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Learn how to make the BEST vegan vanilla cupcakes. They’re tender, moist, fluffy, and made in just one bowl with 6 ingredients (add-Ins & flavor variations included)!

completed cupcakes spread out on white surface and in muffin tin
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Light, Fluffy, Tender Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

If you do much dairy-free or vegan baking, you’ve likely run across several popular egg ‘alternatives’ and ‘swaps; But did you know you can make entirely vegan vanilla cupcakes with just simple pantry ingredients that almost every household has?! And, this recipe has been around since the 1920s!

In fact, these easy vanilla cupcakes are inspired by a Depression Era recipe, where ingredients like eggs and milk were scarce, so bakers had to get creative with their recipes. The result is a vegan vanilla cupcake recipe containing only simple and inexpensive ingredients while remaining soft, fluffy, spongy, sweet, and infused with vanilla flavor. Nobody will guess they’re vegan, either!

Best of all, this recipe is so simple – perfect for novice bakers and getting the children involved. With just 6 ingredients, one bowl, and a mixer or whisk, you can prepare these eggless vanilla cupcakes in under an hour and/or customize these simple ‘base’ vegan cupcakes in almost endless ways. That includes adjusting the amount of sugar, making them gluten-free, and experimenting with flavor combinations.

Once baked, these fluffy vanilla cupcakes are the perfect celebration cake, great for weddings, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, graduations, the holidays, etc., alongside vegan funfetti cupcakes, Biscoff blondies, fudgy brownies, and creamy chocolate pie.

The Ingredients

ingredients for Easy Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes measured out against a white surface
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or a combination of the two. For vegan, gluten-free vanilla cupcakes, use a gluten-free flour blend (like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill).
  • Sugar: We used white granulated sugar (use organic sugar to ensure it’s vegan). However, you could experiment with unrefined sugars, too, like coconut sugar (though the color will vary).
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure, natural vanilla extract (or paste) for the best flavor.
  • Baking soda: To provide lift and produce light, fluffy vegan vanilla cupcakes.
  • Vinegar: An acid like apple cider vinegar/white vinegar is needed to react with the baking soda to provide lift in this vegan cupcake recipe.
  • Oil: Use neutral vegetable oil or canola oil. Melted coconut oil may also work, but will leave a subtle flavor. This helps to make super tender, moist vanilla cupcakes.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavors.
  • Water: Or unsweetened dairy-free milk (almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, etc.).

What Frosting Is Best for Vanilla Cupcakes?

At its most basic, make the best basic vegan vanilla cupcakes with a creamy vegan vanilla buttercream frosting.

However, you could also use lemon frosting, berry frosting, vegan chocolate frosting, caramel frosting, Biscoff frosting, etc. A citrusy glaze (like a lemon glaze) would also complement vanilla.

Alternatively, skip the frosting and top the dairy-free vanilla cupcake with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Optional Add-ins and Flavor Variations

These basic vanilla cupcakes are an almost endlessly versatile base. Here are some of our favorite ways to play with this recipe.

  • Orange zest: A small amount adds a subtle but delicious citrusy, bright flavor. Lemon or lime zest will also complement the vanilla well.
  • Spices: Add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, chai spice, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, etc., for warmth and delicious depth.
  • Flavor extracts: There are a few extracts that pair particularly well with vanilla, including almond extract, coconut extract, etc. Add about a teaspoon – adjust to personal taste.
  • Vegan chocolate: Sprinkle in your favorite dairy-free chocolate chips or chunks (white, milk, or dark chocolate).
  • Add fruit: Sprinkle in a handful of fresh or frozen berries (diced strawberries or whole raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.), diced peaches, mango, etc.
  • Chopped nuts: Fold in unsalted, chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc., to the batter to add a nutty crunch.
  • Vanilla coconut cupcakes: Fold 3-4 tbsp shredded coconut into the batter and top with coconut frosting.
  • Vegan Funfetti cupcakes: Fold in about ½ cup of vegan sprinkles to the batter.
  • Filled vanilla cupcakes: After baking, cool them, then use a sharp knife to carve out the center and fill it (using a spoon or piping bag) with vegan lemon curd, raspberry curd, jam, fruit coulis/compote, vegan chocolate spread, biscoff, caramel, nut butter, etc.

