This light and fluffy buttercream frosting will become one of your staple recipes when baking! It’s made with only 4 ingredients and is perfect on cupcakes, cookies, cakes and more.
I made my favorite vanilla cupcakes a few weeks ago and decided to frost them with this homemade buttercream. The flavor compliments the cupcakes so nicely and the consistency is just perfect. Cream cheese frosting also tastes delicious, but there’s something about classic buttercream that will always have my heart.
I shared a similar version of this buttercream recipe when I posted my sugar cookies last year, but I’ve tweaked the recipe a little bit recently, so I thought I would share the updated version. It’s perfect for making those fancy cupcakes you see in bakeries. It is so, so good! And it’s super easy, too. This frosting has been a staple for me over the years and can be used on so many different desserts.
There are really 4 key ingredients: butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream (amounts included in printable recipe below). It’s all about the amounts you put in that will change the consistency of the buttercream. I usually like to stick with 2 sticks of butter and 5 cups of powdered sugar as a starting point. If I’m making cookies, I thin it out a little more with cream. With cupcakes, I use less cream so that it’s pretty thick and holds a point.
- Butter: Use salted butter. If you only have unsalted butter on hand, add in about 1/4 teaspoon salt for every stick of butter. You also do not want the butter to soften before adding it in.
- Powdered sugar: Make sure to sift the powdered sugar before mixing it in. This helps get rid of any lumps.
- Vanilla extract: Add in vanilla for extra flavor. If you want your buttercream to be a bright white color, use pure white vanilla.
- Heavy cream: You only need a few Tablespoons of cream to help thin out the frosting. I’d start with 1 Tablespoon, then add more in if needed.
How to make buttercream frosting
Scroll down for the printable recipe below.
- WHIP. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and whip for about 1-2 minutes until creamy.
- MIX. Slowly add in 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until combined. Then pour in the vanilla and add 1 more cup of powdered sugar at a time and continue mixing. Depending on the consistency, you may want to add a few Tablespoons of cream to thin it out.
- BEAT. Beat the buttercream for a few more minutes to give it a light and airy consistency. Then stir with a spatula and frost your dessert.
Storing + freezing
- How long can it sit out? This is a personal preference, but I let my frosting sit out at room temperature for up to 48 hours. If it’s not going to be used before 48 hours, then I’ll store in the refrigerator. Before serving, I’ll take it out of the fridge and let it sit out for at least an hour to soften.
- Does it need to be refrigerated? I only refrigerate my buttercream after 48 hours. If I’m using it before that, then I’ll let it sit out at room temperature.
- Will it melt at room temperature? It will not melt if stored at room temperature. If the temperature gets warm and humid, that’s when it will most likely begin to melt.
- Can it be frozen? Yes. Store in an airtight container (I prefer freezer bags) in the freezer. To thaw, stick in the refrigerator overnight.
- If I’m frosting cookies, I like my buttercream a little thinner. If frosting cupcakes, I like it to be pretty thick so that it holds a point.
- I use a 1m tip to frost my cupcakes. If using a tip, the recipe will frost between 12-15 cupcakes. If spreading with a knife, it will frost about 24 cupcakes.
- Add sprinkles on immediately after frosting so that they stick.
- Feel free to add in a few drops of food coloring if desired.
- If you have any leftover frosting and cake/cupcakes, try making my easy cake pop recipe.
Favorite desserts to frost with buttercream:
- 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks, not softened)
- 5 cups powdered sugar (measured then sifted)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (use clear if you want it pure white)
- 1-3 Tablespoons heavy cream (more or less as needed)
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter for about 1-2 minutes with a paddle attachment or beaters. You want the butter to be nice and creamy before adding the powdered sugar.
- Slowly add in 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
- Add the vanilla and 1 more cup of powdered sugar at a time and continue mixing. At this point you may need to add a Tablespoon or two of heavy cream to thin the frosting down. You want the frosting to be thick, creamy and to be able to hold a point.
- Then beat frosting for a couple more minutes to help it become light and airy. Stir with a spatula and then frost.