Does anyone know of a "basic, universal recipe" for cupcakes?

I would like to find a cupcake recipe that will use the same basic ingredients with variations to change the flavor or add ingredients to my liking and tastes.

  • though recipe requests are off-topic for this site, if you do an internet search for "basic cupcake recipe", you will get many hits for cupcake recipes with variations. Nov 18, 2012 at 17:42
  • 2
    You might find something that will work for adding nuts or other solid ingredients, but fruits (unless dried first) will add enough moisture that you need to adjust the recipe to compensate. I'm guessing the peanut butter would be a problem, too, although peanut butter chips might work.
    – Joe
    Nov 19, 2012 at 16:11
  • FWIW, it's pretty easy to translate a cake recipe into cupcakes - cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/15833/…
    – KatieK
    Nov 20, 2012 at 6:31

1 Answer 1


From personal experiences, reading cookbooks, and making far too many baked goods I've learned that it can be tricky to just adding extra ingredients while maintaining a universal base cake or cupcake recipe. However, with good judgment and some basic ingredients ratios you could come close to an archetype.

Some ratios (by weight) of basic ingredients include:

  • Pound Cake - 1 part each flour, eggs, fat, and sugar
  • Butter Cake - 2 parts each flour, and sugar. 1 part each eggs and fat

Beyond that here are some basic rules

  • The ratio of sugar to flour should be 1 to 1 in most recipes, maybe slightly higher in the sugar side of things.
  • Same with eggs, they should weigh about the same as your fats, possibly slightly more.
  • In general liquids measurements (including eggs) should weigh the same as or more than the sugar.
  • Eggs are in interesting ingredient. Whites tend to dry things out while yolks tend to make a richer more velvety texture. More yolks to whites (like in a yellow cake) make for creamer textures, the inverse make for drier more crumbly textures.
  • Then comes leavening. A teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour often does the trick.

Adding extra ingredients however can throw off your recipe. Bananas for example can replace some of the sugars and some of the fats. Peanut-butter some of the flours and some of the fat. Adding enough chocolate chips, though they stay pretty much contained, may not interfere with the other ingredients but will increase the density of your recipe and may require additional cooking time. Adding coco powder instead of flour usually deems the need for more egg yolks and sugars.

Really you just have to play around until you get a good feel for things.

  • 3
    -1 for chocolate chips may require more baking time. What is your source for that information? Are any of your suggestions based on actual experience or recipes? Please include your sources or basis for your information, @rheone. Nov 19, 2012 at 4:55
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    @KristinaLopez, added blurb about chocolate chips modifying density/thermal mass requiring more cook time.
    – rheone
    Nov 20, 2012 at 4:25

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