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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (VIDEO)

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

4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
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!

Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $5-$7
Keyword: American buttercream, buttercream frosting, vanilla buttercream
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Calories: 198 kcal
Servings: 24 cupcakes (makes 5 cups frosting)

Ingredients

  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add 1/4 tsp fine salt (or to taste), then add 4 tsp Vanilla Extract, beating until incorporated.
  4. 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 Facts
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 198 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 33mg11%
Sodium 27mg1%
Potassium 3mg0%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 382IU8%
Calcium 5mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Sandra Mishanec
    October 17, 2020

    Hi Natasha…
    Am a relatively new one of your many fans. I tried this recipe and love the cake but find the frosting a bit too sweet and I used only 4 cups of the powdered sugar. If I were to reduce it further, would it still work in terms of spreadability?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      October 18, 2020

      Hi Sandra, it will still work but won’t be quite as fluffy. Adding the salt definitely helps to cut the sweetness.

      Reply

  • Jenn
    October 17, 2020

    Best frosting I’ve ever made.

    Reply

  • sharon kucera
    October 16, 2020

    Natasha, I absolutely love your videos, they’re so fun to watch! I was wondering if you could add weights along side your measurements to your recipes?
    Thank you,

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 16, 2020

      Thanks for your comments and suggestion, Sharon.

      Reply

  • Gram9
    October 12, 2020

    Natasha. Just did your vanilla cake and buttercream frosting gluten-free. It came out moist and delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 12, 2020

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Christina Roman
    September 20, 2020

    This is literally my go to recipe now for buttercream. Love how thick and creamy it is, I have never frosted a cake so fast. Had to double recipe and was scared it wouldnt work, and it turned out just as great. 💕💕

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 20, 2020

      Super! Thanks for sharing that with us, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Antonine K
    September 12, 2020

    My husband is a very traditional guy, so I used this frosting for his birthday cake (yellow cake) instead of a fancier Swiss meringue or cooked frosting. Less work for me, too! We like things on the less sweet side, so I cut down the sugar to about 4 cups. So delicious and easy to spread on the cake. The vanilla flavor really comes through. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 12, 2020

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe Antonine!!

      Reply

  • Rita
    September 4, 2020

    I love watching your blog. I have made many of your recipes and all are awesome. Been looking for a good icing recipe. So I think its gonna be great! Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 5, 2020

      I hope you enjoy this recipe, Rita! Thank you for sharing this great review!

      Reply

  • Ashlynn James
    August 30, 2020

    I made the vanilla cake shown on this website, as well as the vanilla buttercream. Both recipes worked out fantastic!!!! The cake was moist and the buttercream was not sickly sweet as some buttercreams can be. Will definitely be keeping both recipes for future use. Thanks Natasha for sharing.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 30, 2020

      Hi Ashlynn, that is super great! I’m so happy to be reading your comments and good feedback, thanks for sharing your experience with us!

      Reply

  • Andrea
    August 29, 2020

    Hi Natasha,
    Thank you for sharing your awesome recipes.
    I was wondering, is there a trick to make buttercream taste less like powdered sugar? I used Domino 10x powdered sugar.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      August 31, 2020

      Hi Andrea, try this method. The way the powdered sugar is added slowly makes the final product not taste like powdered sugar. Also, don’t reduce the amount of vanilla.

      Reply

  • Samantha
    August 15, 2020

    Hi!
    This makes alot of frosting. How much measurements if I want to do for 12 cupcakes? I Wanna try your vanilla cupcakes recipe. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 16, 2020

      Hi Samantha, if you’re at the recipe just click Jump to Recipe and click on the number of servings, you can adjust the ingredients from there. I hope that helps!

      Reply

  • Samantha
    August 15, 2020

    Hi!
    How much ingredients and measurements should I use if I want to frost 12 cup cakes? This recipe seems alot. Wanna try your vanilla cupcakes!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 15, 2020

      Hi Samantha, in the recipe please click on Jump to Recipe and click the number of servings to adjust the ingredients. I hope that helps!

      Reply

      • samantha
        August 16, 2020

        Thanks! Will the frosting Harden after pipping? Like once I place in refrigerator?

        Reply

        • Natasha
          August 17, 2020

          Hi Samantha, as with most buttercream recipes, it will firm up when refrigerated and soften at room temperature.

          Reply

  • Nancy
    August 13, 2020

    Just completed, looks delicious

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 13, 2020

      Thank you for sharing that feedback with me Nancy! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this recipe.

