Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes

Rainbow Iced Vanilla Cupcakes


Another cupcake recipe to add to your book of favs~ Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes !

While this new recipe is a simple twist on my Butter Cake Recipe ~ it’s the icing technique that puts this baby over the top!

If you have not yet seen the amazing plastic wrap technique for swirling colors~ whoever invented this~ is a genius!

Check it out in the video below and you will be blown away!

Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes

So easy, no mess and makes really eye popping swirl for any buttercream colors, not just rainbow.

I did it for the first time in my Peanut Butter Stuffed Brownie Cupcakes a few months ago and everyone was just raving not only for that recipe but about that swirling technique.

So anyway, back to the recipe at hand.

This butter cake recipe is really one of my favorite cake recipes (and yes you can pretty much make any cake recipe into cupcakes with the exception of a few things so read here for more about that) It is so easy to mix and it is adapted from one of Rose Levy Beranbaums recipes.

I used my American Buttercream recipe for the icing but the Swiss Meringue Buttercream or even Italian Meringue Buttercream would be fab also! It is purely preference.

I do use gel paste colors for coloring buttercream and for those who have trouble getting vibrant colors just be sure to plan ahead and color your buttercream the day before,  it will darken as it sits.

4.8 from 5 reviews
Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes
Serves: 12 Cupcakes
  • Egg Yolks large 3 (54g)
  • Buttermilk ½ cup (120ml)
  • Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoons
  • Cake Flour 1¼ cup (150g)
  • Granulated Sugar ¾ cup (150g)
  • Baking Powder 2 teaspoons (10g)
  • Salt ½ teaspoon (3g)
  • Unsalted Butter 6 Tablespoons (84g)
  1. In the bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, granulated sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix on low speed to blend.
  2. Add the softened butter and the milk and blend on low for about 30 seconds to combine, then increase speed to medium and mix for another 1½ minutes.
  3. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing, then add egg yolks and vanilla extract.
  4. Scrape the bowl between additions.
  5. Divide batter into prepared cupcake pans and bake immediately in preheated oven 350°F for approximately 20- 22 minutes or until the center is springy to the touch

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  1. Hi Gretchen,

    Hope you’re well. My question is how does this vanilla cupcake recipe compare to the one you originally posted…besides using just egg yolks? Many Thanks. x

    1. Many people have had trouble with my original recipe so this one is an easier mix method . It is a true butter cake so it is very buttery, light crumb (as I showed in the video) I think I love this recipe better all the way around

      1. I just made them and was blown away by the tenderness…it was like a cloud ☁️ in my mouth! I made the American buttercream (not rainbow though) It was super soft because of the type of butter I had and it’s a hot and humid day here in London . Let me tell you it still held up after being out for 6 hours. I can’t give you enough praise for this! Thank you! #We’reNotWorthy lol x

  2. I can NOT believe someone would comment or care about how many colors are in a rainbow. How cares!!??!!
    Thanks sooooo much Gretchen for your you-tube video on how to apply icing on plastic wrap to make this icing. You’re so awesome!!!
    I just ordered your fondant icing to try out

  3. Hi gretchen
    I love your blog and all your recipes. Have tried so many. This recipe is great although i prefer your other vanilla cupcake recipe better for cupcakes. Great tips on the rainbow frosting. Thank you!

  4. Gretchen, why is it the cupcake recipes are for odd amounts?? I know I can’t be the only one that wants 12-24 cupcakes or more at a time. I do appreciate the fact you put weight measurements but if a mistake is going to be made it will be in the math for scaling a recipe up or down to make a “full” recipe. I’d much prefer 13 or 14 cupcakesrecipe than 10. Just saying.

