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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
- Set aside the amount of frosting you want to color in a separate dish.
- 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.
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!
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting – the same one we used for our popular Chocolate Cake
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting – a stable cream often used on wedding cakes
- Cupcake Frosting – so simple and lightened up with cream cheese
- Chocolate Ganache – can be used as a glaze or whipped into a frosting
- White Chocolate Frosting – sturdy and pipes beautifully
- Cream Cheese Frosting – our go-to for Red Velvet
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
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!
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.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen