Bold Baking Basics, Gemma's Best Recipes How To Make The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 4.52 from 1776 votes Create a Profile! × Sign Up Already have an account? Sign In Jump To Recipe Jump To Video Save Recipe Make the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe with my chef-tested tips and techniques for the perfect buttercream icing every time! By Gemma Stafford | February 3, 2021 | 1677 Last updated on September 13, 2023 This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details. Hi Bold Bakers! WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE: Nothing beats a great homemade vanilla buttercream frosting recipe, and every baker should have a foolproofbuttercream recipe in their back pocket to decorate cakes and cupcakes. Here’s the thing though, this recipe is so good that I just had to call it the Best-Ever. Bold Bakers say it’s delicious, with a sweet, but not too sweet! taste, and has the best creamy texture. I mean, just look at all those reviews like: “It is now my go-to frosting! I’ve never had any failures in making it. Thanks for the easy-to-follow directions.” “This buttercream is beautifully fluffy and delicious, and pipes dreamily!” As a professional chef, I have learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years. Now I’m going to show you the Bold Baking Basic recipe that I get the most requests for How to Make the Best- Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Watch the step-by-step video below (along with a complete recipe!) and get all my best tips on how to make the icing. IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 4/19/2023 to include additional detailed tips on ingredients and process, step-by-step photography, answers to the most frequently asked questions (why runny/grainy, less sweet, etc) and Pro-Chef Tips. Table of Contents What is Buttercream Frosting? The Secret to My Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Tools You Need Best-Ever Buttercream Frosting Ingredients How to Make the Best Buttercream Frosting How to Store Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Why is my Buttercream Frosting Runny? Why is my Buttercream Frosting Grainy? Can I Cut Back on Sugar in Buttercream Frosting? How to Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet? FAQs Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips Try More Frosting Recipes! What is Buttercream Frosting? Buttercream frosting, also known as American buttercream frosting (there are other types, such as Swiss Meringue Buttercream) is made by whipping together butter, sugar, and other ingredients. It sounds like it should be easy, but one of the most common questions I get asked on Bigger Bolder Baking is how to make successful buttercream frosting. I also had trouble with it for a very long time, but I developed the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, and I have the tips that will give you foolproof results every time! The Secret to My Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting How do you make fluffy homemade buttercream frosting? The secret ingredient in this recipe is time. Most people whip their butter for only a few minutes before adding in sugar, but you’ll never achieve a light and airy result this way. This frosting recipe takes its literal sweet time to really incorporate as much air as possible into the butter. Find detailed instructions on this page down below. Tools You Need Measuring cups and spoons Stand mixer (use the whip attachment) or hand mixer Jug/liquid measuring cup Spatula Best-Ever Buttercream Frosting Ingredients Butter: Butter is the base of perfect buttercream frosting. I always use salted butter because salt enhances flavors. You can use either salted or unsalted butter per your preference. Butter has to be softened correctly to get the silky-smooth consistency for frosting. You know your butter is at the right temperature when you push the butter and it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through. Icing sugar (AKA powdered or confectioners sugar): Icing sugar is simply finely ground sugar with cornstarch added to absorb moisture to prevent clumping. The good news is if you run out of icing sugar, you can make your own using my How to Make Powdered Sugar recipe. Icing sugar not only perfectly sweetens frosting but also contributes to a smoother consistency compared to granulated sugar which is coarser. Icing sugar rubs against fat from softened butter during creaming, creating air pockets to incorporate air. In the meanwhile, icing sugar also coats air pockets to prevent them from drying out, retaining air to stabilize frosting. Vanilla: I believe that using good quality ingredients is essential to making any great baked goods. Pure natural vanilla extract instead of artificial vanilla essence, is a must to deliver the signature flavor to your buttercream. You can make vanilla extract (and other flavor extracts) with amazing results at a fraction of the store price using my Homemade Extracts recipe. Vanilla bean paste will be more concentrated in flavor and yield a speckled effect. Milk: Along with the vanilla, milk thins and lightens the consistency. Half and half, heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream will also work. Food coloring (OPTIONAL) Gel food coloring can be used because it will not dilute the frosting consistency like liquid coloring does. Dip a toothpick in the paste and add it to the frosting in very small amounts each time. How to Make the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream While this recipe takes a bit of patience, follow my steps and you will have the best vanilla buttercream frosting every time (and don’t forget to get the full recipe with measurements, on the page down below): 1. Soften: The key to a fluffy buttercream frosting is perfectly softened butter. This is super-important because butter is the base of the frosting. Just leave your butter out at room temperature for around three hours, it will be at the perfect texture that when you push it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through. Over-softened butter can not retain air well which leads to a flat runny frosting; under-softened butter will have lumps which leads to a grainy or overwhipped split frosting. 