Our favorite Vanilla Buttercream Frosting! This American buttercream recipe is creamy, fluffy, and has just the right amount of sweetness. It pipes beautifully on Vanilla Cake, our favorite Cupcakes, and even Sugar Cookies.

Whipped buttercream frosting in mixing bowl with spatula

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Watch Buttercream Frosting Video Recipe:

This classic buttercream frosting is one of the easiest and most stable frostings you will make. Vanilla buttercream is perfect as is, but also works great for adding different colors and flavorings (see instructions below). Watch the video tutorial and you will realize just how easy it is.

What is American Buttercream?

American buttercream is essentially a combination of butter, confectioners sugar (or powdered sugar), adding a little milk or cream to lighten the texture with vanilla and salt for flavor. Most American buttercreams are overly sweet, but after testing this recipe over the years, we came up with the perfect proportion of butter to powdered sugar along with our tips for achieving the best buttercream texture.

The consistency is similar to our famous Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but there is no heating or cooking required because American Buttercream frosting doesn’t contain eggs.

American buttercream made from butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and cream on a whisk

Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting:

Butter: keep about 2 hours at room temperature or until butter is 65˚F to 67˚F on an instant-read thermometer, or until you can indent the butter with your finger. Choose a lighter-colored butter which is typically the cheaper butter. Avoid yellow-colored butter.

Vanilla Extract: Use the best quality vanilla extract.

Ingredients for making vanilla buttercream frosting

Heavy Cream or milk: add it to desired consistency. Without it, the frosting will look dry and won’t pipe as smoothly. If it’s too thick, it can also get stuck in the piping tip. Start with adding 1 Tbsp of cream or milk at a time and add it to your desired consistency, mixing between each addition.

Powdered Sugar: sift to eliminate lumps so they don’t get stuck in your piping tips.

Can I add less sugar? You can add powdered sugar to taste but using more will make the frosting thicker and using less with make the frosting looser and taste more buttery. If using less sugar, you will likely need to add less cream or milk at the end.

sifting powdered sugar

How to Add Different Flavors to Buttercream:

To make flavored buttercream, just stir in your desired flavorings at the very end of mixing. Try these mix-ins:

  • Chocolate Buttercream: Add 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, or add to taste.
  • Coffee Buttercream: Dissolve 1 1/2 Tbsp instant espresso powder in 2 Tbsp warm water.
  • Raspberry or Strawberry Buttercream: Add 1/2 cup seedless preserves and red fool coloring for a deeper color.

Swirls of vanilla flavored buttercream frosting

How to Add Color to Buttercream Frosting:

A white vanilla buttercream base is perfect for adding color because it doesn’t compete with other colors. If you plan to color the buttercream, start with a thicker frosting (add little or no cream at the end since the color can thin the frosting slightly).

  1. Set aside the amount of frosting you want to color in a separate dish.
  2. Add 1-2 drops at a time depending on frosting quantity then stir and add more as needed. Wilton has a great guide to achieving the right color.

Gel Color is best because it is thicker and more concentrated than liquid food coloring. You can add more color before your frosting gets too thin. We recommend the Wilton Color Right 8-piece (a great starter kit), or the Americolor 12-piece set (if you want more unique shades). Both sets work well for adding color to frostings.

Vanilla buttercream ready for adding coloring

Can I Make Buttercream Ahead?

If you aren’t using it right away, you can refrigerate buttercream frosting in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks or freeze up to 3 months. When ready to use the frosting, follow these steps:

  • Thaw if frozen – Allow the buttercream frosting to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Room Temperature – let the chilled frosting to come to room temperature, or until no longer firm.
  • Stir – use a spatula to fold and soften the frosting before using it.

More Frosting Recipes:

These are our best-loved frosting recipes and the ones we make most often to frost cakes and cupcakes. I hope they all become new favorites for you!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

4.99 from 184 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Vanilla Buttercream frosting on whisk
This American buttercream frosting recipe has just the right amount of sweetness and pipes beautifully and will cover a 9-inch layer cake, 24 cupcakes, and many sugar cookies!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 24 cupcakes (makes 5 cups frosting)
  • 1 1/2 cups Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar, or added to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt, or to taste
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 Tbsp heavy cream or whole milk, added to desired consistency

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or handheld electric mixer), beat butter on high speed for 5 minutes or until lightened in color and whipped, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  • Meanwhile, sift 4 1/2 to 5 cups of powdered sugar. Reduce mixer to medium-low speed and add powdered sugar one heaping Tablespoon at a time, letting it incorporate with each addition. Add powdered sugar to taste and beat until it is fully incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add 1/4 tsp fine salt (or to taste), then add 4 tsp Vanilla Extract, beating until incorporated.
  • Add 3 Tbsp heavy cream or milk, 1 Tbsp at a time, and adding it to the desired consistency. Beat another minute until whipped and well combined.

