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. 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!!! ????

    1. 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!

  1. 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!

  2. 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!


  3. 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 

    1. 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

    1. Hello,
      I’m wondering with the high speed mixing while adding the confectioners sugar, does the buttercream not split? That’s what I’m always worried about when making frosting and mixing at high speeds

      1. Jen,
        I have never had a problem with the buttercream splitting when I mix it at high speed. This makes the frosting more fluffy and also lightens the color.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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? 

    1. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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 

  13. 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. ????

  14. 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!

  15. 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! 

  16. I made another buttercream and then made this recipe to see if there was a difference to colour as I wanted a really white buttercream. I wish I could upload a photo to show how much whiter your recipe for icing is. Thanks heaps!

    1. Hi Jude,
      I personally would want more frosting for a 4 layer cake and would make extra. I can’t say exactly but you may want at least 2 recipe’s worth for a 4 layer cake. Enjoy! Thanks!

  17. I confess that I have yet to put this icing on the cake, but I have time to comment while the cake is cooling. I’m making this cake for my husband’s 73rd birthday, so you can surmise that I’ve made a lot of cakes. This Best Vamilla Cream Icing will top the Best Chocolate Cake.  The icing tastes delicious, and I have learned a few things in the making, such as using the paddle instead of the whisk and incorporating the confectioner sugar slowly then whipping 10 seconds on high each time. Wow! What a difference in texture. It’s like magic. I’m proud of this cake, and I’m sure everyone will love both the cake AND the icing. Thank you.

    1. Hi – The ingredients do need a great amount of whipping with the mixer. You could try with a hand mixer and you could mix by hand – just realize you will need to do a lot of mixing by hand to get to a light and fluffy consistency. Enjoy! Thanks!

  18. I replaced butter with smart balance, the frosting was very light and fluffy after initially making it so I left it in the fridge for a bit. When i frosted the cake with it and put it back into the fridge to harden a little I noticed the frosting had thinned out and turned very grainy. Not sure if this is because the cake was still warm or because of the smart balance. I also left out the salt and notified the that the smart balance made it a little more salty than I would’ve liked.  I also used low-fat milk rather than half and half. Still tasted pretty good though.

    1. Hi Shannon,
      I think the results you experienced could be because of not using butter when you made it.
      You also need to wait until the cake completely cools to frost it for the best results.
      Hope this helps. Thanks so much!

  19. This cake looks yummy! I would like to make it for my daughters birthday but the pattern I need has to be baked in a 9×13. Do you think it would work ok?

    1. Hi Laura,
      I’m not sure which cake you are asking about since this is commenting on the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. If you are asking about the Best White Cake, it makes a three layer cake using 9 inch round pans. I have not made this cake in a 9 x 13 pan. I hope this helps. Thanks!

      1. I just made this for cupcakes. It is fabulous! This will be the only frosting recipe I use from now on. Thank you for the great recipe.

  20. Use this one all the time!! My go to for cookies, cakes, brownies! Everyone loves it! Great balance between powdered sugar and butter and the salt gives it that extra depth.

  21. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Really delicious!  I just had to “clean” the bowl with a kitchen spoon to eat up any extra frosting!  This is so good and I’m sure to use it again and again. 

  22. I’ve never made burrercream with clear vanilla but need to do something about my off-white buttercream frosting from pure vanilla.  Here’s my question, could I use pure vanilla powder? It’s white and probably wouldn’t darken the frosting.  Thank you. 

  23. I am wondering if this frosting holds it’s shape well to be used to swirl the frosting up in a mound on cupcakes.  I am making 48 cupcakes for a baby shower.  Thanks!

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