Vanilla Buttercream

vanilla buttercream recipe

This is the best buttercream around if I-do-say-so-myself. Sweet, rich, light and fluffy. It is my go to frosting recipe. I use it for cakes, cupcakes, decorating, whenever I need a frosting, this is the recipe that I use. It is a basic recipe that can be tweaked and flavored in a thousand different ways. You can replace some of the butter with cream cheese to make it a cream cheese frosting. You can add lemon zest and a little lemon juice to make a nice lemon frosting. You can also add about 1/2 cup of cocoa to make this a chocolate buttercream. See, infinite possibilities.

When I am making this for a cake, or a lot of cupcakes, I double the recipe. I would rather have extra frosting than have to make another batch in the middle of icing a cake. I have done it more times than I would like to admit.

vanilla buttercream recipe2 sticks room temperature butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream

vanilla buttercream recipeCream the butter until it is really light and fluffy. At least 3 minutes.

vanilla buttercream recipeGradually add the sugar. I add about 1/2 cup at a time. If you add too much you will be wearing it. So will your counters. And your ceiling.

vanilla buttercream recipeIt will be pretty thick.

vanilla buttercream recipeAdd the vanilla or whatever flavoring you are using.

vanilla buttercream recipeThis is what I think sets this buttercream apart. The cream. Add 2 Tablespoons of cream and beat the frosting for a few minutes. If the frosting it too thick, add a little more cream until you get the consistency that you like.

vanilla buttercream recipeIf I have a big cake making day, I will make this a day ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge. I hope that you like this buttercream as much as I do.

Yield: makes 6 cups

Vanilla Buttercream

Vanilla Buttercream
Fluffy American Style Buttercream - This vanilla buttercream can be flavored into any flavor your like. But I think that it is perfect as is.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks room temperature butter
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter until it is really light and fluffy. At least 3 minutes.
  2. Gradually add the sugar. I add about 1/2 cup at a time. If you add too much you will be wearing it. So will your counters. And your ceiling.
  3. It will be pretty thick.
  4. Add the vanilla or whatever flavoring you are using.
  5. Add 2 Tablespoons of cream and beat the frosting for a few minutes. If the frosting it too thick, add a little more cream until you get the consistency that you like.

Nutrition Information:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0 Total Fat: 0g

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107 Comments

  • Oooh this looks like a perfect recipe! Great for so many things…! And we definitely double frosting recipes a lot…for frosting things…and you know, quality control…

    Reply
    • This is my favorite and the one that I now base all other frostings on. You can do so many things with it.

      Reply
  • This frosting looks perfect. I do have a question though, the butter. You say two sticks, but the butter you are using looks smaller then the sticks available at my supermarket. Would that be 1 cup of butter or 1/2 cup? Im still looking for a flavorful frosting and this one looks light and fluffy and I like the addition of the cream. thanks.

    Reply
  • Hi Bree!

    I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I enjoy your blog – I visit on a regular basis. 🙂

    Those cupcakes look so beautiful. Nicely done!

    Reply
    • Thank you Shannon! I appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment. I love it!

      Reply
  • Yeah, I’m a frosting-doubler myself. Even if there’s only the slightest doubt I may not have enough.

    Hey, if I add the 1/2 cup of cocoa you mentioned, would I then need to add some extra cream? Or extra butter?

    Reply
    • No, I made chocolate the next day and I just added 1/2 cup of cocoa and only added 2 1/2 cups of 10x sugar.

      Reply
  • Hey! I was just looking through your site and im so inspired! I was wondering, have you ever posted a list of essential pantry items to keep in stock in the kitchen? As I was searching through your site, I thought it would be great if there were a list of the cooking basics so that I can print and take it with me to the grocery store or just to see what I should always have around for any quick meals or last minute (guests coming over unexpectedly!) baking 🙂

    Reply
  • looks great…how much cream cheese would you add if doing a cream cheese frosting and how much butter?

    Reply
    • I would probably do I stick of butter and 1 stick of cream cheese. You could replace all of the butter with cream cheese too. It is your preference.

      Reply
  • This recipe looks amazing! BTW, with all the hustle and bustle going on at the blog conference today and having to leave early, I didn’t get a chance to come say hello and that I think your blog is awesome and your kids are simply adorable! 🙂 Marie

    Reply
    • Thank you Marie. Yes, those events are hard to get to everyone, but I love them for this exact reason. Comments from other food bloggers. I now have even more blogs to read. 🙂

      Reply
  • This is EXACTLY what I was looking for today to frost our “SPOOKY” cupcakes. If you don’t mind, I’d love to know how you got that beautiful swirl of color in the frosting on the 1st photo of the post. It looks like cupcake cones? They are just gorgeous!!

