterscotch, one wants a raspberry jam swirl, and one wants sprinkles.

    No problem! All you have to do is drop a bit of each into each cupcake cup and give it a quick stir.

    Cupcake Frosting

    When it comes to frosting and decorating, you can easily use store bought frosting or whip up some of your own. And if you are like me, frosting challenged, I would recommend topping each cupcake with some sprinkles or chips to hide your decorating shortcomings. 

    vanilla cupcake with a bite missing

    If you are customizing, I like to top each cupcake with the same ingredient that is in it to make them easily recognizable. A pinch of sprinkles here, a smattering of chips there, and if you go for the swirl, create a little divot in the frosting and fill it with jam. Fair warning, it’s messy but oh so yummy. 

    PRO TIP: Set your cupcakes on a rimmed baking sheet or plate so extra sprinkles are contained. Especially with kids!

    It is fun and easy for the kids too. I love decorating sugar cookie cutouts, but the time it takes to make the dough, chill, roll, bake, cool, frost and then finally get to decorating is just too much!

    Whatever route you decide to go with your cupcakes, you won’t be disappointed. 

    Also try our Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes!

    small batch vanilla cupcakes for pinterest

    More easy dessert recipes:

    Canadian Butter Tarts
    halved butter tart
    A Canadian treat that everyone should try, these EASY Canadian Butter Tarts consist of a flaky crust filled with a buttery, caramel-like, gooey center!
    Easy Apple Crisp
    white plate of apple crisp with oatmeal crumble topping
    Traditional Easy Apple Crisp made with an oat topping. Recipe includes regular and gluten free options! Serve vanilla ice cream or caramel sauce.
    No Bake Horse Cookies
    No Bake Horse Cookies are perfect for a Kentucky derby party, triple crown races, or horse themed parties! These horse cookies are the best no bake cookies! #horsecookies #nobakecookies #kentuckyderbyparty
    No bake, smiling long faced horse cookies that are perfect for Triple Crown races or horse themed parties.
    Flourless Black Bean Brownies
    Stack of Flourless Black Bean Brownies with a glass of milk
    Black Bean Brownies are delicious, rich gluten free brownies. Since they’re flourless brownies and the black beans are full of fiber, this is actually a healthy brownie recipe!
    easy vanilla cupcakes for pinterest

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    small batch white cupcakes
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    4.62 from 13 votes

    Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

    Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes are unbelievably easy to make and the perfect portion for when you want a sweet treat but don’t need the full dozen. 
    Prep Time5 mins
    Cook Time15 mins
    Total Time20 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: easy vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes
    Servings: 6 cupcakes
    Calories: 315kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola


    Vanilla Cupcakes:

    Vanilla Frosting:


    Vanilla Cupcakes:

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with 6 cupcake liners.
    • Heat milk in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Add chopped butter and stir. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes so the butter further softens.
    • While milk and butter rests, sift together flour, baking powder and fine sea salt. Set aside.
    • Add sugar, vanilla and a lightly beaten egg to the milk mixture. Stir well, mixture will be lumpy.
    • Add dry ingredients and blend until you no longer see streaks of butter, about 50-ish strokes.
    • Equally divide cupcake batter into 6 muffin liners.
    • Bake for 14-16 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Remove and allow to cool fully.
    • When cool, frost and decorate as desired.
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, make sure to come back and let us know how it was!

    Vanilla Frosting:

    • In a small bowl, mix together softened unsalted butter and powdered sugar.
    • Add 2 tablespoons cream or milk, or more, until frosting is spreadable.


    This recipe works best with whole milk or 2%milk since it has a higher fat content. 
    Cupcakes are small, only 2-3 bites. If you want a larger cupcake, use the same standard muffin tin, but only make 4 and bake for 1-2 minutes longer. 
    Remove muffins right when they start to brown, overcooking can lead to rubbery cake. 


    Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 523IU | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
    image of jessica formicola

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