These easy vanilla raspberry cupcakes are made from a deliciously moist vanilla cupcake topped with a fresh raspberry buttercream frosting. They’re bursting with tangy raspberry flavor with the perfect added hint of lemon.
These cupcakes make a great fruity treat for parties, and they’re perfect for all the raspberry lovers out there!
The cute pink colour of the frosting also makes them a great sweet treat for Valentine’s Day too.
✏️ Recipe creation
I’m a huge fan of raspberries, and I’m a little bit obsessed with the raspberry buttercream made from real raspberries (fresh or frozen). I wanted to make a dessert where this buttercream could really shine, and the best way for this was to swirl it on top of a soft vanilla cupcake!
The humble vanilla pairs so well with the tangy raspberry. A hint of lemon also helps up the zingy taste!
This cake recipe calls for the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- Caster sugar (white finely granulated sugar)
- Vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil
- Plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- Baking powder
- Lemon zest (optional)
- Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- Fresh lemon juice
- Unsalted butter
- Icing sugar (powdered confectioners’ sugar)
- Salt (optional)
See the recipe card for quantities.
For the raspberry frosting, you can use either frozen or fresh raspberries. I prefer using fresh fruit as I find it easier to work with, but both will give you great frosting.
I usually use fresh red raspberries for this recipe, but you can also use black raspberries.
You can swap the plain flour in this recipe for self-raising flour of the same quantity. If doing this, exclude the baking powder too.
I use vegetable oil or sunflower oil to help keep the cupcakes soft and moist. You can swap this for another neutral flavoured oil of your choice, such as canola oil.
- Room temperature ingredients mix better than cold ones. Take your butter out of the fridge to come to room temperature before you start making your frosting. For me, this takes about 30mins to warm up.
- Using unsalted butter lets you control the amount of salt in your cupcakes and buttercream. I like mine to be low salt so I don’t add much, but you can add an optional ⅛ teaspoon or a pinch of salt to taste in the batter and frosting.
- I recommend sieving your flour, baking powder and powdered sugar (a.k.a icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar) for a smooth cupcake batter and frosting.
- To measure your ingredients, it’s best to use weights rather than cups for better accuracy.
- I prefer using vanilla extract to vanilla essence. It has a purer vanilla flavour as it’s less processed.
- It’s best to use fresh lemon juice for this recipe, as processed lemon juice won’t taste as nice.
I use the following equipment for this recipe:
- Muffin tin / cupcake tin
- Cupcake liners or baking cups
- Electric hand mixer or stand mixer (or whisk / fork)
- Medium mixing bowl
- Blender / food processor
- Medium saucepan
- Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
- Weighing scales
- Measuring spoons
- Wire cooling rack
- Piping bag and piping tip e.g. Wilton 1M (optional)
I usually use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer for this recipe because it’s really easy. You can swap to use a whisk, spatula or fork to make your batter and frosting instead. This might take some elbow grease for the frosting though!
For these cupcakes I usually use a 12-hole muffin tin (like this muffin tin by Wilton) and either paper liners or baking cups. However, baking cups are sturdy enough to be used placed on a baking sheet instead of in a muffin pan.
I love using a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip to pipe pretty open star swirls of raspberry frosting onto my cupcakes. However, you can instead fill a plastic sandwich / freezer bag with your frosting and cut off the corner to pipe big round swirls.
You can also use the piping tip of your choice! I’m a big fan of this starter set of cupcake piping tips by Wilton. Or just slather on your frosting with a knife and/or a teaspoon – easy as that!
- I like using digital scales for weighing my ingredients as it's easy and accurate. I quite like KitchenAid or Salter scales.
- It’s best to use actual measuring spoons. Cutlery teaspoons and tablespoons aren’t actually the correct volume - I never knew it before! I’d also recommend levelling off any heaped scoops for accuracy.
- When using a stand mixer, I like to use the paddle attachment with a low speed for the cupcake batter and a medium speed for the buttercream.
- It’s a good idea to scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer bowl every so often so you get an even mixture.
- Remove your freshly baked cupcakes from the hot tin and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. This helps to prevent moisture gathering on the outside of your cases, which could make them to peel.
First preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C (fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve in the flour and baking powder, mixing until only just combined.
Stir in your vanilla, oil and milk (plus lemon zest if using) then spoon your batter into a cupcake tin lined with cupcakes cases.
Bake for 15-20mins until golden and springy, then transfer to a rack for cooling. Make the buttercream while the cupcakes cool.
Puree raspberries, lemon juice and water in a blender or food processor then press it through a sieve into a medium saucepan. Discard the pulp and heat the sieved juice on a low-medium heat for 15-20mins, until reduced to a thick liquid.
Allow the reduction to cool while you beat the butter, using a hand mixer in a medium bowl or a stand mixer, for several minutes until pale and fluffy. Next, sieve in half of your powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Repeat with the other half of your powdered sugar.
Beat in the raspberry reduction, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired flavour and consistency, and salt (if using).
Pipe your frosting onto your cooled cupcakes.
Your vanilla raspberry cupcakes should last up to 3 days at room temperature stored in an airtight container.
It's good to note that if you put fresh raspberries on your cupcakes, these might not last as long, so decorate just before serving for best results.
If it’s quite warm where you live, you might want to store your cupcakes in the fridge so the buttercream doesn’t melt. They should last up to 4 days in the fridge, but might start to dry out!
You can also freeze your cupcakes (frosted or unfrosted) for up to 3 months before defrosting and eating. It’s best to label your frozen treats with what they are and when they were frozen so you don’t forget about them!
💭 Top tips
- I position my cupcake pan in the middle of the oven when possible. This usually gives a more even bake and my baking temperatures specified in the recipe are based on using this part of the oven.
- For a super smooth sponge batter, cream together you butter and sugar thoroughly to start with.
- Try to fill each cupcake case with your batter to just over the halfway point. Too much and you’ll get muffin tops, but too little and you’ll have mini cupcakes!
- You’ll know your cupcakes are cooked when they’ve risen, turned a light golden colour and an inserted skewer or toothpick comes out clean from the centre.
- For the most raspberry flavour, push as much raspberry puree through your sieve as you can.
- For creamy frosting, beat your butter until it’s pale, light and fluffy before adding your other ingredients. This could take several minutes with an electric mixer and longer by hand.
- If you’re using an electric mixer, you can sometimes get a cloud of powdered sugar kicked up into the air. To stop this, stir your sieved powdered sugar into the butter with a wooden spoon or spatula briefly before using the electric mixer again. Though if you want to breathe tasty sugar air, I won’t judge!
- If your raspberry frosting is too thick to pipe, then you can add more raspberry reduction to thin the consistency of the frosting.
- If your frosting is too thin, you can try chilling it in the fridge for 15-20mins before use. Alternatively, you can beat in a few more tablespoons of butter to thicken it.
- If you want a strong pink colour, you can add pink or red food coloring to your raspberry buttercream. I recommend using a gel colouring to prevent adding too much liquid. The photos shown here are the natural colour from the fresh raspberries.
Your raspberry cupcakes should last for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature or up to 5 days in the fridge.
Yes! You can freeze your raspberry vanilla cupcakes wrapped in a layer of cling film and a layer of foil for up to 3 months.
Yes, you can make your vanilla cupcake sponges ahead of time and freeze the unfrosted cupcakes. Defrost before you add your buttercream and enjoy.
Alternatively, you can make the cupcakes and/or raspberry buttercream a few days in advance. Your cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Your raspberry buttercream should be in an airtight container in the fridge.
This could be caused by a few things. You might have scooped in too much baking powder, e.g. instead of using a levelled scoop from a measuring spoon.
Another reason could be that you opened the oven partway through baking which caused your oven temp to drop rapidly and sinkhole your cupcakes.
To get rid of air bubbles in your frosting, beat it on a low speed using a paddle attachment before using it. The whisk attachment can sometimes add too much air.
Alternatively, you can stir it with a spatula or wooden spoon by hand for a few minutes.
No, cake flour is actually different to both plain flour and self-raising flour. It has a different composition and your cupcakes will have a different consistency if you use cake flour.
If you’ve got any specific questions on making your fresh raspberry cupcakes, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help out!
