Delicate homemade vanilla cupcakes with a surprise M & M filling, topped with a swirl of fluffy buttercream frosting! Perfect for a birthday party or shower, or a “gender-reveal” baby shower.

Front view of several frosted vanilla cupcakes on a black and white polka dot cloth.


Amanda from I Am Baker asked me to guest post for her and I promptly freaked out. Full-on panic mode. Her site and her cakes are beyond gorgeous.

But then I pushed myself beyond the freak-out and was inspired by Amanda’s “surprise inside” cakes. I created these vanilla cupcakes…and they have a fun surprise inside them!

I had so much fun making these delicious vanilla cupcakes and can’t wait to experiment with putting different surprises inside. The possibilities are endless — Red Hots, Nerds, sprinkles, jam, etc.

A couple people in the comments on Amanda’s site mentioned that these would be perfect as gender-reveal cupcakes and they sure are right!

Front view of partially eaten cupcake with surprise filling displayed.

There are three parts to this fun dessert:

First, you bake homemade cupcakes. If you are used to making cake mixes, I think you’ll be surprised by how easy homemade cakes are to make. I love that you won’t find any artificial flavors, or anything else that you can’t pronounce in these homemade vanilla cupcakes. The ingredients are simple and I bet you have everything you need in your pantry and fridge.

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Milk

I use a stand mixer but don’t worry if you don’t have one. A hand mixer will be just fine. I like to set the bowl in my sink on a dish cloth, so the splatters don’t end up on the wall. Mix up the batter, and pop the cupcakes into the oven to bake.

Next, after the cupcakes have cooled, whip up the buttercream frosting: Butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. There’s nothing fancy or tricky about making frosting. Use your mixer to whip it up until it’s nice and fluffy. Put the frosting into a pastry bag with a tip, or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off.

Now, the last part: Inserting the surprise. Cut a hole in the top of the cupcakes, making a little well. You can use a sharp knife or a cupcake corer. Other tools that work are a melon baller or apple corer. The well doesn’t have to be perfectly round. Just make sure you don’t cut all the way through to the bottom. 

Drop mini M & M’s into the hole. Here’s where you can really be creative. Choose whatever you like to be the “surprise”. You can use different candies, or jam, or even additional frosting. 

After the surprise is inserted, fill up the well with frosting, and continue to frost the cupcakes as desired. I like to finish up with colored sprinkles.

Aren’t they beautiful and fun? I’m so excited by this recipe — I can’t wait to make them with different surprises!

Overhead view of vanilla cupcakes on fancy scalloped paper round, with colorful straws, and polka dot background.

More cakes and frosting!


Front view of several frosted vanilla cupcakes on a black and white polka dot cloth.

Vanilla Cupcakes (With a Surprise Inside!)

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 3 minutes

These fun vanilla cupcakes have a playful surprise inside! They are sure to bring a smile to your face!


For the cupcakes

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk

for the filling

  • 1/3 cup mini M&Ms

for the frosting

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • sprinkles, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, cream together butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla until fluffy and light colored, or about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed.
  4. With the mixer on low, add one third of the flour, then half the milk, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and finally the remaining flour. Scrape down sides as needed.
  5. Pour into a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Each liner should be about 3/4 full of batter.
  6. Bake cupcakes for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool cupcakes completely before moving on to next steps.
  8. When cupcakes have cooled, hollow out a small hole in the center (using a cupcake corer or a small sharp knife). Fill hole with mini M&Ms.
  9. Prepare frosting by using an electric mixer to cream together all frosting ingredients until smooth and fluffy. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, decorate with sprinkles if desired, and serve immediately.


  • Serving immediately is recommended because the M&M’s soak up some moisture and lose their crunch after being inside of the cupcakes. Feel free to make cupcakes a day ahead and fill and frost immediately before serving.
  • Don't have a stand mixer? A hand mixer works well, too.
  • Be creative with the filling. Try other candies, chopped candy bars, or jam.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 718Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 125mgCarbohydrates: 148gFiber: 1gSugar: 134gProtein: 4g sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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You can also head on to Amanda’s beautiful site and get my vanilla cupcakes recipe there!