Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

5 from 12 votes

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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.

buttercream frosting on cupcakes crosscut

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.

buttercream frosting on 3 cupcakes on tablescape

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:

buttercream frosting ingredients

Combine Butter, Powdered Sugar + Vanilla

Combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.

frosting ingredients in a stand mixer bowl

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.

buttercream frosting piped onto a cupcake

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.

crosscut of a cupcake on a plate

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. 🙂

How much frosting does this vanilla buttercream frosting recipe make?

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

Should I use a paddle or whisk attachment for vanilla buttercream frosting?

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. stand mixer paddle attachment with vanilla buttercream frosting

Does vanilla 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 I freeze this vanilla buttercream 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.

What do I do if my vanilla buttercream frosting is too runny?

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.

buttercream frosting on a vanilla cupcake

More Frostings to Try!

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!

crosscut of a cupcake on a plate
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5 from 12 votes

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Get this four-ingredient, super simple recipe for vanilla buttercream frosting. Easy to halve, double or triple, just make sure you have soft butter!
servings 12 cupcakes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Measure out the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
    frosting ingredients in a stand mixer bowl
  • Using a hand or stand mixer, start to combine the butter into the powdered sugar.
    buttercream frosting
  • With the mixer on, slowly stream in your milk tablespoon by tablespoon until it starts to come together and look creamy.
    adding milk to the frosting in the stand mixer
  • 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.
    vanilla buttercream frosting in bowl
  • Once you reach this point, you are done and the buttercream is ready to use.
    vanilla buttercream frosting piped onto a cupcake

Video

Notes

One 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

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 3mg | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 235IU | Calcium: 5mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream frosting, buttercream frosting recipe, dessert, vanilla buttercream, vanilla frosting

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Recipe Rating




29 Responses
  1. Lucia

    Well I haven’t done this recipe before, but I have a thought. I found this recipe as a suggestion for cut-out cookies and when I made cut-out cookies I did a type of icing but I would like to try a buttercream frosting instead of the icing. But I am a little hesitant on using this recipe or if the combination is ok. I don’t know I need help.

  2. Mellissa

    Hi
    I want to make a large batch of the buttercream icing. since I need to colour some and some I want chocolate.
    Would I just add coco till I get the correct taste?
    How much melted chocolate would I use and must it be baking melting choc?

    thank you

  3. Ellie

    5 stars
    This is my first time ever commenting on a recipe before because it’s just /that/ good. I have a super picky sister in law who hasn’t liked anything I’ve baked yet, but I made a simple yellow cake with this frosting and she LOVED it!! 100% saving this recipe for future use 🙂

  4. Linda

    5 stars
    I made this today for my granddaughters birthday cake, and it’s going to be my go to recipe. It’s really good, I had to add a little more milk. Thanks for the recipe

  5. Lucious

    5 stars
    Tomorrow is my mom’s Birthday and I wanted to make cake pops when I came across this. I have all the ingredients, it’s really simple and it looks AMAZING. Thank you very much, I recommend. 🍰

  6. Gayatri Bongarala

    Hey Lauren, I was wondering if you have a video version of your recipe? I can’t locate in this page. I’m using a mobile browser.

  7. Simple Vanilla Cake – Sacred Table

    […] a go-to recipe for vanilla cake with an amazing vanilla frosting. Originally found here (cake) and here […]

  8. Cheryl Dalton

    5 stars
    Loved your frosting. Have you ever tried a dash of salt (even with salted butter). It takes the bite out of the sugar.Cheri

  9. Gene Taylor

    5 stars
    I’ve made this buttercream twice, and I think it’s the best frosting ever! I doubled the recipe both times and used heavy cream instead of milk. I spread the frosting for a really thick, fluffy topping on 9 x 13 sheet cakes and shook multi-colored sprinkles on top for a festive look. This stuff is just delicious!

  10. Stacy

    Can’t wait to try this for my daughters birthday cake! Shes a vanilla lover (also using your vanilla cake recipe)! If I’m making a 9×13 cake, and want to ice the top as well as decorate with flowers and whatnot, should I make a double batch of this? One and a half? I’m not a baker so going to try my best!

  11. Kathy Hegna

    Hi Lauren Thankyou for the recipe I don’t like so sweet frosting cause it can ruin the whole cake I love butter cream happy thanksgiving to you and your family

  12. Betty Fudge

    Hi Lauren,
    Love a lot of our recipes,but especially the buttcream frosting, it is so delish,, have used vanilla and almond flavouring and turns out great, had searched For a good recipe and when I found yours loved and use it when I bake ❤️Have frozen it as made a double batch and it freezes well, thanks again.

    Am looking for a nice muffin recipe,,one that meets your exceptions, thanks Betty Fudge

  13. Cream Cheese Frosting | Lauren's Latest

    […] if cream cheese frosting isn’t your thing, be sure to check out my chocolate frosting, or my vanilla buttercream recipe. Both equally […]

  14. Amy V.

    Should the frosted cake or cupcakes be refrigerated? I have always wondered about the milk in the buttercream frosting. Can I keep it out on the counter or should it all be refrigerated?

    1. Jay

      No it does not NEED to be refrigerated but if it is being frosted more than 24 hours in advance i would say refrigerate it or freeze it.

  15. Vanilla Cake Recipe | Lauren's Latest

    […] purest in me would recommend making this cake with this vanilla buttercream  frosting but this chocolate frosting would be equally delicious. Both frostings will make you fall in love […]

  16. Pam

    5 stars
    Guess I’ll bake a cake for Dinner, this evening, using your Recipe.
    Kansas City is expecting 4-8″ of Snow tonight, so what better time,
    to snack, right?
    Thanks for the recipe. I know it will be yummy.
    Pam

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