Cupcakes are among the most beautiful treats on the planet. This vegan cupcake recipe is one of my favorites. You can’t get much better than soft, fluffy vanilla cupcakes topped with the most deliciously light frosting. I am using Russian piping tips to create the pretty flower decorations on top, which you can use either on cupcakes or on a cake, muffins, or other recipe.

Summer is the Perfect Season for Vegan Vanilla Recipes

Vegan vanilla cupcakes are a perfect summer treat. I know some people find vanilla too simple, but I think most of them haven’t had high-quality vanilla. This recipe will change your mind, and you’ll find yourself using the flavor a lot more in other vegan recipes.

I love this flavor because it’s rich, well-rounded, and decadent. It is a very beautiful and satisfying dessert with only a few ingredients.

Another great thing about this versatile flavor is that it blends well with almost anything. My recipe uses a bit of cardamom in the batter, but that’s just one option. You can make a lemon frosting, drizzle vegan caramel on top, or just about anything else you can imagine.

No matter what else you add, the flavor pairs perfectly with a light, fluffy base and airy frosting. With these cupcakes vegan vanilla is often enough to satisfy cake cravings.

Looking for more cake recipes? Here are some of my favorites:

Seven vegan cupcakes

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Do Vegan Cupcakes Taste Different from Regular Cupcakes?

Most people who try these vanilla cupcakes vegan or not, are surprised when they discover they are entirely plant-based and vegan. I can’t stress the importance of starting with a good recipe for any kind of vegan cake. I have had some pretty dense and flavorless vegan cupcakes over the years, but with countless tries and much tweaking, we have come up with this vegan vanilla cupcake recipe. And in my opinion, it surpasses many regular cupcake recipes on the market. 

What are These Cupcakes Made Of? 

Vegan cupcakes are animal product and dairy free. This means they contain no egg, butter, or dairy products. However, they do contain ingredients that are familiar to the baker such as flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, and vanilla. Depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have, you can adjust the amount of sugar. These cupcakes have the perfect sugar ratio in my opinion.

To make this vegan version, we made a few substitutions to make the final product completely dairy-free, vegan, plant-based, and in my opinion, much better.

Plant-based milk: We use vegan milk instead of regular milk to make the best vegan cupcakes. I prefer to make muffins and cupcakes with organic unsweetened almond or soy milk because they curdle when lemon juice is added, creating a lighter and fluffier cupcake.

Applesauce: There is hardly anything more disappointing than a dry cupcake recipe, so I add a little applesauce to the batter to prevent this from happening. You will not be able to detect the taste of applesauce in the final product, but the difference in texture is tremendous in these recipes.

Cardamom: Maybe it is my Norwegian roots, but a dash of cardamom takes the flavor of these cupcakes to the next level. It has a charming, comforting taste that will have people asking you for the recipe.

Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste: Most recipes have a of vanilla extract, but I like to add vanilla bean paste for a more robust, rounded flavor.

Baking Tip: Don’t Over-Mix the Cupcake Batter

If you’re new to baking, you can’t miss this baking tip. Make sure you don’t over-mix the batter. Over-mixing can lead to the baked goods sinking, being overly dense, and being chewy. (1) Basically, this mistake can ruin everything you love about vegan vanilla cupcakes!

And I know it’s easy to get so worried about it that you under-mix. I’ve been there, too. Think of it this way: Do the absolute least amount of mixing necessary to get a uniform batter or dough. Lumps are ok!

The moment you notice the flour mixture has come together evenly with everything else, stop mixing. Bonus tip: Use a spatula to scrape the bowl’s sides and look for any dry flour spots. If you don’t find any flour on the sides, you’re good to go.

But if you find any dry sections of flour, mix slowly for another few seconds. Repeat this until you don’t find any areas of flour. The more often you bake, the faster you’ll get a feel for when it’s “just right”.

What Keeps This Vanilla Cupcake From Being Bone Dry and Dense?

Vegan cakes and cupcakes can become dry and dense for several reasons:

  • Because vegan cupcakes do not include eggs, you must substitute eggs with something that will help the cake retain moisture. I prefer to use applesauce for moisture. It adds such wonderful moisture content to the final cake and helps the cake store better. Adding a couple of tablespoons of applesauce makes such a difference especially when you are working with a cake or vegan recipe. You will not taste the applesauce in the final product. 
  • Overmixing can also cause your cupcakes or cakes to become dry or dense. When mixing the wet and dry ingredients, be careful not to overmix. Only mix until no more dry flour patches are seen in the batter. Lumps are ok, do not mix until the batter is lumpless, as this will result in a denser final cupcake because the batter has been overworked.
  • Taking the time to curdle the vegan milk is an important step in this recipe. Add fresh lemon juice to the milk and set aside until the milk is curdled before adding it to your batter. This step will create a lighter and fluffier cupcake recipe.

Making the Vanilla Cupcakes and Ingredients

Let’s look at the ingredients it takes to make the best vegan vanilla cupcakes ever.

