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 for a few seconds so it’s creamy again.

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

223 Comments

  1. CAN this  frosting  be left out of the fridge for a day? Or does it have to be kept refrigerated? I’m trying to frost some cupcakes but they will have to spend the night out of the fridge but I notice it have heavy cream and I worry, they will be ruined tomorrow. Thanks

  2. I made a double batch last week and its the best cupcakes I ever made. I just made a quadruple batch yesterday!! Can I use milk instead of cream in the vanilla buttercream recipe?

  3. Simply the best vanilla butter cream frosting! Your instructions were spot on. Beating it on high for three minutes and the additional salt made this recipie unique. It’s  A keeper. Thank you!  Cynthia 

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. I made 422 cupcakes last term for a 10th anniversary celebration of a group that I run, and piped your buttercream into roses on top of each. There was not a single one left, and I saw many return-eaters! I make this all the time and have to run many kilometres to not look like a cupcake myself! But it’s soooooo worth it!

    1. Yep! Freeze for up to 2-3 months and thaw in the refrigerator. Before using, beat it for a few seconds so it’s creamy again.

  5. Hi Sally if I make this 2 days in advance and leave it in the fridge do I need to beat it again before I use it? Tks

    1. Yep! I recommend gel food coloring. Liquid food coloring is less concentrated; you usually need more of it to reach a desired shade. This can alter the texture of the frosting.

  6. Hi sally. I am one of ur new fans & absolutely love your work My question is even if I am following a recipe correctly, why do I feel little icing sugar crystals in the frosting? It’s not 100% smooth. Am I doing anything wrong or this is how buttercream icing is supposed to taste ?

    1. Hi Sumita! Thank you so much for visiting my website. If your frosting is completely smooth, try sifting the confectioners’ sugar a couple times before adding to the butter.

      1. I sift and put. It’s completely without any lumps. I personally find the frosting just fine but have got feedback that it tastes a bit as if sugar hasn’t mixed

  7. When you measure the powdered sugar, do you use the spoon and level technique or do you scoop it so its more packed? Also, if my frosting looks a little separated, do I need more powdered sugar? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kim! When making frosting, I usually just scoop the confectioners’ sugar out of the canister/bag. It’s not as imperative to be mega precise with something like buttercream. I suggest adding more confectioners’ sugar if you notice the buttercream is separating.

  8. Hi, I found the buttercream very sweet after 1 cup of icing sugar so I didn’t add any more. Is it supposed to be very sweet? And my frosting is a bit soft.

  9. Dear Sally,
    I love baking and your recipes are 100% sure success! I just have a problem while doing my frosting: for as much as I mix I keep feeling the granules of sugar in it. I use confectioners sugar of course but for some reason I can’t cream it with the other ingredients..did it ever happen to you? I am invited to a bbq this week end and I wanted to bring your fudgy brownies..with sprinkles of course! 🙂
    Thanks!

    1. Have you experimented with different brands of confectioners sugar? I have heard other readers say that some brands can do this. You can also try creaming the butter first (make sure it’s room temperature) and then slowly adding in the sugar. Hope this helps!

  10. I made the moist chocolate cupcakes today and frosted them with the vanilla buttercream frosting. Of course I had to taste test one completed cupcake and it was wonderful. Hope my group at church likes them tomorrow. I made two batches. One was regular size and the other mini. Will certainly be my go to recipe again.

  11. I’m using this frosting to decorate a cookie cake, how long would this frosting last unrefrigerated? Or would you recommend refrigerating the cookie cake?

  12. Hi Sally! I’m a huge fan of your recipes! Your blog is always my go-to! I see that you mentioned that this frosting pipes well; can it also be used to get a smooth frosting on a layer cake? Or should I add some shortening? Thanks!

  13. Hi Sally! My friend asked me to help her throw a DIY cupcake decorating birthday party for her 5-year-old daughter, and your blog was the first thing i thought of! 😉 Is this a good frosting recipe to use if i want a frosting that is stable/ not so runny? Also, can i add food coloring to make it more colorful and festive?

    1. Thank you for turning to my blog for the birthday party treat! This frosting is thick and pretty stable, awesome for decorating and holds food coloring well.
      By the way, a cupcake decorating party sounds SO fun!

  14. Hi Sally, let me just say one word DELECTABLE, these are the first cupcakes I’ve made that I didn’t have to change or add ingredients, they were so moist and the buttercream was so creamy, I did add a small drop of almond along with vanilla it just gives it a little oomph, I also added grated chocolate to the buttercream as I made the vanilla one this gave a cookies and cream look, love this recipe

  15. Hi, how many sugar cookies do you think one batch would frost? I’m planning on piping on the butter cream and adding chocolate chips to look like sunflowers!

    1. So pretty! Hard to say without knowing how large the cookies are, but I’d say this amount of frosting would frost 36-48 3-inch cookies.

  16. I was thinking of icing my pumpkin cookies with this – do you think I could add cinnamon to make it into a cinnamon buttercream? Would I need to do anything else except add a couple teaspoons of cinnamon to it?

  17. Hi Sally- I’m looking for a frosting for Christmas sugar cookies, roll-out cookie cutter type cookies. I prefer this type of frosting vs a royal icing type but wondering does this buttercream frosting crust or harden up? It wouldn’t be very thick but would it hold up to the cookies being packed & shipped do you think?

  18. Hello Sally I love your recipes. I have a question , can I pipe “grass” with this buttercream?w ill it hold the shape?
    Thank you .

  19. Love the recipe, but I am having a problem with confectioner sugar having a grainy taste to the icing. Do not know what I am doing wrong? Help!!

    1. I have this issue sometimes because I live in a warm, humid city – I find if I make the buttercream, refrigerate for a few hours and then beat it for a few minutes again before piping this problem is solved. Hope this helps!

  20. Coming back to this recipe yet again to make half a recipe for piped buttercream flowers for a birthday cake, and realized I have never left a comment!

    I use this frosting all the time. I actually do use it to frost Christmas cookies and find that it firms up just fine, just don’t let a lot of weight fall on the cookies and they stay looking great, I can even stack them! I gave it to my coworker who was looking for a new buttercream recipe, and she and her husband have given it rave reviews!

  21. I tried few times baking your lemon cupcakes and I love it. But combining the cupcake with this frosting is too sweet. I’m kinda not like very sweet food maybe that’s why. But my husband he likes sweet and he said the frosting is too sweet too. I made the frosting with the exact measurements as say and I only used 4 cups of powder sugar.

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