Nutrition Per Serving

198kcal Calories23g Carbs1g Protein12g Fat8g Saturated Fat33mg Cholesterol27mg Sodium3mg Potassium22g Sugar382IU Vitamin A5mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
198
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
8
g
50
%
Cholesterol
 
33
mg
11
%
Sodium
 
27
mg
1
%
Potassium
 
3
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
23
g
8
%
Sugar
 
22
g
24
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Vitamin A
 
382
IU
8
%
Calcium
 
5
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American buttercream, buttercream frosting, vanilla buttercream
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 198
Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Adele
    June 1, 2024

    This is the only buttercream recipe I use after years of trial and error with others! It’s so smooth and perfect every time!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 1, 2024

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us, Adele!

      Reply

  • Candy
    May 31, 2024

    I made it twice. The first time I think it broke. It was grainy and had a “clearish” liquid in it. The second time it was flat out too much like straight butter. And I followed the recipe both times. I must be doing something wrong…

    Reply

    • Natasha
      June 2, 2024

      Hi Candy, it sounds like it might be an issue with the temperature of the ingredients. Was your butter overly soft or melted?

      Reply

  • Holly
    May 25, 2024

    I was out of cream cheese. I didn’t think I would like an icing made from butter but I needed icing so I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did. It was easy and delicious.

    Reply

  • Karen
    May 17, 2024

    Hello! Thank you for the amazing recipes! I am preparing the “easy chocolate cupcake” recipe for my daughter’s bday and will be using this buttercream recipe for the decoration. Can i prepare it 1 day before the birthday and put it in the fridge to use it the second day? Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 17, 2024

      HI Karen, yes you can make this ahead. Please check this in the recipe “an I Make Buttercream Ahead?”

      Reply

  • Rosa
    April 23, 2024

    Hi Natasha, I tried and have made the Chocolate Cupcakes and Frosting , It was a big Hit everyone loved them. Thank you so much, I’m going to try your buttercream frosting for Mother’s Day

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 23, 2024

      I’m so glad you love them both! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Karen
    April 20, 2024

    This frosting is delicious! The only issue I had was trying to pipe it on my cupcakes but once I got it very cold, it was easy.
    I had a lot leftover and I put it in the freezer- I haven’t tried to thaw it so I’m not certain it be usable because of the whipped cream component but it was too yummy to toss out.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 20, 2024

      Hi Karen! This buttercream freezes great. Once it thaws, just give it a quick whip with an electric mixture to get it fluffy again.

      Reply

  • Carlene
    April 7, 2024

    Hi,

    You cake looks soooo delicious. Ove tried it and it was equally as delicious.
    How do you get your buttercream to be so white???

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 7, 2024

      Hi Carlene! I’m glad you loved it. Thank you.
      The brand of butter can make a difference. The key is to find a brand that isn’t too yellow to start with and whip it very well.

      Reply

  • Pat
    April 6, 2024

    Hi, why is my buttercream gritty? I use the same measurements and process.
    Thanks

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 6, 2024

      Hi Pat, it’s hard to say without being there exactly, but there could be several contributing factors. It may be due to your butter and sugar not being creamed sufficiently. Incorporating your ingredients at the wrong temperature may also be the culprit, checking to ensure your butter is at room temperature — cold butter may cause a gritty texture. The type of sugar you use may also be the culprit if its a type that’s slower to dissolve. Be sure you’re not over-mixing the buttercream and your ingredients are high-quality and fresh. Some ingredients may have impurities that cause a gritty texture. I hope this is helpful.

      Reply

    • Ash
      April 12, 2024

      I ran into a similar issue the first time making buttercream for me it was that I over mixed it

      Reply

  • Rawya Evers
    April 4, 2024

    Can the Vanilla Butter Cream frosting used on soft sugar cookies

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 5, 2024

      I haven’t tried that but feel free to give it a try!

      Reply

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