Favorite Vanilla Buttercream

A staple in any baker’s kitchen, vanilla buttercream is deliciously soft, creamy, and sweet. My favorite vanilla buttercream recipe is simple to make and is easily piped onto cakes and cupcakes for a truly memorable dessert.

Deliciously soft, creamy, and easy PERFECT vanilla buttercream recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Finally! A completely separate post for the most common recipe in any baker’s repertoire: vanilla buttercream. This is my favorite vanilla buttercream recipe. There’s nothing fancy, crazy, or complicated about it, but the flavor and texture will certainly taste like you added something special.

But guess what? You didn’t. It’s our little secret.

How to Make Vanilla Buttercream

American vanilla buttercream is incredibly simple. From mixing bowl to decorating cupcakes in less than 10 minutes! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Beat butter until creamy. Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature before beginning. Use a hand or stand mixer to beat until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add sugar, cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until these ingredients are incorporated, then bump up the mixer to medium-high speed. At this point, you can add more confectioners’ sugar if the frosting is too thin or a splash of heavy cream if it’s too thick.
  3. Taste and salt. Add a pinch of salt to offset the sweetness. Trust me on this one!

Vanilla buttercream on cupcakes

Buttercream Ingredients

Buttercream ingredients hardly differ between recipes, but the ratio of ingredients does vary. I’m here to tell you that this careful buttercream formula works EVERY time– my recipe is perfection.

  1. Butter: We can’t have buttercream without butter. Though salted is fine, I recommend using unsalted butter so you can control the added salt. Whichever you use, make sure the butter is at proper room temperature.
  2. Confectioners’ Sugar: Sweetens vanilla buttercream and adds stability and pipe-ability to the frosting.
  3. Heavy Cream: Though whole milk or half-and-half are perfectly acceptable, use heavy cream for maximum creaminess and richness.
  4. Pure Vanilla Extract: Adds that glorious vanilla flavor. And if you use homemade vanilla extract, even better. 🙂
  5. Salt: Offsets the sweetness and adds that little something extra.

Decorating with Buttercream

The word “creamy” doesn’t even do this stuff justice. But even though it’s supremely creamy, this vanilla buttercream holds its shape beautifully. It’s perfect for piping even the most complicated and intricate designs. When decorating cakes and cupcakes, I gravitate towards the following 5 piping tips. Each creates a completely different look, so that’s why it’s a great collection if you’re just starting out. And these tips won’t break the bank– they’re each pretty inexpensive.

  1. Wilton 1M (Rose) – a classic piping tip and the easy buttercream rose is a staple decoration. This same tip can also produce a decoration that resembles soft serve ice cream.
  2. Wilton 8B – one of my all-time favorites.
  3. Ateco 849 – it’s a pretty wide piping tip. You can make a rose, a soft-serve swirl, or a super easy ruffled look.
  4. Wilton 12 small round – since it doesn’t have any detailed edges, I love using this tip for silky creamy frostings such as salted caramel frosting and cream cheese frosting.
  5. Ateco 808 large round – it’s also a round tip, but it’s much larger. Its decoration looks like a big fluffy cloud!

Want to see how to decorate cupcakes? That video is right here!

frosting with piping tips

How to Rid Vanilla Buttercream of Air Bubbles

Over-whipping vanilla buttercream creates air bubbles. The taste is no different, but the buttercream is no longer smooth and velvet-y. Here’s how to get rid of air bubbles in your frosting:

Ditch the mixer. Grab a wooden or metal spoon and begin stirring the buttercream by hand. Mash the frosting up against the side of the bowl to “pop” the bubbles. Do this until most of the air bubbles pop, about 1-2 minutes. This trick requires a lot of arm muscle!

vanilla buttercream

Ways to Use Vanilla Buttercream

I’ve used this vanilla buttercream more times than I can even fathom, but I love it most paired with chocolate cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes. If you scale it up (slightly) you can use it to frost a layered cake, like I do with my white layer cake recipe. If you add slightly more heavy cream, you can use this as the base for whipped buttercream, as I recommend with my vanilla sheet cake. It also tastes delicious with:

By the way, if you make my homemade vanilla extract, this buttercream tastes even more fantastic. 🙂

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Vanilla buttercream on cupcakes

Favorite Vanilla Buttercream

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2.5 cups
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: No Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is my favorite vanilla buttercream. It’s the perfect vanilla frosting that’s simple, creamy and smooth and tastes unbelievable on vanilla cupcakes!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add 1/8 teaspoon salt.)
  2. Use immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. Adding a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the thawed frosting out again, if needed.

