Classic Vanilla Buttercream

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This flavorful Classic Vanilla Buttercream Recipe is one of our favorites! It couldn't be easier to make, and it is so delicious. Keep it in mind the next time you need a flavorful frosting for your cake recipes and buttercream cake designs!

Vanilla Buttercream in mixing bowl.

Why we Love it

There are so many reasons to love this delicious vanilla buttercream! Here are just a few:

How to Make Vanilla Buttercream

You can find the full, printable recipe card for this vanilla buttercream at the bottom of our post!

This frosting, which is known as an American Buttercream, is a simple combination of softened butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and a splash of milk.

Allow the frosting to mix for a few minutes to reach the best, creamy consistency. If you'd like to thicken the consistency of the frosting, (for piping buttercream roses, etc.) you can add a bit more confectioners sugar.

To thin out the frosting, you can simply add small amounts of milk.

The BEST Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com! A crusting buttercream recipe. So delicious and easy to make!

Textured Buttercream

Of course, your frosted cakes don't have to be perfectly smooth. We love textured buttercream as well as the look of piping all over a cake.

Our classic vanilla buttercream frosting is versatile enough for just about any sort of buttercream cake or cupcake design you can think of.

Here are just a few of our free cake tutorials that demonstrate simple texturing and piping techniques: Ridged Buttercream Technique, Buttercream Petal Cake, Cascading Rosettes Cake, and Looped Ribbons of Buttercream.

Piping

If you are interested in learning more about piping borders or different piping techniques, make sure to check out our section of Buttercream Techniques, which features a section on Buttercream Piping.

There, you'll find tutorials on piping with star tips, piping with round tips, piping with ruffle tips, and more! All of these techniques can be done with today's Buttercream Frosting recipe.

Recipe FAQs

Another bonus for this vanilla buttercream recipe is that it can easily be doctored to complement the type of cake that you are making

For instance, add mini chocolate chips for a Chocolate Chip Buttercream, add a bit of peppermint extract to make Mint Buttercream, crushed Oreos for Oreo Buttercream, or any number of fruit extracts for various fruit flavored frostings. The possibilities are endless!

**We also have a delicious Vanilla Bean Buttercream recipe which swaps out vanilla extract for Vanilla Bean Paste- it has wonderful flavor (and pretty flecks of vanilla in the frosting too!)

Don't let the term "crusting buttercream" scare you! This frosting develops the slightest "crust". It's something that most people would not even notice when biting into a slice of cake.

However, if you are cake decorator using the Viva Paper Towel method of smoothing or an impression mat (as in our quilted buttercream video), you'll need a crusting frosting.

A frosted cake develops its "crust" after sitting out about ten minutes. When lightly touched, it will leave an impression without removing any frosting.

You can reduce the amount of sugar used in this recipe for an even lighter crust. I often do this when making this recipe for cupcakes (use 4.5-5 cups of confectioners sugar).

Another way to reduce the amount of "crust" is to use whole milk or cream. This won't prevent crusting altogether, but it will give you a softer result than if you were using skim milk or water as your liquid.

We have a couple of great shortening based buttercream frostings in our Frosting Recipes section. One popular option is our Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream, which contains both butter and vegetable shortening.

Another popular recipe that is shortening based and contains no butter is our High Ratio Frosting.  Just like the others, this is a crusting recipe that is great for piping!

The more vegetable shortening that your frosting contains, the lighter the color will be and the more heat resistant it becomes. You do have to rely more on extracts and flavorings when using shortening-based frostings to make up for the absence of butter. However, in times when you need a more heat resistant frosting, shortening-based is a good way to go.

Today's classic vanilla buttercream recipe is the one that I make most often. We hope that you enjoy it!

There's nothing worse than finishing a batch of buttercream only to realize that it has an unpleasant gritty consistency. In my experience, it has everything to do with the brand of confectioner's sugar used.

Personally, we've always had great results with Domino's confectioners sugar as well as US Sugar (sold at Costco). I'm sure there are others! Some brands of confectioner's sugar don't work as well with buttercream frosting recipes.

If a package doesn't say pure cane sugar, it contains beet sugar which is more likely to give you a grainy outcome.

In addition to that, we've noticed that even some brands that say "Pure Cane Sugar" will give a grainy consistency. One example is Dixie Crystals (although it was a go-to of ours years ago.) Something has changed.

I've read that sometimes it is the type of anti-caking agent that certain brands use that cause grittiness. Your best bet is to do a little experimenting to find the brand that gives you the best results.

Keep in mind that this is an all butter (no shortening) recipe, and so it doesn't hold up as well in hot conditions.

For hot summer days, you'll want to keep the cake or cupcakes inside until the event, or opt for a shortening-based frosting.

Just as a stick of butter will melt if placed outside on a hot day, so will buttercream.

Cold Temperatures: Butter-based frostings like today's recipe also become very firm in the refrigerator (just like a stick of butter). So, cakes frosted in buttercream should be removed from the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving. This is not only helpful for the frosting, but it also allows the cake layers to warm and soften.

Everything tastes great with vanilla frosting!

Some of our most popular recipes are vanilla buttermilk cake, lemon cake, yellow cake from scratch, strawberry cake, and chocolate cake from scratch.

Delicious Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com! You'll love this easy and flavorful crusting buttercream recipe! MyCakeSchool.com Online Cake Tutorials, Recipes, and More!
The BEST Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com! A crusting buttercream recipe. So delicious and easy to make!

Classic Vanilla Buttercream (Crusting Recipe)

This easy, delicious Vanilla Buttercream Recipe is so versatile! It is a wonderful recipe that develops a light crust and is perfect for decorating cakes and cupcakes.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
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Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (226g) Should still hold its shape but dent when pressed.
  • 5-6 cups confectioners sugar (690g)(You can adjust amount slightly up or down to your liking.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (8g) (For whiter frosting, you can use clear imitation vanilla)
  • cup milk or cream (72g) (Adjust amount as needed to reach desired consistency.)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (3g)

Instructions

  • 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. Then, slow down the mixer to very slow 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.
  • Yields approximately 4 ½ cups of frosting. Enough to frost a two layer 8 or 9 inch cake.
  • Can be frozen in air tight container for at least three months . Thaw on countertop.
  • If your buttercream is too thin, add more sugar. If the consistency is too thick, add a bit more milk.

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140 Comments

  1. Hi Gloria, I would use the frosting that you like the taste of best. I don't see any problem with using butter based frosting in the filling, even in very warm temperatures.

  2. hi i made this today and it came out great! the only thing is that i made it with extra c. sugar so it can crust more, its been 5 hrs and it didnt crust! also how do you get it so white? mine turns yellow from the butter

  3. Hi Adina, Did you put the frosting onto cold cake cake layers? If so, it can take many hours to crust. If the cake layers were not cold, I don't know why it would not crust with that amount of powdered sugar. Let me know how it goes. As for the color of the frosting, some butters are more yellow than others. We often use Land O Lakes. You can also use a white coloring gel to make it whiter. Americolor has a Bright White coloring gel and Wilton has a White-White Icing Color.

  4. Hi Wilmari, A day or 2 before you need it put the frozen buttercream in the refrigerator. Then place on the countertop to come to room temperature. Remix for a few minutes to smooth it out.

  5. Hi! I’m making this buttercream icing recipe for the almond cake. Would you recommend adding almond extract or keeping the vanilla? If I add almond extract, do I need to sub it for the vanilla extract, or add it in addition? Thanks!