The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (2024)

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Make the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe with my chef-tested tips and techniques for the perfect buttercream icing every time!

By Gemma Stafford | | 1689

Last updated on September 13, 2023

The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (1)

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WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE:Nothing beats a great homemadevanilla buttercream frosting recipe, and every baker should have afoolproofbuttercream recipein their back pocket to decoratecakesandcupcakes. Here’s the thing though, this recipe is so good that I just had to call it the Best-Ever. Bold Bakers say it’s delicious, with a sweet, but not too sweet!taste, and has the best creamytexture. I mean, just look at all those reviews like:

“It is now my go-to frosting! I’ve never had any failures in making it. Thanks for the easy-to-follow directions.”

“This buttercream is beautifully fluffy and delicious, and pipes dreamily!”

As a professional chef, I have learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years. Now I’m going to show you theBold Baking Basicrecipe that I get the most requests for How to Make the Best- EverVanilla Buttercream Frosting. Watch the step-by-step video below (along with a complete recipe!) and get all my best tips on how to make the icing.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 4/19/2023 to include additional detailed tips on ingredients and process, step-by-step photography, answers to the most frequently asked questions (why runny/grainy, less sweet, etc) and Pro-Chef Tips.

Table of Contents

  • What is Buttercream Frosting?
  • The Secret to My Best-EverVanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • Tools You Need
  • Best-Ever Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
  • How to Make theBest Buttercream Frosting
  • How to StoreVanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • Why is my Buttercream Frosting Runny?
  • Why is my Buttercream Frosting Grainy?
  • Can I Cut Back on Sugar in Buttercream Frosting? How to Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet?
  • FAQs
  • Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
  • Try More Frosting Recipes!

What is Buttercream Frosting?

Buttercream frosting, also known asAmerican buttercream frosting(there are other types, such asSwiss Meringue Buttercream) is made bywhippingtogetherbutter, sugar, and otheringredients.

It sounds like it should be easy, but one of the most common questions I get asked on Bigger Bolder Baking is how to make successful buttercream frosting. I also had trouble with it for a very long time, but I developed the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, and I have the tips that will give you foolproof results every time!

The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (2)

The Secret to My Best-EverVanilla Buttercream Frosting

How do you make fluffy homemade buttercream frosting? The secret ingredient in this recipe is time. Most people whip their butter for only a few minutes before adding in sugar, but you’ll never achieve a light and airy result this way. This frosting recipe takes its literal sweet time to really incorporate as much air as possible into the butter. Find detailed instructions on this page down below.

Best-Ever Buttercream Frosting Ingredients

Butter:

  • Butteris the base ofperfect buttercream frosting. I always usesalted butterbecausesaltenhancesflavors. You can use either salted orunsalted butterper your preference.
  • Butterhas to be softened correctly to get the silky-smooth consistency for frosting. You know yourbutteris at the right temperature when you push thebutterand it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through.

Icing sugar (AKA powdered orconfectioners sugar):

  • Icing sugar is simply finely ground sugar with cornstarch added to absorb moisture to prevent clumping. The good news is if you run out of icing sugar, you can make your own using myHow to MakePowdered Sugarrecipe.
  • Icing sugar not only perfectly sweetens frosting but also contributes to a smoother consistency compared to granulated sugar which is coarser.
  • Icing sugar rubs against fat from softenedbutterduring creaming, creating air pockets to incorporate air. In the meanwhile, icing sugar also coats air pockets to prevent them from drying out, retaining air to stabilize frosting.

Vanilla:

  • I believe that using good qualityingredientsis essential to making any great baked goods. Pure naturalvanilla extractinstead of artificial vanilla essence, is a must to deliver the signatureflavorto your buttercream.
  • You can makevanilla extract(and otherflavorextracts) with amazing results at a fraction of the store price using myHomemade Extracts recipe.
  • Vanilla bean pastewill be more concentrated inflavorand yield a speckled effect.

Milk:

  • Along with the vanilla, milk thins and lightens the consistency.
  • Half and half,heavy cream, orheavy whipping creamwill also work.

Food coloring (OPTIONAL)

  • Gel food coloringcan be used because it will not dilute the frosting consistency like liquid coloring does.
  • Dip a toothpick in the paste and add it to the frosting in very small amounts each time.

How to Make the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream

While this recipe takes a bit of patience, follow my steps and you will have thebest vanilla buttercream frostingevery time (and don’t forget to get thefull recipe with measurements, on the page down below):

1. Soften:

  • The key to a fluffy buttercream frosting is perfectly softenedbutter. This is super-important becausebutteris the base of the frosting. Just leave yourbutterout atroom temperaturefor around three hours, it will be at the perfecttexturethat when you push it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through.
  • Over-softenedbuttercan not retain air well which leads to a flat runny frosting; under-softenedbutterwill have lumps which leads to a grainy or overwhipped split frosting.

2.Whip:

  • Using thewhisk attachmentinstead of thepaddle attachmentcan incorporate more air.
  • Turn your mixer on amedium-high speedandwhipthebutterby itself for seven to eight minutes, untilbutteris light, fluffy, and pale yellow in color before you add in any sugar.
  • Whippingupbutterfirst will create an aerated structure to holdpowdered sugar. Otherwise, sugar will weigh down thebutterleading to a flat heavy frosting.

