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

259 Comments

  1. Hello Sally,
    Do you make your own heavy cream with butter and milk. Or do you heavy whipping cream that comes in a pint size container in the milk section of grocery store?

    1. Hi Amy! I purchase the pints or quarts of heavy cream. You can use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (essentially the same thing).

  2. Just made this vanilla frosting to go onto sally’s funfetti cupcakes and it is melt in your mouth delicious and smooth like silk! Thank you so much for sharing ❤️

  3. Not sure if this posted already, sorry for the double if it has. I am making a 2 layer cake, how many layers will this cover? In general, I usually use one can of icing in the store for each layer, but want to make from scratch this time! Thanks!

    1. Hi Austin! This isn’t quite enough frosting for a 2 layer cake. I recommend using this quantity of vanilla buttercream: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/new-favorite-white-layer-cake/

      1. Thank you so much for the fast reply and the help, I appreciate it so much! 🙂 I am thinking of making a chocolate cake to go along with this frosting! Thanks again!

  4. How can I turn this into raspberry buttercream. I have jam and fresh berries but I’m not sure how it would not compromise the buttercream. Thank you!!

    1. Jam or fresh berries would compromise the frosting. Use Sally’s Strawberry Frosting recipe and replace the freeze dried strawberries with freeze dried raspberries. It’s an amazing frosting recipe.

    2. Hi sally, if I wanted to make it a pink or blue colored frosting, then would I need to add a few drops of food coloring or a few drops of gel food coloring, would it make a difference?

      1. Hi Yusra, I always use gel food coloring. You don’t need very much of it compared to the liquid, and it makes much brighter colors!

  5. Hi Sally!

    I’m interested in using this to frost your chocolate cake recipe. I’d like to make the cake the night before (to keep my stress levels down day of party), how should I store the frosted cake for optimal flavor? For future reference, how far ahead could I make it the frosted cake?

    1. You can keep the frosted cake covered at room temperature overnight. Longer than that you can keep it covered in the refrigerator but bring back to room temperature before serving!

  6. Hey Sally
    I was wondering if it was possible to change the heavy cream with milk I live with my parents and they don’t have everything ready I can’t drive so I can’t pick up stuff often

    1. Hi Esther! You can try a vegan “butter” stick (Earth Balance has a nice product) and nondairy milk or even coconut cream.

  7. Hello Sally! I’m excited to try this recipe for a pull apart cupcake cake I’m making, but I need the frosting a pretty shade of pink. Would I just add a pink gel food coloring to the frosting or is there more to it?? Thank you!

    1. I love the taste of this frosting, but for some reason mine keeps coming out runny. I’ve tried making it twice and both times I’m getting the same effect. I’m sure it’s me doing something wrong, I’ve tried fixing it but nothing seems to be working. ☹️

      1. Hi Ali! It’s possible your butter is too warm. It’s imperative that the butter is cool at room temperature, not warm or melted in the slightest. This is cooler than you think! See room temperature butter for more information.

  8. Hi! If I wanted to change the flavor to almond, how much almond extract do I use?
    And do I combine with the vanilla extract? Thank you for your awesome recipes!

  9. Hi Sally,

    If I wanted to make this frosting the night before I frost cupcakes, will sprinkles still stick to the frosting? Sometimes the frosting seems hardened a little when it sits overnight in the fridge.

    Thanks!

  10. Hi Sally,
    First of all, I want to thank you for the many recipes shared! My family absolutely loved everything I made based off your recipes.

    Today I decided to take the plunge into the buttercream world. I followed your vanilla buttercream recipe by half due to limited ingredients. Initially, I put in only 1 cup of confectioners sugar (my family can’t take too much sugar) and noticed that it wasn’t becoming creamy but grainy instead. So I added on more sugar and it started to form, though not to the level that I envisioned. Is this theory correct – The sugar will form a better texture with the butter at the right proportion? The second thing I noticed was that the buttercream didn’t turn out as pale/white like yours pictured, why is this so? Mine turned out like the usual pale yellowish butter colour.

