Of all the childhood nostalgia-inducing cake flavors out there, yellow cake has to be pretty high up on the list, right?  (Maybe second to funfetti?)  Oddly enough, I don’t recall it making many, if any, appearances at our family birthday celebrations.  I always chose strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting and my Dad and brothers would go for German chocolate.  And yet these days, yellow cake with chocolate frosting is inexplicably one of the combos that makes me feel most like a kid again.  Possibly because of the non-optional sprinkles…

Every cake is better when made from scratch and yellow cake is no exception.  Over the past few years, I’ve tried out quite a few yellow cupcake recipes to determine which was the best.  After much deliberation, this is the one, my friends.  As with so many of my favorite baked goods, the sour cream in the cake batter lends a tender crumb and nice height to this cupcake.  Paired with my absolute favorite chocolate frosting ever, it’s the classic birthday combo I wish I had learned to love sooner!


3 cups (15 oz.) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups (14 oz.) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

  • 02

    Blend in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, blend together the sour cream and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated.

  • 03

    Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake until the cupcakes are just set and pale golden, about 20-22 minutes.  Let cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, frost as desired.


  • HalfBakedHarvest

    Classics are some of the best!

  • Annie @ Annie’s Cooking Lab

    Those look wonderful! My mom used to make yellow cake with chocolate frosting when I was a kid and it was always one of my favorites. Can’t wait to try these!

  • Cheryl Duss

    Hi Annie. I’m one of your newer fans (from Canada) and I just found your site about 1 month ago. Love it. I have a quick question: would this recipe translate well to bake as a cake to be iced and decorated, or should I chose a denser recipe?

  • annieseats

    Sure, you could make this as a cake. Please see the FAQ page for more info. Enjoy!

  • marcie @ flavor the moments

    Everyone needs a great yellow cake recipe, and I really don’t have one. I loved it growing up. Your cupcakes look so delicious!

  • Caroline L.

    The very best! Love classic cupcakes :)

  • Luke & Javairia Yankowy

    Hi! Do you happen to have the recipe for the frosting? :)

  • annieseats

    It’s linked above. Enjoy!

  • Jamie Stone

    beautiful, as always!

  • Louie

    Any tips you can share to prevent the cupcake liners from folding/ buckling when the batter is scooped into them? Your cupcakes are the best!!

  • annieseats

    I think that really just hinges on using good quality liners. I have linked some of my favorite resources in the FAQ page. (Also, just my opinion – the Wilton ones are terrible, in my experience.)

  • Christen

    Yellow cake + chocolate frosting is our favorite combo…and I have been looking for a good “home made” recipe for at least a year….this looks like a winner! Now, who’s birthday is next? :)

  • Stephanie

    Hi Annie. This was my husband’s favorite birthday cake growing up. Thanks for sharing this version, I’m sure it will be excellent. I always get rave reviews when I bake your cupcakes!

  • nessa

    Want these so bad!

  • amypinkos

    Okay… So I made two batches:). First batch I used the exact recipe but with BIs dump method. While it was definitely one of the better yellow cupcakes ( why are yellow cupcakes soooooooo hard to get right?) I like mine a little bit sweeter. So I made them again using 2oz more of sugar, vanilla bean paste, and slightly more vanilla extract. Winner, winner chicken dinner.

  • Love ’em with sour cream. It adds so much moisture. They’re just beautiful!

  • This is one of my favorite cupcake combinations! And the sprinkles are non-negotiable :) Looking forward to trying these!

  • It’s so important to have the basics down, and this cupcake recipe is no exception. I love sour cream in sweet baked treats, so I am sure I’d love these! Bookmarking for future birthdays :)

  • Samantha Curtis

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you for posting!

    ♥ Samantha

  • Penni Gore

    I need to make some vanilla cupcakes this evening and so want to try these but don’t have sour cream. Would greek yogurt work? or would it completely change the recipe?

  • Rena

    Any possible way to make these dairy free? I’ve been searching for a winning non-dairy yellow cupcake recipe – any advice?