Notes

  1. Quantity: This recipe is enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes or one 9×13 quarter sheet cake. Follow these ratios for a 2 layer cake and these ratios for a 3 layer cake.

And here is my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe!

Deliciously soft, creamy, silky, and easy PERFECT chocolate buttercream recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deliciously soft, creamy, and easy PERFECT vanilla buttercream recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

254 Comments

  1. I have been using this recipe for years! I have used it for weddings and engagement parties. This is my go to. I add more than a pinch of salt, 2 sometimes 3. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  2. Hi Sally,
    I love your other recipes, but this one wasn’t for me. The texture was amazing, but it was just too sweet for us. I tried to cut it with salt and finally a bit of lemon juice (which helped). Lol, maybe I’ll just use your chocolate for everything from now on. It’s so, so, so good!!

  3. First of all you’re a super star!
    My son and daughter have the same birthday one year apart, we have a pretty big shindig to celebrate. Of course, there is always cake…. (I love your Vanilla Cake YUM!) and it will need frosting.

    I immediately looked up your frosting recipes.
    Your Vanilla Frosting is utter perfection.
    Absolutely not one bit of grittiness at all!
    I had more than enough for both layers of the cake. It spreads easily.
    I love everything I have made from the recipes I receive by email. They always turns out splendidly. My Christmas presents are going to be easy this year…. all of your cookbooks!
    BTW reviews at my house on the Frosted Birthday Cake…. “Not one slice of cake was left and everyone said it tasted better than some of the local Bakery’s.”
    High praise indeed!
    Thanks Sally for making all my baking dreams a reality!
    Always,
    Maggie

  4. Love all of your recipes and cookbooks (have all of them). I have made your vanilla cupcake recipe over and over. My question is my fancy Wilton decorating set does not have the tip you used for your demonstration. Is there an equivalent number? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lisa, the Wilton 1M is the tip I use most often but if you look up in the blog post above there is a numbered list (1-5) of the tips and numbers I use most frequently.

  5. Beautiful, silky buttercream! It’s a dream to pipe. I made a 9 inch 3-tiered cake so I doubled the recipe but didn’t have enough to pipe my rosettes so I made another half recipe and I just barely had enough. It was delicious, but as is normal with homemade buttercream, it was unbelievably sweet. Everyone said my cake was beautiful and VERY sweet. To which I replied, “Cake is supposed to be sweet.” Because it is, and I ate all my frosting, but pretty much everyone else left it on their plates, which is kind of painful to see, because it’s the most difficult, expensive and time-consuming part of cakemaking. Kind of feel like that 5$ in butter I spent ultimately wound up in the trash.. that being said, do you have any frosting recipes that are less sweet? Is swiss meringue less sweet? I would be willing to go through all that trouble just to make a frosting everyone would enjoy!

    1. Most people do find that Swiss Meringue buttercream (which uses egg whites) is not as sweet as American buttercream. It’s 100% your personal preference which one you like to work with and there are many recipes for it online (I don’t have one yet!). If you still like to use this buttercream recipe you can add a pinch more salt to cut the sweetness.

      1. Thank you so much! I woll definifely give that a try and I’ll be on the lookout for when you do upload a recipe for it 😉 not one of your recipes have ever failed me!

  6. Hi Sally!
    Would sifting the powdered sugar (after weighing/measuring of course) either hurt or help the final outcome, such as consistency-wise?
    Thank you for all of your amazing recipes and information btw, I have enjoyed trying and learning so many new things since discovering your site! :o)

    1. It can’t hurt! I usually don’t find it necessary because most brands I use do not clump, but depending on the brand of powdered sugar you are using if you are finding that your frosting is clumping or grainy in texture then try sifting.

  7. Hi! I’m looking to make this icing recipe for soft baked sugar cookies! But wanted to put a hint of lemon extract in it. I’ve heard lemon buttercream goes amazing with a soft baked sugar cookie! I’m not wanting a strong lemon, just a nice hint of a creamy vanilla/lemon flavor. What do you recommend for amount? Would i still add some vanilla along with the lemon? I’m using Watkins flavoring. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Ashlee, This is my favorite recipe for soft baked sugar cookies: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/soft-cakey-sugar-cookies/ and in it I link to my lemon buttercream (https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/lemon-buttercream-frosting/) as an optional frosting!

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