Yellow Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Icing

I’ve been trying to find a delicious yellow cake recipe for YEARS.

Easy Yellow Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Icing

I’ve tried a bunch of times. And they’re either to dry… or just plain yuck. A couple of years ago a reader emailed me about coming up with a yellow cake recipe. Well, reader, I think this is it. Strike that… I know this is it. The batter {as you’ll see further down in the post} is like pudding. Thick… vanilla-y and after they’re baked, they are as fluffy as a cloud.

I frosted them with my basic cream cheese frosting that I halved for this small batch of cupcakes and then thinned it down with half and half {because I had it on hand} so it was more of a icing then a frosting. And since I ran out of vanilla making the cupcakes, I subbed with coconut extract and it was utterly fabulous.

Check it out.

dry ingredients

Throw the flour, salt and baking powder into a mesh sifter set into a medium bowl.


I think sifting is the trick to a soft tender cake. I’m in no way a cake professional, {only a cake eating professional} but I’m not going to ever skip this step to find out I’m right.

warming up eggs

One thing I also think helps for a good cake is room temperature ingredients. i.e. eggs and butter. Since I like NEVER remember to pull the eggs out 30 to 40 minutes in advance, I instead just stick them in a bowl with warm {not hot} water and that will speed up the process.

butter in a bowl

Unwrap a stick of unsalted butter and place it into a bowl. I probably should have used a bigger bowl, but by the time I got to the flour part, it was way too late, don’t worry… you’ll see.


Pour in the sugar.


This recipe is so hand mixer friendly, so go ahead a bust it out and mix on medium speed until the butter and sugar are light and fluffy.


Which is about 3 minutes.

egg 1

Crack in one egg at a time, mixing well after each one.

egg 2

Since we’re talking eggs here, I just want to state that although it’s not mandatory, farm eggs are a deep shade of orange… which in the end will give the cakes a better yellow.


After the eggs have been beaten in, scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

half of the dry

Add in half of the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.

half and half

Do the same with the half & half. Add half and mix on low until just combined.


You’ll notice the batter is starting to shape up.

flour 2

Throw in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

half and half 2

The rest of the half and half…


Lastly, add in a teaspoon {or more 😉 } of real vanilla extract.

cake batter

And mix on low until the vanilla is mixed in.


Line a muffin tin with liners.





ready to bake

…and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, rotate the pan halfway for even baking.

ta - da!

Once baked, carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


Once cool, frost them with the scrumptious coconut cream cheese icing.


I didn’t do the step-by-step for the icing, but it’s pretty simple. Just throw the cream cheese and butter into a bowl and mix until combined. Add in the powdered sugar and coconut extract, blend some more and then just thin it out with half and half or milk. Once the cupcakes are frosted, add some sprinkles. Who doesn’t love sprinkles… they pretty much sell it!

Yellow Cupcakes 3

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes or one 8 or 9 inch round cake. Double the recipe for a two layer cake, and just adjust the baking times to about 25 minutes or more, until a tester comes out clean.

yellow cupcake 1

This was my favorite part of the day.

Yellow Cupcake bite 2

Wait, nope… this was. Soft, fluffy and not too sweet. Yellow cupcake, I love you.

Ps. these cupcakes do need to be refrigerated, but are darn good cold. YUM!

Easy Yellow Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Icing


Easy Yellow Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Icing

Finally the perfect yellow {cup}cake.

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 18-20 minutes

Total Time: 18-20 minutes


1-1/4 cup All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 cup Sugar

2 whole Eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup Half and Half

1 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract


4 ounces softened Cream Cheese

2 tablespoon softened Unsalted Butter

1/2 teaspoon Coconut Extract

1 cup Powdered Sugar

Half & Half as needed


FOR THE CAKE: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl blend together the stick of butter and the 3/4 cup of sugar for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add one egg in at a time and blend well after each one.

Next add in half of the dry ingredients, blend. Then half of the half & half, blend. Then repeat with the rest of the dry ingredients and half & half, mix until incorporated.

Add in the vanilla extract and blend to combine.

Divide the batter among the twelve cupcake liners and bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Once baked, remove and let cool completely before frosting.


Combine the cream cheese and butter in a small bowl, add in powdered sugar, coconut extract and thin it out with splashes of half and half until desired consistency.

Because of the cream cheese you'll have to keep cupcake refrigerated. Simply remove about 30 minutes before serving or eat them cold... so so good!

NOTE: You'll need to double this recipe to make a two layer cake and adjust the baking times to 25 + minutes or until a tester comes out clean 🙂

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33 Responses to “Yellow Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Icing”

  1. #
    Steph (Poupette in the Kitchen) — March 29, 2013 at 7:55 am

    aaaand I <3 you for this! the icing looks divine!

  2. #
    Denise — March 29, 2013 at 7:57 am

    The inside of that cake looks incredible!

  3. #
    Aria — March 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Me too!! These do look light as clouds!!

  4. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — March 29, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I love a good yellow cake. This looks perfect!

  5. #
    Heather (Heather's Dish) — March 29, 2013 at 9:21 am

    These look like yellow cake perfection!

  6. #
    Tieghan Gerard — March 29, 2013 at 9:28 am

    These lok perfect! I love all coconut recipes that people are posting! I am a new coconut lover! Cant wait to try these!