    Reply
    • It is easy really. I scattered a few drops of food coloring in my frosting and then gently folded it in. You want to mix it as little as possible. Then I put it in the piping bag and it makes it own swirls. They are cupcake cones and they will featured soon!

      Reply
  • i just made this icing and it is amazing! i have been searching for “the right one” and this one is it! thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Made the cupcake cones with this frosting and oh my goodness I’m embarrassed to admit how much frosting I’ve eaten today. YUMMY!!! Thank you Bree!

    Reply
  • This one is perfect for some chocolate cupcakes or some pumpkin cupcakes. But my kids love it most with chocolate chips cookies. Vanilla and chocolate combination is truly the best for them. Thanks for this yummy recipe of yours. I will have to make this later and fridge it so that by weekend my kids will be surprised for their baking bonding.

    Reply
  • Hi!
    I just stumbled across your blog while on a friend’s blog and I love this! I can’t wait to try this frosting on my next batch of cupcakes! I have a question though, do you need to keep this one in the fridge because of the cream or can the frosted cupcakes be left out on the counter?

    Reply
  • Those are truly awesome. I should try this one and add some to my cupcakes. It is more perfect if I add some chocolate syrup to make it sweeter. Yummy! I can’t wait! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • Oh, this looks amazing! I have a recipe that calls for shirtening and it is kind of gross. I’m definitely going to use yours. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I am really grossed out by the idea of shortening frostings, but I have to admit that I love the way that they taste.

      Reply
  • Great frosting! Made it today for cupcakes for my daughters preschool, thanks!

    Reply
  • OMG! I just made this to go on the Caramel Sea Salt cupcakes I made. First off SUPER easy, I don’t think I’ll ever buy canned frosting again. Second, SUPER delicious. Best frosting ever. Hands down. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
    • I am so glad that you liked it. I rarely, rarely use canned frosting, homemade is so easy and so good.

      Reply
  • Amazing idea! I might be adding more sugar for my own tastes ;)!

    Reply
  • Hi 🙂
    I’m French and I have never made a frosting with cream cheese. My question is probably ridiculous but I’m ready to risk being laughed at for a delicious cupcake. 😉 Could you tell me if I should beat the cream cheese as you cream the butter in the first step please? Is it also supposed to be light and fluffy?
    Thank you. 🙂

    Reply
    • No question is stupid! Yes, you cream the cream cheese with the butter. It is supposed to be light and fluffy, but when you add the powdered sugar, it will stiffen a little.

      Reply
  • Thank you very much for the quick answer. If I only make it a cream cheese frosting, no butter at all, I guess it’s the same then? I love your blog. Thanks for it too 🙂

    Reply
    • No, you need to add some butter too. I have never tried it with straight cream cheese. Thanks Marjorie!

      Reply
  • After reading 1. how easy this looks and 2. the positive comments, I think I’m going to use this frosting recipe for my son’s first birthday cake, but I’m debating how much I’ll need. We are going to make five 13×9 cakes and plan to stack two on top of two, to make a 26x9x4 rectangle, and the fifth cake will be carved into three shapes (square, circle, and triangle), stacked on top of one another on top of the main base cake. I hope that all makes sense! ANY idea at all how much frosting we’ll need? Would doubling this be enough?

    Reply
    • OMG, I have no idea. My guess is start with 3 and then make more as needed. Good luck.

      Reply
      • I ended up making four batches and we used most of it. The cake came out great, and the icing was delish, as was the brown sugar and balsamic pork. Thanks, Bree!

        Reply
        • I am glad that the party was such a success! Did you post pictures of your cake?

          Reply
    • I think that you might just make it. If you are spreading you should be fine, but not if you are piping, you will need more.

      Reply
  • I love that you use a high butter-to-sugar ratio. I want to taste the butter in a buttercream. My wedding cake had so much butter in the frosting you could have spread it on your toast. I will definitely make the vanilla and chocolate frostings, plus the chocolate roll recipe, plus the peanut butter cake!!

    Reply
  • So what are your thought on adding Peanut butter to this to get a PB Buttercream frosting?

    Reply
    • my thought is that it is a wonderful idea! I would start with 1/2 cup and see how it tastes, add more as needed.

      Reply
  • I used this recipe tonight to make peppermint frosting with candy cane pieces and also a salted caramel frosting. This frosting is to-die-for. It really feels like it melts in your mouth. Thank you for this!!!

    Reply
  • I made this frosting today for my husbands red velvet Birthday cake and it is so delicious! He absolutely loved it. It tastes like homemade vanilla ice cream. Very light and fluffy. I added a little extra vanilla and it is so yum! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe 🙂

    Reply
  • if you make ahead do you take out of fridge and re-whip? Leave it for room temp until pliable then pipe?

