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.

Print Recipe
4.71 from 86 votes

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

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.

 

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

 

406 comments on “Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe”

  1. I’ve been searching for a different buttercream frosting. I used your recipe yesterday for my daughter’s birthday cake. OMG this is the most fluffy and deelish frosting ever! Not greasy tasting like some buttercreams. I think the beating on high after every addition of sugar is the key. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

    Robin, I can’t thank you enough!

  2. Hello,

    Does it hold up well for decorating? I want to do a basket weave decoration on the cake for Easter. Thanks!

  3. What size cake would this cover? I am making a 9in four layer cake for Easter and wondered if this should cover it, or if I should double? We don’t do thick amounts of frosting, since it will be decorated with wafer grass, but still wanted to have enough. Thanks so much! 😀

  4. can you used buttermilk?

  5. Do you use salted butter for the buttercream icing?

  6. Should unsalted or salted butter be used for this recipe?

  7. I just made your chocolate buttercream frosting about an hour ago, and it’s fabulous! Perfect directions, and tastes delicious. I made a large cake and there are only a few of us here, so I know it won’t get eaten right away. Does it need to be refrigerated?

  8. How many cupcakes would this cover?

    • I’ve found it can cover about 24 cupcakes with a fairly generous amount of frosting when piped, and if done with an offset spatula, leaves a bit left over.

    • I just made this recipe using 4 cups of confectioners sugar and had leftover icing after icing 24 cupcakes. I would guess there’s enough for 5 or 6 more.

  9. Hello! This recipe looks fab, but I work on UK measurements! How much is a cup of butter? Thank you!
    Sophie
    X

    • Converting the recipe to UK metric:

      250 grams butter
      500 grams icing sugar
      10 ml vanilla extract
      30 – 45 ml milk

      The amount of icing sugar may need to be adjusted up or down to get the desired consistency, but 2 to 1 sugar to butter is a good starting point.

  10. How warm/cold should the milk be? I want to make earl gray and lavendar frosting and am wondering if I could heat the milk up to absorb the tea flavour better. Should I let it cool to around room temperature or chill it in the fridge?

    Also every time I have made buttercream frosting it gets chunky and the butter doesnt mix properly in with the other ingredients. Is the butter too cold? Am I overmixing??

    • Your butter should be softened to room temperature and your milk/ cream can warmed to absorb the flavor and then cooled completely. Make sure that it doesn’t have any heat remaining in the milk or the frosting won’t come together and hold properly.

  11. Hi

    I came across your vanilla frosting since I am looking for one to cover a cake that I want to bake for my son’s birthday. It will have a firetruck shape so I wonder if this is thick enough?

    Also can I add food coloring?

    Thank you in advance

    Regards

    Vanessa

    • Hi Vanessa,
      I think this frosting will work perfectly. It is thick and covers well and works perfectly with coloring. I would recommend using gel coloring so as not to add much additional moisture to the frosting. Happy birthday to your son!

      • Hi Robyn

        Thank you ever so much for replying and for the birthday wishes.

        That’s wonderful to know. I don’t want to use the supermarket ones because of the artificial taste so I will surely use yours.

        Thanks for the tip on the gel coloring as well.

      • Sorry Robyn

        I forgot to ask. Because I’m in the UK I’m not sure if 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar is the same amount as in the US? My cup is roughly 250ml? I would assume it’s the same but can you just confirm?
        Thanks again

  12. Hey,
    This looks great! I do have a question though… Is this recipe really buttery? What I mean is, is it a sweet suger frosting or heavy duty butter taste to it…? Would love an answer… Thanks you!! =)

  13. do you have to use a paddle attachment?

  14. Hi,
    Can’t wait to try your icing. I was wondering if since you are using cream, do you need to keep the cake refridgerated or will it be fine on the counter? Also, I generally have some icing left over, can I freeze the extra for another time?

  15. This looks great, I’m going to try it for my son’s first birthday cake this weekend. Do you think frosting it the night before will be okay? I have a cake stand with cover. If so, should I keep it on counter or in fridge over night? (sorry this might be silly question- I don’t have a lot of baking experience!)

