Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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

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. // 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 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. // 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.

Yield: 4 1/2 cups

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Total Time 10 minutes
Prep Time 10 minutes
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.
4.7 from 72 votes
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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

Directions

  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, 1/2 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 1/4 cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

Notes

If you want to make the buttercream frosting ahead, place it into an airtight container and refrigerate. When ready to use, let the frosting come to room temperature, then beat it again with the mixer until fluffy.

All images and text © Robyn Stone for Add a Pinch

 

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

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Love ya,
Robyn xo

 

358 comments on “Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe”

  1. Can I reduce the sugar if I don’t want the frosting too sweet?

    • Hi Tina,
      I don’t reduce the sugar in the recipe, so I can’t say how it turns out. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

    • Hi Tina,
      I did reduce the sugar and it still came out perfect!!! This is my first time making cupcakes and they’re georgous! I did the chocolate cake before and everyone wanted the recipe 🙂 so I spread the word ???? I couldn’t believe the cake was so nice and moist – just the right texture!!! It was almost gone with a blink of an eye…. these cupcakes are for my son’s school Halloween party tomorrow :)) I need to put a locker on the fridge!!!???? I keep them in the frIdge because we live in a hot and humid climate. Thank you Robyn for sharing your recipes!!! ????

  2. Hello

    His long will this buttercream last for?

  3. How would I change the frosting from vanilla to lemon?

    • Hi Barbara,
      I just recently had another reader ask this (lots of lemon lovers out there – myself included 😉 ) and I would use a lemon extract in place of the vanilla extract – and if you are serving this immediately so it will be fresh, you can use a bit of lemon zest in the frosting too!
      Thanks!

  4. Can I add color to this recipe i.e make it red without ruining the flavor?

  5. I just made the chocolate cupcakes with this icing for my son’s 3rd birthday and they were incredible! The icing itself was amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. This recipe is incredible!
    The compliments I got from the taste to the texture were amazing.
    I could have sworn I saw the 1/2 recipe for the buttercream before.
    Am I missing something?

    Help, please!

    😀

  7. Do I need to double this recipe to frost the white cake recipe you have or is this enough?

  8. To frost 650 mini cupcakes how many times should I do this recipe? Thank you for all your delicious recipes, my fam loves every single one of them 

    • Hi again Crystal!
      My recipe should frost 24 cupcakes as I use 1/2 of the recipe when making the 12 cupcakes for my Best Chocolate Cupcakes you’d asked about as well. Again, I’ve never had to make that many cupcakes so I would suggest making in smaller batches. Have fun!
      So happy your family enjoys the recipes! Thank you so much! xo

  9. Is it okay if i use apc instead of heavy cream?

  10. hey Robyn, I want to make a unicorn cake so I found your recipe online! when you write heavy cream and milk / half and half, do you mean I can mix the two? or use both (each one 2-3 ts)? is half and half a product I just dont know? lol.
    thank you!

  11. What is better to use milk, half and half or heavy cream?

  12. Made the cake and the buttercream frosting. Everything came out well. Thank you for a delicious cake and frosting that every one loves. I did read everything concerning this cake before making, It came out very well.  Thank you.

  13. I fail in getting a firm buttercream decorations on cake and it tend to melt due to climate…could you share some tips to enlighten me on this?

  14. Could you please give me the recipe in grams 🙂 I can’t wait to try it. Thank you 

  15. Hi there, how long can this sit out at room temperature for? Ie. once birthday cake iced, how long can it sit on bench for before it has to be served? 

    • Hi Thao,
      It can be made a day ahead of serving if you wish to do so. Just keep it covered with a cake dome for the best freshness until serving. It does not have to be refrigerated in that amount of time. Enjoy! Thanks!

  16. Delicious! The tips on whipping the icing on high after adding the sugar really improve the consistency. I used 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond extract because I love that flavor combo on a white cake.

  17. Hi Robyn,
    I am going to make this frosting for my sister’s wedding cupcakes. Wondering if you have ever substituted the vanilla with coconut extract?

    • Hi Linda,
      How fun to be making cupcakes for your sister’s wedding. I have and it was delicious! xo

  18. It was good with 3 Table spoons milk and 3 cups confectioners sugar but was really buttery. 

  19. it was a really good recipe and really easy to make I love how it has a good moisture and plus it tastes really good on chocolate cupcakes. I love it.

  20. Hi there, I am a Pastry Chef and have used this recipes for countless orders. It always comes out well, either when making it classic or vegan or dairy free, so thank you for putting it out there! I do have to say, I have reduced the sugar at times and it comes out very well and still tasty. It also freezes incredibly well! Just take it out the night before and let it sit out and mix it quickly by hand and it fluffs back up!

  21. really good

  22. Since I found this cake and frosting recipe, it has been my Go-To for every birthday cake. 
    I have cooked for my livelihood for many years and this is THE cake for events!
    *It can be made days before and still be fresh (if you hide it!)
    *You can stack them up and decorate 
    *Moist and Delicious 

  23. Does one recipe of frosting make enough to frost one dozen cupcakes? 

  24. The Best ! I will never Go back to The Other Kind????I followed the recipe to the “T” & I made a Beautiful 3 Layer Birthday Cake for Our 48yr Old, she wanted white cake white frosting! Oh and It’s Nice & White. ????

  25. Made cupcakes and frosting for my hubby this Father’s Day. Delicious and fudgy. All kiddos and hubby loved them. Me, too! Thanks for sharing!

  26. If I were to bake a cake how many times would I double the recipe? 

    Baking a four layer cake

  27. What kind of butter did you use?

  28. Has anyone used this recipe to make a really smooth frosted cake? And does it work for this? I usually make a Swiss meringue but love how much simpler and tastier this one seems! 

  29. I’m so excited to try this recipe! I’m wondering if you use salted or unsalted butter? 

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