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These dairy free cupcakes are a simple and classic treat that is perfect for any occasion. They're soft, fluffy, and topped with a creamy vanilla buttercream. Dress them up with sprinkles or leave them as is - they're ready in 40 minutes start to finish!
Cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts to make. They're just so fun to decorate and to eat 😉 I love a snazzier cupcake recipe like my Raspberry Cupcakes or Coconut Cupcakes, but sometimes you really just need some classic vanilla cupcakes.
These dairy free vanilla cupcakes are perfect for any occasion. Birthdays for all ages, baby showers, weddings, Easter, anything! Use them as a base recipe and switch up the icing if you want or add decorations - the world is your oyster with this recipe!
Why These Dairy Free Cupcakes Work
- These cupcakes use just one egg and two egg whites. The egg whites are what make the cupcakes so light and fluffy instead of dense!
- The unfrosted cupcakes are not too sweet on their own, which balances out the sweetness from the buttercream frosting.
- This recipe uses dairy free butter, which adds a nice, subtle flavor and moisture to the cupcakes.
- The dairy free vanilla frosting is made with a 2:1 ratio of vegan butter and shortening. The shortening helps provide structure to the buttercream so that it holds shape at room temperature instead of being too soft and meltey.
These cupcakes require simple pantry ingredients, nothing fancy! A few notes about the ingredients:
- Dairy free milk: I prefer soy milk in these cupcakes. I find it makes the best dairy free buttermilk, but you can use any dairy free milk you have!
- White vinegar: White vinegar is used to make the dairy free buttermilk. Don't worry - you won't taste it! This can't be replaced with any other type of vinegar, but if you don't have vinegar you can also use lemon juice.
- 1 egg + 2 egg whites: I tested this recipe using varying egg to egg white ratios, and 2 egg whites gave the fluffiest, softest, most perfect cupcakes.
- Vegetable Shortening: Shortening is combined with dairy free butter in the buttercream, because dairy free butter alone doesn't hold its shape as well and can be a bit harder to pipe.
- Vanilla extract: The star of the show! Use any vanilla extract you have on hand. To amp up the vanilla flavor, try using pure vanilla extract instead of artificial!
Step By Step Instructions
STEP ONE: Make the buttermilk by combining milk and vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until it looks curdled.
STEP THREE: In another bowl, beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the egg, egg whites, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
STEP FOUR: Pour in the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Fill the liners with batter to around ⅔ full and bake for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
STEP FIVE: While the cupcakes cool, make the buttercream. Add butter and shortening to a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
STEP SIX: Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until the buttercream is at your desired consistency. If the buttercream is soft, you can chill it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before piping to firm it up. Frost the completely cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles if desired!
Note: Full ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
FAQs and Expert Tips
What is the best dairy free milk for baking?
I use different types of dairy free milk depending on what I'm baking. I tested the dairy free buttermilk with this recipe using almond, oat, and soy milk and soy milk was the clear winner.
It curdled like regular cow's milk would, and gave the cupcakes the lightest, fluffiest, and softest texture out of the 3 that I tested. Based on that, I recommend soy milk if you have it. But, if you are soy-free or prefer another milk, the cupcakes can be made with whatever you have on hand.
What can I do with leftover egg yolks?
I used to avoid recipes that called for egg whites because I didn't want to waste the yolks. But the cupcakes are SO much fluffier with egg whites -trust me!
Egg yolks can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for 2-3 days. You can either fry up the yolks with more eggs for breakfast within that time, or make something sweet like a reduced batch of vanilla pudding.
How do I make my buttercream white?
Okay so the first way to achieve pure white buttercream is to use shortening. But personally, I'm not a fan of the taste of pure shortening. Butter (vegan or regular) is pale yellow in color, and vanilla also makes the buttercream more yellow/off-white.
So here's the secret: white food coloring!* For the amount of buttercream in this recipe, you can add about 1 ½ teaspoon of it after mixing in the powdered sugar and voila!
*note that the product linked above is made in a facility that processes milk and other potentially non-allergy friendly products so always read the labels and if you have a severe allergy it may be best to use a different brand or just leave out the food coloring.
- Be sure to properly measure your flour! This will absolutely affect how the cupcakes turn out!
- Don't over-mix the dry ingredients! Once the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated into the wet ingredients, it's mixed enough.
- Be sure to only fill the batter ⅔ of the way full. This is so that the batter doesn't spill over when baking.
- Chill the buttercream in the fridge for 15 minutes before piping it onto the cupcakes. This is optional but I find it makes things a lot easier and less messy!
- Wait until the cupcakes have cooled completely before frosting them! The buttercream will melt and make a mess if the cupcakes are still warm.
- If baking more than one tray at a time, the cupcakes may have to be rotated halfway through and will take a few minutes longer to bake.
How To Decorate Vanilla Cupcakes
Here are a few ways to make these basic vanilla cupcakes more colorful and fun:
- Sprinkles! Sprinkles make everything fun! Fourth of July cupcakes? Add red, white, and blue sprinkles. Canada Day cupcakes? Add red and white sprinkles. Halloween? Add black and orange sprinkles. The options are endless!
- Add food coloring to the buttercream, or even divide the frosting into bowls and a mix a different color in each one, then make multi-colored/rainbow cupcakes!
- Switch up the flavor of the buttercream! I sometimes like to pair these cupcakes with fudgy chocolate buttercream or coconut buttercream!
Storage and Freezing Instructions
Whenever possible, it is best to leave the cupcakes unfrosted until the day you serve them. However, the frosted cupcakes will stay fresh for around 2 days in an airtight container or cupcake carrier at room temperature. If you live in a really hot climate, the buttercream should be kept in the fridge until ready to serve.
You can also freeze the unfrosted cupcakes in a Ziploc freezer bag or airtight container for around 2-3 months, then let them thaw at room temperature for a few hours before frosting.
Buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours, give it a stir, and it'll be good to go!
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MORE CAKES AND CUPCAKES YOU'LL LOVE
Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- Handheld or Standing Mixer
- Cupcake Baking Tin
- Cupcake Liners
Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- ½ cup dairy free/vegan butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract*
- ¾ cup +3 tablespoon soy milk (or other dairy free milk)*
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup dairy free/vegan butter
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract*
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3-3½ cup icing sugar
Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- Make the buttermilk: Pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup or a regular 1 cup measuring cup. Add in the soy milk until it fills to the 1 cup mark (you should have 1 cup of liquid total). Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the milk has curdled.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing or handheld mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, around 1-2 minutes. Add in the egg and egg whites, then add in the vanilla extract and buttermilk and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Fill the cupcake tins ⅔ full with cupcake batter, then bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
- While the cupcakes cool, make the buttercream.
- Add butter and shortening to the bowl of a standing or handheld mixer. Beat together until smooth, scraping along the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Mix in the vanilla extract and salt, then add powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. I recommend chilling the frosting in the fridge before piping it onto the cupcakes*
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost the cupcakes and add sprinkles if desired!
The calorie information provided for this recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.