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. //

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. //

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.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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.
4.73 from 90 votes

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Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Servings: 4 1/2 cups
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch


  • 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
  • 3 - 4 cups confectioner’s sugar sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk heavy cream, or half-and-half


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
  • 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.


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.
Have you made this recipe?Tag @addapinch on Instagram or hashtag it #addapinch


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


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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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449 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Hello and thank you for the great white cake and buttercream frosting recipes! I’ve just made a test batch of both, and the cake came out fantastic! The buttercream is good but even though I sifted the powdered sugar, I can still detect a texture from the powdered sugar. Is this normal when it’s just been made and disappears after it’s set for a while? If not, do you know of reasons this may happen? Since it was a test batch, and I wasn’t fully prepared with fully softened butter, do you think that caused the textural problem? And what is the ideal temperature for the softened butter? Thank you!

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      So glad you like my white cake and the vanilla buttercream frosting. You should not be able to detect any texture from the powdered sugar after your frosting is made. You need to make sure your butter is fully softened before adding the powdered sugar to the butter so that the sugar will dissolve into the butter when you are mixing it. In my post for the frosting, I explain that I add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. After each cup of sugar is mixed in, I turn my stand mixer on the highest setting the will go. This incorporates air into the buttercream to thoroughly mix in the powdered sugar and to make it light and fluffy. My post on How to Soften Butter In a Pinch shows a picture of what the butter should look like after it is softened. You should be able to make a dent into the butter when pushed with your finger. Hope this helps!

  2. Do you know roughly how much I would need to make a two tier cake? Like if I would need to double or triple this recipe? 

      1. Hi there! If I were to make this recipe for your chocolate cupcakes, do I still half the this recipe? Or is 4.5 cups frosting the right amount?
        Thanks. C:

  3. Hi Robyn, I’m going to use this recipe to frost my son’s chocolate birthday cake. Do you have any experience in colouring this frosting? Would adding chocolate extract give it a chocolaty flavour? Many thanks!

    1. I wanted to ask , is it okay if I used coloring to make a birthday themed cake for my children? Like red and yellow ?? Or will the buttercream taste different

  4. This recipe is amazing!! It has the perfect amount of sweetness and is soo smooth!! Perfect for any cake or cupcakes!!

      1. Hey there,
        I have a question.. Do you think the recipe will be able to cover your Best Chocolate Cake recipe? I was planning on making the cake but I’m opting for a white or vanilla buttercream frosting instead of chocolate. From what I see, your Chocolate frosting looks like it requires more sugar and milk than the vanilla frosting recipe. I hope you understand my question.. and thank you on advance 🙂❤️

      2. The Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe should cover the chocolate cake, Zay. But if you like a lot of fluffy frosting on your cake, you can always double the recipe. Hope this helps.

  5. I just wanted to say how much I love your frosting recipe. It has become my “go -to” choice for frosting when I bake. I love your other recipes as well.

    Thanks again. Take care and stay safe! 😊

  6. Hi, so i am making a three layer 8″ round cake and i was wondering how much of each ingredient i should use.

    1. Hi Megan,
      When making a 3 layer cake, I usually double the recipe. You may have some frosting left over but you can always refrigerate it or freeze it to use later. If you refrigerate it, it’s good in the fridge for about 3 – 5 days. Just make sure you store it in an airtight container. If you want to freeze it, put in a freezer safe, airtight food storage container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use after freezing, remove from freezer and place it in the fridge overnight to thaw. Right before you get ready to frost your cake, allow the frosting to come to room temperature and mix it well again to make it fluffy before using. Hope this helps.

  7. If my mixer does not have a paddle attachment, will a regular beater work as well. Are there any specials instructions to do.

    1. Lia, I actually use milk most of the time when I make this. Since you only use a few tablespoons, I haven’t really been able to tell much difference when using either of the others. Hope you enjoy.

  8. hi this recipe was amazing and i’ve used it for so many cakes but i have one question, is it ok if i don’t add the heavy cream? because it tastes good without it but is it ok? will anything happen?

    1. I usually add milk instead of heavy cream to my buttercream frosting, Leila, so you can use that instead. I have just found that the frosting is too stiff and dense if you don’t add a little liquid such as milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half. Hope this helps!

    1. Kurt, I describe 2 tricks in my post that I use to get my frosting as white as possible. Look under the section How do you get your vanilla buttercream frosting so white? Hope this helps.

  9. Hi Robyn,
    Can you melt this recipe for pouring onto s cake? Other than losing its fluffiness, does it lose other characteristics?

    1. Robert, you would heat the buttercream frosting in the microwave at 10 second intervals until it is the consistency for pouring. The only characteristic it would lose is being a fluffy frosting.

    1. You can use a metal or wooden spoon and stir the frosting by hand. Mash the frosting against the side of the bowl to pop the bubbles, and stir until smooth. Make sure when you are mixing the frosting, that the butter is room temperature and you are using the paddle attachment on your mixer to prevent air bubbles.

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