  • Flour: I like to use King Arthur All Purpose Flour for this cupcake recipe. 
  • All-Natural Cane Sugar: I like to sweeten the cupcakes with natural cane sugar, but you can also experiment with other vegan sugar options. 
  • Baking powder: This helps the moist vanilla cupcakes to rise and become light and fluffy. Baking powder: This helps the vegan cupcakes to rise and become light and fluffy. I like to use an aluminum-free baking powder such as Rumford.
  • Salt: Sea salt helps balance the flavor of these delicious dairy-free cupcakes.
  • Cardamom: Often used in Scandinavian baking, cardamom adds a warm and comforting taste that takes these vegan cupcakes to the next level. 
  • Oil: Adding a little oil to cupcakes helps to keep the vegan vanilla cupcakes soft, tender, and moist in texture. I like to use vegetable oil, but you could also use avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, although it may change the flavor of the final cupcakes. 
  • Vegan Milk: The secret to making the best vegan vanilla cupcakes is to make a vegan buttermilk. This will create super fluffy vegan cupcakes. So I like to buy natural almond milk or soy milk and add fresh squeezed lemon juice to create a mock buttermilk. If you want to make almond milk from scratch, try my homemade almond milk recipe. When purchasing plant milk for cupcakes, it is important to look for milk that doesn’t contain ingredients that will keep it from curdling after adding lemon juice. Go with an organic or natural almond milk. Don’t worry if your non dairy milk does not curdle; the cupcakes will still be delicious. 
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Adding some fresh lemon juice helps to curdle the almond milk to make a vegan buttermilk. This will help to make the fluffiest vegan cupcakes. 
  • Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste: I recommend using a flavorful high-quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste to add a delicious vanilla flavor to these vegan cupcakes. 
  • Applesauce: Since these vegan vanilla cupcakes do not have any eggs, the secret to getting the soft and delicious texture is adding a little apple sauce to the wet ingredients. This will keep your vegan cupcakes soft, moist, and irresistibly tasty. 

Why Sift Dry Ingredients?

Sifting your dry ingredients will eliminate any lumps, making them easier to measure and mix.

If you’ve ever made a cake from a box mix, you’ve experienced a common problem. No matter how much you mix the cake batter, you keep finding lumps of dry ingredients! You might turn the mixer off and try to mash the lumps. You might tell yourself it’ll even out in the oven.

But inevitably, you still bite into a dry pocket when you take a bite. Taking a moment to sift your dry ingredients will give you a better final result in every way.

Use Quality Vanilla for Optimal Cake Flavor

Vanilla bean paste will give you the best flavor when it comes to baking a cake or cupcake. The paste is extracted straight from the vanilla bean pod itself. It’s got a much more well-rounded and decadent flavor than most extracts, which are alcohol-based.

That said, you can find high-quality vanilla extract for your recipe too. Look for pure vanilla extract, which uses real vanilla beans. Without this label, you’re likely to get artificial lab-created vanilla that doesn’t do as well in a cake.

Vanilla paste and pure vanilla extract will cost a little bit more. But this ingredient makes the difference between good and great vegan vanilla cupcakes or cake.

This recipe requires an oven preheated to 350F. Line the tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium-size bowl, mix the vegan milk and lemon juice. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until the milk is curdled. When curdled, add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla and gently stir to combine.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom.

When the oven is ready, pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir to combine. Be careful not to overmix, as this will create a denser cupcake.

Transfer the batter to the tin. I like to use an ice cream scoop for this. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the golden vanilla cupcakes cool on a cooling rack.

How to Make the Best Vegan Frosting:

Making light, fluffy, creamy frosting is an art in any cake recipe, especially when it comes to this vanilla cupcakes recipe. It has taken many years of practice and experimentation to land on a recipe that works well, and here it is.

So many of the vegan frostings are off in texture, color, and structure. We want to stay away from frostings that are too sweet, overpowering the cupcake. This vegan vanilla buttercream frosting recipe is creamy and extremely fluffy, easily spreadable, beautiful, and best of all, you can adjust the sweetness to your liking.

Cupcakes are Easiest to Frost When Cooled

You should never try to frost a warm cupcake! You’ll just end up with a greasy mess.

The frosting for my vegan vanilla cupcakes uses a base of vegan margarine and vegetable shortening. Both of these have a melting point just slightly higher than the average human body temperature. Can you imagine how quickly the frosting would melt on top of a warm cupcake?

Let me save you the trouble. It happens faster than you can start to regret being impatient!

Always allow your cupcakes to cool completely. I suggest giving them a few minutes to rest in the tin, and then you can remove them to rest on a wire cooling rack. This helps them cool faster than if you left them in the tin. 

What is the base of my Vegan Frosting?

For the base of my vegan vanilla frosting, I like to use a combination of vegan margarine (or dairy free butter) and vegetable shortening. It makes the perfect frosting. 

