This Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe is perfect for beginning bakers and pro bakers alike! The fluffy, creamy frosting is great for decorating your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.
There's something undeniably delightful about a cake or cupcake topped with a generous swirl of smooth and fluffy homemade buttercream frosting.
Whether you're a baking novice or an experienced home chef, mastering the art of making a classic vanilla buttercream frosting is a skill that will elevate your sweet treats to new heights.
And this, my friends, is my favorite frosting. I mean, I love making this cream cheese frosting, too. But this vanilla buttercream is my Go To frosting recipe!
This foolproof, easy vanilla buttercream recipe is sure to become a staple in your baking repertoire, too. So get ready to create delicious and beautiful desserts that will leave everyone wanting more. Enjoy!
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Easy: The buttercream recipe is easy enough for very beginning bakers to make on their own. I've included step-by-step photos here to make it even easier.
- Simple ingredients: This recipe uses simple pantry ingredients that you probably already have in your house.
- 4 ingredient recipe: You only need four ingredients to make this frosting!
- Insanely delicious: You will fall in love with how creamy, fluffy, and oh so delicious this frosting is! It is SO much better than store-bought frosting!
- Versatile: Use this frosting for decorating cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and more. This vanilla buttercream is an excellent base to use for other frosting flavors and colors too!
🛒 Ingredient notes
- Powdered sugar - You'll need at least 4 cups of powdered sugar, also known as confectioners sugar. You may need more if you prefer thicker frosting. I usually sift my powdered sugar before adding it to the butter, which helps create a smoother, creamier frosting. But you can easily skip that step and just beat the butter and sugar together for a little longer.
- Softened butter - Be sure to use unsalted butter for this frosting recipe. You'll want to take the butter out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you start baking, to let it soften up. It should be soft enough to leave an indentation when you gently press your thumb into it, but not too soft that it's on the verge of melting.
- Vanilla - Use a qood quality vanilla extract - look for "pure vanilla extract" - for the best flavor.
- Heavy cream - Start with two tablespoons of heavy cream but add more as needed if you want to thin out the frosting a bit. You can substitute any milk or nondairy milk if you prefer.
Optional: I usually add a pinch of salt to the frosting, to help balance out the sweetness.
✅ Step-by-step instructions
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer by hand), beat the butter until smooth and creamy. This takes about 3-4 minutes.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat with the butter until the sugar is completely incorporated and the mix is light and fluffy. This can take another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream. If you would like, add a pinch of salt now too. Beat together for another 1-2 minutes until the frosting is light, creamy, and has a fluffy consistency. At this point, you can assess the consistency of the frosting. If it's too thick, add another tablespoon of cream or milk and mix until desired consistency is reached. If it's too thin, add a little bit of powdered sugar and beat together until you reach the desired consistency.
👩🏻🍳 Recipe FAQs
This recipe makes a classic American buttercream frosting.
The most popular types of buttercream are American buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, French buttercream, Italian meringue buttercream, and German buttercream.
Store frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days. When you are ready to use, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature so that it's soft and easy to pipe through a piping bag.
🍽 Frosting ideas
Apply this easy vanilla buttercream frosting generously to your favorite cakes, cupcakes, or cookies. And et your imagination run wild with decorative designs!
- Add food coloring to create different colored frosting. I prefer to use gel food coloring because unlike liquid food coloring, gel doesn't thin out the frosting. You can go wild with different colors!
- Switch up the flavors by adding different ingredients. You can make lemon buttercream frosting, cinnamon buttercream frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting, and more!
- Spread a layer of this yummy frosting over sugar cookies, or in between two cookies to make a cookie sandwich!
- This is the best buttercream frosting that's perfect for decorating layer cakes.
🍳 Kitchen tools and equipment
Ready to make the best vanilla buttercream frosting ever? You'll need a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a large mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer.
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Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer -- or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer -- beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Beat in the powdered sugar until incorporated.
- Then add the heavy cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
- If the frosting is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more heavy cream, one teaspoon at a time.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip to frost your dessert.
Nutrition information is a general estimate. Actual nutrition details may vary depending on the exact foods & brands you use to make this recipe. It does not take into account any substitutions, toppings, or optional ingredients.