Vanilla Brown Butter Cupcakes
Take your cupcakes to the next level by adding some brown butter! The nutty flavor creates a one-of-a-kind taste that is simply delicious. These soft and moist brown butter cupcakes are perfect for fall and winter!
One of the simplest ways to make a dessert even better is adding brown butter. I did just that with these vanilla cupcakes. They have a subtle toasted flavor that is impossible to mimic in any other way. Using the brown butter in the frosting as well made each bite extra flavorful!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Unique taste. The nutty aroma of brown butter is evident in both the cake and the frosting.
- Tender texture. Each bite is perfectly fluffy and moist!
- Tested recipe. I used my vanilla cupcake recipe as the foundation for this recipe and adjusted as needed. It’s tried-and-true (I’ve been using it for years!)
- Perfect for fall and winter. The warm and cozy flavor makes this dessert a delicious alternative to pumpkin recipes this time of year.
- Brown butter: You will need 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter for browning, which will reduce to 1 cup when the water evaporates. This will be used in both the cupcakes and the frosting.
- Butter: You will need an additional 1/2 cup unsalted butter (not browned) for the frosting.
- Sour cream: Use full-fat sour cream (or plain yogurt) to make extra moist cupcakes.
- Milk: Whole milk is best for a rich and flavorful cupcake. In a pinch, low-fat will work too.
- Baking powder and soda: These leavening agents help the batter rise. Check that they are fresh and not expired for best results.
- Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioners’ sugar, this is used to make the frosting.
Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.
Add a garnish. A simple sprinkle of chopped pecans or dusting of cinnamon is the perfect touch.
Make mini cupcakes. Use a mini muffin pan to make a bite-sized version of this recipe! Fill each cup two-thirds full and bake for 8 to 10 minutes (yields 36).
How to Make Brown Butter Cupcakes
- Brown the butter. Place butter pieces in a light colored pan and melt over medium heat. Stir frequently until it starts to foam. The foam will dissipate and brown flecks will appear. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool completely.
- Whisk the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Beat wet ingredients. Beat 1/2 cup brown butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix in eggs, then the vanilla and sour cream.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and milk. Begin and end with flour.
- Bake cupcakes. Transfer batter to a muffin tin. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake at 350 F for 16 to 18 minutes. Cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Beat 1/2 cup brown butter and 1/2 cup unsalted butter until creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar. Mix in the powdered sugar. Add milk, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Mix until combined.
- Frost cupcakes. Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip and frost the cool cupcakes.
Brown the butter correctly. Swirl the pan frequently so it melts evenly and doesn’t burn. As soon as you seen brown flecks, remove the pan from the heat and immediately transfer the brown butter to a heatproof bowl.
Let the brown butter cool completely before using in the recipe. This is a crucial step to achieving the right consistency for both the batter and the frosting. It doesn’t have to solidify completely, but it should be thick and at room temperature.
Use room temperature ingredients. To make sure the batter mixes well, bring all ingredients to room temperature (specifically the dairy and eggs). This will make a consistent batter and a tender texture for the cupcakes.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. This prevents the frosting from melting!
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 or 4 days.
Freeze for up to 2 months. Cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature.
Make ahead the brown butter and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using in the recipe. The frosting can also be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before frosting the cupcakes.
Most likely the batter was over-mixed causing there to be too many air bubbles. It’s also possible the cupcakes were under-baked. Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer for accuracy.
Yes, there is enough batter for two 8-inch round cake pans or three 6-inch round cake pans. Baking time will be longer, about 25 to 30 minutes.
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Get the Recipe: Vanilla Brown Butter Cupcakes
- 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ¾ cups (219 g) all purpose flour, measured correctly
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 g) brown butter, cooled to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (56 g) full-fat sour cream (or plain yogurt), room temperature
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk, room temperature
- ½ cup (113 g) brown butter, cooled to room temperature
- ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300 g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk
Brown the Butter
- Place butter pieces in a light-colored pan. Bring to medium heat and stir constantly with a rubber spatula or gently swirl the pan. Keep the butter moving so it melts evenly and doesn’t burn.
- The butter will melt, then it will start to foam up. The foam will subside and the butter will start to brown. Once you see little brown flecks and the butter has a nutty aroma, remove it from the heat and immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl.
- Let it cool in the bowl before using in cupcake batter and frosting.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat ½ cup brown butter and sugar until creamy and light in color, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- Gradually add in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk (So it goes flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Mix until batter is uniform and smooth.
- Fill baking cups about three-quarters full and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack, and allow them to cool to room temperature before frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat ½ cup brown butter with ½ cup unsalted butter until fluffy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the vanilla and salt, and beat for a minute, until fluffy. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.
- Transfer to a frosting bag with tip and frost cooled cupcakes.