    1. Most recipes are scaled for the standard sized pans (most popularly used are 12- cupcakes and 2-8″ layers)
      I agree that most mistakes are made in the math arena, so be sure to double check yourself if you do get into scaling for other yields

  5. Hi Gretchen, I just love your site, with the easy watching tutorials and recipes. You are very talented.
    1: My American Buttercream was a little soft. It’s very warm here in Australia and was difficult to pipe and keep shape. Can I add a little extra icing sugar?
    2: If you can freeze the American Buttercream, and you can freeze the Vanilla Cupcakes, is it possible to decorate the cupcakes and then freeze until needed, thus saving time prior to a gathering?

    1. Great thankyou! Yes to adding more sugar for holding, next time add LESS heavy cream so it doesnt get so soft
      Yes to freezing both however I prefer to freeze them separate. But this is a personal choice, you can do it- see how you like it that way

      1. Saw the vegan recipe but also have a soy and wheat allergy as well. With this recipe all I need to sub out are the egg yolks and the cake flour (has wheat). Please help.

  6. Hi, would it be possible to make this in a cake format? If so, how many times should I multiply this recipe to get an 8″, 8.5″, 9″, 9.5″ format cake? Thank you so much!

  7. OMGosh Gretchen… these were the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever had. I’m not bragging on my baking skills, lol (within the last year I just started baking again. Prior to that it had been at least 10yrs). The outcome of these beauties came from the recipe, no doubt!! I doubled the batch and was so glad I did. These are so good that you can eat them without any filling/frosting. I didn’t make any of your buttercream frosting because I don’t have the high ratio shortening but I hope to soon. The day before I made these I had made two Pavlova’s that I topped with a heavy whipping cream/lemon curd mixture and put fresh strawberries on top. I also made a strawberry jam. Since I had some of the cream/lemon curd mixture left over I/we decided to cut the cupcakes in half, place some jam and cream mixture on top of the bottom half of the cupcake then put the top back on and bam, we had what tasted like strawberry shortcakes but BETTER!! Thank you so much.

    I was one of those who had an issue with the OG butter cake recipe. But there’s good news on that one too. I made it again and it came out just how it was supposed to. Just have one question. Can I make this recipe to fit a 9×13 metal pan? If yes, what are your suggestions? Thanks again Gretchen

    Sorry for the long post…

  8. Hi Gretchen! I just wanted to thank you for providing so much of your hard earned knowledge. I have always had a passion for baking and would like to own my own bakery in the future. Until then, I’m still learning as much as I possibly can and you have played a huge part in that, so thank you so much.

    I did have a question or rather more of your preference or opinion. I have a cake order for a kids birthday party and they would like a vanilla cake with vanilla american buttercream frosting. It will be. Stacked 8” and 10” Snoopy and Peanuts cake. I am trying to choose between using your Vanilla Sponge cake recipe, Buttercake recipe or your white cake recipe. I’m not coloring the batter and there will not be a filling. Between these three, which is your favorite? Thanks so much again. Blessings!

  9. Hi, Gretchen! When u still owned the bakery and you’re youtube channel is still named “W.B” you uploaded a very easy vanilla cupcake recipe that I love so much I made it so many times. I thought I wrote the recipe somewhere but I couldn’t find it. The texture and taste of it is almost like a pound cake. Is this rainbow cupcake the same?

  10. Hello gretchen! I have an order for 100 vanilla cupcakes but i m a little bit confused. I use your vanilla sponge cake recipe for my cakes amd cupcakes but do u think i sould use the recipes for cupcakes?
    So which one u recommend?
    1 This vanilla recipe?
    2 vanilla cupcake recipe
    3 vanilla sponge cake recipe
    Thanks for everything!

    1. I do not recommend the sponge for cupcakes, they will not dome and will possibly even sink. PLus the recipe is so touchy that to enlarge it for 100 cupcakes would be a lot of batches 9since it is hard to double or triple unless you have a very large mixer to accommodate the eggs whipping) I prefer the WHITE CAKE for cupcakes, or the BUTTER CAKE recipe or of course the vanilla cupcakes!

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