  • annieseats

    I’m not well versed in dairy free baking. You’d have to experiment, or keep searching for a recipe that is designed with that in mind. Good luck!

  • charisse ramsundar

    Such a good cake recipe. I made these for my neice’s bday party with your chocolate frosting and they were a big hit! Thanks for always posting the best of the best recipes Annie!

  • Kelly Mirabella

    I substitute greek yogurt in for sour cream all the time in my baking. It will work.

  • Sandra Fiorentini

    My old favorite yellow cupcake recipe required separating the egg yolks and whites, beating the whites separately, and folding everything together gently. I was looking for a recipe that omitted that step, and I ended up here and made your recipe. I just quality control tested one (with your suggested chocolate frosting, of course), and it was even better than my old standby recipe. They’re so moist and buttery, and I don’t even have to closely monitor a bowl of egg whites for that elusive “stiff peaks” phase. I’m bringing these in to work tomorrow for my next-cube-neighbor’s birthday, and I have a feeling I will be quite popular.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Aishwarya

    Hey Annie,

    Your blog has become an absolute essential in my kitchen. I tried the classic yellow cupcakes today and they came out perfect. Iam going to top them off with your chocolate frosting.
    Keep up the good work and keep sharing :)

  • Kelly Genn

    I made these cupcakes yesterday and had 2 people tell me they were the best cupcakes they had ever had. I love cooking, but have never been too great at baking. However, your blog has improved that tremendously! When I’m looking for something specific, I always look here first because I know it will be good. Thank you so much for your inspiration.

  • annieseats

    Wonderful! I’m so glad they were a hit :)

  • Lauren F.

    Gorgeous! Now I really need to go make these!

    Are these like vanilla cupcakes? Is there any difference between yellow and vanilla?

    And, do you have a chocolate buttercream recipe on the blog?

  • annieseats

    Yellow cake and vanilla are somewhat different. If you haven’t tasted both it’s sort of hard to describe the difference. Both are great.

    http://www.annies-eats.com/2010/01/05/vanilla-bean-cupcakes/ This is my go to vanilla recipe.


  • Alina

    It was my first time doing the cupcakes ever and they came out perfect combined with the chocolate frosting! Thank you so much for the great recipe. Found your blog not that long ago and started of with soft sugar cookies and the regular sugar ones (both are gorgeous!), and will now continue experimenting with the cupcakes! Thanks once again!

  • Amy

    Hi! Love your recipes. Have made this one several times with mixed results. Flavor is great but dry sometimes. Do you think buttermilk would give a more consistent outcome? Can I substitute oil for a portion of the butter to help it stay moist for a day or so? Thanks for your advice.

  • annieseats

    If they come out dry, I would think a shorter baking time would be the best remedy. I haven’t experienced that with these cupcakes. Feel free to try substitutions as you see fit.

  • dllynch

    The link for the frosting is not working for me. Is it possible to get the recipe for the frosting?

  • annieseats

    Seems to be working fine. Just try again :)

  • dllynch

    I think it is my computer vs. the website, as I have had multiple links on your website and others that I cannot access. Is there another way to get the recipe? Thanks.

  • annieseats

    You can also use the search function or navigate through the recipe index/categories to find it that way.

  • Shelly

    I was stuck in a rut (albeit a delicious rut!) and only made your vanilla bean cupcakes……until today! These are delicious too! I made them for a tutu party at work with blush pink buttercream icing, and the little girls loved them! Thanks again, Annie!

  • Courtney Chastain

    I read through the comments, and I don’t see this question, So I am sorry if I missed it and it is something you have already answered. I was wondering if these would keep well making them 2 days prior to serving them. Would you store them in the refrigerator or out?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Annie

    If you make them in advance, I would just recommend frosting them at that time as well to help lock in moisture. As for whether or not to refrigerate, that is really a personal call and depends on what type of frosting you are using. Please see the FAQ page for more on that. Enjoy!