How to Make Perfect Cupcakes

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How to Make Perfect Cupcakes

I’ve learned a few things over the years and have learned how to make perfect cupcakes by trial and error. Boxed, semi-homemade or homemade cupcakes doesn’t make a bit of a difference when the kids  (little or big kids) grab up a cupcake and their face light up with a big smile. A huge smile is a  great reward but you also want to make sure those cupcakes are baked to perfection. It’s not hard to learn how to make perfect cupcakes. There are a few baking rules to follow and I promise you you will be amazed at the difference it makes. Follow these tips on how to make cupcakes and you will be rewarded with perfect cupcakes each time. 


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I love baking from scratch but the majority of the time when I am making cupcakes,  it’s usually for a birthday party, baby shower, family get together or just because.  It is so much easier to reach for a boxed cake mix with everything else going on for the occasion I just don’t have time to make a batch of cupcakes from scratch. 
What makes a perfect cupcake? A perfect cupcake is moist and fluffy. The top is tender with just the right amount of frosting on it. How can you make perfect cupcakes?

4 Steps to Making Perfect Cupcakes & Tips to Make Perfect Cupcakes every time

  • Mixing
  • Baking
  • Cooling
  • Frosting

How to Mix Cupcakes Correctly

Follow the directions. This may be a no brainer but each ingredient and the exact measuring of ingredients are very important. You should use a liquid measuring cup for the liquids and dry measuring cups for dry ingredients.
Whether you are following a recipe for homemade cupcakes or are using a favorite boxed mixed you need to use the exact measurements and follow the directions to a tee.
If the recipe calls for oil you should use oil. Melted butter or melted Crisco will work in a pinch but once they cool they return to a solid state. This change will affect the texture. If the butter or shortening hardens before you get the cupcake pans in the oven you may have pockets of melted butter or Crisco inside your cupcakes.
Eggs: Use the correct size eggs. Most boxed cake mixes and homemade cupcake recipes call for large eggs. Don’t use small eggs and don’t use extra large eggs. Again in a pinch other egg sizes will work but the difference can and will be seen in the texture and rising. 
Eggs should be room temperature not straight from the refrigerator and cold.
Cupcake Mixing Tips: Most people own a handheld mixer but I have found myself without one on occasion and have had to mix a cupcake batter by hand with a wooden spoon or a whisk. It can be done- follow the same time amounts and put a little muscle into it.  
Set a timer. It is very hard to judge the amounts of time to mix.
Pitfalls of not mixing the cupcake batter correctly: Not mixing long enough and there may be lumps and all the ingredients will not be completely incorporated.
Mixing cake or cupcake batter too long will cause too much air to be incorporated into the batter. This can cause air pocket in the finished cupcake. It’s not pretty.
photo rainbow cupcakes mixed too long. 

How to Bake Cupcakes Correctly

Oven Temperature: All ovens are not created equally! It is a good idea to purchase an inexpensive oven thermometer (affiliate link). If you are having issues when using your oven like baked goods taking longer to bake then they should. Or baked goods burning before the finish time you need to check the temperature of the oven. 

Follow Proper Baking Times: Baking times listed in recipes and on boxed mixes is an approximate baking time that varies by ovens. All ovens do not heat the same. As mentioned above if you are having issues you should check that your oven is actually heating to the temperature you are setting it to.

Most cupcakes bake for 15-24 minutes. I always set my timer for the shortest time and then check the cupcakes a few minutes before the timer goes off.

How do you know when your cupcakes are done?

Test the cupcakes for doneness by lightly touching the tip of a finger to the center of the top of one cupcake. The top should spring back not leaving a depression on the cupcake top.

You should also be rotating the cupcake pan (affiliate link) halfway through the baking time to ensure the cupcakes are baking evenly. 

How should a perfectly baked cupcake look? A perfectly baked cupcake should be a slightly darker color then the batter once baked.  It should not be a golden brown on top. Cupcakes with a golden brown color to the top is actually over baked and maybe dry. 


 How  To Cool Cupcakes Correctly

You may think cooling cupcakes is the easiest part of making cupcakes. When they  are done baking you take them out of the oven and set them on the counter to cool.

Use a cooling rack (affiliate link): Cooling racks are a must have for cooling cupcakes correctly. Cupcakes left to cool in the hot cupcake pan without air circulation will allow moisture and oil to accumulate on the bottom of the cupcake paper. The cupcakes are still edible but not pretty. If you are serving cupcakes to guests at a party you want your cupcakes to be the prettiest they can be. A greasy bottom is not pretty. Using a cooling rack will also speed up the cooling time.

Remove Cupcakes from baking pan: When the cupcakes come out of the oven let them cool about five minutes. They will still be hot. Use a fork or small spatula to gently lift one side of each cupcake. With your other hand pick the cupcake up and place it on a cooling rack.

Cupcakes not cooled long enough: Frosting will melt and slide off the cupcake.

Cool Cupcakes on the counter:  Cool cupcakes at room temperature. Do not place cupcakes in the refrigerator or freezer to try to speed things up. The tops of the cupcakes will become moist. If the tops of the cupcakes are moist everywhere you touch them pieces of the cake will come off. If you are frosting with a knife or spatula the cupcake crumbs will get mixed in with the frosting and will ruin the appear


How to Frost Cupcakes Correctly

Cupcakes must be completely cool to the touch before frosting!

Cupcake Frosting: Store bought or homemade frosting is up to you. You can use a can of frosting but make it fancy by using a decorator bag and star tip. Or you can go all out and make home frosting from scratch and use a fancy rose tip for swirling on the frosting.  

My favorite store bought frosting doesn’t even come in a can. It is Kraft Cool Whip Frosting. It tastes as good as homemade and you don’t have to go to all the trouble of making it yourself. It comes in Cream Cheese, Vanilla and Chocolate. My favorite is the Vanilla. 


Plain or Fancy Cupcake Frosting: There are so many ways to frost a cupcake. You can get fancy and use a decorator bag with a rose or round tip (affiliate links) or you can use a butter knife and swirl the frosting on. It’s up to you. For me I love serving a beautiful cupcake. Honestly I have used a decorator bag and a rose tip for so long I couldn’t tell you the last time I served a cupcake with frosting that was swirled on with a knife. It takes just a few more minutes and clean up fast and easy if you use a Wilton disposable decorating bag (affiliate link).  The finished cupcake looks beautiful and is worth the extra work.

Keep these 4 easy tips in mind the next time you are making cupcakes and you will have perfect cupcakes for your guests or family every time.

  • Use the correct measurements and ingredients
  • Mix for the correct amount of time
  • Bake at the correct temperature and for the correct amount of time
  • Cool the cupcakes on a cooling rack



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  1. says

    This is a HUGE lifesaver! Thank you, I can never seem to get my cupcakes right when I make them from scratch, so I’m super excited to try this recipe out! Thanks for the post!

  2. Lisa B says

    Another tip is to fill those muffin pans up!
    Most people don’t put enough batter in the individual muffin cups and they get puny cupcakes. Fill em almost 3/4 full. You will not get as many cupcakes per box, but they will be big enough to crown over top of the cupcake wrapper. and will give you a beautiful crown to frost.

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