Get this four-ingredient, super simple buttercream frosting recipe. Easy to halve, double or triple, just make sure you have soft butter! Pipe it, spread it or eat it with a spoon, this is the most versatile frosting for any dessert.
I love the sweet simplicity of a vanilla buttercream frosting recipe. I prefer this plain frosting over any chocolate version and the older I get the more I prefer vanilla cake over chocolate…the exact opposite of my husband, the chocoholic. Moist vanilla cake paired with a perfectly sweet, soft and creamy vanilla buttercream frosting doesn’t need anything extra. It’s just simple and delicious as is!
If you aren’t a vanilla person, like my husband, be sure to give these other frostings a try: Amazing Chocolate Frosting Recipe, Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting and Vanilla Cinnamon Cake with Browned Butter Frosting.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe Ingredients
Butter – this ingredient puts the butter in buttercream… cheesy jokes aside, make sure your butter is softened before making this recipe.
Vanilla Extract – this recipe calls for vanilla extract for flavor but it’s not hard to experiment with this. Try mint, or almond extract if it suits your cake better. For example, chocolate cake with mint buttercream frosting makes a good pairing.
Milk – this helps bind all the ingredients together and helps give this frosting its signature texture.
Powdered Sugar – we have our fats and flavoring down, so this ingredient is all about bringing that perfect sweetness to the frosting.
How to make buttercream frosting
- Measure out the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, start to combine the butter into the powdered sugar.
- With the mixer on, slowly stream in your milk tablespoon by tablespoon until it starts to come together and look creamy.
- If it hasn’t come together, add another tablespoon, mix and wait it out. After about 2 or 3 tablespoons, your frosting should be thick enough to hold its shape, but light enough to have a butter knife or rubber scraper run through it with ease.
- Once you reach this point, you are done and the buttercream is ready to use.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe Pro Tips
- Absolutely 100% use room temperature butter. Plan ahead and pull it out several hours ahead of time. Worst case scenario is to cut it into pats and microwave it using the ‘soften function’.
- Offset spatulas work amazingly well for frosting a larger, layered cake. These are the ones I use and love!
- These plastic disposable piping bags are heaven sent! Use them with or without special tips for frosting cupcakes. This large, open star tip and this wide, round tip are my two favorites for frosting cupcakes.
- Never underestimate using the back of a spoon or a butter knife to decorate! Those can work just as beautifully!
- In the recipe card below, I go over how much frosting one recipe will make and how far it could frost. These are just guidelines since people frost differently and have different frosting preferences. I like mine loaded on thankyouverymuch, but you might like a lighter, thinner layer. To each her own. Also, the tools you use can determine how far one batch of frosting will take you (for example, a piping bag versus an offset spatula). So, keep that in mind as you are frosting away.
Does Buttercream Frosting need to be refrigerated?
Buttercream is easiest to spread at room temperature. If you have frosted a cake and will be consuming it in the following 24 hours, there is no need to refrigerate. If you have frosted a cake several days in advance, you may want to refrigerate or freeze for later use. Just be sure to wrap well.
Can you freeze this Frosting?
Yes! Simply place your frosting into an airtight container or bag, seal and store in the freezer for up to three months. To defrost, pull out of the freezer and bring to room temperature. If it seems a little deflated, stir or whip again briefly in a large bowl and use as desired.
This recipe is not rocket science in the least and I assure you that you can totally make your buttercream frosting turn out as perfectly as the pictures make it seem.
Printable recipe card below! Save it, pin it, print it, because it’s one of those must-know recipes.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Get this four-ingredient, super simple recipe for buttercream frosting. Easy to halve, double or triple, just make sure you have soft butter!
Place butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer), slowly adding in milk one tablespoon at a time until thick and creamy.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly and use as desired.
Add the milk in 1 tablespoon at a time until it starts to come together and look thick and creamy. If you aren't sure if it's done, scrape the bowl with a rubber scraper. If you can do that easily and run it through the frosting easily while it holds its shape, it's ready.
One frosting recipe will frost:
- 1 2-layer 8-inch cake OR
- 1 9x13 cake OR
- 12 cupcakes using a piping bag OR
- 24 cupcakes using a butter knife