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Vanilla cupcakes with a gold birthday candle.

Easy High Altitude Vanilla Cupcakes

Heather Smoke
An easy, high altitude recipe for soft and light vanilla cupcakes, frosted with fluffy vanilla buttercream.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet. See FAQs for adjusting to higher or lower elevations.

4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings15 cupcakes


  • Standard-Sized Muffin Pan
  • Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment



  • 1 ½ cups + 2 tbsp cake flour, fluffed, spooned and leveled
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tbsp meringue powder (optional)
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or cream, only if needed



  • Preheat the oven to 350 F, and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line your muffin pan/s with 15 paper liners.
  • In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder, then whisk until everything is well distributed.
  • Separately, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk just until combined.
  • Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling them no more than 2/3 - 3/4 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes on the center oven rack for about 18 minutes, until the centers of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched, or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pans for several minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder and salt. With the mixer running on low, add the powdered sugar mixture by spoonfuls to the butter, mixing just until combined. The buttercream will be clumpy at this point.
  • Add the vanilla, and increase the speed to medium. Whip the buttercream for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl several times, until very light and fluffy, adding the milk only as needed for desired consistency.
  • Spread or pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes.


These can be baked and frosted one day in advance, stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
For a more intense vanilla flavor, use vanilla bean paste in the cake and buttercream, instead of vanilla extract.
Keyword High Altitude, Vanilla Cupcakes
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