This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This four-ingredient, super simple vanilla buttercream frosting is going to quickly become your go-to frosting. Easy to halve, double or triple…just make sure you have soft butter! Pair this perfectly sweet and soft buttercream frosting with a moist vanilla cake and you won’t need anything extra. It’s just simple and delicious as is! Pipe it, spread it or eat it with a spoon, this is the most versatile frosting for any dessert.
Flavoring Buttercream Frosting – Make it Your Own
You can flavor your buttercream frosting to fit your own needs! I know, so amazing, right?
Because this recipe is flavored with vanilla extract, it only makes sense that you can substitute out for any other flavored extract, like peppermint (chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream). Or almond extract if that’s your thing.
How about flavoring with natural fruit juice? You could zest and squeeze basically any citrus (hello lemon)! Or puree some berries for a mixed berry frosting. Choose whatever is in season and ready to eat.
For all the chocolate lovers out there, you can always add cocoa powder to the mix or melted chocolate.
Be sure to give these other frostings a try: Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe, Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting and Vanilla Cinnamon Cake with Browned Butter Frosting.
How to Make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
I love the sweet simplicity of a vanilla buttercream frosting. I prefer this plain frosting over any chocolate version and the older I get the more I prefer vanilla cake over chocolate. For full recipe details, including ingredients needed and measurements, see the printable recipe card down below. Here is step by step what you can expect when making this recipe:
Combine Butter, Powdered Sugar + Vanilla
Combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
Slowly Add in Milk
With the stand mixer or hand mixer on, slowly stream in your milk tablespoon by tablespoon until the frosting starts to come together and look creamy.
If it hasn’t come together yet, 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.
Ready to Frost
Once you reach this point, you are done and the buttercream is ready to use.
How to Color Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Start out by making the vanilla buttercream frosting recipe as directed. Then add small amounts of food dye at a time and mix again. Repeat until the desired color is reached.
I would recommend using the gel food dye because it is more concentrated, meaning that it won’t mess with the texture and thickness of the buttercream. You can find these on Amazon, Walmart or at a specialty baking store.
Or if you want a color and flavor change, try pureeing berries or use jam to mix into your frosting.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 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 offset spatulas 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!
- Use a GOOD pure vanilla extract, since this is the main flavor of this frosting.
- Below in the FAQs of this post, 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, but you might like a lighter, thinner layer. To each their 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.
Storing Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
If you happen to have a little extra frosting after you’re done frosting your cake or cupcakes – lucky you! Store in a container with a lid and in the fridge for up to a week. Use it on graham crackers for a little snack or whatever you want, really!
Recipe Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions answered here for you. 🙂
One batch of this frosting recipe will frost:
(1) 2-layer 8-inch cake OR
(1) 9×13 cake OR
12 cupcakes using a piping bag OR
24 cupcakes using a butter knife
You should use the paddle. Using a whisk will create air bubbles in your frosting that you don’t want. If you have let your frosting sit for an extended period of time, you’ll want to remix the frosting on low speed for a minute or two.
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.
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.
Slowly add a little more powdered sugar to your frosting while it’s mixing and wait. You don’t want to add too much and make it too thick.
More Frostings to Try!
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Marshmallow Frosting
- Divinity Frosting
- Reese’s Frosting
- Peanut Butter Oreo Frosting
This recipe is not rocket science in the least and I assure you that you can totally make your vanilla buttercream frosting turn out as perfectly as the pictures make it seem. If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a star review! If you have a picture of your finished dish, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #laurenslatest and tagging me @laurens_latest.
Printable recipe card below! Save it, pin it, print it, because it’s one of those must-know recipes. Have a good day, friends!
Vanilla 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.
- 1 2-layer 8-inch cake OR
- 1 9×13 cake OR
- 12 cupcakes using a piping bag OR
- 24 cupcakes using a butter knife