perfect buttermilk cupcakes

This recipe is the product of entire bags of both flour and sugar, dozens of eggs, and more pounds of butter than I care to think about.  My boyfriend might add that cursing at my oven was a crucial ingredient, but I really could have done without it.  The fact of the matter is this:  I’ve been on a quest for the perfect recipe for buttermilk cupcakes for at least a year – and I think I’m finally done.

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chunky Peanut Butter Frosting
Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chunky Peanut Butter Frosting

“Hi there!  I’m a super light and flavorful buttermilk cupcake, and I’ve been completely slathered in a rich, creamy, chunky peanut butter frosting just for YOU!” said one dozen cupcakes, to my mouth.  And then they were gone.

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chunky Peanut Butter Frosting
Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chunky Peanut Butter Frosting

I really wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve been working on a buttermilk cupcake recipe for a long time.  I started with this recipe a few years ago, and have been tweaking it slightly to fit a variety of flavor profiles.  I’ve infused it with mint for mojito cupcakes, peach for my peaches and dream cupcakes, and lemon for margarita cupcakes – all by steeping different ingredients in the milk the recipe called for or by adjusting the extract.  I love to keep a great basic recipe in my back pocket and tweak it ever so slightly to create totally different flavors, but over time, I found myself wanting for a softer crumb and more moisture than my go-to could give me.  I turned to buttermilk – one of my favorite ingredients – and quickly realized that I needed to adjust my leavener.  As you can see in the photo below, my cupcakes rose faster than the structure could form, which resulted in super spread-out cupcakes.

After a few more trials, I finally got the beauties captured in this post.  I’m so happy to finally be able to share this recipe – as Rachel Zoe would say, it’s so maj.  I hope you enjoy it!

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chunky Peanut Butter Frosting
Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chunky Peanut Butter Frosting


buttermilk cupcakes

prep time: 15 minutes

cook time: 20 minutes

total time: 35 minutes

yield: 12


  • 1 1/4 C + 2 TBSP All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Table salt
  • 1/2 C Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C Granulated sugar
  • 1 Egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C Buttermilk, at room temperature


  1. Mise en place, and read this recipe all the way through.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together over medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, and beat until thoroughly integrated into the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Add vanilla extract, and beat until combined.
  6. With the mixer or beaters on low, add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until there are only a few streaks of flour left, then add half of the buttermilk. Beat until just combined.
  7. Add another one third of the flour, followed by the buttermilk, and finish with the final flour installment - each time, beating until just barely combined.
  8. Portion evenly into a standard 12-well muffin tin lined with paper liners, and insert into a 350 degree oven.
  9. Bake 16-20 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed.
  10. Let cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and let cupcakes cool completely over a wire rack.
  11. Once completely cool, frost. I recommend this chunky peanut butter frosting


21 comments to perfect buttermilk cupcakes

  1. This was a lifesaver. I went to make my go-to cupcake recipe for the kids’ cake sale when I realised I only had 1 egg. Luckily I had buttermilk leftover from making savoury muffins. I added a half tspn red powdered colouring and voila, perfect pink “fairy cakes”. They were light and fluffy and didn’t crumble when I cut out the ‘wings’. I will definitely make these again. I may just have a new favourite cupcake recipe!

    • Thank you so much, Sarah! I am so glad this recipe worked out for you! Would love to see pics of your adorable fairy cakes- don’t think you can upload here but you can send to whiskandheels at gmail dot com should you so desire! :)

  2. This is the perfect buttermilk recipe! I live in México and I can get any buttermilk here, so I used plain yogurth instead and it worked out great! and also I added a little baking powder because I live in a sea level city. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    • Hi Shannon! These cupcakes have a pretty soft crumb, so they may not be ideal for cutout cupcakes. If you’ve got your heart set on buttermilk cupcakes, I’d definitely recommend freezing them for a few hours to make them easier to slice (this is a common bakery technique, usually used when slicing the tops off of domed cake rounds for layer cakes). You could also go for the Magnolia recipe I linked to in the post, it has a pretty sturdy crumb! Let me know what you decide and how it goes :)

  3. Hey just made this and it tastes great…however they sank in the middle… and very soft to handle… what have i done wrong? Would love to make this again…

    • Hi Bonnie! So glad to hear that you made these :) a few possible reasons that they sank in the middle… 1) perhaps your leavener was old? It’s best to use baking soda and baking powder within 3 months of opening. 2) perhaps you used cake flour and not all purpose? cake flour does not have as much protein so you need more of it than AP flour to form the cake structure. 3) perhaps you pulled them out of the oven before they were done? the bake times are based off of my oven which may be calibrated differently from yours. Next time try sticking a toothpick in the center of one of the cupcakes to test for doneness – the toothpick should come out clean.

      I hope this tips help! Please try again and let me know :)

  4. I am such a big fan of your page…..Had been also looking for a moist cupcake, as I found other recipes leaving the cup cake too dry……THANK YOU……………for sharing, loving it soooo much that i use it all the time……….can’t wait to try your other recipes out…..and I have to admit I’m a learner in the kitchen with following recipes, but it was so simple and easy and understandable…..

so, what did you think?


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