Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is one of my quick, classic go-to frosting recipes that I turn to time and again.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting | ©addapinch.com

My family absolutely adores it, it is so very simple to make, and you just can’t beat that classic vanilla buttercream for all sorts of celebratory and everyday type of desserts. It is perfect for my white cake recipe for birthdays, weddings, and other celebrations and works as a delicious, yet stark visual contrast on chocolate cake, too. It is great sandwiched between a couple of butter cookies or spread on top of a cookie cake, as well. You just can’t beat the versatility of good ole vanilla buttercream frosting. It just works.

I am consistently receiving emails asking about my vanilla buttercream frosting, so I thought I’d repost the recipe by itself instead of it being included along with my chocolate cupcake recipe where it is scaled down for just 12 cupcakes.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting | ©addapinch.com

I also thought I’d answer a few of your questions as well.

How do you get your vanilla buttercream frosting so white? 

There are a few tricks to getting my vanilla buttercream frosting as white as I do. First, after each cup of confectioner’s sugar that I add, I turn my stand mixer on the highest speed that it will go. This not only makes the frosting extremely fluffy, it also lightens the coloring of the frosting as air is incorporated.

My second trick is to use clear vanilla extract whenever I want my vanilla buttercream as white as possible. Mind you, vanilla buttercream frosting still has butter in it, so it is virtually impossible to get it pure white. It will still have a bit of a tint of the yellow, albeit it will be faint. Most folks probably will say it is pure white. We’ll just know it isn’t exactly pure white, just as close as a vanilla buttercream can get without substituting shortening for the butter.

How do you get your vanilla buttercream frosting so fluffy? 

I skipped ahead when I answered the question above and explained how after each cup of confectioner’s sugar that I add to the buttercream, I turn my stand mixer on the highest setting that it will go. This incorporates air into the buttercream and makes it lighter and fluffier.

I also use the paddle attachment of my stand mixer as I have just found it to make a smoother, fluffier buttercream frosting than when I use the whip attachment. Also, it is easier to get all of that delicious buttercream frosting off of your paddle attachment than it is the whip attachment. And I’m all about easy. Heh.

How do I make my vanilla buttercream firmer for a prettier decoration?

The firmness of your buttercream frosting greatly depends on the amount of sugar to liquid ratio in your frosting. If you want a firmer frosting, add more confectioner’s sugar. If you want a softer frosting, add more milk or cream.

Please know that I in no way am professing to be a professional baker, frosting maker, or anything else for that matter. These are my observations after years and years of making buttercream frosting and finding little nuances that make it easier, prettier, tastier, and more everything -er.

Here’s my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe along with a few instructions and notes.

4.4 from 20 reviews
Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is one of the classic frosting recipes used on so many delicious desserts! Get this favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe along with all the tips for making perfect buttercream frosting every time.
Author:
Serves: 4½ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3 - 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
Instructions
  1. Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner's sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  3. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner's sugar, a ¼ cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

 

Happy frosting making! Do you have any tips you’d like to share on how you make the perfect vanilla buttercream frosting? Please share them in the comment!

If you are looking for other buttercream frosting flavors, you might like these:

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Love ya,
Robyn xo

 

DISCUSS

    • 71

      says

      I personally always use salted butter, but I know the professionals recommend using unsalted. So, whichever you prefer is fine.

  1. 72

    says

    You asked for tips and hints. Well, I always, but always, use pure whipping cream for the liquid. I find it makes a much fluffier and much more dependable frosting than the other two milk substitutes.
    I also use only salted butter, because the unsalted has added flavorings, which I don’t want.
    Lastly, you can add a bit of salt to this, even so, and if you do so before you add the liquid, it will be encapsulated in the butter, and then if you tint it a dark color, and if moisture draws to each salt granule, the frosting will surprise you with white flecks amidst all the dark frosting, after a day’s wait, giving a starry night effect. “If” is a big word, here, but it is a nice look, if and when it turns out. :)

  2. 73

    Tammy says

    Possibly the best buttercream I have made! Thank you for the tip beating after each 1/2 c of sugar! Mine turned out amazing

  3. 74

    says

    Amazing frosting! I love the fact that there is no shortening in this recipe. I have seen similar recipes that call for way more sugar, and I can’t imagine how sweet they must be. This one is perfect – texture, flavor, color is great (followed directions exactly). Definitely a keeper! Thank you!

