How to Make Vanilla Buttercream (video)

basic vanilla buttercream recipe

A great recipe for simple vanilla buttercream frosting is priceless! I love the versatility of this frosting and the ease with which you can make it! This buttercream frosting holds its shape very well, making it ideal for frosting cakes, cupcakes and decorating desserts with piping tips. This frosting will hold its shape well enough for flowers, too. Try adding different flavors, syrups or even fruit puree at the end to make a flavored frosting!

This recipe is part of my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series, where I share simple cake, frosting and filling recipes. Make sure to check out the entire collection!

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How to Make Vanilla Buttercream

This creamy and smooth frosting is quick and easy to make and perfect for cakes and cupcakes! Here’s how I make it and some tips:

  1. The unsalted butter should be softened at room temperature first; it should not be too soft or runny. If that occurs, place into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the butter into a mixing bowl and whisk for about 5 to 7 minutes on high speed, until the butter is light, fluffy and pale white in color. If the butter stays flat, it may be too soft.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients: vanilla, salt and heavy cream. Gradually add in the confectioner’s sugar, mixing on low speed first, then on high speed. Add more or less sugar, depending on desired consistency. I usually add 3 cups.
  4. Once all sugar has been added, whisk buttercream on high speed for a few more minutes, until fluffy.

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe Proportions

This vanilla buttercream recipe is very simple to increase or reduce. I recommend cutting the recipe in half if you don’t need too much frosting; or, doubling it up if you have a larger cake.
  • As a guide for you, this recipe will frost a three layer, 8-inch cake
  • 24 regular cupcakes
  • two layer, 9-inch cake
  • one layer, 10-inch cake

My vanilla frosting with my ‘Simple Vanilla Cake’ recipe. I absolutely love how fluffy and creamy this frosting is!

simple vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream

Get Smooth Buttercream Every Time!

I frequently get asked about the consistency and texture of buttercreams that use confectioner’s sugar. If you’ve ever had a grainy buttercream, you know what I’m talking about! To avoid this problem, I recommend always using a fresh bag of confectioner’s sugar. This type of sugar absorbs moisture like nothing else and will quickly clump up when left in the pantry, causing recipe problems! Get smaller bags of confectioner’s sugar and sift the sugar before using in the recipe.

More Recipes!

Enjoyed my recipe for classic vanilla buttercream? Check out some of my other recipes!

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Simple Vanilla Buttercream video recipe

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How to Make Vanilla Buttercream (video)

15 mins prep
4 cups

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar

Instructions

  • Butter should be softened at room temperature first; butter should not be too soft or runny. If that occurs, place into the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes. Place butter into a mixing bowl and whisk for about 5 minutes on high speed, until butter is light, fluffy and pale white in color.
  • Add the remaining ingredients: vanilla, salt and heavy cream. Gradually add in the confectioner's sugar, mixing on low speed first, then on high speed. Add more or less sugar, depending on desired consistency. Once all sugar has been added, whisk buttercream on high speed for a few more minutes, until fluffy.
  • If desired, additional flavors may be added at the very end. Some recommend flavors: 1/4 cup strawberry or raspberry puree; 1 tablespoon lemon zest; 1 tablespoon instant coffee + 2 tablespoons water.