  16. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes for both cake and frosting. They are easy and always yield great results especially for someone like me who is new to baking from scratch. It was such a treat for my parents on their 25th anniversary!

  17. Hi there! I’m planning to use this recipe for my cupcakes. I’m just wondering if making it double would cover 72 cupcakes? They are not regular sized cupcakes though, not minis either. I think somewhere in between. Maybe 1.5oz, not sure. Thanks in advance. Great recipe, btw! (:

  18. it is perfect I just gave it a try, thank you 🙂

  19. Is this a really sweet recipe?

  20. Can I use this frosting and add food coloring if I’m making a kids’ birthday cake? Specifically, I’m trying to make a superman cake, so I’ll need blue, red and yellow frosting 🙂 I want a frosting that’s somewhat firm but good tasting. Thank you!!

  21. Can we use fine sugar ???

    • Confectioners sugar and fine sugar are completely different. Because confectioners sugar is powder it sort of absorbs the butter, which is how it thickens and makes it icing. Fine sugar would just give you really sweet and gritty butter. Lol. Hope I’m not too late with this info for you.

  22. Hey Robyn,
    I made this icing and put it on cupcakes made from Betty Crocker white cake mix for our July 4th Barbecue. They were wonderful and they are gone! what a great, easy icing recipe. I did add Almond extract to the cake and icing. Thank you for such wonderful recipes!

  23. I have a 600 watt Kitchenaid mixer. I’m wondering if the mixer you used is the same wattage? I just worry about my highest setting differing than what you used, as I don’t want frosting flung all over the kitchen. Just wanted to be sure before I use this recipe.

    • Hi Jesi,
      I’ve used different wattages of mixers to make my buttercream. I would recommend gradually increasing the speed until you feel comfortable that it is mixing at a high enough speed without flinging contents all over the place 🙂

  24. Hi, since the butter cream recipe no longer comes with the chocolate cupcake recipe what would the measurements be for 12 cupcakes?

  25. what if it’s too runny what do i do
    can i use cornflour

  26. This buttercream is amazing! My daughter wanted cotton candy icing, so I bought some really good cotton candy flavouring. I substituted the vanilla for 3/4 of a teaspoon of flavouring. It turned out incredible! It’s so fluffy and white, which is perfect as we are using gel colouring to colour the icing, so this won’t change the colours at all. This will be q staple buttercream in my recipe book now.

  27. I didn’t have a paddle attachment for my mixer, so I was deciding to use a whisk attachment or do it by hand. I decided to do it by hand with a paddle, while i made the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting with the whisk attachment. The Chocolate Buttercream turned out so much better! I added extra powdered sugar to make the Vanilla Buttercream thicker, but should i do anything else to make my frosting fluffy, yet thick? Should I go over it with a whisk attachment on the mixer? I need to know by tomorrow.

    • I haven’t made this recipe,but I find that if I whisk a little whipping cream into stiff peaks and fold it in, it makes for a fluffier frosting.

  28. Hi. I love this recipe and your cake recipe. I’m making both for my daughter’s first birthday party next weekend. However, there is a lot of preparation I all have to do. If I make this two days ahead of time, would it still be easily spread of I keep it in the fridge the whole time. I’m making a two layer 9 in round cake with a 6 in round layer on top for the smash cake and about 50 cupcakes. I’m planning to make three batches of the cake batter and three batches of the icing, making each batch of icing a different color. But I’m worried the time in the fridge might alter the consistency with the gel food coloring in our alert the vibrance of the color. Any thoughts?

  29. I tried your white cake and it was so perfect! big hit 🙂 can I use this buttercream recipe to do a frozen buttercream transfer? I keep reading that you need a buttercream that is half butter, half shortening to do the transfer. I’m just wondering if this one being all butter would work or it wouldn’t freeze?

  30. This looks and sounds absolutely Devine! And heavenly… Thanks so much for sharing it with us and I look forward to an amazing & beautiful cake!

