I would be remiss if I didn’t start this blog right, with my favorite recipe for the thing I make most: cupcakes! Over the years, I’ve tried countless cupcake recipes–most good, a few not-so-much. After tasting my first cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake, though, I knew nothing else would ever compare. It was the best cupcake I’d ever shoved into my mouth! I quickly realized why everyone had been buzzing about the show D.C. Cupcakes and the bakery itself.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

As fate would have it, the creators of Georgetown Cupcake had just released a cookbook with many of their delicious recipes, the original vanilla one included. I bought a copy right away and I haven’t used another cupcake recipe since. Occasionally I make my own slight modifications, but I’ve never tasted any better cupcake, so why mess with a good thing? The sisters at Georgetown Cupcake know how to do cupcakes right. If you’ve never tried an original, I’m telling you, you’ve got to visit one of their bakeries! Once in awhile, they run half-price specials through their e-mail newsletters, so you can get a dozen cupcakes delivered to your door for less than $30. I speak from experience when I say it’s well-worth the $27.50.

Until then, try out this vanilla cupcake recipe from Georgetown Cupcake’s The Cupcake Diaries and let me know what you think! I’ve made it a million times and it just never gets old.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

One of the reasons it never gets old is because you can always add fun little extras! Sprinkles are my accessory of choice to create Georgetown Cupcake’s “birthday” cupcake look (These sprinkles are from Wilton), but you can also jazz things up with food coloring, patterned liners, or cute toppers. Be creative!

Of course, you can also use this recipe as a base for other cupcake flavors too…but that is a story to be continued another day! :)


Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
  • 5 1/2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 oz. low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature


  1. FOR CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.
  2. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs one at a time until combined.
  4. Add vanilla and vanilla bean seeds to milk.
  5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat with stand mixer until well combined. Add 1/3 of the milk and mix thoroughly. Repeat with remaining ingredients, scraping bowl as needed.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool pans completely on a wire rack.
  7. FOR FROSTING: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat all ingredients on high speed until light and fluffy, at least three minutes. Pipe onto cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. (I used an Ateco 809 tip that I purchased from Kitchen Conservatory. Wilton's largest round tip is the 1A. I've been unable to find any larger tips than these thus far!)


The vanilla beans are not absolutely mandatory, but they totally make these cupcakes!

If you—not unlike me—didn’t plan ahead for this recipe, you can bring your ingredients to room temperature a little more quickly. Run hot water over the eggs for a few seconds to warm them up. Microwave the butter at 50% power for about 8 seconds to soften. Finally, microwave milk at 50% power for about 30 seconds. These methods aren’t ideal, but they do the trick in a pinch!

For the frosting, regular full-fat cream cheese can be easily substituted (and is more delicious, just higher in calories!). Fat-free cream cheese, however, is not recommended. The texture becomes too soft and doesn't hold its shape to pipe.



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  • aubrei

    can I ask what specific kind of flour the recipe calls for>

    • Of course! Although I haven’t tried this recipe with any other kinds of flour, I always use regular white flour, and it always works great!

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  • ecmayo

    How do you measure your flour? Spooning into the cups, then leveling off, or dip and sweep? Or weighing?

    • Thanks for asking! I typically fluff up the flour in the container to make sure it isn’t packed down, then I gently scoop it into a cup and level it off. Gentleness is key!

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  • Jenna Smith

    Best Cupcakes Ever!!! Been baking for 8 hrs today trying all different vanilla recipes this is my 4th one and way better then all the others!!! Will always use this for every occasion!! Thank you so much

    • I’m so glad these worked out for you, Jenna! Thanks for the feedback!

  • hannah n

    Did you use salted butter for the cake and frosting? And what % of milk? I’m looking for the perfect cupcake recipe for my kids birthday party!!

    • Hi Hannah! I’m atypical and I do use salted butter for both the cake and frosting most of the time. I’ve tried both salted and unsalted butter and I like both versions – they’re not very different from each other, in my opinion! The original recipe calls for unsalted. I always use skim milk in this recipe and it works great, but you can use any kind of milk, too! Hope that’s helpful – and hope the birthday party is a success!!

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  • Hannah

    If we don’t have vanilla beans handy, how much pure vanilla extract should we use instead? Thanks!!

    • You’ll be fine just using the 2 1/4 teaspoons – maybe up it to 2 1/2 if you’re a big fan of vanilla. The cupcakes are still very vanilla-y; the vanilla beans just add an extra special something!

      • Anna Jacobson

        The cupcake recipe doesn’t actually call for vanilla extract, does it?

        • Yes ma’am! Pure vanilla extract in addition to the vanilla beans.

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  • Kathy

    I can’t get the room temp and slowly added granulated sugar to become fluffy-it’s very heavy and grainy and I have beatened it well- anybody else with problem?

    • Hi Kathy! Depending on the temperature of the room and the butter itself, sometimes the texture changes a bit. If I’ve accidentally melted some of my butter or it’s even softer than room temp, my batter can get a little grainy too. I just mix the butter and sugar at a very high speed, then slow it down for a few seconds. Even if it doesn’t look super fluffy, it always turns out just fine in the end! Good luck – hope that helps!

  • Kathy

    Room temp butter

  • MG

    Hello, I’ve seen this same recipe but with only 1/2 t baking powder. Do you know if this is a typo? Thank you! MG

    • Nope, not a typo! I have used two-and-a-half teaspoons of baking powder hundreds of times in this recipe with great results! I’ve never tried using less, but the full amount works for me!

      • MG

        Thank you!

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  • Nicole

    When you say butter, do you mean salted? or Unsalted? Thank you

    • Either is fine! I actually prefer salted, but the original recipe calls for unsalted. I don’t find that there’s a huge difference between the two so use whatever you have on hand!

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  • Heather

    It doesn’t say room temp butter and cream cheese for the frosting? Should it be room temp also?

    • Whoops, my bad! Can’t believe I didn’t catch that until now! Yes, the butter and cream cheese should also be at room temp for the frosting. Thanks for asking!

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  • Alison Stamos

    I’ve made these cupcakes two times now and love the flavor but they always seem to come out dense/ dry. They taste more like dense vanilla muffins than cupcakes. Any suggestions on making them softer and fluffier? Thanks!

    • Hmm…my first suggestion would be to pull them out of the oven a minute or two early – I have made these in several ovens and some of them were done in as little as 14 minutes. It really depends! I’ve found that the older an oven is, the shorter the baking time. My current oven used to take 17 minutes, but over the past 6-7 years that has gradually reduced to about 15, even when they don’t appear to be fully ready.

      Getting the butter SUPER fluffy at the beginning is important too. You should see a visible difference in color as it lightens, even if it takes a while to get there! :)

      And one more thing: as with any baked goods, avoid mixing as much as possible after the flour goes in. I give my mixer a few quick turns so the mixture becomes wet and mostly blended, but it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.

      Sorry to hear about the “muffins” and I hope the third time’s the charm!!

  • Anne

    I was wondering if these could be made a day ahead and if so do you suggest just baking the cupcakes and then frosting them the next day? I was hoping to make at least part of the recipe the night before an event.

    • Anne

      Also, this recipe looks amazing and I should have mentioned that in my first comment. And when you say milk do you mean whole, buttermilk, 2 percent? And the flour is just all purpose or is it cake flour?

  • Mariana Paris

    I just made these cupcakes today and used it as a base for some lemon cupcakes. They seemed to rise well, but after pulling them out of the oven i found they were undercooked. I put them back in, but they didn’t improve and seemed to sink.. any idea why?

    I followed the recipe and simply added lemon zest and juice…

    I might add that before making these, i had tried another lemon cupcake recipe with similar results. I thought it was that recipe, but maybe not???

    • Lizzy

      This just happened for me in the first half of my batch. If it’s undercooked it’ll flatten because the top isn’t stiff enough to hold the rounded top so it deflates. You can pop it back in the oven to cook more, but flattened top will stay flat; there’s no fixing that.
      For the second half of the batch l, i kept it in a few minutes longer and touched the tops of the cakes to make sure they were firm enough to not flatten out.

