The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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This is the best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe. It’s so versatile, you can use it for just about anything. Made with just a handful of ingredients, this frosting comes together in a snap.

You won’t be disappointed in the light, creamy texture. Use this homemade frosting to top cakes and cupcakes or sandwich it between your favorite cookie.

Swirl of Vanilla Buttercream Frosting on a yellow cupcake

It’s always a good idea to have a basic frosting recipe in your archives and this is one you’ll want to keep!

My coconut buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting is always a huge hit around here but sometimes you just need something basic. This vanilla buttercream frosting is just that!

It’s light, fluffy, smooth, and creamy. It’s the perfect frosting for a basic vanilla cake or any cake for that matter.

Not only is this a great vanilla frosting, but it’s also the perfect base for other flavor additives. Mix in any other flavored extract to create your own unique frosting.

Try adding in almond extract or any other extracts that you love. Or turn it into pineapple frosting!

Ingredients for Vanilla Buttercream frosting

How to make vanilla buttercream

Make sure the butter and heavy cream are at room temperature. The butter should be soft enough to bend without breaking but not so soft that it’s melty. If the butter has an oily sheen to it, it’s too soft.

Whip the butter with an electric mixer until it’s creamy and noticeably lighter in color. It should be a very pale yellow.

Whipped butter in a glass bowl

When adding the confectioners’ sugar, make sure it is sifted and free of lumps. Add half the sugar then mix it for 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and mix it for another 3-5 minutes.

You want to mix the sugar in very well before adding the cream. At this point, the frosting will be quite thick but the cream will loosen it and make the frosting silky and light.

Vanilla buttercream frosting in a glass bowl

Add the vanilla, salt, and half the heavy cream. Beat the frosting for 3 minutes then give it a stir and test the consistency. Add more cream, if needed,  and beat for another 3-5 minutes.

The frosting should be soft and spreadable but not so loose that it doesn’t hold its shape.

Perfect Vanilla Buttercream Frosting in a glass bowl

Tips for making the best vanilla buttercream frosting

  • Don’t work with butter that is too soft. If it’s oily, it’s too soft and will curdle your buttercream. Pop it the refrigerator for a few minutes to allow it to firm up slightly.
  • Use confectioners’ sugar that contains cornstarch! Tricalcium phosphate is another anticaking agent found in confectioners’ sugar but it doesn’t work as well as cornstarch. 
  • Add a pinch of salt to help balance the sweetness.
  • Don’t be afraid to let the frosting whip! The more air you add the lighter the frosting will be which in turn makes it taste less sweet. So turn your mixer up and let it whip on medium-high for 5 minutes.

Swirl of Vanilla Buttercream Frosting closeup

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Basic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe Image

Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe is so versatile, you can use it for just about anything. Made with just a handful of ingredients, this frosting comes together in a snap.
Makes 5 cups. It's enough to frost 24 cupcakes or a double layer cake. Halve the recipe to make enough for 12 cupcakes or a single layer cake.
4.6 from 5 votes
Print Save Recipe Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 48 servings
Calories: 111
Author: Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened*
  • 5 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream, room temperature

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and pale in color, about 5 minutes.
  • Add half the confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed just until the sugar has fully moistened, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed just until the sugar has fully moistened, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add 3 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until the cream is well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. (After 2 minutes stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then continue mixing.)
  • Check the consistency of the frosting and add more cream, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, if needed. The frosting should be soft and spreadable but not so loose that it doesn't hold its shape.

Make ahead tip

  • Frosting will keep for up to 2 weeks stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You must let the buttercream come to room temperature by setting it out on the counter for a couple hours, then beat it with an electric mixer if needed.
  • Or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to use, place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Let stand at room temperature to soften before use.

Notes

*The butter must be properly softened. It should be soft enough to bend but not so soft that it looks oily.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 3mg | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 4.1% | Calcium: 0.3%

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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14 Comments

  • Sam

    I made this recipe. And added the cream as instructed. Unfortunately, the mixture is runny.
    So don’t know what to do. Add more sugar it will b way too sweet! 😐

  • Katrina

    Thank you for this! I’m excited to try this recipe for frosting, as vanilla frosting is one of my weak points! I, too, am a fellow introvert and love to bake, so I was blessed to find your website this morning when I was searching for a “soft scones recipe” on the internet. God bless you!!

  • laura

    hi I love your buttercream frosting I am just wanting to know how many cup cake it does I have 40 cup cakes to ice and I need to know how many cupcakes the recipe does thanks

    • Jen Sobjack

      Unfortunately, that’s possible with any buttercream since it’s a butter based frosting. If it’s a cool day, the frosting should hold up well though. I would also recommend keeping it out of direct sunlight.

  • Sarah

    I’ve made you’re frosting and vanilla cake in the past and have loved it. I’ll be making it in a couple of weeks for my daughter’s first birthday. I want to do some things ahead of time and then assemble closer to the date. I want to make the icing about a week before and intend on putting it in the freezer to keep. Would you recommend putting the icing in a ziplock freezer bag or a tupperware? After it’s been thawed in the refrigerator over night would you recommend doing a quick turn in the mixer to mix it up a little before using?

    • Jen Sobjack

      A ziplock or tupperware would work fine. If you put it in a tupperware, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the frosting and press it gently to remove air pockets before securing the lid. If the frosting looks like it is separating after it’s thawed, it’s probably a good idea to whip it with a mixer before use. I typically store the frosting in a piping bag and tie it off with a rubber band. I haven’t needed to mix it before using it after thawing it out. I just cut the tip off the bag and slip into another piping bag fitted with a tip and it’s ready to use.