The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (3)

3. Sift:

  • Sifting is really important when it comes topowdered sugar(orcocoa powderor almond flour inmacaronsto get out any lumps.
  • Sifting will also fluff up the sugar and give you lighter frosting.

4. Sweeten:

  • Once yourbutteris pale and light, add in your sugar spoonful by spoonful. Let each spoonfulwhipuntil fully incorporated before moving on to the next one.

5. Lighten:

  • Add in the vanilla extract and milk, turn the machine back on high speed, and let everything incorporate. In just a few minutes, you will have perfect, fluffy frosting.

The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (4)

How to Store Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

The best way to store leftover buttercream frosting is to keep it in anairtight containerin therefrigeratorfor up to 4 weeks.

Buttercream frosting can be frozen for up to 8 weeks.

Whether you’re storing it in the fridge or the freezer, make sure you keep it in an airtight container, pull it out, and let it come to room temperature naturally before you use it. Re-whip it until smooth again if needed.

Why is my Buttercream Frosting Runny?

  • You might have overbeaten thebutterwhich separated fat to cause the issue or yourbutterwas too soft to retain air.You know yourbutteris at the right temperature when you push thebutterand it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through.
  • Sugar was added too early which weighed down the mixture.Whipbutteruntil light and fluffy to build a structure to hold the sugar. Otherwise, it would be runny.
  • Sugar was added all at oncewhich collapsed the mixture.Add sugar gradually to fully incorporate it. When sugar is beaten into the light and fluffybutter, it dissolves in the film on the surface of the air bubbles. This sugary syrup film prevents the bubbles from drying out and tightening up too fast.
  • If it melted due to a hot weather, you can try myStabilized Whipped Creamrecipe orErmine Frosting Recipe.

Why is my Buttercream Frosting Grainy?

  • Butterwas too cold which caused lumps.Make sure when you push thebutter, it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through.
  • Granulated sugar was used.You need powdered / icing sugar which is fine enough to achieve a smooth result. Make it if needed using myHow to MakePowdered Sugarrecipe.
  • Sugar was added all at oncewhich clumped up.Add sugar gradually by spoonful to fully incorporate it.
  • European StyleButteris high in fat and can yield a thick or potentially lumpy result.Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time to your Buttercream Frosting until you reach yourdesired consistency.

Can I Cut Back on Sugar in Buttercream? How to Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet?

  • Sugar is vital in incorporating air into and stabilizing the structure of buttercream frosting. When sugar is beaten into the light and fluffybutter, it dissolves in the film on the surface of the air bubbles. This sugary syrup film prevents the bubbles from drying out and tightening up too fast.
  • ¼ less is the farthest you can go without affecting the consistency.
  • Another trick is to add 1-1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon ofsaltto reduce the sweetness.

FAQs

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you can.

It is easy to adjust this recipe as it is proportional: it’s 4:1 in cups (two measures of sugar to one ofbutter) and 2:1 in weight (grams).

After adding vanilla, my frosting separated. Can it be fixed or do I start again?

It may be salvageable.

Yourbuttermight have been over-softened so when you whipped it, it couldn’t retain much air and got over-whipped separating the fat. You can try to gently mix in more softenedbutter.

How do I get air bubbles out of the buttercream frosting?

Near the end of mixing, run your mixer at a low speed. This will help to smooth out the frosting and remove big air bubbles. While applying frosting, follow my guide onHow to Do a Crumb Coatlayerfirst.

How to frost small batch/single-serve recipes?

For about 3mugcakesor 6cupcakes, it would be 3 oz/85g ofbutter, 170g sugar, 1/2 tspvanilla extract, 1 1/2 tsp- 2 1/4 tsp of milk and cream.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

What do you do if you’ve followed my tips but find your frosting is too loose, and not thick enough for spreading orpipingdecorations?

  • The first thing I’d suggest is to chill the buttercream frosting. By bringing down the temperature, the frosting should tighten up immediately. This is a great trick for buttercream frosting that may have been overmixed or made at too warm a temperature.
  • If this doesn’t seem to do the trick, try adding more siftedpowdered sugar, 3 tablespoons at a time.

If your frosting feels too thick, there is no reason to start over from scratch on a new batch.

  • Simply add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. From there, simply pipe or frost as normal.
  • Don’t worry, adding the milk will not affect theflavorof your frosting.

The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (5)

  • Gemma’s Best Vanilla BirthdayCakerecipeorGemma’s Best-Ever Vanilla MugCakeThis festive sprinkle-coveredcakeis the perfect choice for any Bold Baker. Make it in a mug for a quick dessert!
  • Gemma’s BestCakeRecipes,CrazyCupcakes, all your favoritemugcakerecipes, and evensugar cookies!
  • LemonCakeWith Lemon Buttercream Frosting
  • White VelvetCakewithStrawberry ButtercreamFrosting
  • Best-EverChocolate Buttercream Frosting,Peanut ButterButtercream Frosting,Fluffy Nutella Buttercream Frosting,Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercreamandmore possibilities!

