These simple Birthday Cupcakes are perfect for kids and adults alike! Stir in sprinkles or enjoy them as is. This is an easy but impressive recipe!
This recipe is my take on my favorite cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery in NYC. Vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting may sound boring to some, but trust me when I saw they are anything but!
These elegant birthday cupcakes are moist, fluffy, and packed with vanilla flavor. I topped my cupcakes with multicolored sprinkles (here's a fun mix), but you can also add them to the batter to give this recipe a funfetti feel.
Keep this recipe tucked up your sleeve for your next party — birthday or otherwise. You can easily change the color of the vanilla frosting to suit any occasion.
What's in the Birthday Cupcakes?
To create this easy cupcake recipe, I used my Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes base. I've made this base many times, and the cupcakes always turn out tender and flavorful.
For the birthday cupcake frosting, I turned to my favorite Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. It's perfect for coloring, swirling, and piping.
You're welcome to use another frosting, if desired, but I wanted to keep this recipe super simple.
How to Make Birthday Cupcakes
This is a straightforward recipe that anyone can make and is a great one to involve kids with.
The batter comes together quickly. Beat together the butter and sugar, followed by the remaining wet and dry ingredients. Divide between your cupcake liners and bake.
One thing to note about this cupcake base is that it doesn't become golden in the oven. If you wait until the cupcakes are golden on top to remove them from the oven, they'll be over baked.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before topping with frosting. The frosting is as easy as mixing the ingredients together until light and fluffy.
Tip: If you struggle with frosting cupcakes, don't panic. A generous topping of sprinkles will hide any imperfections!
Can sprinkles be added to the cupcakes?
Yes! To make classic birthday cake cupcakes that are funfetti-inspired, you can add sprinkles to the batter.
Simply stir ⅓ cup of sprinkles into the vanilla cupcake batter before baking.
The best sprinkles to use are quins or confetti sprinkles. They are the little round pastel sprinkles. They are the best because they don't bleed into the batter when stirred and baked.
You can also you rainbow sprinkles or colored jimmy sprinkles, but work quickly because they will bleed slightly if they sit in the batter too long.
Can the Cupcakes be Made in Advance?
Both the frosting and the cupcakes can be prepared in advance. However, I recommend storing them separately until you're ready to assemble and serve as the cupcakes will dry out in the fridge.
Instead, prep the frosting and seal it in an airtight container. It will last up to one week in the fridge.
The cupcakes are best served within 24 hours of baking them. Keep them in an airtight container on your counter.
Tools Needed for This Recipe
For the best birthday cupcakes, I recommend using the tools listed below:
- Standard cupcake pan. I like using this metal cupcake pan for all of my cupcake recipes. It distributes the heat evenly and my cupcakes always rise nicely in it.
- White cupcake papers. Colored cupcake liners can sometimes bleed into cupcake batter, so I prefer using white ones.
- Gel paste food coloring. Perfect for coloring the vanilla frosting. Use different colors to suit different occasions.
- Cupcake carrier. Makes transporting the cupcakes to a birthday party or family event so much easier.
- Mini offset spatula. Ideal for creating the lovely swirls in the frosting that you see pictured above.
Party and Birthday Cupcakes
Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoon unsalted butter softened (1½ sticks)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups whole milk
- ⅓ cup decorating sprinkles (optional)
Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
- 6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Gel Paste Food Coloring
Make Vanilla Cupcakes
- Heat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
- In a mixing bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and combine, scraping sides of bowl. Stir in flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 parts, starting and ending with flour.
- Stir in sprinkles if using. Divide batter among liners; fill standard cups ¾ full and mini cups just below the top.
- Bake until tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes for standard, 15 minutes for minis. NOTE: Cupcakes stay light in color, so don't wait until they are golden. Cool completely on racks before frosting.
Make Vanilla Buttercream
- In a mixing bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 min. Add confectioners' sugar ½-cup at a time, mixing well and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.
- Beat in vanilla and salt; stir until smooth. Divide and color with food coloring as desired.
- Frost cooled cupcakes, decorate with sprinkles and serve.
- Unlike many vanilla cupcake recipes, this one doesn't brown. Don't look for a golden color as the cake bakes, if you see it they are overdone!
- Click over to the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting post for more information and tips on American buttercream, and how to use it for decorating.
- Storage: Frosting will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring to room temperature and stir before using, if chilled. Unfrosted cupcakes will last up to four days at room temperature, if kept in an airtight container.
Cake recipes for any occasion
About Tara Teaspoon
I’ve been in the food publishing business for over 20 years, creating recipes & food-styling for magazines, books, television & advertising. Order my new cookbook & stick around for amazing things to eat.
L. Smith says
As I read through the recipe, I see "butter" listed in the instructions for the cupcake batter, but, I don't see any "butter" or amount listed in the ingredients for the cupcakes. Butter is listed in the ingredients for the frosting. Could you please post the amount of butter needed for the cupcake batter?
Tara Teaspoon says
Oh my goodness I'm so embarrassed. Thank you for catching that! It is 12 tablespoons unsalted butter. I have added it to the recipe now.