Classic Vanilla Buttercream

Classic Vanilla Buttercream

Note that this is an “all-butter” recipe.  The flavor is wonderful, but it does not do well in extremely hot conditions.  The butter in the recipe causes the icing to become very soft in hot conditions.  For a more “heat-friendly” recipe, see the “Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream” recipe, which contains shortening.

Also, due to the butter in the recipe, the frosting becomes firm in the refrigerator.  It will soften again as it warms to room temperature.

**Making Cupcakes?  I prefer a softer buttercream for cupcakes when a crusting buttercream isn’t as important.  When making frosting for cupcakes, I cut the amount of sugar from 8 cups to 4 cups, and cut the milk from 1/3 cup to 3 tablespoons.  This makes a softer, less crusting buttercream.  

2 sticks (226g)  unsalted butter

8 cups  ( 2 lb.)  ( 920 grams)  powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla   (8 grams),  use clear imitation vanilla  if you like a whiter frosting

1/3 c. milk -86 grams

pinch of salt if you’d like to cut the sweetness

Cream the softened butter until smooth.  Blend in the vanilla.  Add half of the powdered sugar and most of the milk.  Beat at medium speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated.  Add remaining powdered sugar and milk and mix at medium speed another 3 to 4 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. I slow down the mixer to very slow. (#2 on the Kitchenaid) for 1 to 2 minutes. This will help eliminate air pockets in the buttercream. The texture will become very smooth.

This recipe can be doubled or halved.

Can be frozen in air tight container for at  least three months .  Thaw on countertop.

This is a crusting recipe,  which works well with the Roller and Viva Paper towel smoothing methods.  However, humidity may make it less likely to crust, in which case you can use the hot knife method for smoothing.

Yields approximately 6 – 6 1/2 cups of frosting.

Category: Frostings and Glazes, Recipes

62 Comments

  1. NATALIE MEDRANO says: #1

    Hello, is this a med consistency? What kind of butter cream did you use on the green ruffle cake?

  2. Melissa Diamond says: #2

    Hi Natalie–yes, it is. The green ruffle cake may have been the “Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream”, but this recipe would work well also.

  3. Fiona Reynolds says: #3

    ove your site especially your videos. I would like to make the green ruffle cake. How much buttercream do you estimate that i would need to frost an 8 inch round.

  4. Lynn Gonzalez says: #4

    Hi Melissa,
    I made this Buttercream frosting for my cupcakes this weekend and my family loved it. I did use a pinch of salt as an option like you suggested to cut the sweetness (because majority of us don’t like real sweet frostings) and it was just right. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  5. Claudias yummycakes says: #5

    Is this recipe good to be covered in fondant.

  6. Melissa Diamond says: #6

    Hi there, yes–it’s fine to cover with fondant :0)

    Lynn–I’m glad that you liked it!

  7. Naheed says: #7

    Hi Melissa,

    Do you prefer the paddle or whisk attachment for the buttercream frosting?

  8. BeBe says: #8

    We use the paddle attachment for our buttercream frostings.

    When we make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe we use the whisk attachment while beating the egg whites then switch to the paddle attachment when we add the butter. This change of attachments is noted in that recipe.

  9. Nona says: #9

    Hi Melissa,,, just became a member last night and already love your site.
    The recipe that I use for buttercream is butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks…. It is very very good….. the thing is that when I cover my cakes with this and then the fondant and the weather is hot the buttercream starts melting and of course the fondant becomes a mess…. I am very new working with fondant .. any advise? I know that buttercream with shortening will work but really don’t love the taste of it….. Congrats and thanks so much…

  10. Melissa Diamond says: #10

    Hi Nona– I know how frustrating that can be! I think you are going to have to hold off on using that icing unless either the weather is cooler or you know that the cake will be in a cool room, etc.

    Aside from using a buttercream with shortening, you may want to experiment some with ganache beneath the fondant. You may even want to try another recipe–like swiss meringue buttercream beneath the fondant to see if that does better for you.

    However, in cases of very hot temperatures, frostings containing shortening hold up the best.

  11. James Mundy says: #11

    Can you tell me how long this can sit out before it goes bad?

  12. BeBe says: #12

    Hi, I think on the 3rd day this all butter recipe frosting begins to have an “off ” taste.

  13. Melissa Ong says: #13

    can this be use for the zebra inspired cake? I am just starting with baking and I am so happy to have found a site that is easy “and” pretty too!

  14. Melissa Diamond says: #14

    Yes it can! So glad that you are enjoying the site ;0)

  15. Pam Moore says: #15

    Hi there, Can you freeze the extra frosting? If so, are there any special tricks to defrosting it? Will it separate?