    • Hi Mariana! Sorry for the slow reply – my comment section has been having technical issues. I do find that these cupcakes tend to shrink a little on the top once they’ve cooled, but it sounds like they’re deflating for you more than is normal. If you put quite a bit of lemon juice in the batter, that could explain it – I’ve put lemon zest in this batter before and just added more lemon flavor to the frosting, but I haven’t tried adding much actual lemon juice. I’d recommend going heavier on the zest and lighter on the juice if these issues continue. Hope you have better luck with the next batch!

  • Sebastian Crisini

    I made these already and they turned out really dense and not enjoyable. Was yours lighter? Should I add more baking powder? Thanks!

    • Hi Sebastian! Sorry for the late response – there have been some issues with my comments working. My cupcakes are typically lighter – did you mix the batter quite a bit? If possible, it’s important to mix it until just combined so the batter keeps its airiness. Adding the ingredients little by little helps, too, instead of just tossing them all in at once. Hope that helps!

  • MH

    I just made these cupcakes and they are the BEST vanilla cupcakes I have ever had! I’m making cupcakes for a friend’s wedding. Wanted to do a good vanilla bean base with lemon frosting. Requested by the bridge. I found that getting eggs, milk, and butter to room temp is a key to getting fluffy cupcakes. They were perfect, not dense, not gooey. I have a convection oven, so that helps even backing also. I ordered vanilla beans from Beanilla.com and got free shipping! I made mini cupcakes. I don’t know if they bake more efficiently or not? Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Thanks for the tips and the info on free shipping – a must for me! :)

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  • Michelle McMichael

    Suggestions for high altitude baking? I just baked these and they seemed to flatten out quite a bit.

    • Hi Michelle, sorry for the super-slow reply – I’ve been having issues with my comment section. I’ve never tried baking these at high altitudes, but I’d try adding a tablespoon or so of flour and maybe reducing the sugar and baking powder, too. Hope that helps!

  • Lizzy

    I know a lot of these comments complain about the denseness of the cupcakes, but i like Georgetown Cupcakes because of its density and moistness so these usually come out great for me.
    And for the frosting , 8 oz of cream cheese really wasn’t enough frosting for me. If you wanna top the cupcakes off like Georgetown, you need at least 12 ounces of cream cheese. I always come up short with the 8 ounce recipe.

    My family prefers deserts lightly sweetened so i reduced the sugar in the cake to 1.25 cups, and 2.5 cups sugar in the frosting.

    Also i only get about 20 cupcakes out of this recipe if i want my cupcakes full and peaking over the top.

    Thanks for posting this recipe!!

    • Thanks for the tips, Lizzy! I’ve found that this recipe requires different amounts of cream cheese depending on the season or humidity level. Sometimes I just can’t get it to whip up and have to add more. Thanks for sharing!

  • Christen Janine McGuire

    Painstakingly followed these directions to a T but am very disappointed with the results. The texture of these cupcakes is very dense and they taste more like lightly-flavored vanilla muffins than a cupcake. Big thumbs down. The frosting is also way too sweet. I couldn’t taste much of a delicate vanilla flavor. Just ended up tasting like cream cheese and sugar. Don’t waste your vanilla beans or your time with this recipe.

    • Hi Christen, I’m sorry to hear that! Full disclosure: I tend to like things on the sweet side. :)

    • Armandas Liutinskas

      If cupcakes are very dense ,mix batter nice and slowly,and don’t overmix

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  • Armandas Liutinskas

    Hi!I have Cupcakes Diares book,and cream cheese frosting recipe requires 4 cups PS,4TBSP butter ,1/4tsp vanilla,6 oz cream cheese.So you one and a half times double the recipe?

    • Yes, I always seem to run out of frosting if I don’t! The results definitely depend on the weather/humidity level, though! Depending on the time of year, I can sometimes get by with a smaller batch of frosting.