Ever wonder how to make cupcakes moist? I'll show you all the best tips for baking moist cupcakes as well as keeping the cupcakes moist after baking. This baking guide will teach you how to make professional cupcakes perfectly every time.
- What makes cupcakes moist?
- 1. Fat
- 2. Liquid
- 3. Sugar
- 4. Acidity
- 5. Temperature of ingredients
- 6. Recipe ratios
- 7. Using the right flour
- 8. Using the right leavener
- 9. Mixing technique
- 10. Baking temperature
- 11. Baking time
- 12. Baking environment
- 13. Filling
- 14. Frosting
- 15. Soaking syrup
- How to keep cupcakes moist?
- 1. Don't alter the recipe
- 2. Weigh the ingredients
- 3. Use high-quality fat
- 4. Use in-date ingredients
- 5. Don't over mix the batter
- 6. Use the secret ingredient
- 7. Don't overfill
- 8. Bake at the right temperature for the right time
- 9. Decorate cupcakes
- 10. Store cupcakes correctly
- How do you add moisture to cupcakes after baking?
- Moist Cupcakes FAQ
- Moist Cupcake Recipes
- How to Make Cupcakes Moist (Ultimate Guide)
What makes cupcakes moist?
There are many factors that contribute to baking moist cupcakes. Whether it's the ingredients themselves, how much of those ingredients are present, the way they're combined, or the baking itself! And, even the storage! To understand how to make cupcakes moist and bake the best cupcakes, you first need to understand what makes cupcakes moist.
Fat (most often butter or oil) is vital in baking. It is a tenderizer; it can act as a leavening agent (for example, the butter in puff pastry), and it can be an emulsifier. But when it comes to baking sponge and making cupcakes, its most important role is to make them moist. Therefore, if you reduce the amount of fat in baked goods like cupcakes, they will not be as moist.
The liquid in recipes is moisture! And what we call the 'wet ingredients' in cupcake recipes all contain moisture. This can be eggs, butter, vanilla extract, dairy products such as milk or sour cream, or syrup, to name a few. As cupcakes are baked, the moisture within them heats up and evaporates, which drys out the sponge. And this is what we want, to a point. But if there's not enough liquid? No moist cupcakes.
Sugar prevents baked goods from drying out as it creates a bond with water and other wet ingredients to lock in moisture. So you definitely need sugar in cupcakes to make them soft and moist! And sugars are not created equal. Brown sugar contains molasses, which makes it more moist than white sugar. So use the right amount of the right kind of sugar as per your recipe to make moist cupcakes.
Ingredients like yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, and other dairy products are high in acidity, and this reacts in a special way with baking soda. You may have noticed in the past that yogurt cake, for example, is particularly moist, and this is why. Or, you may have seen lemon juice or vinegar included in an ingredient list. Not everyone knows that acid plays a key role in how to make cupcakes moist.
5. Temperature of ingredients
Have you ever noticed how a recipe says 'softened butter' or 'room temperature eggs'? This is because it is important to combine ingredients whilst they are in the right state. They will react differently to one another depending on their temperature, and you want cupcakes to bake evenly too. So do pay attention to the recipe and follow what it says.
6. Recipe ratios
The balance between flour, sugar, baking powder, and other ingredients for cupcakes is important. If, for example, you decide to make chocolate cupcakes but do not use a chocolate cupcake recipe and simply add cocoa powder to a vanilla cupcakes recipe, the cupcakes will be dry. Even if the original recipe gave you moist vanilla cupcakes! Always use proper recipes to get the recipe ratios right.
7. Using the right flour
Using all purpose flour, which is a medium-strength flour excellent for the majority of baked goods. Cake flour is also good if you can get it. If you use a different flour, like strong bread flour, for example, the result will be chewier and not as light and soft. Similarly, certain gluten-free blends do not always have the right balance of starch and protein for moist cupcakes. So take care when making a swap.