How to Make Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1) First, preheat the oven to 350F/175C and line a cupcake tin with paper or silicone cupcake liners.
  • 2) Then, combine all the vegan vanilla cupcake ingredients in a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer/whisk). Combine until well incorporated, but be careful not to overwork the batter as it can overwork the gluten and cause dense, unrisen/sunken cupcakes.
  • 3) Divide the mixture between the cupcake liners, filling them ¾ full.
process shot showing addition of cupcake batter in muffin tin
  • 4) Bake the vegan vanilla cupcakes for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs).
  • 5) Allow them to cool in the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Finally, frost/glaze to your liking, and enjoy!

FAQs

Can I make vanilla cupcakes with almond flour?

While it is possible to make vanilla cupcakes with single flours (like almond flour/ coconut flour/ oat flour), the recipe requires several changes, so it’s not something we recommend with this recipe.

Can I replace or omit the oil in the recipe?

You could replace oil with unsweetened applesauce or other fruit purees, dairy-free yogurt, nut butters, or coconut butter. We recommend replacing only up to 50%, though; otherwise, additional recipe tweaks may be required to ensure the flavor, texture, and moisture aren’t affected too much.

Can I reduce or replace the sugar in vanilla cupcakes?

You’re able to tweak the amount of sugar to personal preference. However, note that the sugar is also responsible for adding moisture, so removing too much can affect the texture. Likewise, it may be possible to use a sugar alternative (like erythritol), though the texture may be affected.

Top Tips for the Best Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Measure the flour correctly: Fluff it up in its bag with a fork, spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it with the back of a knife. This way, you avoid using too much/ ending up with dense, non-dairy cupcakes.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: Otherwise, the gluten becomes overworked and can affect the density/ rise of these vegan vanilla cupcakes. Mix the batter just enough to incorporate everything – a few small lumps are fine.
  • Fill the cupcake tin ¾ way full: Any more, and they’ll overflow.
  • Bake them in the center of the oven: This will have the most even heat distribution, so the dairy-free cupcakes should bake evenly.
  • Keep the oven door closed: If you open it too soon, you may cause the cupcakes to sink and yield uneven baking.
  • For mini vanilla cupcakes: Use mini cupcake trays and liners and reduce the baking time. We recommend baking them for 10-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Experiment with frosting, fillings, and decorations: These basic vanilla cupcakes are endlessly customizable, so have fun.
close up of opened cupcake with cupcakes in the background

Storage Instructions

Store the vegan vanilla cupcakes covered on the countertop for up to 4 days or frosted in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Alternatively, flash freeze the vegan cupcakes (with or without vegan buttercream) spread across a tray, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container/Ziplock/Stasher bag for up to 3 months. Allow one/them to thaw on the kitchen counter or in the fridge when needed.

More Easy Vegan Cupcakes and Muffins

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Easy Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

5 from 78 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Learn how to make the BEST vegan vanilla cupcakes. They’re tender, moist, fluffy, and made in just one bowl with 6 ingredients (add-Ins & flavor variations included)!

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of white or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of water

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Line two cupcake tins with silicone or paper baking cups.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), mix together all the ingredients until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into each baking cup until it’s three-quarters full.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test a cupcake by sticking a toothpick in the middle. If the toothpick comes out dry, the cupcakes are done. 

Notes

  • Measure the flour correctly: Fluff it up in its bag with a fork, spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it with the back of a knife. This way, you avoid using too much/ ending up with dense, non-dairy cupcakes.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: Otherwise, the gluten becomes overworked and can affect the density/ rise of these vegan vanilla cupcakes. Mix the batter just enough to incorporate everything – a few small lumps are fine.
  • Fill the cupcake tin ¾ way full: Any more, and they’ll overflow.
  • Bake them in the center of the oven: This will have the most even heat distribution, so the dairy-free cupcakes should bake evenly.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 2gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 190mgPotassium: 56mgFiber: 2gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 1IUCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

    1. We at Plant-Based on a Budget haven’t tried that out yet so can’t guarantee the results as the recipe may need to be tweaked! Please let us know how it turns out if you try it 🙂