  31. Great icing!

  32. My daughter is having a “cupcake wars party” If I make the frosting the night before and put it in piping tubes for the girls to use in decorating, should I make it the day of or can I do it the night before (which is what I would prefer to do)?

  33. I have two questions
    Is this Icing stable enough to pipe? and I find buttercream frostings to become stiff over time, does this icing do that?

  34. Do you have any tips for making this frosting ‘by hand’? i I don’t have the mixing equipment you describe 🙁

  35. Does this cake need to be Refrigerated?

  36. Can I use grinded sugar instead? And what if I want to make half? Do I divide all ingredients to ½?
    Also, can I just add cream instead of milk?

  37. The taste and the consistency were wonderful! The colour wasn’t completely white but it was O.k! It was a great recipe overall and I’m going to use it again 🙂

  38. This was great and so easy! Thanks for the recipe and detailed instructions. I only used 2 cups of sugar and added about a tablespoon of cream cheese because I like the little bit of complexity it adds to the taste.

  39. Is this frosting possible to make by hand (without a mixer)? I have a balloon whisk and a rubber spatula.

    • Hi Elyssa,
      It is possible to do with a whole lot of arm work! An electric mixer definitely makes it easier if you have access to one, but it is definitely possible without.

  40. It’s in the oven now – I let my 11 year old try some of the raw batter and I heard him whisper “that is so good”. Now to pick which buttercream recipe to use!

    Thank you for this recipe; I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite!

  41. Hi Robyn!
    I didn’t have powdered sugar so I blended sugar. It came out fluffy and I thought ok. But my butter cream frosting turned out very grainy. I felt like I was biting into the sugar.
    Is it because of the sugar I made or is there any other reason you can think of?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Danny,
      Yes, it is because of the sugar. Try it next time with the powdered sugar and you’ll be able to see a remarkable difference.

  42. Hi Robyn!
    I forgot to ask you one more question. I need to make a lot of frosting. Is it ok to double this recipe? Will it work out just as good?
    Thanks!

  43. Can you tell me what butter you use please ?

  44. I’ve used this recipe many times and have loved it every time. I most often use the white cake recipe with the white buttercream but the strawberry buttercream is amazing and the chocolate buttercream is perfect. It’s hard to get a good tasting chocolate frosting but this is a hit!
    The cake is welcomed at all our family functions. Tomorrow I’m trying it in a 3D bunny mold for my son 3rd birthday which we are celebrating at Easter(the same one that was for my 3rd birthday). I’ll try to shoot a photo of it IF comes out decent.
    Anyway. Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe.
    I appreciate it. Happy Easter!!

  45. Just made the white cake and classic buttercream for my brother in law since my daughter wanted to do something nice for uncle make:) amZing!!!!

  46. Does the icing recipe need to be doubled for the 3 Layer cake!

    • Hi Melissa,
      If you like thick frosting on your cakes, I would recommend increasing the recipe another 1/2. That will give you plenty for in between the layers and still have a thick, fluffy frosting on the outside of the cake as well! I hope you enjoy it!

  47. How far in advance can one make any of the buttercream recipes?

  48. Hello!
    How well does this refrigerate? I volunteered on a whim to make the wedding cake for a coworker’s wedding, which is on Tuesday, so if I make this on Sunday, will it stay alright? Should I wait until Monday evening? What about an assembly timeline? I’m using your best white cake recipe, too!
    Even more excited for this project after finding your site and recipes. Thanks!

  49. I made this recipe but it tastes far too much like butter. I added more vanilla, sugar and cream and still tastes just like butter please help.

  50. Hi Robyn, thanks for sharing your buttercream recipe.
    Can I please clarify – 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk, heavy cream. Do you mean 2 to 3 tablespoons of either milk or heavy cream? Or you can add 2 tablespoons milk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream? Also, I am making a 10 inch and 5 1/2 inch cake, 2 tiers, if I double your ingredients, will that be sufficient to cover both cakes? Thanks Kaza

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