Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream

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This delicious Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is crusting recipe that is perfect for cake decorating! This American Buttercream is similar to our  Classic Vanilla Buttercream recipe, however, it has a lighter, fluffier texture due to the shortening in the recipe.

  • What is a crusting buttercream? As the name suggests, crusting frostings like this one develop a very thin crust when exposed to air. In as little as 5-10 minutes, a cake frosted in a crusting buttercream can be lightly touched without removing any of the frosting. Beneath that thin layer, the frosting remains soft.


  • Many cake decorators love to use the "Viva Paper Towel method" of smoothing when working with crusting buttercreams. Simply frost the cake, sweep around the sides and top with your spatula (or bench scraper) of choice, and then allow it to sit for a few minutes before smoothing over it with a paper towel. 


  • (Viva brand paper towels are a popular choice for this paper towel method of smoothing because it has no quilting or impressions.) 



Helpful Hints 

  • This Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream frosting contains both butter and shortening. Because of the shortening, it is slightly more heat resistant than an all-butter frosting recipe, and it is lighter in color than an all-butter buttercream recipe.


  • If heat is more of a concern, you could switch to an all shortening (no butter) frosting recipe like this one: High Ratio Frosting. All frostings will melt if the weather is hot enough, but shortening certainly is more resistant than butter.


  • If you are looking for a crusting frosting that does not contain any shortening, we love our Classic Vanilla Buttercream recipe also. You can find it here!: Classic Vanilla Buttercream.


  • We often use clear vanilla in our buttercream frosting recipes because real vanilla gives vanilla buttercream more of an off-white or ivory color. However, this may not bother you! It simply comes down to personal preference or the design of your cake. 

Does Brand of Confectioners Sugar Matter? 

** Important note about the sugar: We’ve had great results with Domino’s confectioners sugar and US Sugar (we buy ours from Costco). Some brands of confectioners 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. So frustrating! One example is Dixie Crystals (although it used to work great for us a few years ago.) Something has changed…it’s a mystery. Anyway, this recipe should not be grainy, and so if it is, experiment with a different brand of confectioners sugar.


Delicious Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com. The shortening in the recipe makes it a bit more warm-weather friendly! Perfect for piping! MyCakeSchool.com


Fabulous Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com. This recipe pipes beautifully and crusts for easy smoothing. My Cake School.

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This fluffy vanilla buttercream recipe is perfect for piping and works great with the viva paper towel method! Good flavor, and contains shortening which makes is a bit more heat resistant.
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  • 2 lbs. confectioners' sugar 910 g
  • ½ cup 1 stick (113 g ) unsalted butter softened (soften on countertop rather than microwave for best results)
  • 1 ½ cups solid vegetable shortening such as Crisco or Trex 286 g. or 10 oz. by weight. ** If using hi ratio shortening, see below)
  • 2 Tablespoons clear vanilla extract 24 g
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon butter flavoring if you are leaving out the butter and using all shortening
  • ¼ teaspoons lemon or almond extract 1 g OPTIONAL
  • ¼ cup milk 57 g any milk is fine but I like milk with higher fat content. You could substitute water too (See below)
  • ½ teaspoon salt to cut the sweetness. We use popcorn salt because of its fine grain. If using table salt you can dissolve it in the milk before adding.


  • Cream butter, shortening , salt and extracts until creamy and smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar and milk. Mix thoroughly on medium speed for approximately 8 minutes. For the last two minutes decrease the mixing speed to VERY SLOW ( number 2 speed on a KitchenAid) until creamy and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally during the mixing process.


*If I use a high ratio shortening (such as CK or Sweetex brand) I decrease the shortening amount to 1 ¼ cups (236 g.) and increase the milk, ¼ cup plus 2 to 3 Tablespoons milk or enough to make it the consistency you like.
*I used to always use water for this recipe, but I switched to milk for flavor & also because when you use a higher fat milk for your liquid, the buttercream still has a nice crust to it, but it doesn't crust quite so quickly or so hard as if you use water.
*Makes about 6 cups of frosting-- you can half it, or freeze the leftovers if you don't need this much! (One cup of frosting frosts about 12 cupcakes with a simple swirl using a 2D tip)

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  1. Hi Sandra, we have used Sweetex high ratio shortening and ordered online, here is link

    If you live near a bakery supply, you could probably find it there and save on shipping

  2. I just tried this recipe and it came out grainy. I have never had that happen before so I'm wondering what I might have did wrong.

  3. You know what I did which I normally do not do. I forgot to take my butter out and was super rushed for time. That will be a lesson to not forget to let it get soft on its own time.

  4. I love this site ! ..such great suggestions and I love how easy it is to follow the instructions shown by Melissa in the cake videos. I have been working with buttercream icing for approx. 5 years now and would like to share that when I use margarine it holds up in the hottest weather of July & August, ( wedding cake season ) which really means a lot in my area of Nova Scotia, Canada, where those two months are extremely humid as well. I also use Wilton Butter Flavor in all buttercream icing recipes as well as any cake recipe I make. The Butter Flavor really makes a lovely difference because I use margarine and Crisco shortening for all of my buttercream icing. I use 1 teaspoon each of vanilla, butter and almond flavorings for both the cake and icing recipes..I also use one tablespoon of meringue powder in icing recipes to help stabilize the icing ,especially in the Summer months.

  5. Hi! I have a question about high ratio shortening that I have been hearing about and I would like to know if you can use high ratio shortening instead of using the Crisco and butter and if so would you use the same amount of high ratio as you did for the Crisco and butter? Also, if you wanted to do High ratio and butter combination how much of each should you use?

    Thank you,
    Lynn Gonzalez

  6. Hi Lynn, this would be a good question to post on the forum as many of our members use high ratio shortening but we don't have a recipe that we use . The high ratio will absorb more liquid than Crisco so you could use less, probably 1/4 to 1/3 cup less.

  7. Oh my goddess!
    This is the first time i find grams in a Buttercream recipe *___*
    I'm so happy, cuz in Germany we don't use cup measure or lbs. and i'm often really confused if i convert the amount right.
    Thx a lot! ... and please do it more often, that would be soooo awesome :3
    But i have one question - is the extract liquid or powder? And does it matter? (I read in some blogs that they prefer one or another for the outcome so it bothers me a little)

  8. Hi Ino, our flavorings are liquid extracts. I have never used powder so I don't have experience with that. We will try to put more recipes into grams.

  9. HI! Loving this site.. quick question.. When doing this recipe can i leave out the Almond and or lemon extract. My family is very picky..and they love just basic butter cream taste. If i leave it out, do I add more of the vanilla extract?