Earth Balance and Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening is an excellent combination. It is essential to whip the two together for 10 minutes to create the light and fluffy texture you associate with a great frosting. Using vegetable shortening and Earth Balance in this vegan buttercream frosting recipe keeps it firmer and mimics the texture and richness of buttercream.

Let’s look at the ingredients:

vegan margarine (or vegan butter) and vegetable shortening
powdered sugar
vanilla powder
lemon extract

Whip the vegan margarine and vegan vegetable shortening until airy and fluffy. This normally takes about 10 minutes.
Add the lemon extract and mix again until incorporated into the cupcakes batter
Sift the sugar and vanilla powder with a sieve.
Add sugar to the electric mixer and continue to whip for another couple of minutes.


The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating vegan cake and cupcakes. You can get so creative with the design and colors that you use. The amount of sugar can also be altered if you prefer a sweeter or neutral flavor. Countless piping bags, piping tips, and decorating techniques can be used to make beautiful cupcakes.

What Are Russian Piping Tips?

I am pretty new to Russian Piping tips, but they are large piping tips that have intricate designs to make beautiful flowers from the sugar icing.

I am impressed by the sheer size of these piping tips! Amazon has an excellent selection, I purchased mine in a pack, so I have many different tips for various shapes. Click here to find the one I use.


How long do cupcakes last?

Cupcakes can last up to a week in the fridge in an airtight container and for several months in the freezer.

Can you freeze cupcakes?

Yes, cupcakes freeze beautifully in freezer bags or containers. I like to freeze the unfrosted cupcakes and then make up a fresh batch of frosting when I want to serve them. Or you can experiment with freezing the whole frosted cupcake.

Can you make these cupcakes nut-free?

Yes, use nut-free milk.

How to Make Them Gluten-Free

It takes just a couple tweaks to make these gluten free vegan vanilla cupcakes.

First, use gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of plain all-purpose flour or cake flour. I recommend picking a brand that specifies a 1-to-1 conversion so you don’t have to adjust quantities.

Bob’s Red Mill makes 1-to-1 gluten free flour, and King Arthur’s version is called Measure-for-Measure. You can also experiment with other kinds of gluten-free flour, but be sure to research the conversion ratio.

Next, just double check that your baking powder is gluten-free for these cupcakes. Most brands these days use a plant-based starch, but you may run across some that use a gluten base. If you don’t have baking powder, shop for one with a label saying it’s gluten-free. Rumford is my favorite for cupcakes!

Why Did My Cupcakes Sink During Baking?

There are 4 common reasons your cupcakes might sink:

1. Opening the oven door. Baking is all about chemical reactions, from mixing ingredients to the oven’s heat. When you open the oven door, you can lose around 25 degrees of heat. (2) The rush of cold air stops your cupcakes from rising as much, and they sink instead. Keep the oven door shut while you bake, and wait to check the cupcakes until the end of the baking time.  If a toothpick comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it, you are good to go!

2. Over-mixing the batter. We talked about over-mixing a bit earlier, and this is one reason to be careful. Over-mixing vegan cupcake batter will aerate it too much. The air dissipates during baking, making your cupcakes sink. 

3. Using expired baking powder. Expired dry ingredients can be hit or miss. Whether it’s a rising agent or a seasoning, the product will get less potent—and less effective—over time. Just know that if you gamble with expired baking powder, your prize might be sunken cupcakes. 

4. Setting the oven too high. When your oven temperature is too high, your cupcakes will rise too fast. The rising agent uses up all of its “energy” in the first few minutes, and the muffins or cupcakes sink under its own weight for the rest of the baking time.

Watch My Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe Video:

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Cupcakes on a cake stand

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Chef Ani
  • Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes 1x


Cupcakes are among the most beautiful treats on the planet. This vegan cupcake recipe is one of my favorites. You can’t get much better than soft, fluffy vanilla cupcakes topped with the most deliciously light frosting. I am using Russian piping tips to create the pretty flower decorations on top.




  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup all-natural cane sugar
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom


  • 2/3 cup oil 
  • 1 1/3 cups plant-based milk (organic almond or soy milk)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. 
  • In a medium-size bowl, mix the plant-based milk and fresh lemon juice. Let sit for a couple of minutes until the milk is curdled. Add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Gently stir to combine.  
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom.  
  • When the oven is ready, pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir to combine. Be careful not to overmix, as this will create a denser cupcake. 
  • Transfer the batter to the cupcake tins. An ice cream scoop makes this easy. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack. 


  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine, Earth Balance 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, Spectrum
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder

With an electric mixer, whip the margarine and shortening until light and fluffy. This usually takes about 10 minutes. This is a crucial step.

Add the lemon extract and mix again until incorporated. 

Sift the powdered sugar and vanilla powder with a sieve.  

Add the sifted sugar to the electric mixer a little at a time and continue to whip for another couple of minutes.


1. Food52, The Most Confusing Recipe Instruction, Debunked & Demystified

2. Department of Energy, How to Be Energy Efficient in Your Kitchen This Thanksgiving

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Vegan Cupcakes