    Reply
    • I usually do not have to re-whip, but I do let it come to room temp and then work with it.

      Reply
  • This frosting looks amazing! I have one question, if I am using this to frost cupcakes, around how many cupcakes would one batch of this frosting frost?

    Reply
  • Hi, this will be my first time trying this recipe out. I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe and from reading these reviews, it must be great. I was wondering if it would have the same texture if I use an hand electric mixer? Will it be the same but just take longer?

    Reply
    • Yes, you can use a hand mixer and stand mixer almost interchangeably.

      Reply
    • Nothing, I just prefer to use unsalted. I like to control the amount of salt in my recipes.

      Reply
  • about how much does this recipe yield? I’m making my own wedding cake, which will be a 3-tier cake. All i really have planned out at this point is that the bottom layer is probably going to be an 18″ round (feeding 150 people…YIKES)

    Reply
  • I plan to make an open book cake and this looks like the perfect frosting. About how much frosting would I need to cover 2 13x9inch cakes?

    Reply
  • Hi, I haven’t tried your recipe yet, but I was wondering whether this buttercream recipe could be used before covering the cake with fondant? I haven’t had many success with buttercream frosting so far, so hopefully this would do the trick =)

    Reply
    • I really don’t know. I have not tried it, I would assume so, but I cannot say with a guarantee.

      Reply
  • I made you recipe and tweaked it a little for my personal taste. I added some extra confectioners’ sugar and vanilla It taste awesome. It reminds me of the Buttercream my family made when I was growing up. Thank you!

    Reply
  • I found this on pinterest and made it today. This was the best buttercream I have ever had! I doubled the recipe and had enough the very generously do a 3 layer cake. Thanks so much for this!

    Reply
  • Hi, I tried yr recipie with confectioners icing sugar. And i used simple cream. Icing was very good in taste but it didnt set well. In my country heavy whipping cream is not easily avaiable, can you tell some other substitute. Thankyou 🙂

    Reply
  • Not sure if you answered this in other comments but is the butter to be salted or unsalted ?

    Reply
  • I can always count on your recipes to turn out. 🙂 Delicious as always!

    Reply
  • Pls advise me in grams how much butter is used in your Vanilla Buttercream recipe. Thank you

    Reply
    • You can do the conversion using a convertor. A stick of butter is 4 ounces.

      Reply
  • Hi!
    This is my go to icing recipe. I was wondering if you’ve ever made a mint version with this base.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I haven’t, but I would start with a 1/2 teaspoon mint extract and go from there. Mint can be overpowering very quickly. Let me know how it turns out.

      Reply
  • I am making a 3 tier semi-naked wedding cake and 300 mini cupcakes for a family wedding in June. Do you think I could make batches of the vanilla buttercream, refrigerate for a month and use a month later? Or is it possible to freeze? I would make the buttercream at my home in San Francisco then travel to San Diego; bake all the cakes over 3 days, then drive 2 hours to the wedding location and assemble and decorate there. Whew! I am lucky that I have a vacation home in San Diego but I probably wont have enough time to make frosting & cake before the wedding, hence making frosting way ahead. Things and activities will be happening every night or day. So make ahead possible? Refrigerate for days? or freeze? HELP ASAP! The frosting is my dilemma only. I can purchase tubs of professional premade but would rather not.

    Reply
    • You can freeze buttercream, and you can make it a few days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.

      Reply
  • Oh and Bree . . . is your vanilla buttercream white white? If not I can always white it up with the violet. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Not white-white. You can always add white food color if you want.

      Reply
  • Hi, looking for a stiff choc buttercream that will be strong enough to smooth out and hold on to some fondant decorations. Your recipe seems perfect just wondering what you think?

    Reply
  • I am an avid baker and I cannot tell you how many times I have used your recipe for buttercream. As much as a love the taste of a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, this is THE BEST icing for cupcakes ever. Especially for a birthday party or class party. I am printing it out right now (for like the 100th time) to ice some jhuzzed up rice krispie treats for my son’s baseball team. I am the type of person who researches every possible recipe/process/variation and compares them before I even think about getting the ingredients. This recipe has NEVER failed me.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have made it for countless class parties and birthday parties – you have literally made 100s of kids in my neck of the woods extremely happy.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! I am so happy to hear that you love this buttercream so much. I also have made it a million and a half times!

      Reply
  • Every time I make this it comes out a little runny 🙁 could it be because I live somewhere super hot and dry? I have to put my cake in the fridge so the frosting won’t melt off.

    Reply
    • Yes, if it is hot, it will melt. It’s butter, so it can happen. I’d add more sugar to stiffen it up, but you should keep it chilled until serving in hot temps.

      Reply

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