This luscious vanilla buttercream frosting is thick, fluffy and delicious with the perfect amount of sweet. It’s the ideal frosting for cakes and cupcakes. It holds its shape when piped. Make this irresistible buttercream in 10 minutes.
This rich, luxurious, frosting is a cake lover’s dream. It was shared with me by a bakery expert who uses it for professional custom cakes and cupcakes. It’s simple to make and tastes amazing. I feel very lucky to have it. It’s a staple that belongs in everyone’s recipe box. Add it to yours!
Although most vanilla buttercream recipes share the same ingredients, the measurements vary. So before sharing what I firmly believe is the BEST vanilla buttercream frosting, I first compared it side by side to the recipe from a famous bakery.
For the taste test I whipped up 2 batches of vanilla buttercream. One using my recipe from a California bakery, and one shared by the New York Times from well-known Magnolia Bakery. I frosted 1 dozen cupcakes, half and half.
Eager recipe testers lined up for a blind testing. Our bakery frosting was given high marks for its delicious taste and velvety texture. The cupcakes were immediately gobbled down. The frosting from Magnolia Bakery was thick, heavy, and super, super sweet. No one wanted to eat the frosting. Flavor testers wanted to scrape it straight off the cupcakes.
The reason for the inedible frosting? Although both taste-tested recipes use the same amount of butter (1 cup), the Magnolia recipe adds a whopping 8 cups of sugar to their frosting. We use 4 1/2 cups. But everyone has different taste buds. For ours, more moderate sweetness does the trick.
- Butter: This is the base ingredient for vanilla buttercream frosting. It’s important to use high-quality butter like Tillamook or the Kirkland brand from Costco. I use salted butter, but you can use unsalted instead. Just add a tiny pinch of salt to the buttercream mixture. Taste and add more if needed.
- Powdered Sugar: This is the same as confectioners’ sugar. It’s what gives buttercream frosting a delicious sweet taste and adds strength and stability to the frosting. If your sugar is a bit lumpy, sift it once or twice to remove the lumps before using.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: This ingredient gives vanilla buttercream frosting a smooth and creamy look and taste. But it must be used at room temperature to avoid grainy-looking frosting. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use half-and-half or whole milk instead.
- Vanilla Extract: To keep the vanilla buttercream looking extra lush and light, use clear vanilla extract instead of the brown (amber) colored vanilla. My preference is Mexican vanilla extract because it has a delicious buttery flavor and a beautiful bakery aroma.
- Sea Salt: This delicious seasoning adds flavor and tamps down sweetness. Use a pure white salt rather than pink salt or one with visible flecks of natural minerals.
EQUIPMENT: This is an easy buttercream recipe. If no stand mixer, no problem. Just use a large mixing bowl and a hand-held electric mixer. As needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- STEP 1: Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until butter is light and fluffy.
- STEP 2: Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to the bowl. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high. Beat until the ingredients are fully incorporated – about 2 minutes.
- STEP 3: The frosting should be thick enough for piping into swirls on cupcakes. If it’s too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out by adding a bit more heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. Do a taste test. If the frosting is too sweet, add a pinch of salt.
- STEP 4: The vanilla buttercream frosting is now ready to use! If decorating a cake, use an off-set spatula for easy spreading. To decorate cupcakes, transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a metal tip.
These are the most commonly-asked questions when making the BEST vanilla buttercream frosting, and helpful answers for recipe success.
Over-mixing causes pockets of air to get trapped in the frosting. The way to get rid of the pesky bubbles is to take a wooden spoon and smash the bubbles against the side of the mixing bowl to pop them.
It’s very important to use room-temperature butter (but not super soft), and room-temperature heavy cream (not cold). If your powdered sugar is lumpy, sift it once or twice before using. If your frosting has separated, chill it in the fridge then beat it again until smooth and creamy.
Frosting on cakes or cupcakes can be left in a cool dry environment for up to 3 days. If not using immediately, store buttercream frosting in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 1 week. When ready to use, thaw buttercream on the countertop until spreadable (about 20-30 minutes).
If applying buttercream with a spatula, 2 1/2 cups frosting is the perfect amount for 12 cupcakes. But for piping tall elegant swirls, you’ll want about 3 1/2 cups frosting for 1 dozen cupcakes.
You’ll need 2 1/2 cups frosting for a (2-layer) 8-inch cake.
You can frost a 9×13-inch cake with 2 1/2 cups frosting.
You’ll need 5 cups of frosting for a (9-inch) 3-layer cake.
For frosting cupcakes, my favorite metal tips are Wilton 2D, Ateco 846, Wilton 1M, Ateco 828, and Wilton 6B. You can’t go wrong with any of these tips for piping tall elegant swirls. Add them to your collection.
FROSTED CUPCAKE RECIPES
Have leftover buttercream frosting? Don’t let it go to waste. Bake a batch of cupcakes. Swirl the icing on top. Below are several yummy recipes you’ll want to add to your recipe collection. Pin your favorites to Pinterest.
- Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
- Butter Pecan Cupcakes
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Ginger Spice Cupcakes
- Tiramisu Cupcakes
- Candy Corn Cupcakes
- Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes
- Christmas Tree Cupcakes
RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Flavor testers rated this the BEST vanilla buttercream frosting for cakes and cupcakes. It’s rich, creamy and fluffy with the perfect thickness. Taste testers noted that the mixture had the ideal amount of sweetness. Just perfect!
If you agree this is the ideal buttercream frosting for piping, give this recipe a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with a friend.Print
This luscious vanilla buttercream frosting is rich and creamy. It has the perfect thickness for piping on cupcakes or spreading on cakes. So yummy! Make this easy recipe in 10 minutes.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (clear) vanilla extract
- 1 scant pinch salt, if needed to tamp down sweetness
EQUIPMENT: A stand mixer is preferred, but you can also use an electric hand mixer and large heavy mixing bowl. As needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until butter is light and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to the bowl. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high. Beat until ingredients are fully incorporated – about 2 minutes.
- The frosting should be thick enough for piping into swirls on cupcakes. If it’s too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out by adding a bit more heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. Do a taste test. If the frosting is too sweet, add a pinch of salt to tamp down sweetness.
The vanilla buttercream frosting is now ready to use! If decorating a cake, use an off-set spatula for easy spreading. To decorate cupcakes, transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a metal tip.
HOW TO AVOID FROSTING FROM SEPARATING: It’s very important to use room-temperature butter (but not super soft), and room-temperature heavy cream (not cold). If your powdered sugar is lumpy, sift it once or twice before using.
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 10 Minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Vanilla Buttercream, Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Vanilla Frosting for Cupcakes, Easy Buttercream Recipe
Vanilla Buttercream FRosting > JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Have you made and enjoyed this easy buttercream recipe? Did you use it for icing a cake, or for decorating cupcakes? What metal tip did you use? Share your thoughts in the comments below.