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How to Make Moist Cupcakes

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Jenn loves sharing her tips for make the most perfect, drool-worthy desserts.

By substituting the right ingredients, you can make a perfectly moist cupcake.

By substituting the right ingredients, you can make a perfectly moist cupcake.

The Perfect Cupcakes

We all love cupcakes! From the classic vanilla and chocolate to the all-time favorite red velvet—we can never seem to get enough.

But the thing that makes them extra special, aside from the lovely frosting of course, is cupcake moisture content.

We all love soft, fluffy, and extra-moist cupcakes. But, how do we get them? Read below to find out the key ingredients to making the cupcake of your dreams!

Ingredient Substitutes to Help You Make a Better Cupcake

IngredientHow to Subsitute


Use 3/4 cup oil for 1 cup butter

Instant Pudding Mix

One small package pudding for 12 cupcakes

Sour Cream or Yogurt

Substitute half of volume of wet ingredients (except egg)

Brown Sugar

Replace half of sugar with brown sugar


Replace half of butter or oil with applesauce


Add 1/4 cup to wet ingredients

Cake Flour

Substitute cake for all-purpose flour

1. Oil

Instead of using butter, substitute canola oil or olive oil. The fat content in the oil will make the resulting cupcakes moister than when you use butter.

If your original recipe uses butter, use a ratio of 1 cup of butter to 3/4 cup oil to substitute. The science behind this is that oil reduces gluten formation.

Gluten is a protein substance found in wheat that binds the baked products together. If they are less bonded, it will result in softer cupcakes.

2. Instant Pudding Mix

Add one box of small pudding mix to your normal 12-piece cupcake recipe and it will come out extra soft.

The pudding mix changes the consistency of your cupcake batter, making it smoother as well. You can always experiment with pudding flavors and the flavor of your cupcakes.

For example, if you are going for chocolate cupcakes, go for chocolate pudding mix as well. Or, if you want an extra kick to your cupcakes, why not add a mint pudding mixture instead? The result? Soft, smooth, and moist chocolate mint cupcakes!

3. Sour Cream or Yogurt

Substitute sour cream or yogurt based on how many liquid ingredients you have (not counting egg). If your recipe calls for 1 cup of water or milk, you can replace it with 1 cup of sour cream or yogurt.

I highly recommend combining water and sour cream or yogurt in the batter since the former has a distinct aroma and taste that could affect the flavor of your cupcakes.

Or, if you want to make it even moister, you can proceed with your recipe for 12 cupcakes as is and add 1/2 cup of sour cream or yogurt instead. This acidic dairy product adds moisture to cupcakes and makes it denser as well.

4. Brown Sugar

I only highly advise using brown sugar if you are making chocolate cupcakes, carrot cupcakes, or other dark-colored cupcakes because the color of the sugar will taint the appearance of the finished product.

You can substitute all white sugar in your recipe but I highly recommend you do it half-and-half: half white sugar and half brown sugar. Brown sugar can give your cupcakes extra moisture but is also sweeter than white sugar.

Hence, if you substitute all of the sugar, you may end up with extra sweet cupcakes. If your recipe for 12 cupcakes requires 1 cup of sugar, I suggest going for 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup brown.

5. Applesauce

If you want a healthier alternative to the fat content of your cupcakes as well as a better texture, applesauce is the best substitute for that.

You can replace all butter or oil in your recipe with applesauce. But the problem with doing that is that your cupcakes might not rise as much as when you used butter or oil.

Therefore, the best proportion you can use is to use 1/2 butter or oil and 1/2 applesauce. If your recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter or oil, use 1/4 cup of butter and oil plus 1/4 cup applesauce.

6. Mayonnaise

While mayonnaise may seem like the last thing you will want to put in your cupcakes, this will certainly add that extra moisture you want your cupcakes to have. And besides, mayonnaise is made with eggs and oils (which are ingredients found in creating cupcakes anyway).

Moreover, mayonnaise contains vinegar which acts as a natural preservative making your cupcakes last for a longer time. Add 1/4 cup of mayonnaise to your batter for a 12-piece cupcake recipe.

7. Cake Flour

Use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour! Cake flour has less gluten content than all-purpose flour which keeps cupcakes light.

This type of flour is also bleached which makes the acid content higher. The higher acid content allows for starch to store more moisture.