Vanilla Cupcakes (small batch)

Sometimes you just need something sweet! I have a sweet tooth, so my sometimes may be more often than yours. However, I think you will want to save this recipe as it is quick, inexpensive, and only make half a dozen cupcakes!

James and I live in a divided household regarding cupcake flavors. He is a chocolate fan and I am a vanilla fan. If you are like James, you may prefer our recipe for small batch chocolate cupcakes (click here for recipe). If you are like me, or don’t have cocoa powder on hand, continue on with this recipe!

A few notes on this recipe:

You can use oil or butter for the batter. I find that oil mixes in a little bit better, and results in a slightly more moist cupcake. It is also usually less expensive.

Only use 1/2 of an egg for this recipe. If you use the full egg, the cupcakes will taste like eggs! I tried and was not a fan… A simple way to split the egg is to lightly mix it in a bowl and use half of it.

For six cupcakes, only fill the cups 1/2 way full. This will result in regular-sized cupcakes. If you fill beyond 1/2 of the way full, you will need to cook them a bit longer and the recipe will only make 4-5 cupcakes.

Add the milk slowly when making the frosting. If you add too much milk, the frosting will be a bit runny. If it is too runny, add more powdered sugar.

Cost Analysis:

These cupcakes are pretty inexpensive to make at about $0.20 a piece.

Note: The costs are based on what I paid for ingredients in 2020 Your total cost may differ.

Picture Tutorial:


Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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These vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting are easy-to-make and delicious. The cupcakes cost about $0.20 a piece, and the recipe only makes six cupcakes!


    For the cake:
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or softened butter)
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 large egg (gently mix egg and use half of it – or about two tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 8 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Mix granulated sugar and oil together. Add 1/2 of the egg to the mixture and stir until combined.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly stir into the oil mixture, and beat until combined.
  3. Stir in milk and vanilla extract. Gently beat batter until it is smooth. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
  4. Line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease) and pour batter into cups. Fill 1/2 of the way full. If you would like over-sized cupcakes, fill 2/3 of the way full and the batter should make 4 cupcakes. Otherwise, it should make 6 regular-sized cupcakes.
  5. Bake for 14-18 minutes. Check with a toothpick. It should come out clean when the cupcakes are done.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 1 minute. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool completely prior to frosting.
      For the frosting:

    1. Mix softened butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla with a mixer on low speed. It should form a thick buttercream. Make sure you add the milk slowly, starting with 1/3 tablespoon. If you add too much milk, the frosting will be runny.
    2. Frost cooled cupcakes.
    3. Enjoy!