  16. Melissa Diamond says: #16

    Hi Pam, we freeze in airtight containers and then let them defrost on the countertop. We do this all the time. You shouldn’t have a lot of separating, but you’ll want to stir or re-mix the frosting a little bit just to fluff it back up again and get it to a nice consistency.

  17. Sarah Deer says: #17

    how much icing does this make, enough to cover an 8″ 3 layer or would it need to be doubled?

  18. BeBe says: #18

    Hi Sarah, this recipe makes 8 to 9 cups and you would be fine for filling and frosting a 8″ 3 layer cake.

  19. Kimberley says: #19

    LOVED this recipe!! Just joined your site and I am SO looking forward to every bit of info and skills you share!! I do have a question….is there somewhere in your website that you list a beginners list of important items that every cake/cupcake maker should have in their kitchen? Like which decorating tips I should have etc. Thank so much!! Love your video tutorials! I have always wanted to take a cake decorating class, but it has always been way to expensive for a short intro class. Thanks for sharing your knowledge AND making it affordable!!

  20. Melissa Diamond says: #20

    Hi Kimberley! Thanks so much. I love this recipe too, lol. Just frosted some cupcakes with it this morning ;0) — If you look in our Member Resources section in the right side bar, scroll down to Supplies and you will see a rundown of a lot of the supplies that I like, including tips. Please let me know if you have questions about anything! I don’t have a specific “beginners” section necessarily–I would just start with the basics and work your way up as you see different techniques you’d like to try.

    Piping tips, piping bags, couplers, coloring gels, offset spatula, bench scraper, and Viva brand paper towels (for smoothing) are what I use most often for basic decorating with buttercream. I like pixie/disco dust too for sparkle & candy melts & fondant for accents ;0) — If you are interested in modeling figures, etc., then gum paste or tylose is very good to have on hand too. Let me know if you have any questions!!!

  21. Angela Murtagh-Scott says: #21

    Hi

    How many cupcakes can you frost with this recipe ?? I need to work out how many cupcakes I get out of the batch of frosting.

    Thanks
    Ange

  22. Sandra Lopez says: #22

    Would I be able to used the Classic Vanilla Buttercream for piping borders, scrolls, flowers etc.Or the fluffy buttercream would be better to work with?
    I appreciate the time and effort you take to make these video and share them with us..I love your video keep them coming..

    Thanks,
    Sandra.

  23. BeBe says: #23

    Hi Sandra, either recipe will work just fine for piping. The Classic Vanilla recipe uses all butter so if your cake in going to be in the heat for an extended period your borders and flowers could soften and not look as perfect as you would like. You could always keep your cake in the fridge until maybe an hour before serving. The Fluffy recipe has only a small amount of butter so heat is usually not an issue.

  24. Eileen Fry says: #24

    Hi! Will Swiss Meringue Buttercream work for this? I live San Francisco so super hot weather will not be an issue :D

  25. BeBe says: #25

    Hi Eileen, yes, Swiss Meringue Buttercream should work great for you.

  26. Claudia Smith says: #26

    Hi there: I try the recipe and it is not crusting, what is wrong?…

  27. BeBe says: #27

    Hi Claudia, is it very humid where you live? That may affect the crusting time. Typically it does not take very long, 5 to 10 minutes. When you can touch the frosting with you finger and your finger stays clean, (no frosting on it) it has crusted. It does not feel hard, it just does not stick to your finger or to the Viva paper towel if you are using that to smooth your cake. Hope this helps.

  28. Claudia Smith says: #28

    I live in Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada, wasn’t raining. Do you I have to use meringue powder?..I have to tell you something…I was very sweet for me and I added one more cup of butter, is that the reason? any suggestion for another option less sweet,

  29. BeBe says: #29

    Hi Claudia, the Classic Buttercream is very sweet. You can cut the sweetness somewhat if you add a pinch of salt or you can use salted butter instead of unsalted. Some people do like to use meringue powder as a stabilizer if they live in a humid area.

    You might like to try the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It is not as sweet as the Classic Buttercream.

  30. Jessi Wall says: #30

    Hi Melissa,

    I am baking a cake and I just need enough icing to dirty ice the outside and do a boarder between two layers (2 9×9 squares) to prevent a gooey filling from oozing out the sides. Should I halve this recipe?

  31. BeBe says: #31

    Hi Jessi, yes, you should be fine to make one half the recipe

  32. Linda Arns says: #32

    Hi love this site. It’s wonderful! I’m wondering the stiff buttercream you use to make you dam is there a recipe for it on here?b I can’t seem to find it if so. Thanks

    Linda

  33. BeBe says: #33

    Hi Linda, we just take out some of our buttercream (whichever recipe you might be using) put into another bowl, add more confectioners’ sugar …… just keep adding until it is the consistency to pipe a stiff dam. Let me know if you have other questions.