    Would really appreciate your advise. Thanks a million Sally!

    1. Hi Jessica! Happy to help. In order to reach that creamy and smooth consistency, you need enough confectioners’ sugar to soak up the butter and liquid. That’s why there is usually so much sugar in frosting. It’s not only for sweetening. The color of vanilla buttercream depends on how yellow the butter is and this varies by region and brand. If you’d like a stark white buttercream, mix in a TINY TINY TINY drop (literally the smallest dot of a drip!) of purple food coloring into the frosting. This will “clear” out any of that yellow.

      1. Thanks very much Sally for the confirmation and the tip, I’ll give it a go with colouring.

  11. I would like to make your moist chocolate cupcakes and use this vanilla buttercream to frost them (sounds so yummy). We plan to go camping with friends to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. Anyway I can make and frost the cupcakes ahead of time? I will have room in the cooler if that helps!

  12. OMGosh….! So easy and delicious. Not “overly” sweet and certainly not gritty. Light, fluffy, simply perfect!
    I was so impressed with how easy it was to spread and it piped like a dream.
    I will use this recipe again and agin. Thank you so much for gifting this delight!

  13. This recipe is unbeatable!! Personally, I struggle with vanilla icing that doesn’t taste like pure butter. This was light, fluffy, and so delicious! I added a tiny bit of lemon juice because I was making the Sally’s lemon cupcakes (unreal) and I also did a tiny bit of cream of tartar.

    This is my go-to buttercream from now on and was a huge hit! Thank you!

  14. Hi Sally!
    I was wondering if I can substitute heavy cream with fresh cream and confectioners sugar with powdered sugar?

  15. Hello Sally,
    I’m making a 9×13 cake, will this recipe be the perfect amount to frost and do a border on the cake or should I up the amount some?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Amy! As long as you don’t go heavy with the frosting spread on the cake, this will be enough to frost it, plus add a piped border around the edge.

  16. Hi Sally,

    Thank you fir sharing all your great recipes. So, I made this , oh, so yummy buttercream and wanted to eat it all at once . The next day it was hard. I’m assuming the butter? Any other frosting that doesn’t have the same effect? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Teresa! So happy you love this recipe 🙂 When that happens, whip it again with your mixer- you might need to add a little splash of milk!

  17. This tastes awesome. But everytime I make it it curdles. It is warm in our house but I can’t seem to get it right.

  18. Hi Sally. I am planning to use this for my son’s birthday cake but I want to prep in advance as I am a bit nervous bringing together an airport cake! How far in advance do you think I can make the frosting and do I keep it in the fridge? And how far in advance can I start putting the cake together and how can I preserve it best?
    Thank you

    1. You can 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. You can frost the cake and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours so you can decorate it the day before his birthday!

  19. Hey Sally, made the white cupcakes and the vanilla buttercream, with sprinkles, for my good friend’s daughter, also made with gluten free flour, they look great, hope they taste good! Will let you know!
    Thanks Buddy Snipes

  20. Hey Sally, yes they turned out great! I am not sure if they are quite as light as using regular flour, I will make another batch, with regular flour and give you more input. Thanks for your other note about other GF recipes!
    Buddy

    1. Not at all! Make sure to use the gel food coloring so that you don’t need to add as much as the liquid for brighter colors! Enjoy!

  21. Hi Sally! To rid the icing of air bubbles do I mix it with a wooden spoon the whole time (completely ditch the mixer) or do I mix it all together with the mixer and the mix by hand? Thank you!!

    1. I always use a mixer as it’s very difficult to cream the butter and sugar together by hand. If you whip the frosting too quickly it can get air bubbles – instead mix slowly and for longer.

  22. This frosting is perfect! I received several compliments on the taste and texture; it piped VERY nicely. I followed the recipe as written, though I made a double batch. I especially appreciate the questions and comments listed below the recipe, I learned several helpful things. Thank you!

  23. Un-be-lievable! We almost ate the entire bowl of frosting right out of the mixer. Some of it actually got to the cupcakes. Will totally make this again. We went a little thicker than your recipe wanted.

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