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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

5 from 4 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.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • 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

  • 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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