Classic Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

The Story:

I used to love chocolate.  I thought the people who got plain vanilla ice cream were weird.  Why get vanilla when you have the option of getting chocolate?  But ever since I really started baking, I have been obsessed with vanilla–especially vanilla cake.  Call me “boring,” but vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream is my favorite.  It’s just so classic.  No crazy flavors of fillings or toppers.  Just a classic combination. [end-story]

Classic Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Classic Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes


Vanilla Cake:
1 Box white cake mix
1/3 cup oil
4 egg whites
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate Buttercream:
3/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
milk if needed


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl, gently combine oil, egg whites, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract.
3. Sift in cake mix and stir.
4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-22 minutes, or until and inserted knife comes out clean.
5. Buttercream: Beat butter and cream cheese for 3 minutes, scrape down bowl as needed. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract and slowly add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. If your buttercream becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk.
6. Pipe buttercream onto cool cupcakes and top with sprinkles.

39 thoughts on “Classic Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. 1

    What a delightful cupcake! And so easy! Love the idea of using buttermilk in the cupcake & cream cheese in the chocolate buttercream!

  2. 2
    Raejean says:

    Vanilla cake and chocolate frosting is my mom’s favorite combo too!

  3. 3
    susan says:

    I, too, have always loved vanilla and was clued in to it’s secrets as a child visiting an elderly great aunt. She used vanilla beans in her baking and taught me how to use every part of the bean. I NEVER use imitation vanilla (or any other imitations) and find that when coupled with a small amount of almond extract can make a fabulous cake… the Lady Cake in Joy of Cooking has always been a favorite of mine – with my adjustments. Forget the lemon rind, use 1 tsp of vanilla, 1/2 tsp. of almond extract and splurge on the scrapings of a vanilla bean. Make sure you use a super sharp knife tip to get all you can from the bean, then use the bean to flavor sugar or brandy to give you another secret recipe ingredient.

  4. 4
    beti says:

    they are extremely cute! I love simple things, vanilla and chocolate really are the best combination

  5. 5
    Shirley says:

    This is my most favorite combination in the world. Classic, and yours is especially gorgeous!

  6. 6
    Free Coupons says:

    Looking so much delicious and like this recipe! Make me happy this recipe with combination of chocolate and vanilla.

  7. 7
    Norma says:

    Lizzy, everything you make looks wonderful and those I’ve tried are always delish! I wonder if you ever do recipies w/o boxed cake mix. Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?


  8. 8
    Kim Hamilton says:

    Are those Trader Joes’ cocoa pearls sprinkles? If they are, I LOVE those! We just ran out and I can’t wait until we go somewhere there is a TJ so I can get some more!

    • 8.1
      Lizzy Mae says:

      Yes they are from TJ’s 🙂

    • 8.2
      Fatima says:

      I always wonder where you got the nice pearls sprinkles…now I know! thanks for shearing Lizzy, definetely will visit my close TJ this comming weekend…and will bake your recipe. I really dont like vanilla too much because I think is boring but just to please my son which is a HUGE FAN OF VANILLA.!!

  9. 9

    […] Recipe: Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream […]

  10. 10
    Erin says:

    I was wondering if you’ve used this recipe for a layer cake, and if so, how long did you bake for?

    • 10.1
      Lizzy Mae says:

      If you are using it for a 2-layer cake, I would say to set your timer for 14 minutes, and give it a peek then. Ovens are all so different these days, so it’s difficult to tell. Just check by inserting a knife and making sure it comes out without any wet dough on it. Good luck!

    • 10.2
      Christa says:

      Erin, did you try this recipe as a cake? I was looking to do the modify this recipe for an Easter cake, and I was wondering how it turned out for you.

  11. 11
    Alys Jackson says:

    These cupcakes look DELICIOUS! I plan on making these for my husband’s platoon at the end of the week and cannot wait to see how they turn out. =D

  12. 12
    Linda says:

    What size cake mix. I noticed DH, BettyCrocker and Pillsbury have different sizes.

  13. 13
    Lindsay says:

    This recipe looks so delicious. I plan to make it for my birthday party this weekend!
    I have a question though— what have you heard about “making” your own buttermilk (one tbs of regular vinegar and add milk till you reach the one cup line.) I never ever need buttermilk so would rather not buy an entire bottle just to waste. Do you have any recommendations?

    • 13.1

      I have not heard of doing it with vinegar, I had always used lemon juice. then you let it sit for a few minutes. I used to always do that for buttermilk, but it fakes the taste and not the consistency. The thick buttermilk is really nice for baking. You can use regular milk and it will work fine, but I dare you to use the real thing next time 🙂

      • Lindsay says:

        Great thanks. Maybe I should quickly grab buttermilk!
        Another dumb question at the last minute possible…..
        Should I beat the egg whites(and how long) before combining them with other ingredients?

        Ps I LOVE your blog, piping tutorial, and just all of your creativity!! Thanks for the tips

  14. 14
    Linda says:

    Can I use this recipe with a sugar free cake mux

  15. 15
    patti u says:

    Do you have a good vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting recipe?

  16. 16
    sarah says:

    OH MY GOD! I’m making them with vanilla buttercream frosting- I can’t find YOUR recipe, BUT the cake itself is sooooo good! yay you!

  17. 17
    Barney says:

    Link exchange is nothing else but it is just placing the other
    person’s web site link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do similar for you.

  18. 18
    Rob says:

    Really enjoyed my visit to your website. I’ve just created a new Pinterest board called Pictures of Yummy Cupcakes and pinned your Vanilla Chocolate one there. Looks so yum. Found your site via OWN 🙂

  19. 19
    Christina says:

    My mother in law loves marble cake and her birthday is coming up. But Im having a hard time finding a good moist recipe. I have tried your recipes a couple times now and love them! So my question is if i could split this recipe and add chocolate (not sure if powder or melted) to make a marble cake? I sure would love to hear your suggestions. THANKS!!!

  20. 20
    Agus Ramada says:

    Thank you so much for the sharing vanilla recipe, it is useful for me as vanilla farmer in Java Island,Indonesia.

  21. 21
    Courtney says:

    These were delicious!! Thank you so much for such a fantastic recipe!

  22. 22
    Nicole says:

    I made this recipe this weekend for Father’s Day and actually had to use the vinegar/milk buttermilk substitute because apparently PR doesn’t believe in buttermilk. They turned out excellent but I’m curious of what the difference of using actual buttermilk would have been like. I would like to try it if I ever get my hands on it because I will definitely be using this recipe again. I stuffed mine with freshly chopped strawberries and used a vanilla cream cheese frosting. Yum!

  23. 23
    Kim says:

    What is the weight of the cake box i.e. the dry ingredients? I ask because I have some cake mixes at home that I bought from a baking store (they make it themselves) and so I need to make sure that I am using the correct amount of dry ingredients. Some of the packs that I have at home for cupcakes are quite small. They would probably make 12 cupcakes and I’m presuming that the dry ingredient boxes that you use weigh more than that. Thanks.

  24. 24
    Kelly Cool says:

    Do you ever bake with vanilla beans? I’ve tried different recipes and they always come out too dense and flour-y. I’m wondering if it would work with a cake mix base like this? I love all of your recipes!

  25. 25
    Jenna says:

    Do you have any recipes for just classic vanilla frosting??

  26. 26

    I got what you mean,saved to fav, very nice web site.

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