Vanilla Buttercream, the Honest-to-Goodness Best Recipe EVER

My favorite frosting on this whole wide world is classic Vanilla Buttercream.  I love how it has a remiscent taste of vanilla ice cream, and its smooth and creamy texture.  But, not all Vanilla Buttercreams are made the same, no no no.  Store bought Vanilla Buttercream?  That “stuff” should be made illegal.  Vanilla Buttercream from a cupcakery?  Too sweet and gritty.  (Ahem Sprinkles Cupcakes)   But homemade Vanilla Buttercream, yes PLEASE.  Free of shortening and overuse of powdered sugar, homemade Vanilla Buttercream is truly the greatest.  It can be paired with any cupcake or cake, and it is versatile enough to pipe on beautiful flowers and designs.

Ingredients (Enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes)

  • 3 Sticks of Room Temperature Salted Butter

The use of salted butter is crucial.  I feel like I just broke all the baking laws in the world by using salted butter, but trust me on this.  Salted Butter has the same consistency as regular sweetened butter, except it’s salted!  And with that said, having your butter salted cuts down your sweetness, and allows you to use more powdered sugar than usual to produce, say, a stiffer frosting for a rose.  And also, the saltiness adds a dimension of flavor.  You’re not going to get that vanilla ice cream taste without the salted butter.


  • 3 1/2 Cups of Powdered Sugar

I don’t really find sifting the powdered sugar necessary, although, feel free to do so if you would like!


1.  The first thing you’re going to do is beat the heck out of that butter.  Really, beat the life out of it!  I put my standing mixer to a medium high speed of about 6-7, and let that thing beat away, stopping occasionally to scrape down the side.  To get a really voluminous and smooth buttercream, this step is the most important!  You’re whipping air into the butter, allowing it to be airy when sugar is added in.  You can tell if the butter is beaten enough when it has transitioned from it’s yellow color to a pale white.  By dragging your finger through the whipped butter, you can feel the air and the difference from the state you had it in before.

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2.  Add in half your powdered sugar.  You don’t want the sugar to puff up and make you look like the Pillsbury man, do you?  To prevent that from happening, add half your sugar first, then  beat it on a low speed.  Once all of it is combined, add the rest.


3.  After you’ve finished adding in all your sugar, now it’s time to add in your vanilla and cream.  Adding in heavy cream, or half and half, really adds that richness to the frosting and keeps it from becoming too dense.  I feel as if adding milk only liquefies the frosting, and doesn’t really help it at all.  When you add heavy cream, you’re whipping the cream as you’re beating it into the frosting.  And when you whip heavy cream, you get whipped cream, which adds to the volume of the frosting.  The amount of heavy cream and vanilla is up to taste, although I used a tablespoon of vanilla and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream.  (I ran out of pure vanilla extract!)  I prefer an intense vanilla taste, which is why I added so much.  Beat the vanilla and cream into the frosting until it is light and fluffy.

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4.  After copious amounts (not really) of mixing your frosting, it should now look like this!  The frosting should be light, airy, smooth, and it should be able to hold it’s shape.


This is my go-to cupcake frosting, I use it on about 50% of the cupcakes I sell.  It’s my favorite frosting, and you can use it with anything.  For piping mountains of swirls or intricate flowers, the power is in the piping bag, my friend.


Leave a comment below with any questions, or with any more tutorial suggestions!

I piped this frosting on some classic chocolate minis, what would you pair this frosting with?

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