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Vanilla Frosting Recipe

This simple, 4-ingredient vanilla frosting recipe is a rich and silky buttercream perfect for topping cakes and cupcakes! It’s light, fluffy and pipes beautifully.

Vanilla frosting on a whisk.
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A Baking Staple

This light, creamy, and delicately sweet vanilla frosting recipe is honestly the best frosting I’ve ever had. I added more vanilla to my classic buttercream frosting recipe the results are a rich, silk frosting perfect for these easy vanilla cupcakes or my homemade vanilla cupcakes!

When piped this homemade vanilla frosting looks simple and elegant. To do this, I’m going to show you a simple method on how to frost the perfect cupcakes just like a professional baker!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy. It comes together with just 4 ingredients and couldn’t be any more simple!
  • Silky smooth. The texture of this vanilla frosting recipe comes from the use of powdered sugar rather than granulated sugar just like in my powdered sugar glaze.
  • Versatile. It’s a simple frosting that can be used to frost a layer cake for a birthday, cupcakes for a baby shower, or even to slather on a cinnamon bun!

Recipe Ingredients

Simple with only four ingredients, this is classic vanilla buttercream you have been waiting for!

  • Salted butter: I use salted because there is no added salt in this recipe otherwise. The powdered sugar is quite sweet so the salt gives it a nice balance. Learn how to soften butter to bring it out to room temperature so it’s nice and smooth.
  • Powdered sugar: Sweetness in the powdered form helps it to dissolve easily into a smooth consistency. It’s also what helps create a structure that holds well.
  • Vanilla extract: The vanilla flavor! Pure vanilla extract is naturally brown and when used it can alter the brightness of your frosting. For a gleaming white vanilla buttercream frosting, use clear vanilla extract. For extra vanilla, you can add in vanilla bean paste.
  • Heavy cream: The liquid needed to help turn the butter, sugar, and vanilla, into a beautiful consistency.

How to Make Vanilla Frosting

Learning how to make vanilla frosting is so easy! Just follow these simple steps for perfect results.

Mixing vanilla frosting in glass bowl.
  1. Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle or whisk attachment to whip the butter for 2-3 minutes until it’s nice and creamy with a bit of a sheen to it.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients. At this point, start to slowly add in the first 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix. Add the vanilla and remaining sugar. Beat the frosting for a couple more minutes until light and airy. Stir with a spatula to remove any pockets of air. Voila!

How to Pipe Perfect Frosting

Scoop your buttercream into a piping bag with the tip at the end of it. Sometimes it’s helpful to place the bag tip side down into a tall glass and fold the wider opening of the bag over the rim of the glass. Use a spatula to fill the piping bag with icing. 

Gently push everything towards the tip so that it bulks up the bag leaving no room for air and twist the open end closed. 

To pipe onto a cupcake, hold the tip at an angle and use a circular motion to pipe around the top of the cupcake.

Expert Tips

  • No stand mixer? If you don’t have a stand mixer use an electric hand mixer to get to your desired consistency.
  • Too thick or too thin: If you think it’s too thick, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream to thin it out. Not too thin because you want it to be thick and creamy and hold a point.
  • Almond flavor. Swap the vanilla for almond extract (I would start with half the amount since it is stronger) and you’ve got an entirely different flavor!
  • Make sure to use room temperature butter. If it’s too cold, you’ll have clumps of butter in your frosting, if it’s too warm, it won’t hold its structure.
  • Wait until baked treats are completely cooled before frosting otherwise the frosting will melt and become runny.
Vanilla frosting on a blender whisk.

Serving Suggestions

The best vanilla buttercream frosting is humble, classy, and elevates almost anything! 

Here are just a few ideas to get you going: 


How much frosting does this recipe make?

I like to use a 1M or 1A piping tip which will frost about 18 cupcakes. If you spread with a knife, you’re going to use less and therefore will be able to top 24 cupcakes. It will also frost a 2-layer (8-inch) cake.

Can I make this with unsalted butter?

Yes, unsalted butter can be used if you prefer. Just add a pinch of salt to the frosting.

Can I leave this frosting at room temperature?

This vanilla frosting recipe can stay at room temperature for up to 48 hours. It does contain dairy, but the confectioners’ sugar stabilizes it and will preserve it for a couple of days. 

How do I store buttercream?

If you do not plan to use the frosting within 48 hours, transfer it to the fridge and store it covered in an airtight container. Bring it to room temperature about an hour before using it.

Can I make this ahead and freeze it?

This vanilla frosting recipe freezes so well when stored in an airtight container or freezer bag. I find the bags a little more convenient because you can flatten them and they don’t take up much room. Plus, if you don’t have a piping bag…now you do! Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Bowl full of vanilla frosting.

Can’t get enough frosting recipes? Me either! Try sugar cookie frosting, lemon cream cheese frosting, and brown butter frosting!

More Frosting Recipes

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Check out these other homemade frostings that are equally as delicious!

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Bowl full of vanilla frosting.

Vanilla Frosting Recipe

5 from 5 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This vanilla frosting recipe with only 4 ingredients is a silky buttercream infused with vanilla flavor that goes with everything. The perfect pairing for all your baked goods from cupcakes, to layer cakes, to sheet cakes!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24



  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar , plus more if needed
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract , use clear if you want it pure white
  • 1-3 Tablespoons heavy cream , plus more or less as needed


  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter for about 2 to 3 minutes. You want the butter to be nice and creamy with a slight shine.
  • Slowly add in 2 cups powdered sugar. Mix until it combined. 
  • Mix in the vanilla and remaining 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. 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 able to hold a point.
  • Beat frosting for a couple more minutes to help it become light and airy. Stir with a spatula to remove any air bubbles and frost as desired.


Frosting: I like to pipe my cupcakes using a 1M or 1A frosting tip. If using a tip, the recipe will frost about 18 cupcakes. If spreading with a knife, it will frost about 24 cupcakes. It will also frost a 2-layer (8-inch) cake. Tips for frosting cupcakes.
Storing: I let my buttercream 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 sit out for at least 1 hour to soften.
Freezing: To freeze, store in an airtight container (I prefer freezer bags) in the freezer. To thaw, stick in the refrigerator over night.


Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 4mg | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 246IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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