Cupcakes are a great option when it comes to birthday cakes.  They can be used to build a ‘cupcake cake’ or decorated individually and everyone can easily be served their own piece of cake.

But before doing anything, it is important to know some simple secrets for how to bake the perfect cupcake.  This guide will help you get as close to perfection as possible and also ensure your cupcakes taste as they should, are just the right size and look great.

Secret 1:  Preheat Your Oven


Before getting started, allow plenty of time for the oven to heat up – at least 15 minutes.

There is a good reason most recipes state this at the beginning.  You can’t bake in a cold oven and putting the cupcakes into an oven that isn’t properly heated will affect how they turn out.  They are likely to be misshapen and dense.

Secret 2: Use the Right Cupcake Liners


Not all cupcake liners are the same.  As with anything, you get what you pay for.

Cheap paper liners will stick to the cupcakes so when removed, a lot of the cake stays stuck to the liner.  Not only is this a waste, but if you need to remove the cupcakes before serving, their appearance will be greatly affected.

Some paper ones also tend to look greasy after being baked. So if you’re keeping the cupcakes in their liners when serving, consider investing a little extra.

You can purchase cupcake liners that are a bit thicker and greaseproof.  Another option is silicone liners that can be reused and are non-stick.

Parchment paper liners also work well, won’t stick to the cupcakes and are recyclable. They can appear greasy though, so choose a good quality liner to prevent this.

Finally, make sure you use the right sized liners. Most cupcake tins can hold up to the “large” size liners. If you want “extra large” cupcakes, you will probably need a cupcake tin with larger openings. Also, if you try to use a liner that is too large, it will distort the shape of your cupcake.


NOTE:   If you don’t want to use liners, no problem.  Make sure to grease and flour the muffin tin properly to avoid any sticking. Simply brush each hole with butter using a pastry brush. Then add a little bit of flour to each cup and shake and tap the tin, so each cup is fully coated. Shake off any extra flour and tip into your waste bin.

Secret 3: Follow The Cupcake Recipe Exactly


Whether you are using a box mix or making the cupcakes from scratch, when baking it is always critical to follow the recipe exactly.  Particularly when it comes to measuring the ingredients – this is one of the most common causes of failure in baking.

Of course, if you really want a guaranteed outcome, stick with a recipe you’ve used before.  That way you know you will get the results you’re looking for.

Always make sure to refresh your memory and read the recipe in full before starting.  Get the oven heating and pre-measure your ingredients. This will help ensure you don’t make any mistakes.

Secret 4:  Add the Right Amount to Each Cupcake Liner


An easy rule of thumb is to use an ice cream scoop to measure out your batter for each cupcake liner. If you’re using large cupcake liners, one heaping ice cream scoop should do it.

Measuring cupcake batter with ice cream scoop

Whatever size scoop you use, just maintain a consistent ‘scoop’ for each cake.  This is an easy way to make sure the cupcakes are all even in size.

Secret 5: Don’t Over or Under Bake


As soon as your cupcakes go in the oven, set the timer (I use my phone). Set it to the minimum recommended baking time. It’s always easier to add on more time if needed.

Here’s how to tell if your cupcakes are ready:

• Insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of the largest cupcake (if any are visibly larger). If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done. If there is anything clinging to the toothpick, cook for longer.

• Gently press your finger on the center of a cupcake. If it jiggles or doesn’t spring back right away, you need more time.

If they do need more time, leave 3-5 minutes, then check again.

Secret 6:  Cool Your Cupcakes


It is important to allow time for the cupcakes to cool completely before icing or it will melt.

When your cupcakes are done, remove the tin from the oven and let them sit for a few minutes. Then, carefully remove the individual cupcakes from the tin and place on a cooling rack.

Once they’ve cooled, it’s time to decorate!

Now you know how to bake the perfect cupcake, start exploring with designs and decorating…that’s the fun part 🙂


P.S.  If you want to take your cupcake making to a whole new level, I highly recommend this course on Craftsy…

The Perfect Cupcake Craftsy Course