  34. Angie Stevenson says: #35

    Hi, I was wondering if I could use the spreadable ganache to cover my cakes and then use the Classic Buttercream over it? Would that be ok to do? I’m having a little trouble with bulging on the side of my cake and trying different things to prevent that.

    thanks!!!

  35. BeBe says: #36

    Hi Angie, we have not tried buttercream over spreadable ganache but we have had several members tell us that they do this with success.

  36. Alison Davis says: #37

    I have made this recipe and other crusting buttercream recipes. I keep having issues with cracking. It worked out ok for my latest cake which was a take on your woodland cake; the cracking helped it look more like bark.

    Anyways, how can I avoid cracking in the future when I use crusting buttercream? Mine never looks as smooth as yours. :(

  37. BeBe says: #38

    Hi Allison, I’m sorry you are having a problem. If your cake base is not sturdy enough, when you move your cake the board will bend and even if it bends only slightly it will cause cracks in your crusting buttercream. Before your cake reaches the crusting stage you will want to have it on its final base. Melissa has a video in Decorating Basics entitled How to Cover a Cake Base, here is a link if you would like to watch it, link to mycakeschool.com

  38. James Mundy says: #39

    I read the comments on the fluffy buttercream and it said that you can keep it in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and freezer for 3 months. Is that the same with this recipe?

  39. BeBe says: #40

    Hi James, I keep mine in the refrigerator 2 weeks and if your milk and butter are not near expiration date when used you could probably keep longer. Yes, it can be frozen for 3 months. After the frosting thaws, you will need to fluff it up with your mixer and it will be fine.

  40. Shelley Danjou says: #41

    I’m a little confused. In the recipe it says to use 2 sticks of butter (226 grams) and 8 cups (2 lbs) powdered sugar for a single batch. But in the video you are making a double batch of frosting and using 4 sticks of butter but still 2 lbs of powdered sugar. So is the correct recipe for a single batch actually 2 sticks of butter with 4 cups (1 lb) of powdered sugar and the double batch would be 4 sticks of butter with 8 cups (2 lbs) of powdered sugar?

    Thanks

  41. BeBe says: #42

    Hi Shelley, in the video I added 2 lbs. of powdered sugar to the 4 sticks of butter, mixed that with most of the milk, then I added 2 more pounds of powdered sugar. Maybe you skipped the video ahead and missed that part :)

    I also want to say……this is not in the video, if you slow down your mixer speed to “very slow” the last 2 to 3 minutes of beating it will greatly reduce the number of air bubbles in your buttercream.

    Let me know if you have other questions.

  42. Shelley Danjou says: #43

    Great, thank you so much. Yes, I had to stop the video (can’t understand why my 6 year old doesn’t find this as stimulating as I do). I’m going to certainly try this recipe. The one I have been using uses twice as much butter and I have had a problem with air bubbles and greasiness at times.

    Thanks so much for the prompt response and for all that you and Melissa do! I LOVE this website!

  43. amber rowland says: #44

    I have a strange question. I have heard of using different flavored International Delight creamers instead of your milk or heavy cream you may be using in your frosting. Would that work in this recipe and if so, should I also leave out the vanilla?

  44. Taylor Elliott says: #45

    Hello ladies! So I’m making a two tiered square cake for my grandmothers 90th. It’s indoors and on that day it’ll be about 50 degrees outside. Will this recipe hold up alright?

  45. BeBe says: #46

    Hi Taylor, there should be no problem.

  46. patricia reed says: #47

    when using cream cheese frosting do you still dirty ice? thank you Milissa

  47. Melissa Diamond says: #48

    Hi Patricia–Not everyone crumb coats/dirty ices their cakes but I almost always do, with whatever frosting I’m using. I like that first thin layer to catch all of the crumbs.

  48. Tiffany Keyes says: #49

    The recipe says for whiter frosting use clear vanilla. I have the professional strength artificial flavor clear vanilla. The lady at the store said it was super concentrated. I’m sure how much I would use for this recipe. Could you help me figure this out. Also, I’m making a two tier cake for a client. Do you have a white chocolate cake recipe? My plan was to use the choc mousse filling between layers. Would the fluffy vanilla buttercream work for the dam or should I use this recipe? Thanks.

  49. Tiffany Keyes says: #50

    Would any of your chocolate cake recipes work as devils food choc cake?

