Perfect Vanilla Frosting


Today’s post is all about going back to the basics. This is the perfect vanilla frosting (or buttercream recipe) and can be used as a base for many different types of frostings.

Perfectly Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting |

Recently, my readers have been emailing me asking for a basic vanilla frosting recipe. While I have over 30 awesome frosting recipes, I was lacking the Perfect Vanilla Frosting.

It is true that vanilla frosting is the most versatile frosting there is. It can be paired with vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, lemon or strawberry or perhaps even red velvet or carrot cake. You can use a vanilla frosting as a base to add your favorite candy or cookie or fruit.

Perfectly Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting |

One of the early posts I did here on my blog was a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The difference between a Swiss Meringue Buttercream and an American buttercream is that American buttercream is made with powdered sugar.

There are many different vanilla frosting recipes. Some use vanilla extract and some use vanilla beans. Vanilla beans have a wonderful flavor but can be expensive or difficult to find. Some versions use half butter and half Crisco. Crisco in a frosting might sound unusual to some, but it has its benefits. It’s often referred to as a decorators buttercream because it more stable and easier for piping different shapes.

Perfectly Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting |

My perfect vanilla buttercream is whipped buttercream. When it comes to frosting, I live by the WHIP IT rule. The longer you whip it, the better. When a problem comes along, you must whip it. You get the point, right?

I start with COLD butter. Yes, cold. Most frosting recipes (including many of mine) call for softened butter or butter at room temperature. The difference between starting with cold butter versus softened is that the cold butter requires you to whip it longer in the beginning. I believe the cold butter produces a more stiff frosting that is better for piping. If your butter is TOO soft, then your frosting will be “weaker”. I HIGHLY suggest that you use unsalted butter for your frosting. It allows you to control the flavor.

Perfectly Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting |

The not-so-secret ingredient to a creamy, velvety frosting is heavy whipping cream. It’s an ingredient that usually doesn’t come cheap, but it is makes the difference. Sure, you can substitute with milk instead but using the heavy whipping cream will help give you those extra air bubbles in the frosting once it’s whipped. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, check their baking section for shelf stable heavy whipping cream. It’s a little over $1 for 8 ounces, you just have to refrigerate it before using.

The rule of thumb is that you should use 2 cups of powdered sugar for every stick of butter (1/2 cup). You can always make the frosting more stiff by adding more powdered sugar. You can add additional heavy cream to offset the sweetness and make it softer. The last thing you can do it cut the sweetness is to add a pinch of salt, but adding little by little is key. Too much salt cannot be fixed.

This frosting recipe makes enough for at least 24 cupcakes that have a hefty amount of frosting. The second rule I live by when it comes to frosting, is never come up short. So I usually end up with more than enough frosting.

Perfectly Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting |

This recipe can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for two days before serving. Any longer than that and I would recommend freezing it. You will need to allow it to soften for a couple of hours before using. If freezing, I might recommend re-whipping it. I make all my frosting recipes fresh, so I can’t speak too much to the freezing of the frosting.

Since this frosting is all butter based, it will melt in high temperatures. If you are serving this buttercream at a party, be sure to keep it out of the sun, especially if temperatures are hot that day.

Perfectly Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Frosting |


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Perfect Vanilla Frosting
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4½ Cups enough for 24 cupcakes
The perfectly whipped vanilla buttercream frosting. Pairs well with all types of cupcakes and fruit.
  • 1½ C (3 sticks) Unsalted butter, cold.
  • 5 C Powdered sugar
  • 2½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Heavy whipping cream
  1. Cut butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter look light in color.
  2. Add 2 C powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated into butter.
  3. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  4. Add additional 2 C powdered sugar and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.
  5. Add last 1 C powdered sugar along with 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream and ½ tsp vanilla extract . Beat on low until ingredients start to mix together. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting.
This frosting can be kept at room temperature if serving within 24 hours and it's not too hot. It can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for two days. Frosting must come back to room temperature before piping.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes from Life Love and Sugar

The Perfect Crusting (Decorators) Buttercream from I am Baker

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting from The Cupcake Project

Other recipes you might like from Beyond Frosting:

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Frosting

 Cupcake Baking Tips

30 Scrumptious Cupcake Recipes

30 Scrumptious cupcake and frosting recipes

DIY Wedding Cupcake

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  1. says

    I love that you use cold butter! I so often want to make frosting and then have to wait to soften the butter. I will definitely be using this!

  2. Linda says

    Thanks for all your great postings. You’re information is clear and helpful blended with a lot of personality. Keep up the good work! :)

  3. Hala says

    Hello. Will this end as crusty normal buttercream? no one in my family actually likes the crusty one and I always end up doing the Swiss Meringue buttercream.

    • Beyond Frosting says

      Hi Hala, it should not produce a very crusty buttercream but it depends on how dry of a climate you are in, and how it is stored. I always store my cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight container. However I do really love a good SMB!

  4. says

    I would like to know if you can substitute margarine for the butter or eliminate the butter all together ? I really hate the taste of butter and a lot of recipes call for it and I substitute.
    Thank You

    • Beyond Frosting says

      Hi Darlene, I have never used margarine in a frosting, but I am sure you can. Since my butter is usually cold and firm, you probably won’t have to beat the margarine for as long, and your frosting might not be as stiff. I sometimes use Crisco but I do not prefer that taste.

  5. says

    I love this post!!!! I never mind using a cake mix but I NEVER use canned frosting. Homemade all the way!!! Your tip on using cold butter blew my mind! I have to make two dozen cupcakes for a party this weekend and I am totally using your cold butter tip. Actually, they have requested vanilla frosting so I’ll be using your entire recipe! Ha, great how things work out. Thanks!

  6. Rosie says

    One suggestion here – SALTED butter (or at least adding some salt). Salt enhances the flavor, balancing some of the super sweetness of the frosting. All for cold butter and whipping the heckfire out of it, though.

    • Beyond Frosting says

      Hi Rosie! Absolutely! A pinch of salt does wonders to cut the sweetness. I prefer to use unsalted butter so that I can control how much salt is added to a recipe. I also like to use the heavy whipped cream because I think it cuts some of the sweetness. Thanks so much for your input! Have a great weekend.

  7. Melissa says

    I made this over the weekend and it turned out great! My past attempts with buttercream have turned out too sweet, too soupy or too dry. The consistency of this one IS perfect, and it has a lovely flavor. Thank you so much for sharing. This will be my go-to buttercream recipe from now on.

  8. Jan says

    I used this recipe on a dress shaped cupcake cake I made for my daughter’s bridal shower. It was absolutely fabulous!! Tried making a buttercream b4 with room temp butter and it was bad. This came out to the “T” from your recipe,piped easily,n tasted wonderful! This is the only recipe I’ll ever use-thanx!


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