Recipe Review

I Tried Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe, and Now I Understand the Hype

published Aug 1, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Before there were rainbow bagels,


edible cookie dough, there were Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. The world-famous cupcakes, made famous by
Sex and the City, have been a staple of New York City tourist attractions for as long as I can remember. But lucky for us, Magnolia Bakery shared the recipe for
their own cookbook — so you don’t need to travel to the Big Apple to enjoy one.

To see what all the fuss was about, I decided to include the recipe as part of our vanilla cupcake recipe showdown. Would it be worth the hype? Here’s my honest review.

Get the recipe:
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Make Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes

Magnolia Bakery’s cupcake recipe comes together quickly and without a lot of ingredients. You’ll start by combining all-purpose flour with self-rising flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Slowly add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth, then divide among cupcake liners. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and let cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth, adding additional confectioners’ sugar as needed to thicken it up. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes

After just one bite, I immediately understood what the fuss is all about. These cupcakes are very good. The cake has a delicate crumb and airy texture similar to a sponge cake. The flavor is mild, with just a faint vanilla essence. The frosting is also delicious and the smoothest of all the recipes I tested. The addition of milk seemed to help dissolve some of the powdered sugar and help it become silky.

While the cupcakes are delicious, I prefer a slightly moister cupcake with a bolder vanilla flavor. I would describe these cupcakes as “delicate,” and while I appreciate that quality, it’s not my personal favorite. Overall the cupcakes are very, very good, though — so if you like light and airy cupcakes, this is the recipe for you.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes, a Few Tips

  1. Make sure you’re using self-rising flour. Self-rising flour has leavening agents already in it, helping the cupcakes rise. If you were to skip the self-rising flour and use cake or entirely all-purpose flour instead, they would turn out dense.
  2. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature. This will help make the batter silky smooth and prevent lumps of unincorporated butter.
  3. Feel free to up the amount of vanilla extract used. I personally would have liked a touch more vanilla flavor in these cupcakes, so feel free to double the amount if you’re a fan of bold vanilla flavors.
  4. Use a spoon or offset spatula to get the iconic swooshed frosting look. I found that the easiest way to achieve the classic Magnolia Bakery swoosh was to dollop a hefty blob of frosting on top of the cupcakes and use an offset spatula or spoon to swoosh it around in a circle motion. The faster I worked, the better they turned out.

Rating: 9/10

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Have you ever made Magnolia Bakery’s vanilla cupcake recipe? Tell us what you thought in the comments!