      Reply

  • vika
    August 10, 2020

    Oh my..this frosting is SO delicious and super easy to make! I added about 1/2-2/3 cups less sugar than the recipe calls for and it was perfect for my sweet tooth

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 10, 2020

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe Vika! Thank you for your lovely review and comment!

      Reply

  • koniah
    August 10, 2020

    thanks i dont know that you love bigger bolder baking i love it to

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 10, 2020

      You are most welcome!

      Reply

  • Dimitra Fitzherbert
    August 9, 2020

    This is hands down the best buttercream recipe I have ever made. I got so many compliments and it kept its shape and was delicious.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 10, 2020

      Super! Thank you for your wonderful feedback, we appreciate it!

      Reply

  • Judy
    August 9, 2020

    Hi- Can you please give me the link for your measuring spoons please.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 9, 2020

      Hello Judy, you can see the kitchen tools that I am using here in our Amazon Page.

      Reply

  • Lana
    August 4, 2020

    I tried it but it really comes too hard when I put it in the refrigerator
    The butter which I used is Kerrygold and I followed the steps as in the recipe

    Reply

    • Natasha
      August 4, 2020

      Hi Lana, Kerrygold is a great butter but a cheap butter will work better here for color. All buttercreams firm up in the refrigerator and soften at room temperature. That is normal.

      Reply

  • Trang
    August 3, 2020

    Love how easy this is. Definitely a staple recipe when it comes to baking!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 3, 2020

      Thank you for your great comments, Trang. We appreciate it!

      Reply

  • Beth
    August 3, 2020

    We love this icing! It’s so delicious and just the right amount of sweetness added! Can’t wait to make this again!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 3, 2020

      Sounds like you found a new favorite Beth! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

      Reply

  • Aimee Shugarman
    August 3, 2020

    So simple, yet so delicious. THANK YOU 🙂

    Reply

    • Natasha
      August 3, 2020

      Hi Aimee, I’m so glad to hear that you loved the buttercream frosting.

      Reply

  • Inez
    August 2, 2020

    Please give metric for ingredients for vanilla cakeI

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 2, 2020

      If you are at the recipe, you may click on “Jump to recipe” and click “Metric” to see the ingredients converted to grams.

      Reply

  • Alma Crumley
    August 1, 2020

    I look forward every day to Natasha’s blog. The recipes are excellent. I am 89 and still love to cook.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 1, 2020

      Awww that’s the best! Thank you so much for sharing that with me! I’m so inspired reading your review. Thank you!

      Reply

  • karen
    July 31, 2020

    can you use salted butter & leave out the salt?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 31, 2020

      Hi Karen, I haven’t tested that but I bet that could work! If you experiment please let me know how you like that.

      Reply

  • koniah
    July 31, 2020

    hi natashsha can you use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      July 31, 2020

      Hi Koniah, this recipe works best with powdered sugar and granulated sugar would take a really long time to blend in without feeling gritty. There are some easy tutorials on how to make powdered sugar online.

      Reply

      • koniah
        August 10, 2020

        tankes natashaand i did not know you love bigger bolder baking

        Reply

        • Natasha
          August 10, 2020

          Hi Koniah, Gemma is a friend of mine – we met in Hollywood at a conference. She is a gem of a person.

          Reply

          • Neetha Prakash
            September 16, 2020

            Hi Natasha!
            The frosting looks amazing and I think pretty simple to make too . I will be baking a Vanilla cake with this buttercream frosting for my husband’s birthday in 2 days. Unfortunately I don’t have an oven , I have a microwave with me. Can I bake this cake in a microwave and still have a moist and a light cake ?? Please help.

          • Natashas Kitchen
            September 16, 2020

            Hi Neetha, I can’t say this will work in a microwave and without testing that I’m unable to advise. If you experiment though I would love to know how you like that.

  • margaret korn
    July 30, 2020

    Hi , I enjoy many of your recipes. My problem is serving size is not listed. It makes calculating for calories and sugars very difficult. Please add the serving size to nutritional information. Thanks Margaret

    Reply

    • Natasha
      July 31, 2020

      Hi Margaret, we have the servings towards the top of the recipe card. In this case, the frosting makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes so the nutrition card is per cupcake.

      Reply

  • Monica
    July 30, 2020

    Omg! I can’t wait to try this recipe. I’ve tried some buttercream recipes and they went a total disaster. I have a feeling that this will be a perfect one! Everything from @Natashaskitchen turns out perfect!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 30, 2020

      Aww, you’re so nice! Thank you for that wonderful review, Monica! I’m so happy you’re enjoying our recipes!

      Reply

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