I’m quite a fan of adding a tasty surprise to my cupcakes. These raspberry cupcakes are delicious as they are, but you can also cut a small hole in the center of a cupcake and add a filling of your choice. Frost your cupcakes after filling them.
Try adding more raspberry goodness to your cupcakes with a teaspoon of raspberry cake filling, or raspberry preserves like in the image below!
Or go for lemon raspberry cupcakes and add lemon curd or lemon white chocolate ganache as a filling.
For a chocolate raspberry cupcake, fill your cupcakes with a tasty chocolate ganache.
You can swap the American style buttercream in this recipe for another type. For example, Swiss meringue buttercream (i.e. with egg whites) or a cream cheese frosting could be a tasty option.
Make the basic frosting and add your raspberry reduction 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistency and flavour.
I like to make these cupcakes vanilla flavoured with an optional hint of lemon from the zest. However, you can give these a more tangy lemon flavor. Make lemon cupcakes by adding an extra 1 ½ tablespoon lemon zest to your cupcake batter.
If you’re a chocolate lover, you can swap the vanilla cupcake for a chocolate flavour instead. Exclude any lemon zest and add 2 tablespoon cocoa powder to your cupcake batter for chocolate cupcakes.
Top with raspberry buttercream frosting as per the recipe.
Decorations and toppings
I like to decorate my raspberry cupcakes with fresh raspberries or lemon slices on top of the buttercream.
You can also drizzle on melted white chocolate or any leftover strained raspberry puree reduction like a zingy sauce.
To make gluten-free raspberry cupcakes, swap the plain flour for gluten-free flour. I recommend using a gluten-free plain flour blend, such as King Arthur's measure for measure flour or Freee from Doves Farm.
You should also add ½ teaspoon of xantham gum to the vanilla cupcake batter if your flour blend doesn’t already include this in the ingredients.
For gluten-free cupcake success, add an extra 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon milk to the batter. Beat your batter really well and let it stand for 20mins before pouring it into your cake tins and baking.
You might also need to bake your cupcakes for an extra 5-10mins.
🧁 Other goodies
Looking for some other goodies to make?
If you love a tasty cupcake, take a look at my recipe for funfetti cupcakes – they’re great for parties! Or my exotic matcha green tea cupcakes for a fun new flavor. For any boozy bakes fans, check out my Bailey’s cupcakes!
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Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes
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- 110 g (½ cups) unsalted butter softened
- 115 g (⅔ cups) caster sugar granulated
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil*
- 115 g (1 cups) plain flour** all-purpose
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest optional
- 120 g (1 cups) raspberries fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice roughly ¼ a lemon
- 1 ½ tablespoon water
- 150 g (⅔ cups) unsalted butter softened
- 320 g (2 ⅔ cups) powdered icing sugar
- Preheat oven: 180°C / 160°C (fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, either using a spatula, electric hand mixer or stand mixer, until light and pale.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture, gently folding in until just combined.
- Stir in the milk, oil and vanilla extract (plus the lemon zest if using).
- Line your cupcake pan with 12 cupcake cases and divide the batter evenly between them (each case should be no more than ⅔ full).
- Bake in the oven for 15-20mins or until the cupcakes are lightly golden, springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean from the middle.
- Transfer the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack while you make the frosting.
- Using a blender or food processor, blend the raspberries, lemon juice and water until you get a smooth puree.
- Sieve the pureed mix into a saucepan, pushing through as much as you can and discarding the pulp.
- Heat over a low-medium heat and simmer for roughly 10-15mins until the puree has reduced to a thick liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- While the raspberry reduction cools, beat the butter until pale and fluffy using a stand mixer or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer or wooden spoon.
- Sieve in half of the icing sugar to the butter and beat until combined, before sieving in the remaining icing sugar and beating again until smooth.
- Add the raspberry reduction to the frosting 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth, until you have the desired colour and flavour (I usually use 1-3 tablespoon).
Assembly and decoration
- Once your cupcakes have fully cooled, add your buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice (e.g. large open star) and pipe large swirls onto each cupcake.
- Add fresh raspberries or any leftover raspberry reduction to your frosted cupcakes and enjoy!
Nutritional information is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator, actual values may vary.
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