Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

A few weeks ago we celebrated my birthday along with our little one’s. It was a day filled with good food and lots of friends and family. The day before I was determined to make a batch of yellow cupcakes for the guests. Well, after 2 attempts I was just about ready to give up. I had used all of my ingredients, was tired and extremely frustrated. I stayed up late that night baking yet another batch… which you can probably guess, flopped again. At least it was the best of the three. With dark brown bottoms and outer edges, I cringed as I reluctantly frosted them the next morning. I certainly wasn’t proud of them, but it made me even more determined to come up with a recipe that actually worked. After 2 more failed attempts, I’ve finally found THE ONE!

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

No more batter explosions all over my pans, burned bottoms or funky flavors. These babies are perfect. Super moist, tender and perfectly golden on the bottoms, tops and edges. Mmm. So what makes these yellow cupcakes flawless? It all starts with the correct ratios. Some of the recipes I tried had too much baking soda or way too many eggs. The batter oozed all over the top of my pans. It was a hot mess, literally. Then there was the flour to liquid ratio. I’m not sure if it was because I was making cupcakes instead of a cake, but something was off. Some batches turned out really dense and dry (thus the burned bottoms), while others were so moist that they literally fell apart as soon as I peeled the liners off. So frustrating! However, the ratios in these cupcakes are balanced. You can see that in the way the rise and how the crumb holds together. Let’s talk a little more about what does into these, shall we?

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Ok, to start you’re going to want to mix together your all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. I like to use a whisk to “sift” them if you will. Set them aside and in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl), cream your butter. For the cupcake batter, you can use butter that is slightly melted (from bringing it to room temperature via the microwave, or butter that has sat out at room temperature for at least 1 hour (or until you can stick your finger all the way trough it). Once it’s nice and fluffy, add the vanilla and the granulated sugar. I used Zulka’s Morena Pure Cane Sugar which helped give these cupcakes a golden hue, because natural sugar has more of a well, natural color to it. Beat the mixture for 1 minute, then add the eggs one at a time until combined. Alternate adding your dry ingredients and the sour cream and buttermilk mixture. I’ve found that a mixture of the two make a really most moist and flavorful yellow cupcake. Once a thick batter has formed, scoop into a lined muffin pan. Now here is the really important part: only fill the liners ½ way full. That’s right. You can go slightly above that, but anything more and you will have a mess all over your pans. These cupcakes rise and expand a lot, so be warned! Pop them into the oven for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean, then let them cool while you whip up the frosting.

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Speaking of the frosting- it’s so easy to make! It all starts with the butter. I promise I haven’t lost my marbles… that’s NOT cheese in my stand mixer, it’s butter. I recently discovered that grating it helps the butter quickly come to room temperature and eliminates any risk involved with microwaving it. P.S. >>> You should NEVER microwave butter for frosting, ever. The slightest amount of liquid butter can lead to soupy greasy frosting. Let’s try to avoid that, ok?

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Once your butter is soft (if you’ve grated it, you’ll want to give it about 15 minutes for it to soften), beat it on high for 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add the salt, vanilla and ½ c. of powdered sugar. Turn your mixer on to low and gradually add the remaining sugar and the sifted cocoa powder (for smooth frosting don’t skip this step or you’ll have clumps). Your frosting should be really thick. Gradually add the milk one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. The frosting should be soft enough to spread and pipe. I used a little over 4 tablespoons for mine. And don’t worry if it looks light, it will darken as it sets. Now, if you’re in a hurry or don’t like a lot of frosting, I’d suggest spreading the frosting on with a knife or offset spat. If you’re making these for an event or have a huge sweet tooth for chocolate frosting, use a large star tip and pipe it on.

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Garnish with bright little sprinkles or chocolate jimmies. Devour immediately 🙂 No but really, these cupcakes are so irresistible you’ll find yourself wanting one after another. I hope you’ll give these recipe a try- it sure was a hit! Enjoy & happy baking!

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting Recipe

These classic yellow cupcakes are moist, tender and have a sweet buttery flavor. Topped with a chocolate frosting, they are seriously irresistible!
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Course: Cupcakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 18 mins
Servings: 18 cupcakes
Calories: 411kcal
Author: Life Made Simple Team
Print Recipe


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter - room temperature *
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder - sifted
  • 3-4 Tbsp whole milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a two standard size muffin tins with 18 cupcake liners, set aside.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl (with a hand mixer) or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and sugar, beat until combined, about 1 minute. With mixing speed on low, add one egg at a time, mixing just until combined.
  • With mixing speed on low, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk (or whole milk) and sour cream, mixing just until combined. NOTE: I like whisking my buttermilk and sour cream together so I can add it as one. The batter will be fairly thick, that's exactly what you want.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling each liner ½ - ⅔ of the way full. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, to prepare the frosting, in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn mixing speed off, add the salt and the vanilla extract. Turn mixing speed on to low, then gradually add the powdered sugar and cocoa. Beat for 2 minutes, then turn to low and add the whole milk. Turn the speed up and beat for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Spread or pipe on to the cooled cupcakes, garnish with sprinkles if desired.


*Grating the butter will help it come to room temperature more quickly. Let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before creaming it.


Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 147mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 630IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe source: adapted from Taste of Home

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  1. I am glad that you stumbled across the perfect yellow cupcake recipe because these look totally delicious and definitely a recipe that I want to recreate. Pinned!

  2. These cupcakes look absolutely beautiful! Thanks for the tips and tricks you shared. I already have a favorite yellow cupcake recipe, but would like to try yours next time 🙂 Grating the butter for frosting sounds interesting! Pinned!