  4. 75

    Jen says

    Love this recipe! Thank you so much. Every other time I’ve tried making buttercream frosting the consistency turned out gritty. Your instructions are so helpful; creaming the butter first and whipping on high speed after each addition of confectioners sugar. Brilliant!

  5. 77

    Jaimie Parnell says

    Im baking for the first time and I found this cake simple and easy to make…
    The flavor was perfect, light and fluffy….Perfect for any special occasion :)
    I had no buttermilk so I just changed to to ” 1.5 tsp fresh lemon juice and fresh milk, I used a 1 cup measuring cup and left the two ingredients to mess together on there own. After 5 mins I gave it a quick stir and into the mix it went…” Really the favor was awesome! Thanks for sharing your family secrets with us robin… we love baking them.

    regards Jaimie Parnell

  6. 78

    Jezrel says

    Just stumbled upon your blog while looking for the “best vanilla cake recipe” and your site came up and I tried your recipe tonight and I must say that it’s the best vanilla cupcake I’ve ever made. Will definitely keep this recipe and will do a cake as well using your frosting recipes which I can’t wait to try. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  7. 79

    Cheryl R says

    I’ve always disliked the way vanilla colors the frosting. I’ve never heard there was a clear vanilla. Where can I find it? I’m baking today, for hubby, who is turning 51 as we watch the Denver/Seattle game. He’s a rabid Denver Bronco fan while the rest of the three of us are fairly rabid Seattle Seahawk fans. It’s interesting here, and a good thing we love each other so much,
    :)

    • 80

      says

      You can usually find clear vanilla extract at stores that sell baking supplies, like Hobby Lobby or Michaels. You can also find online at Amazon.

  8. 81

    Cate says

    I wanted to let you know that this is THE Best buttercream recipe I have ever made. The technique of adding the sugar one cup at a time and speeding the mixer up is great. Plus, I used salted butter which I have never done before. Thank you for sharing those tips. I used it to frost the Best White Cake I found on your site. The friends I made it for loved it! I will for sure be making this again, but now I have my eye on the Southern Caramel Cake…
    Thanks again!

  9. 82

    Sara says

    This is seriously the best buttercream I’ve ever made. My family loves it and they are extremely picky about their icings. It holds color well too. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. 83

    Birgitta Holm says

    Can I use this frosting on a cake that I am going to cover in fondant? I need a delish tasting frosting that I can use for that :) Thanks

  11. 87

    Christina says

    Recipe: 2-3 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half

    Does it matter if you use milk, heavy cream or half and half? I want to choose the best of the three but not sure which that would be?

    • 88

      Becky says

      I was wondering the same thing. I want to make this cake for a friend for November 7th. I hope she responds before then. :)

  12. 90

    Ken Roberts says

    Help! The taste and thickness is perfect. But, mine turned out gritty. What did I do wrong?

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful (non-shortening) recipe!

  13. 91

    Heather B. says

    Michaels sells white icing color drops by Wilton which whitens the frosting for those who were asking about how to make the frosting whiter.

  14. 92

    lily says

    Is there a way to make it not so sweet? My family does not like very sweet frosting too much. Can I use less powdered sugar and use shortening instead of butter? Would that help keep the frosting firm?

  15. 93

    Jake says

    I like the tips of beating on the highest speed and creaming the butter first, but the recipe just tasted like butter and sugar, even though it looked great.

  16. 95

    Lucy says

    Am making this for a first communion, as i don’t like the sickly taste of fondant! This cake looks amazing on the website (don’t know what mine will turn out like though :)
    fingers crossed!!!!

    • 97

      says

      Hi Lucy,
      I placed about 1/4 cup of frosting on the cake stand before I placed my bottom layer on it so that it worked as a sort of “glue” to hold the cake in place on the stand. Then, spread frosting on top of the bottom layer and stacked the second layer on top of it. Some use cake dowels or bamboo sticks cut to size to hold their cake layers in place. I don’t find it needed with this cake, but you may decide you need them. Once I have the cake layers stacked and aligned like I want them, I spread a thin coat all over the cake to seal it as a crumb-coat. Once the crumb coat is on the cake, I then begin with the sides and frost the cake, moving all around until the sides are well covered. Then, I frost the top of the cake. Once it is completely frosted, I go back over it with a spatula to make sure it looks as close to how I would like for it to look as possible. That’s it. It sounds a lot harder than it actually is. I hope that answers your questions and I didn’t misunderstand you! xo

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: