vanilla cupcakes

Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Author: Amy Palanjian
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 18
  • Total Time: 38 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Lightly sweetened classic vanilla cupcakes perfect for toddlers. Please note that the frosting does taste like cream cheese since that’s the primary ingredient. If you don’t think your kids will like it, you can try a more traditional buttercream. Or check out the Yogurt Frosting in my Smash Cake or this Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting which is still made of cream cheese, but it has a very delightfully intense strawberry flavor. (This recipe was updated with additional information and to use more butter and no sour cream or yogurt for much better overall texture in February 2020.)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Raspberry Frosting
  • raspberries, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together the butter and the sugar in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add in the milk, vanilla, and eggs and beat to combine.
  4. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Stir with a spatula gently just to combine.
  5. Spoon into paper liners, filling each cup about halfway. (Each will take about 2 1/2 tablespoons of batter.
  6. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until just golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Frost as desired.


Raspberry Frosting

  1. Mash 1/2 cup raspberries in a small bowl with a fork. Spoon into a fine mesh colander and press and scrape through the wire to release the juices into a small bowl. Discard the seeds. You should have about 1/4 cup smooth raspberry puree. Set aside.
  2. Beat 8 ounces cream cheese (softened at room temperature), 1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened at room temperature), and 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup with an electric mixer in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add additional sweetener if necessary.
  3. Beat in raspberry puree.
  4. Spread or pipe (I use a zip top plastic bag with one corner cut off as a piping bag) onto cupcakes. Garnish with a raspberry on each if desired.

When you mix in the dry ingredients, be gentle and fold them in using a spatula until just combined.

To avoid over baking, set your timer for the lower end of the time range and check the centers with a cake tester. If it comes out cleanly, and the edges are lightly golden brown and the tops are firm to the touch, pull them from the oven.

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool soon after you pull them from the oven to ensure that they stop baking.

Let the butter and cream cheese for the frosting soften at room temperature for 1-2 hours to ensure they are soft enough to whip up.

You can make these with 1/3 cup sugar if you want to reduce it further but make sure not to overbake.

To make these gluten-free, use cup for cup gluten-flour.

To make these ahead, let cool completely and store overnight in an airtight container. They are best on the day they are made but you can bake them the day before. Frost right before serving. If you won’t need all of the cupcakes, frost just the ones you expect to eat and store the rest. You can store the frosting in a sealed storage bag in the fridge. Frost the remaining cupcakes before serving. (The cupcakes will firm up if you put them into the fridge so I don’t suggest doing that if you can avoid it.)

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