These Bourbon Vanilla Cupcakes are perfectly moist, and completely irresistible! Light and fluffy cupcakes are spiked with bourbon and swirled with creamy vanilla buttercream for the ultimate dessert.
These Bourbon Vanilla Cupcakes are such a fun dessert, and SO delicious! We love Fall desserts, like my Apple Crisp, and Candied Almonds. This is one of my Dessert recipes you’ll definitely want in your collection!
BOURBON VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE
I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a great cupcake. Soft and fluffy, with an oh-so-tender crumb, and topped with a copious amount of swirled buttercream. Not just for birthday celebrations… oh no… I think cupcakes should be utilized way more!
Although, I’m picky about my cupcakes; or rather, the frosting. I love the silky texture and mouthfeel of buttercream, but I like my frosting to be sweet, but not TOO sweet.
This vanilla cupcake recipe is so perfect for Fall and Winter, since it has a few generous tablespoons of bourbon, which adds a great spiced flavor. They aren’t overly bourbon-y, but rather just give you glimmers of it’s flavor.
While I didn’t add any bourbon to the buttercream, you certainly could! These cupcakes are kind of a blank slate… with the ability to add many additional flavors and toppings. Truly make them your own, although they’re certainly delicious as is!
HOW TO MAKE BOURBON VANILLA CUPCAKES
- Combine the dry ingredients. I like to add the flour, baking powder and salt to a small mixing bowl, and whisk them to really combine them well. This way, when adding them to the batter, they incorporate well.
- Cream the butter. For this recipe, I like to use my stand mixer, but you can use a hand mixer if you prefer. Add the butter, oil and sugar to the mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add eggs. Add the eggs and vanilla here and mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed until JUST combined.
- Add liquids. While the mixture is running on low, add the buttermilk and bourbon, being careful not to over mix.
- Transfer batter to cupcake liners. Use a standard 12 cup muffin pan and any cupcake liner you like. Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.
- Bake. Bake for about 20 minutes, then cool completely on wire cooling rack.
- Frost as desired.
ADDITIONAL COOKING TIPS
- THE BUTTERMILK – it makes these cupcakes ultra moist! I tested, and both the full fat and low fat versions worked just fine. Alternately, you can use whole milk if you don’t have any buttermilk.
- ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS – for the best results when baking, your cold ingredients should be at room temperature so they can incorporate fully into the batter.
- REAL BUTTER – this isn’t the time to use shortening or margarine. Those perform differently in baking recipes, and this recipe was only tested using real butter.
- FRESH INGREDIENTS – some of these are obvious, like using non-expired eggs, but did you know using older baking soda/baking powder can affect the way your cookies bake? Over time, leavening agents, (which is what baking soda and powder are) lose their efficacy, and won’t give your baked goods that great texture you’re looking for.
- If you’re unsure if your baking soda or powder are still good, drop a pinch in some hot water. If it fizzes, it’s still good! If not, then you’re in need of some new ingredients.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- VANILLA PASTE – for an even more pronounced vanilla flavor, try using an equal amount of vanilla bean paste.
- CREAM CHEESE FROSTING – cut the butter back to 1/2 cup and use about 6 oz of room temperature cream cheese.
- STORE-BOUGHT FROSTING – if you’d rather not make your own frosting and save a little time, feel free to use your favorite brand of store-bought vanilla frosting. To have it look like the photos, you’ll need to add the frosting to a piping bag and pipe it onto the cupcakes.
- CARAMEL – while these cupcakes are fabulous on their own, a drizzle of some homemade caramel sauce really takes them over the top. Store-bought caramel will work just as well.
- BACON – garnishing with a little piece of bacon makes for the ultimate sweet and savory treat.
- ALCOHOL-FREE – while most of the bourbon cooks off during baking, if you’d rather not use alcohol, you can substitute the bourbon with an equal amount of additional buttermilk. Bear in mind, this substitution hasn’t been tested, as this recipe has only been tested as written.
MAKING VANILLA CUPCAKES AHEAD OF TIME
These cupcakes taste the best when freshly made, but can be made a day or two in advance.
Just make sure to store them in an airtight container so they don’t dry out.
Leftover cupcakes should be covered and stored at room temperature. Cupcakes should be consumed within 3-4 days.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
- Stand Mixer – not required, as they can be pricey, but one of my favorite tools when baking.
- Hand Mixer – this model is a true workhorse in my kitchen!
- Muffin Pan – I love this brand of bakeware, and it’s a breeze to clean.
- Cupcake Storage/Carrier – I love using this to transport cupcakes, but it’s also great for storing them on the counter.
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BOURBON VANILLA CUPCAKES
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
- 3 Tbsp bourbon
- 1 cup salted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
MAKE THE CUPCAKES
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), use either a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat the butter, oil and sugar on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until JUST incorporated and no flour streaks remain.
- With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the whiskey and buttermilk until combined. Do not over-mix. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake liners – filling the liners only 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
MAKE THE FROSTING
- In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
- Add vanilla and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency.
- Scoop into a piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread onto cupcakes. Decorate cupcakes with sprinkles as desired.
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- You can use whole milk if you don’t have buttermilk.
- If you would like a stronger bourbon flavor, you can whisk in 1-2 tsp (or more, just add it slowly and taste as you go) of bourbon into the buttercream before piping.