  50. BeBe says: #51

    Hi Tiffany, it should say somewhere on the bottle of vanilla if it is 2 times the strength of regular clear vanilla or 4 times the strength. If it is 2 x’s you would use half the amount the recipe calls for …….if 4 x’s you would use 1/4 the amount. I’m sorry we don’t have a white chocolate cake recipe on the site. You could use either buttercream recipe to pipe your stiff dam. Whichever you use, just take out a small portion and thicken it with confectioners sugar until it is the consistency you need to pipe the dam.

    The only recipe that we have that would work as a devils food choc. cake is Chocolate Sour Cream Cake ( a doctored cake mix recipe.)

    Good luck with your cake

  51. Jana Cox says: #52

    Hi! I am about to make some “cakes in a mason jar” and was going to use your chocolate sour cream cake recipe. Would this be a good frosting to use with it or should I use the fluffy buttercream??

  52. BeBe says: #53

    Hi Jana, we think the Classic Vanilla Buttercream recipe should be eaten by the third day if it is left unrefrigerated…….it could last longer if refrigerated. I would use the Fluffy Buttercream recipe with all shortening or high ratio shortening if it will be in high temperatures. Either of these recipes will pair well with the chocolate sour cream cake.

  53. Breinna Stiff says: #54

    Hi Melissa and Bebe,

    This recipe sounds so delicious! I am making a three tier cake that will be covered in fondant with lots of gumpaste decorations. It’s not going to fit in my fridge so I will need to keep it on the counter while I work on it. It is then going to be delivered to a location that is two hours away. It is 90+ outside on Texas right now but the cake will be indoors. What icing would you recommend me using? The classic or the fluffy buttercream or a combo of both. Maybe more like the classic but with added shortening? I just want it to taste really good but not mess up my fondant. Shortening is kind of nasty to me but I know it is a necessity sometimes. Anyways, thank you so much for all your help and keep up the good work!!

  54. BeBe says: #55

    Hi Breinna, I do love the classic buttercream because of all the butter in it, when using under fondant be sure to let it firm up ten minutes or so before you lay on the fondant. We think the Classic recipe is best when eaten by the third day if it cannot be refrigerated so that may be a problem for you. I think you might prefer using the Fluffy Buttercream recipe, it has only 1/2 cup butter plus shortening. The high ratio buttercream is also a good option if you don’t like the “mouth feel” of shortening……high ratio shortening has a less greasy feel. Also, there would be no worries with heat or keeping the cake on the countertop. Let me know if you have other questions.

  55. Mallory Farrell says: #56

    Hello,

    I love this recipe and use it all the time! However I find that its very thick, and hard to spread, does not stick to my cakes that easy, and causes a lot of crumbs. I make it work but it can be very frustrating. When I watch tutorials it seems like the icing just glides right on but not for me. Is there something I am doing wrong, or something I can tweak to make it lighter and smooth on easier.

  56. Nenita Purificacion says: #57

    Hello Ladies,
    I am a new member and I am enjoying this school with all its students that write. The problem with my buttercream icing is the bulging out from the side or even from the top of the cake. I appreciate the comment about using spreadable ganache first before icing the cake. But wouldn’t this make the icing extra sweeter?

  57. BeBe says: #58

    Hi Nenita, There have been several Forum discussions on “bulging”. Click on this link, I think it will be helpful to you link to mycakeschool.com
    Also, if you will enter the word bulging in the search bar, there are other discussions (just scroll down when the page appears). If you use dark chocolate when making your ganache, I don’t think it makes the frosting too sweet, and it is just a thin coating .

  58. Abby Cobb says: #59

    HI Melissa,

    This is my favorite vanilla frosting and I have been using it for the past few years. It is perfect for my cakes but all of a sudden it seems too soft for my cupcakes and to pipe rosettes or other designs that need to hold its shape. I use my kitchen aide just as in your directions with my paddle attachment. Do I need to thicken it up before piping my cupcakes. If so, how much extra powdered sugar do you recommend that I add.

    Thanks!
    Abby

  59. BeBe says: #60

    Hi Abby, Are you in a higher humidity area, that can make your buttercream softer. I would add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you like for piping your cupcakes.

  60. Abby Cobb says: #61

    Thanks BeBe. It definately has been a little warmer so that could be it. I have never had this problem before so the weather is probably a big factor. I just didn’t want to add to much extra powdered sugar to change the taste and make it sweeter.

  61. BeBe says: #62

    Hi Abby, Heat and humidity are definitely the enemy of an “all butter” buttercream. Since you are consistently have this problem, try decreasing the amount of milk a bit and you may not need to increase the powdered sugar. You can dissolve about 1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably popcorn salt as it dissolves faster) in the milk to decrease the sweetness.

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