  7. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — March 29, 2013 at 9:55 am

    ohhh yum!! I hate dry cake! I love that you perfected this 🙂 the blue wrappers are SO PRETTY!

    • simplyscratch replied: — March 30th, 2013 @ 8:11 am

      Thanks Julie 🙂

  8. #
    Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) — March 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Holy cow! These babies are beautiful!

  9. #
    Mr. & Mrs. P — March 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

    These cupcakes look great.. The cakes look so moist and fluffy!

    • simplyscratch replied: — March 30th, 2013 @ 8:11 am

      Thank you! 🙂

  10. #
    Kim @ Soliloquy Of Food & Such — March 29, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Cool beans! I just googled ‘recipe for single layer yellow cake’ last night. I’ma gunna try dis one, thanks!

  11. #
    Jackie @ The Beeroness — March 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Yellow cake is so much harder to get perfect than chocolate cake, but you did it! Those look completely perfect.

  12. #
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry — March 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    The picture of the creamy yellow batter says it all. These cupcakes are anything but dry! Can’t wait to try them.

  13. #
    a farmer in the dell — March 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Yum! That’s all I can say 🙂

  14. #
    danielle — March 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    made these already. perfect! thank you for doing the hard work of finding me a yellow cake recipe! and one with staple ingredients always in my pantry (ie not cake flour)? A+. i’m going to attempt to make cake balls with this recipe. and i think i can also use this for my coffee cake recipe that calls for duncan hines butter cake mix. (why must yellow 5 be added to a cake mix?!) i’m so excited. thanks, laurie!

    • simplyscratch replied: — March 30th, 2013 @ 8:08 am

      Yay Danielle! I know… I hate box mixes. I’m no professional, but I think if you sift ap flour it can be substituted for cake flour! I’m so glad you made this recipe and liked it! Let me know how it works in other recipes!

  15. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — March 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Hallelujah! I’ve been on the same. damn. search. I’ve got to try your yellow cake, it looks so scrumptious!

    • simplyscratch replied: — March 30th, 2013 @ 8:14 am

      Thank ya Georgia! 🙂

  16. #
    Kiranjit Kaur — March 30, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I love your version of yellow cupcakes! Looks so delish and moist! That sprinkles, oh my 🙂

  17. #
    BETTY BOYLE — March 30, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I made these today and they are the BEST and easiest cupcakes I have ever had! I couldn’t bring myself to add the frosting as the cake is wonderful with just a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top. I have one happy husband right now! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us!!

  18. #
    Wendy — March 31, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    The creamy coconut frosting sounds delicious to me, but I am most excited about the yellow cake recipe. I have been looking for a go-to moist yellow cake for ages. They are either dry right from the start or dry by the next day. I will be trying this one soon! Thanks!

  19. #
    Jim Abston @ superbetaprostatereviewer — March 31, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    It is very tempting! I really love cupcakes especially like this one. It looks easy to do. This article just made me hungry. lol 🙂

  20. #
    GS test demo — April 1, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Simply Scratch » Yellow Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Icing

  21. #
    Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats — April 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    oh these are beautiful! I cant wait to try them next time I need perfect yellow cupcakes! Gorgeous!

  22. #
    E — April 10, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Oh I love the frosting! The recipe sounds perfect. All of your recipes are so fabulous. I can’t decide what to choose and what not to.

  23. #
    Emilia Robert — April 10, 2013 at 2:21 am

    Oh I love the frosting! The recipe sounds perfect. All of your recipes are so fabulous. I can’t decide what to choose and what not to.

  24. #
    Liz — May 4, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I baked these cupcakes tonight for my birthday tomorrow, and I’m super disappointed! I made them to go with a Nutella frosting and they are just not what I expected at all, tastes like they need more sugar. 🙁 so sad I did all this baking and they don’t taste like the perfect yellow cupcake at all. They taste like bland bread

    • simplyscratch replied: — May 4th, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

      Hi there Liz… I’m sorry these didn’t turn out for you. I do want to address your concerns; as for the “bread” texture… that can happen from over mixing… so perhaps that’s what happened? Because in my pictures above anyone could see these aren’t bread-like at all, so please don’t hold that against me :). Also.. I think the sweetness is a personal preference and adding more sugar would be up to the baker. I always taste-test the batter before baking to make sure it has the perfect sweetness! Hope this help ya for next time 🙂

  25. #
    Johanna — September 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Hi! Doubling this recipe, would it be enough for a two layer 9×13 cake?
    Which frosting would you prefer for a cake, this one or ?

    • simplyscratch replied: — September 12th, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

      Hi Johanna! I wouldn’t double the cake. A two layer cake recipe usually can be converted into a 9×13, 24 cupcakes etc. The frosting in the red velvet recipe is the same as the other, just doubled. 🙂 I’m so jealous your making this cake… save me some? 🙂

  26. #
    Ashley — October 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Hi there! I just wanted you to know that I made these cupcakes this week for a friend’s birthday and they were fabulous! I finally found a moist yellow cake that isn’t overly crumbly. I did use a different frosting since I’m a chocolate fan, but the cake was divine. The only change I made was that I didn’t have much half and half so I subbed part of it with coconut milk. Not really a noticeable flavor in the final cupcake, but it prevented me from having to run to the store. Thanks again!

  27. #
    Tess — May 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I added 1 teaspoon of the coconut extract to the cake mix and it tasted delicious.

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