8. Using the right leavener
Chemical leaveners like baking powder and baking soda react in very specific ways with other ingredients to give rise to a cupcake sponge and make it light and fluffy. Without them, the result is dense and flat, and other ingredients cannot work the right way, which will not leave you with perfectly moist cupcakes. Did you know eggs are a leavening agent too? Find out more about eggs and what they do in baking.
9. Mixing technique
The method of mixing stated in the recipe is important to get the right results. If a recipe calls for ingredients to be whipped together and you fold them together or vice versa, you will get very different results! Sifting, folding, creaming, whipping, and stirring are just some combining techniques that all garner different results. Use the right one for the job!
10. Baking temperature
It is super important to always bake at the right temperature. If the oven is too hot, then the moisture in the cupcakes will evaporate too fast, and they will dry out. If it's too cool, cupcakes might fall in the center or not cook all the way through. And if you bake for too long in an oven that is not hot enough...dry cupcakes. Invest in an inexpensive digital oven thermometer to check your oven, as they can vary!
11. Baking time
Overbaked cupcakes = dry cupcakes. The longer cupcakes are in the oven, the more of their moisture will evaporate. So if you leave them in for too long, you will not end up with perfect moist cupcakes!
12. Baking environment
Whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, they go through several baking stages. Baking stages include (but are not limited to) fat melting, gas formation and expansion, protein coagulation, starch gelatinization, caramelization, and Maillard reaction browning. If you open the oven door during baking, you change the environment and interrupt these processes, and they are what makes cupcakes moist! Use an oven light to check progress rather than opening the door.
Filled cupcakes are delicious, and undeniably, filling adds moisture. If each bite of a cupcake has a taste of a sumptuous gooey filling, they can't help but be super moist! Check out my guide on how to fill cupcakes if you've never done it before, and choose from one of these delicious cake filling ideas to see what takes your fancy.
Unfrosted cupcakes will dry out faster than frosted cupcakes as more of their surface area is exposed to air. So, piping a thick, creamy, and decadent frosting on top of cupcakes will make cupcakes moist due to the moisture in the frosting. Try cream cheese frosting; it's my personal favorite.
15. Soaking syrup
Many moist cupcake recipes call for drizzling syrup over the sponge after baking. Applying a soaking syrup makes cupcakes moist as well as adds delicious flavor. You can add soaking syrup in a similar flavor to really enhance things or in a complimenting flavor to provide a contrast.
How to keep cupcakes moist?
Now you know all of the factors that make cupcakes moist let's work on keeping them that way! Read on for my expert tips and tricks to keep cupcakes moist.
1. Don't alter the recipe
Baking is a science and needs precision. There isn't really a grand baking secret to moist cupcakes; you just need to follow reliable recipes exactly. Cupcake recipes are put together in a specific way, with specific ingredients and instructions to achieve optimal results (i.e., deliciously moist cupcakes).
If you tweak the recipe and make swaps with butter substitutes or egg substitutes without thinking it through, there will be consequences. Check out my Baking 101 guides to learn more about this topic.
2. Weigh the ingredients
I'll say it again: baking is a science and requires precision. Using a system where you measure by volume, like the US cup system, is not precise enough. What's more, cup volume is not standardized worldwide! I always recommend weighing ingredients by gram using a digital scale for the best moist cupcakes.
3. Use high-quality fat
The quality of your ingredients matters. And as we know, fat is a tenderizer that keeps cupcakes moist. So if a recipe calls for milk, use whole milk. Buy better quality butter. Use good quality cream or sour cream with high-fat content. This will improve both the taste and texture of your cupcakes.
4. Use in-date ingredients
Did you know that baking powder and baking soda (which, incidentally, are not the same thing, nor are they interchangeable) have an expiration date? Use ingredients within their shelf life to keep cupcakes moist.