Even More Frosting Recipes!

  • Best-EverCream Cheese Frosting
  • The Perfect Ermine Frosting
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
  • VeganChocolate Buttercream Frosting
  • Dairy-FreeVanilla Buttercream Frosting

And don’t forget to check out my new cookbook,Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 4/19/2023 to include additional detailed tips on ingredients and process, step-by-step photography, answers to the most frequently asked questions (why runny/grainy, less sweet, etc) and Pro-Chef Tips.

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Try These Recipes!

Crazy Frosting Recipe: The Best Buttercream Frosting with Endless Flavor Variations
My Buttercream Isn't Stiff Enough: How to Perfect Frosting
Gemma's Best-Ever Vanilla Birthday Cake Recipe
How To Make Powdered Sugar (With Video!)

Watch The Recipe Video!

Gemma's Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

4.52 from 1814 votes

Print Recipe

Learn how to make my easy, Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe, which is perfect for my Vanilla Birthday Cake and any of my cakes & cupcakes.

Author: Gemma Stafford

Servings: 5 cups

  • Vanilla
  • Less than 30 Minutes
  • Electric Mixer

Prep Time 20 minutes mins

Total Time 20 minutes mins

Learn how to make my easy, Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe, which is perfect for my Vanilla Birthday Cake and any of my cakes & cupcakes.

Author: Gemma Stafford

Servings: 5 cups

Ingredients

  • cups (12 oz/340 g) butter , softened
  • 6 cups (1lb 8oz/680 g) icing sugar (powdered sugar) , sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using an electric hand mixer) whip the butter until light and creamy for about 7 - 8 minutes on High speed.

  • While the butter is whipping sieve the icing sugar about 3 times to remove lumps and incorporate air.

  • Once the butter is pale in color and light slowly add in the sifted icing sugar one spoon at a time at Medium speed. Let the sugar fully incorporate before adding in more.

  • Add the milk and vanilla extract and whip on High speed for another 3-4 minutes until very light, creamy, and fluffy.

  • Use the buttercream straight away or keep it refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Before use, make sure it comes to room temperature. It also can be frozen for up to 8 weeks.

Recipe Notes

** For about 3 mug cakes or 6 cupcakes it would be 3ozs/85g of butter, 170g sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tsp- 2 1/4 tsp of milk and cream . This will generously frost this batch.

* This recipe amount will generously cover at least 24 cupcakes and cover and fill an 8-inch sponge cake. It is easy to adjust this recipe as it is proportional, at a ratio of 2:1. That is two measures of sugar to one of butter. I.E.

I always use salted butter unless specified otherwise. If you use unsalted butter, add salt to your frosting as needed for enhancing the flavor.

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Teona

3 years ago

Hi Gemma,
Thank you for your recipes! I have made chocolate cake using your recipe and instead of chocolate fudge I made butter cream! Which turned out quite airy, light and sweet. But I didn’t put 6 cups of sugar, because I found it too sweet.
My question is. If it’s okay too use lees sugar?
Thank you.

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Tracy Gaut

1 year ago

I followed the recipe and it turned out amazing! This was my first time decorating a cake. Thoughts?

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The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (15)

Cindy Peterson

4 years ago

Hi Gemma,
I’m making a cake for my daughters birthday and I’m excited to try your butter cream frosting recipe. How long can the buttercream frosting stay out? I was hoping to assemble cake on Thursday evening and her party is Friday evening. Would it be ok to keep out or do you recommend putting in refrigerator? Also, I wanted to add some crushed Oreos into the frosting. Would you recommend mixing them in by hand after frosting is made or incorporating Oreos in stand mixer?
Thanks so much!!
Cindy Peterson 🙂

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The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (16)

nazzy

4 years ago

Hi Gemma Nazzy again,

I made your frosting and it stayed but i found out that when i add the colour it gets a bit lose as i have liquid colouring. then i add some more icing sugar.
also i have this problem, why does the frosting breaks while piping?
can u give a samll qty version of swiss meringue cream as i can use it to teast on piping?
i made my sons birthday cake” wheels on the bus” wanted to share with u.

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The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (17)

Sabeen

4 years ago

Hi Gemma! Can I use salted butter in this recipe in place of salt?

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The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (18)

NH

4 years ago

Will this work if the sugar is skipped/replaced with a sweetener such as Stevia drops or erythritol? I imagine it would be ok in terms of the texture and consistency? Thoughts?

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Author

4 years ago

Hi yes you can double the recipe.

5

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The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (20)

Emma Reed

4 years ago

Flawless!

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The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (with Video) (21)

liddyM23

4 years ago

Hi Gemma,
I came across your website whilst looking for an easy vanilla frosting. I wanted a recipe that didn’t taste gritting with sugar, but wonder what I did wrong, however, it tasted grate and wasn’t as gritty as my usual buttercream recipe. I think it’s the butter, but how soft should the butter be to start mixing?
Thanks, Liddy

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Author

4 years ago

Hi, yes you can!

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Meet Gemma

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About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

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