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.
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Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
I made my favorite vanilla cupcakes a few weeks ago and decided to frost them with the perfect buttercream frosting. The flavor compliments the cupcakes so nicely and the consistency is just perfect. Cream cheese frosting or chocolate buttercream 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.
This frosting has the perfect texture and 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.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Butter: Use salted real 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: AKA confectioners’ 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. If you love vanilla frosting, add in a little bit more for a bolder vanilla flavor.
- 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.
TIP: You can make different variations if preferred, like chocolate buttercream, strawberry buttercream or cinnamon buttercream frosting. Or try switching out the pure vanilla extract for almond extract or lemon zest for a fun twist.
How to Make Buttercream Frosting
- 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 or sweetness level, you may want to add a few Tablespoons of cream to thin it out. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed.
- Beat. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, 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.
- Frost. Use a 1M piping to frost cupcakes or on top of cake layers.
- 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.
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.
If you still want to pipe, simply fill a zip-top bag with frosting and cut the tip of the corner the size tip you want. This works in a pinch and can produce some pretty neat results.
American buttercream is typically easier and quicker to make because Swiss meringue buttercream involves a double boiler to heat the egg whites and sugar. After this becomes a meringue, butter and flavorings are added. It’s usually less sweet than its American counterpart.
Using unsalted butter helps control the amount of salt in the recipe. I also lke to start out with cold butter.
Yes, you can! Simply use the same amounts and then add powdered sugar or heavy cream to get the desired consistency.
No this frosting does not need to be refrigerated. It will stay fresh at room temperature up to 48 hours. However, if you refrigerate it it will stay fresh about 7 days.
Simply mix in an extra Tablespoon of milk or heavy cream and it will thin it out.
Storing + Freezing
- 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 a freezer bag) in the freezer. To thaw, stick in the refrigerator overnight.
5 star review
“Absolutely the BEST buttercream frosting recipe, ever. Silky smooth, spreadable and delicious. This will be the only frosting recipe I ever make.”– Kathy
Favorite Desserts to Frost with Buttercream
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- 1 cup salted butter , cold (2 sticks)
- 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 the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip the butter 1 to 2 minutes on medium speed, or until smooth and creamy.
- Slowly add in 2 cups powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
- Add the vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar at a time and continue mixing. At this point you may need to add 1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream to thin the frosting. You want the frosting to be thick, creamy, and to be able to hold a point.
- Beat frosting for a couple more minutes on low speed to help it become light and airy. Stir with a spatula and then frost.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
Could I use milk instead of cream?
Yes you can :)
One of the best buttercream frosting recipes I’ve ever tried. It’s easy to make and it turned out so good. Thanks, Jamielyn, for this highly recommended recipe. I’ll surely make this again.
So glad to hear Journa! Glad you enjoyed the buttercream :)
Tried this frosting recipe on our favorite cupcake for our family Christmas party, and everyone was satisfied and amazed by its wonderful flavor. I highly recommend this quick buttercream frosting, thanks Jamielyn!
So glad it was a hit!
Seriously the best buttercream recipe. I made a cake for my son and I am using the remaining for Christmas cookies!
Love that! We love to make for our Christmas cookies too :)
it was perfect!! I used 1bs of vanilla creamer, instead of heavy cream- It was all I had! It turned out awesome!!
So happy to hear that! Thanks for sharing your substitution, Mandy :)
My 7 year old grandaughter has type 1 diabetes and I really need the carb count. She loves baking but she is limited on the carbs. She can eat anything in moderation, but must have the carb count in each. Thank you and the icing is delicious.
Could I reduce the sugar in this recipe? I like buttercream but I find it a bit too sweet
Yes, that should be fine! I would just make sure to not exceed 1 Tb milk.
We are all about buttercream to decorate our cakes, this recipe is perfect.
This is so fluffy and fabulous! Perfect quick frosting when you have a cupcake craving – which happens quite often for me!
Turned out beautiful and so yummy!