Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Did you know that you can make bakery buttercream frosting with four simple ingredients? Now you do! This delicious vanilla buttercream recipe can be used with any cupcake recipe you want. It won't take long to make and turns out smooth and creamy every time.

confetti cupcakes in an open muffin wrapper on a cooling rack.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Homemade buttercream frosting is the magic secret to making your favorite cupcakes taste like you picked them up from the local bakery. Sure, you could use a can of store-bought frosting but making buttercream is just the best way to eat cupcakes.

This simple recipe can be used on cake and cookies too! If you're a fan of wedding cake, then you'll love this frosting. Many wedding cakes and bakery cakes are iced with buttercream frosting, which is why they're insanely delicious.

In my house, we love to make our own birthday cake and I always use this frosting recipe when we do. If we're hosting a party, I'll typically make confetti cupcakes since they're easily sharable and extra festive.

If you've never put buttercream frosting on a chewy sugar cookie, you're for sure missing out. You absolutely have to try it with this bakery buttercream frosting recipe!

a hand mixer whipping together frosting ingredients

Why You'll Love this Recipe

There are so many uses for homemade frosting, and it's so easy to make. You don't have to be a super-skilled baker to make the most amazing bakery frosting. Here's why you'll love it!

  • It only takes a few minutes to make the perfect frosting. So you won't be adding much time onto your prep time in the kitchen.
  • This recipe is easily adaptable so you can make the best topping for any cake flavor. From lemon cake to chocolate cake, you can use vanilla buttercream or easily change the flavor of this recipe to whatever you want it to be.
  • Homemade bakery buttercream frosting stores really easily and stays more stable than other frosting types.

Buttercream is so luscious. There's a time and a place for cream cheese frosting and whipped cream frosting, but buttercream is almost always a good choice.

buttercream icing increadients laid out on a countertop.

Ingredients

If you don't have these ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry, here's what you'll need to grab at the grocery store:

  • unsalted butter
  • pure vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
  • heavy cream

This recipe makes enough for a dozen cupcakes or a one-layer cake. Double the recipe for a two-layer cake. If you want to pipe taller piles of frosting on your cupcakes, you should 1.5x or double this frosting recipe.

Substitutions and Variations

You can easily change the flavor and color of this easy vanilla buttercream recipe.

Hot Tip: I do not recommend using margarine or dairy-free butter in this recipe as it can drastically change the flavor and texture.

Colored frosting: Change the color of your frosting by adding a few drops of food coloring and mixing it in when you add the heavy whipping cream.

Flavored buttercream: If you want to add some flavor to your buttercream, this is a great base recipe. Try making one of these delicious variations:

  • Strawberry buttercream: Mixes in fresh strawberry purée.
  • Lemon buttercream: Incorporates fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for a tangy twist.
  • Orange buttercream: Combines fresh orange juice and zest to make a sweet fruity frosting.
  • Chocolate buttercream: Replace ½ cup of the powdered sugar with ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to make a creamy chocolate frosting. You can also try using salted butter when making chocolate frosting to make a salted chocolate flavor.

You can also use different flavor extracts in place of vanilla extract, like almond extract or peppermint extract.

How to Make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Here's how to make this easy vanilla buttercream frosting recipe:

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream together butter and vanilla.

butter and powdered sugar being whipped together.

Once smooth, add ½ cup of powdered sugar and continue beating together.

butter and powdered sugar being whipped together.

Add more powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, mixing on medium speed, until the frosting has reached the perfect consistency.

a hand mixer whipping together frosting ingredients

Then add heavy cream to the homemade buttercream frosting to give it a more creamy texture. The buttercream icing should be smooth but hold its shape well.

mixer beaters with icing on them.

Place frosting into a piping bag with the tip you want to use.

Once your favorite cupcakes are cooled to room temperature, pipe the bakery buttercream onto the top of each cupcake.

plain buttercream on vanilla cupcakes.

Top with sprinkles, fruit, or any other desired decorations and toppings and serve!

How to Store Leftover Buttercream

Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Give the frosting a good stir before using it after being stored in the fridge.

You can also freeze this frosting! Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use the leftovers, allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight.

Store cake or cupcakes topped with this frosting at room temperature in a cool spot, or in the refrigerator to extend the life of both the baked goods and the frosting.

vanilla icing is piped on vanilla cupcakes.

How to Thicken Buttercream Frosting

If you need to thicken your frosting for any reason, there are a few things you can try. After mixing all of the ingredients together, leave the frosting in the fridge and allow it to chill. This helps make it a bit more sturdy since a warm temperature will soften the ingredients.

Another easy way to make it more thick is to add more confectioner's sugar. The more you add, the thicker it will get. Just don't add too much or it could become too dry and grainy.

Cornstarch is another option you can use to thicken frosting. Add ½ teaspoon to a full teaspoon of fine, powdery cornstarch to your icing until it thickens to the desired texture.

Tips for Success

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • If you're using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together with the paddle attachment. Then switch to the whisk attachment when you add the heavy cream.
  • Use room temperature butter for best results. It will mix easier and the butter with cream with the sugar much more easily.
  • Add toppings like sprinkles and fresh fruit to take your frosting topping to the next level! Sugar sprinkles, berries, and even fresh mint would be yummy with this creamy vanilla masterpiece.
  • When mixing the best vanilla buttercream frosting, scrape the sides of the bowl and bottom of the bowl so that you don't miss anything that needs to be mixed in.
a star tip is used to pipe buttercream icing.

FAQ

Is buttercream frosting better than regular frosting?

Buttercream does have more advantages than store-bought frosting. It takes after its name and has a buttery, creamy texture and the most delicious flavor. Making intricate designs with regular frosting can be challenging, but buttercream holds its shape very well. There are advantages to different types of frosting, like cream cheese frosting and whipped cream frosting. However, buttercream is in a league of its own and has so many wonderful uses!

Does buttercream harden?

This type of frosting only hardens when chilled for a long time or frozen. Otherwise, it remains a soft and creamy texture that is perfect for any baked good.

What tip should I put on a piping bag?

The great thing about this recipe is that it holds well for most any shape. I like using a star tip on my piping bag since it creates a really simple and elegant design. A round tip creates a lovely fluffy topping, and you can make super cute flowers if you use a petal tip. Get adventurous and try any kind of tip you have on hand and see what you can make!

a colorful vanilla vupvake with vanilla buttercream frosting.

More Baking Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

vanilla icing is piped on vanilla cupcakes.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This 10 minute frosting is the easiest way to transform your baked goods into bakery quality creations!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Madison Wetherill

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions

  • Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream butter and vanilla together.
  • Add ½ cup of powdered sugar and mix well.
  • Add more powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.
  • Add heavy cream to the butter and sugar mixture and mix. Frosting should be smooth but hold its shape fairly well.
  • Pipe onto room temperature cupcakes or spread on top of cake layers. Top with sprinkles, fruit, or fresh mint.

Notes

This recipe makes enough for a dozen cupcakes or a one-layer cake. Double the recipe for a two-layer cake. If you want to pipe taller piles of frosting on your cupcakes, you should 1.5x or double this frosting recipe.
To make chocolate buttercream frosting: Replace ½ cup of the powdered sugar with ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Nutrition

Calories: 757kcal | Carbohydrates: 120g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 17mg | Sugar: 118g | Vitamin A: 1019IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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