Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes with Best Ever Vanilla Bean Frosting

by Mindy on June 23, 2011

I know the title is a mouthful, but believe me… these cupcakes are divine.  The best ever vanilla cupcake you will ever eat.  (I actually made another version with sour cream the same day, and I liked this recipe way better).  And the frosting?  Don’t even get me started.  Mel’s Kitchen Cafe calls it magical, and I definitely think it is enchanted.  The frosting takes a little planning, but it really isn’t hard.  And it is definitely the best frosting I have ever eaten.  Now the combination of the best ever vanilla cupcake and the best ever frosting?  I dare you to eat one without “mmmm…” escaping your lips!  I think these cupcakes would be darling for the 4th of July in the red liners with a little blue sugar sprinkled on them.. but alas, I didn’t have the foresight to buy it this time and didn’t have any on hand.

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes with Best Ever Vanilla Bean Frosting

Submitted by Mindy ~ The Sisters Cafe
Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperture
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Bean Paste (Can substitute 2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 for light aluminum or silicone muffin pans or 325 for dark, nonstick muffin pans.  Line about 16-24 muffin cups and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in eggs and egg yolk one at a time and then mix in the vanilla.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Combine.  Add 1/2 of the buttermilk.  Mix.  Add another 1/3 of the dry indredients.  Mix. Add the final 1/2 of the buttermilk.  Mix and then add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined and the batter is smooth.  Spoon out batter into lined cupcake pan, filling only halfway or just barely over halfway.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven based on the type of muffin pan you have), until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with moist crumbs.  Don’t overbake!

Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enchanted Vanilla Bean Frosting

*Note: this frosting takes a bit of advance planning since the frosting needs time to cool so plan ahead! Also, the frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. When ready to use, let the frosting stand at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours. Beat with stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute. Chill this frosting for 30-60 minutes prior to piping.  I chilled it about 40 minutes, and it worked great!

*Makes about 4 cups frosting (plenty for two 9-inch cake layers)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim milk, and it was fantastic)
2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste (Can substitute 2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. Chill 30-60 minutes before piping.

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa June 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Where do you get vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste??


2 Kerri June 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm

You can usually get them in the baking section in your supermarket


3 Mindy June 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Kerri is right! You can usually buy vanilla beans in with all the spices at the grocery store. The cheapest place I’ve seen it is at Costco though. As for vanilla bean paste, my friend recently turned me onto it. Mine is from William’s Sonoma. Love the stuff! It tastes and looks like you used a vanilla bean but it is so much easier and so good.


4 Lisa June 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

What is it called at William’s Sonoma? I looked there but couldn’t find it.


5 Mindy June 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Okay Lisa, I added a link to it under the Sisters Secrets tab on the top of the blog. It turns out that it is not exclusively sold by Williams Sonoma. In fact, the cheapest place I found it online was from Amazon. (I love Amazon…) You will love the vanilla bean paste! It is my new favorite ingredient.


6 Lisa July 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I found it, thanks! What else can I use it for?

7 Mindy July 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

You can use the vanilla bean extract in anything that calls for vanilla. I just recently discovered it, but I have tried it in ice-cream (amazing!), cookies, and cake. Loved them all. Of course any recipe that calls for vanilla bean is a given. My friend that turned me onto this uses it exclusively instead of extract now… so the skies the limit, I guess. :)


8 clay October 22, 2011 at 3:06 am

i have been using cooks vanilla for years and it is by far the best vanilla out there and they have a wonderful vanilla puree that is amazing, once you use it you will never go back to reg vanilla, amazingly good:)


9 Melanie June 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Mindy – your picture is lovely and I’m glad the frosting (which can be on the soft side) piped so beautifully on the cupcakes!


10 Mindy June 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Yes! And I took the cupcakes to an outside BBQ and they totally held their shape and didn’t get all melty like buttercream does sometimes in the heat. Love love this frosting. Thanks again for these fab recipes, Mel.


11 Mindy July 9, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Yes, it turned out awesome, Mel. Thanks again for the fab recipe.


12 Becki (Becki's Whole Life) June 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm

These look awesome! I love trying new frostings and I need to make some cupcakes this weekend. Think I am going to make these!!


13 Megan July 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

What else do you like to use Vanilla Bean paste in? I am considering buying some from (I was already planning on getting some maple extract from there so I don’t really count shipping since I was already going to place an order, and I think that makes the vanilla paste cheaper at cooks than on amazon, just a sidenote). But I’m wondering what else you like to use it in. Cookies? Anything in place of vanilla extract?

I made the sisters cafe lindt ball cupcakes with this frosting (sans the vanilla paste) and oh, they were divine. Well, before I ruined my frosting. I saw it on Mel’s and saw some people had problems with it. I was so happy when mine turned out. I ate a cupcake and it was the best cupcake I have ever had. Ever. So I put my frosting in the fridge and 5 hours later, pulled it out, let it sit for a bit and tried to whip it back up and it turned out all melty and separated. Everyone still loved the cupcakes but I didn’t, because I knew what it was like before. I left Mel a message to put in her recipe that the frosting is best if it can be eaten before it needs to be refrigerated. just my 2 cents. I think if I had piped it right after it had set up, then refrigerated the cupcakes, it would have worked better. Thanks for a great blog!


14 Mindy July 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I just replied to another reader about the vanilla bean paste, so you may have already read that reply…but you can use the vanilla bean paste in place of extract in any recipe. I have now tried it in ice-cream, cookies, cake, frosting and banana bread. To be honest, I couldn’t tell a difference in the banana bread, but I definitely could tell in the rest. And it was particularly great in the ice-cream and frosting. I would definitely try it out. Especially if you can find it cheaper than on amazon! :)

As for the frosting, I am super bummed it didn’t turn out for you after refrigerating. I refrigerated about a third of the frosting I made for these last batch of cupcakes overnight and I had no problem with it when I used it the next day. I just let it warm up to room temperature on the counter (and didn’t rewhip it), and it spread fine on the cupcakes. I didn’t try to pipe it the second day though so I can’t tell if it would have been different for piping. It definitely didn’t separate though. Such a bummer for you! I think your idea of using this frosting on the lindt cupcakes is brilliant though. I am already trying to think of an excuse to make them and try it out asap.


15 Megan July 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for up your response. I got my vanilla bean paste and I am trying to decide what to try it on first. I loved those lindt cupcakes so much I may just have to do them again and try the frosting again. Thanks for all your tips and recipes. I love them!


16 Laura July 9, 2011 at 7:37 am

I am planning on making a birthday cake for my husband and would love to try this frosting on it. Do you think it would hold it’s shape for decorating a cake ( making borders, flowers, etc.)? Thank you.


17 Mindy July 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

This frosting is amazing…but on the soft side. It piped beautifully with the 3M tip, but I don’t know about doing finer decorating. I think you would be better off using a buttercream frosting for more detailed decorating. Let me know if you try it, though.


18 JOAN DAVIS March 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm



19 Missy May 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I would like to make this as a cake instead of cupcakes. I assume the temp and baking time would be that of any other cake? 350 for approx 30 min? This sounds heavenly! Thanks!!


20 Mindy May 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Hey Missy,
I’ve honestly never made this as cake, but I’ll bet it would be 350 for approx 30 min like normal. Make sure to stop back by and let me know how it goes! I’m curious :)


21 Missy May 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Hi Mindy! I used 2 – 9 inch round pans, baked at 350 for 25 minutes, the toothpick came out clean, and they look great. Frosting is whipped up, and sitting so they can be frosted. I could not resist a taste test, and it is amazing!! The final test comes tomorrow!! I will let you know how it turns out!


22 Mindy May 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Okay, okay. How did it turn out? :) Hopefully amazing!


23 Missy May 30, 2012 at 7:16 pm

I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Busy, busy weekend! It was really wonderful, and got lots of compliments from my family. I found this cake was very dense and did not rise like I expected it too. Is this the case with the cupcakes, or did I do something wrong? Don’t get me wrong, it was still deliscious! But not the light, fluffy cake I’m used too. I will definitely make it again!! :) Thanks for sharing a great recipe!!!


