A moist cupcake transforms the taste buds, setting the standard for any cupcake you’ll eat in the future. So, whether you had a to-die-for cupcake at a bakery, or your cupcakes notoriously come out dry from the oven, here’s some good news—it’s not hard to make moist cupcakes.
However, it does take knowledge. So, set your spatula aside and grab a pen. We’ll show you how to keep cupcakes moist all the way from preparing the batter to storing them.
How to Keep Cupcakes Moist with Ingredients
If you feel like your traditional cupcake recipes lack something to keep your cupcakes moist, it’s time to look at the ingredients you use.
You may need to sit down before you read this. Some of the ingredients we recommend are unconventional for making cupcakes!
Replace Butter with Oil
We’re starting you off gently here since replacing a fat for fat isn’t an oven-shattering event.
However, there’s science behind why oil will make your cupcakes more moist than butter. When oil and butter are at room temperature, oil is a liquid, while butter remains a solid (albeit a soft solid).
Furthermore, whereas oil has a negligible amount of water, butter has a water content of around 18%. Since gluten creates a tougher texture and forms in cupcakes when water and flour mix, the lack of water in oil makes for softer cupcakes.
When replacing butter with oil in your cupcake recipe, use a one to three-quarters ratio. Therefore, if your recipe calls for one cup of butter, replace it with ¾ cups of oil.
Achieve Moist, Dense Cupcakes with Sour Cream or Yogurt
Moist cupcakes don’t have to equate to an airy texture. So, try replacing the liquids in your cupcake recipe with sour cream or yogurt. The exception to this is eggs—you’ll want to keep those in the batter.
The dairy in sour cream and yogurt will help inject more moisture into your cupcakes. Due to its thickness, you’ll likely find that you don’t need to add as much flour to your recipe. As a result, your cupcakes will contain less gluten and, thus, they’ll remain moist.
Although you may need to reduce the amount of flour you use in your cupcake recipe, you can replace all non-egg liquid ingredients with sour cream or yogurt in a 1:1 ratio.
As a word of caution, your cupcakes may take on an acidic taste. So, try testing out the amount of sour cream or yogurt you use to find a balance between moisture and a flavor that you’re happy with.
Toss in a Box of Instant Pudding Mix
It may feel like cheating, but adding a box of instant pudding mix to your cupcake batter is an excellent way to increase its moisture content.
You don’t have to compensate for the box of pudding mix by removing or reducing any ingredients. Simply choose the flavor of your preference and add it in.
Although many people choose pudding mix flavors that match the cupcake flavor they bake, it’s fun to shake things up a bit. For example, adding pistachio pudding mix to a vanilla cake recipe gives the cupcakes a burst of new flavor and texture from the pistachio nuts.
Use Brown Sugar Instead of White Sugar
Yes, you truly can notice a difference in a cupcake’s moisture content when you use brown sugar instead of white sugar. The reason being is that brown sugar contains molasses, which increases a baked good’s moisture.
In fact, using brown sugar instead of white sugar in your cupcake recipe might have such a significant impact on its moisture that you may want to decrease the number of wet ingredients slightly. Alternatively, you can increase the dry ingredients to compensate for it.
However, before you replace your white sugar, be aware that it’ll darken the color of your cupcakes if you’re working with light-colored batter. Furthermore, brown sugar may add a caramel flavor and more sweetness.
Therefore, we recommend testing your recipe by using half brown sugar and half white sugar to start.
Stir in Some Mayonnaise
We warned you that some of the items on this list would be off-putting! But hear us out—adding mayonnaise to your cupcakes is one of the best ways to keep them moist.
The ingredients in mayonnaise help it contribute to a cupcake’s moistness; it contains eggs and oil.
If you’re wondering what the advantage of mayonnaise is, instead of adding eggs and oil to your recipe, it has to do with vinegar. The vinegar helps bring out the flavor in your recipe. So, you get to enjoy moist and more flavorful cupcakes.
That said, you likely won’t want to replace the fats in your cake with mayonnaise entirely. So, try substituting about ¼ cup of oil or butter with mayonnaise.
Make Healthy Moist Cupcakes With Applesauce
Up until now, we’ve offered you some unhealthy options for keeping your cupcakes moist. So, if you’re watching your calories, try replacing the butter or oil in your recipe with applesauce.
The high water content in applesauce is what helps cupcakes retain their moisture. That said, applesauce pulls down cupcake batter during the baking process, making it challenging for them to rise.
Therefore, the happy medium that many bakers like to use is replacing half the fat in cupcakes with applesauce.
Baking Tips to Keep Cupcakes Moist
Let’s face it—no matter how carefully you choose the ingredients for your cupcakes, moisture can’t compete if the batter spends too much time in the oven at too hot of a temperature.
Therefore, take care to follow the oven settings in your recipe. When in doubt, it’s always better to bake your cupcakes for a shorter amount of time and check them every minute or so until they’re baked through.
Fixing Dry Cupcakes
Whether you read this article after making your cupcake batter or your cupcakes fell victim to the oven, there’s not much you can do to make your cupcakes moist after you baked them.