5. Don't over mix the batter
Once the wet ingredients hit the dry ingredients, gluten will start to form in the batter. And if you overmix cupcake batter, it can become hard and dry. Mixing with an electric hand whisk or even by hand with a rubber spatula can help, as it is much easier to overmix using a stand mixer or KitchenAid.
I know it's tempting to simply pour everything into a stand mixer, but it isn't always the best way to keep cupcakes moist.
6. Use the secret ingredient
I share this cupcake baking tip with my readers all the time, so it isn't really a secret anymore! Seriously though, not everyone knows this expert tip, and it will really help you keep cupcakes moist when baking. What you have to do is mix ½ teaspoon of white vinegar with ½ teaspoon of baking soda and then quickly fold it into the cupcake batter before baking. Your cupcakes will be super airy and much lighter than ever before.
7. Don't overfill
Fill liners to ⅔ full and no more so that they bake evenly and the top doesn't spill over and dry out. It can help to use a cookie scoop to fill cupcake liners to ensure even distribution of the batter.
8. Bake at the right temperature for the right time
Bake cupcakes in a preheated oven for the specified time until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Use a digital oven thermometer and a timer, and then cool cupcakes completely on a cooling rack to avoid them sitting on a hot tray which can continue to dry them out with residual heat.
9. Decorate cupcakes
Fillings, frostings, and syrups are all some of the best ways to keep cupcakes moist. And they add flavor and look pretty, too! It's a win-win. A tasty filling like this caramel filling for cupcakes will certainly do the job of keeping cupcakes moist.
10. Store cupcakes correctly
Do not store cupcakes on a plate in the open air; they will definitely dry out. To keep cupcakes moist, store them in an airtight container. Depending on whether or not you use a frosting, cupcakes may need to be stored in the fridge where cold circulating air will dry them out even faster, so this is very important. For more information, read my full guide on how to store and freeze cupcakes.
How do you add moisture to cupcakes after baking?
- Let them cool completely: The cupcakes' moisture will redistribute and settle as they come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
- Drizzle over syrup after baking: The syrup will soak into the cupcake and add extra moisture to the sponge. You can use simple syrup.
- Brush with milk: Similarly, brushing whole milk over the top of the cupcakes after baking will help keep cupcakes moist.
- Add a filling: Scoop out the center of the cupcake and fill it with whipped cream or another delicious moist filling like lemon curd.
- Add a frosting: Top them with frosting to make cupcakes moist like whipped chocolate ganache.
Moist Cupcakes FAQ
Yes! Good cupcakes are soft, moist, and full of flavor.
Some of the reasons why cupcakes are not moist include using the wrong ratio of ingredients, baking at the wrong temperature, or baking. for too long.
Fat, sugar, acid, and liquid all contribute to making cupcakes moist. But it is also the way they are combined and the ratio that makes a difference.
Adding half a teaspoon of vinegar and half a teaspoon of baking soda mixed together to the batter just before baking will elevate any cupcake recipe or cake recipe. This is one of my top baking tips!
Store cupcakes in an airtight container to retain their moisture and stop them from drying out.
Brush over syrup or milk, or add frosting to make cupcakes moist after baking.
Do not leave cupcakes out on a plate uncovered. Frost cupcakes straight away and place them in an airtight container.
Moist Cupcake Recipes
How to Make Cupcakes Moist (Ultimate Guide)
10 Best ways to Make Cupcakes Moist
- 1: Don't alter the recipe or substitute ingredients
- 2: Weigh the ingredients correctly by the gram using a digital scale.
- 3: Use high-quality fat.
- 4: Use in-date ingredients.
- 5: Don't over mix the batter.
- 6: Add ½ teaspoon baking soda mixed with ½ teaspoon vinegar to the batter before baking.
- 7: Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full.
- 8: Bake at the right temperature for the right time. Do not overbake the cupcakes.
- 9: After baking, may add syrup, filling, or frosting.
- 10: Store cupcakes correctly in an airtight container.
- Use tips 1-10 to bake perfectly moist cupcakes.