24 Mindy June 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

Hey Missy,
These cupcakes are a little denser than cake box cupcakes, but I never really thought much about it. I’ll bet it was much more noticable when made up as a full cake. I’ll bet you didn’t do anything wrong. Good to have feedback!


25 Becky @ Becky's Place June 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

I made a batch of just the cupcakes so far. I ate one (Had to test them, right?) and froze the other 17. They are a little more dense than a boxed mix, but that doesn’t detract from them. Very good. I’ll be making the frosting later next week and plan to serve these as part of the goodies at my daughter’s graduation party. She loves vanilla bean stuff! I will also make these again – they are great, as well as simple.


26 Mindy June 5, 2012 at 9:55 am

Hi Becky,
Thanks for your comment. I hope your graduation party is a blast! I’ve never frozen these particular cupcakes (they never make it that far at my house), so let me know how they freeze after the big day.


27 Erica June 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Is the frosting supposed to look like instant mashed potatoes?


28 Mindy June 21, 2012 at 8:15 am

No, it isn’t supposed to look like instant mashed potatoes. I would say the consistency is more like a cross between buttercream frosting and whipped cream. I have no idea what you did wrong… unless you let it boil too long and the milk curdled? Either way, what a bummer.


29 Renee February 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Same thing happened to me. The author of the recipe should have used a description, rather than “difficult to easily whisk”. The author musn’t have very good arm strength. Mine wasn’t difficult to whisk, until it was way over cooked.
Instead, go by texture. After 4 minutes, mine was completely done. The mixture will bubble, rise and fall. At this point it will take on the consistency of a lemon filling or sweetened condensed milk. It is done.
Hope this helps. I hate having to throw out an entire batch of ingredients and start over!


30 Anne August 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

Let me tell you that this is our favorite frosting! One question though: I have to bake 100 cupcakes next weekend, do you think the piped frosting will hold it’s shape outdoors? TIA
Kind Regards!


31 Mindy August 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Hi Anne,
I made these for a barbecue last summer and piped the frosting. It was probably 80+ degrees and the cupcakes held up perfectly! I kept them in the shade at the barbecue, but they were not melty at all. So I think you should be okay as long as you keep them in the shade, as well. Good luck baking all those cupcakes!


32 Leah September 24, 2012 at 5:14 am

Hi, just wondering if this vanilla frosting is shelf-stable like a buttercream so it can go inside fondant covered cakes that can’t be refrigerated? As you heat the milk, I’m hoping so?????
Thanks in advance, Leah


33 Sherry September 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm

This is, without a doubt, the best frosting I have EVER had. No question.
Thank You!


34 Mattie November 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Thankfulness to my father who informed me about this
webpage, this weblog is actually awesome.


35 Susan November 24, 2012 at 11:22 am

salted or unsalted butter?


36 Melissa February 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Yummy! What a super flavor. One problem – the came out of the over so nice and domed then they fell a little. Still taste great. Any idea why they collapse.


37 Payton April 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

These are by far the best cupcakes ever


38 Kylene June 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

I have a question. After you have made the frosting can you put the frosting on the cupcakes the day before you are serving the cupcakes? I like to make cupcakes for my kids birthday’s and always looking for new recipes. But I like to frost the cupcakes the day before the party so it is one less thing I have to do but I know some of the whipped icing you can’t do that or it will melt off. So if I can do this do I have to put the frosted cupcakes in the fridge? Thanks.


39 Mindy June 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Hi Kylene,
I for sure think you could frost these ahead of time, but I would refrigerate them if you do. Hope the party is fun!


40 Tania July 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Mindy,
I have just made your best ever vanilla bean frosting and l have to say that l found it extremely easy to make and it tastes fantastic. I halved to mixture and added some cocoa to half and again it was amazing. Thanks.

p.s How much does a stick of butter weigh? ( l am in Australia) l did a bit of guess work.


41 Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden October 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm

This frosting sounds amazing,so much better than classic buttercream. I’ve featured this recipe on my blog, hoping that you don’t mind, but if you do, please contact me and I’ll remove it. All the best.


42 Anna October 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

The Vanilla bean paste is a new product that I have never seen before and am very excited about it. Thanks for introducing me to a new great product!


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