However, we will share one trick with you; try making a thinner frosting and filling the inside of your cupcakes with it. That way, the dry sponge will soak up part of the frosting, helping to offset its lackluster texture. Here’s a more detailed article on how to fix dry cupcakes.
How to Store Cupcakes to Keep them Moist
Identifying the right ingredients to keep your cupcakes moist is only half the battle; if you won’t be eating them right away, then knowing how to store them to lock in their melt-in-your-mouth ways is equally important.
Below is a step-by-step guide to follow for maximizing your cupcake’s moisture retention when you store them.
Step 1: Let Them Cool
If you’re new to baking, you must allow your cupcakes to thoroughly cool down before storing them. Otherwise, unwanted moisture will build up in the form of condensation, causing your cupcakes to become soggy and prone to molding.
Furthermore, you should let your cupcakes dry on a wire cooling rack. That way, air can evenly circulate around them. You won’t have to worry about unwanted moisture building up at the bottom of your cupcakes.
Step 2: Get a Storage Container That Fits Your Cupcakes
Since your goal is to keep your cupcakes as moist as possible, choosing a storage container that fits them well without leaving too much space is crucial. The reason is that the more room there is between your cupcakes and the cover, the more air there will be.
Since air will dry out your cupcakes faster, you want to avoid this. Depending on how many cupcakes you make, long, shallow storage containers usually work best.
Step 3: Insert Wax Paper
Keeping your cupcakes moist during storage is all about reducing their contact with air as much as possible. Therefore, place a piece of wax paper beneath the cupcakes and another piece on top of them.
If you plan on stacking your cupcakes in a storage bin, you’ll want to use wax paper anyway to separate the various rows.
Step 4: Apply Plastic Wrap
Once you’ve set your cupcakes neatly into your storage container, use a plastic wrap such as ClingWrap and cover the top.
Although you can do this step after you put the lid on, we recommend doing it beforehand. That way, the cover will hold the plastic wrap tightly into place, thus reducing the amount of air entering your container.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Storing Cupcakes to Keep Them Moist
Now that you know how to store your cupcakes to help them retain their moisture, below are some tips to help you once you’re ready to use them.
- Store the containers in a cool, dry place. In that case, they’ll stay good for a couple of days on your counter.
- The tops of the cupcakes might be a little wet when you take them out of storage. Dabbing them with a paper towel will remove unwanted moisture.
- If you want to store frosted cupcakes, follow these same steps but keep them in the fridge instead of your counter. They’ll stay moist for 4 – 5 days.
How to Keep Cupcakes Moist When Freezing Them
Yes, you can freeze cupcakes. Assuming you followed the guidance we shared here and used ingredients to keep your cupcakes moist when they’re fresh, that moistness can remain when you freeze them. However, you’ll need to follow some guidelines to ensure they won’t get freezer burn.
Freezer burn occurs when air comes in contact with food while in the freezer. It pulls out moisture, creating the tiny ice particles we all dread when we don’t properly store food.
Needless to say, if your cupcakes get freezer burn, it’s game over for your desire to keep them moist. So, below are the steps you should take to keep your cupcakes moist in the freezer.
Step 1: Let Them Cool Completely
As with storing cupcakes on the counter or in the fridge, it’s crucial to use a cooling rack and let your cupcakes cool entirely.
Step 2: Pull Out Your Plastic Wrap
Plastic wrap is one of the best defenses against freezer burn.
Start by laying a strand of plastic wrap on your counter and setting your cupcakes on it. Fold the plastic wrap around the cupcakes, pressing gently.
Then, rip off another strand of the plastic wrap and carefully tip your cupcakes upside down on top of it. Fold the remaining plastic wrap around the cupcakes.
Step 3: Get a Freezer Bag
Although plastic wrap effectively fights freezer burn, there are still opportunities for air to make its way to your precious cupcakes.
So, place your plastic-wrapped cupcakes into a freezer bag and seal the bag shut, ensuring you squeeze out as much air as possible. Then pop the bag into your freezer.
Your cupcakes will last for many months in the freezer. However, since your goal is to maximize their moistness, we recommend pulling them out of the freezer within 3 – 4 weeks.
A Final Note
The bottom line here is that as long as you follow these steps to prevent freezer burn, your cupcakes will come out of the freezer with about the same moisture and taste as they went into it.
So, if you know that you won’t be eating all those delicious cupcakes you made within a couple of days, consider freezing them right away to retain their moisture and flavor better.
If you wish to freeze frosted cupcakes, you can do so following this same method. Of course, you’ll need to be more careful not to smear the frosting.
That said, the frosting on cupcakes doesn’t thaw as well as the baked batter does, as it often builds up some condensation. Therefore, when possible, only freeze the baked part of your cupcakes.
Are You Ready to Make Cupcakes?
Now that you know how to keep cupcakes moist, it’s time to make a beeline to your kitchen! With so many options for making cupcakes addictingly soft, don’t be surprised when your family and friends begin asking for your recipe.