2. Whip: Using the whisk attachment instead of the paddle attachment can incorporate more air. Turn your mixer on a medium-high speed and whip the butter by itself for seven to eight minutes, until butter is light, fluffy, and pale yellow in color before you add in any sugar. Whipping up butter first will create an aerated structure to hold powdered sugar. Otherwise, sugar will weigh down the butter leading to a flat heavy frosting. 3. Sift: Sifting is really important when it comes to powdered sugar (or cocoa powder or almond flour in macarons to get out any lumps. Sifting will also fluff up the sugar and give you lighter frosting. 4. Sweeten: Once your butter is pale and light, add in your sugar spoonful by spoonful. Let each spoonful whip until fully incorporated before moving on to the next one. 5. Lighten: Add in the vanilla extract and milk, turn the machine back on high speed, and let everything incorporate. In just a few minutes, you will have perfect, fluffy frosting. How to Store Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting The best way to store leftover buttercream frosting is to keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Buttercream frosting can be frozen for up to 8 weeks. Whether you’re storing it in the fridge or the freezer, make sure you keep it in an airtight container, pull it out, and let it come to room temperature naturally before you use it. Re-whip it until smooth again if needed. Why is my Buttercream Frosting Runny? You might have overbeaten the butter which separated fat to cause the issue or your butter was too soft to retain air. You know your butter is at the right temperature when you push the butter and it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through. Sugar was added too early which weighed down the mixture. Whip butter until light and fluffy to build a structure to hold the sugar. Otherwise, it would be runny. Sugar was added all at once which collapsed the mixture. Add sugar gradually to fully incorporate it. When sugar is beaten into the light and fluffy butter, it dissolves in the film on the surface of the air bubbles. This sugary syrup film prevents the bubbles from drying out and tightening up too fast. If it melted due to a hot weather, you can try my Stabilized Whipped Cream recipe or Ermine Frosting Recipe. Why is my Buttercream Frosting Grainy? Butter was too cold which caused lumps. Make sure when you push the butter, it makes an indent, but your finger doesn’t easily squish right through. Granulated sugar was used. You need powdered / icing sugar which is fine enough to achieve a smooth result. Make it if needed using my How to Make Powdered Sugar recipe. Sugar was added all at once which clumped up. Add sugar gradually by spoonful to fully incorporate it. European Style Butter is high in fat and can yield a thick or potentially lumpy result. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time to your Buttercream Frosting until you reach your desired consistency. Can I Cut Back on Sugar in Buttercream? How to Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet? Sugar is vital in incorporating air into and stabilizing the structure of buttercream frosting. When sugar is beaten into the light and fluffy butter, it dissolves in the film on the surface of the air bubbles. This sugary syrup film prevents the bubbles from drying out and tightening up too fast. ¼ less is the farthest you can go without affecting the consistency. Another trick is to add 1-1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of salt to reduce the sweetness. FAQs Can I double this recipe? Yes, you can. It is easy to adjust this recipe as it is proportional: it’s 4:1 in cups (two measures of sugar to one of butter) and 2:1 in weight (grams). After adding vanilla, my frosting separated. Can it be fixed or do I start again? It may be salvageable. Your butter might have been over-softened so when you whipped it, it couldn’t retain much air and got over-whipped separating the fat. You can try to gently mix in more softened butter. How do I get air bubbles out of the buttercream frosting? Near the end of mixing, run your mixer at a low speed. This will help to smooth out the frosting and remove big air bubbles. While applying frosting, follow my guide on How to Do a Crumb Coat layer first. How to frost small batch/single-serve recipes? For about 3 mug cakes or 6 cupcakes, it would be 3 oz/85g of butter, 170g sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tsp- 2 1/4 tsp of milk and cream. Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips What do you do if you’ve followed my tips but find your frosting is too loose, and not thick enough for spreading or piping decorations? The first thing I’d suggest is to chill the buttercream frosting. By bringing down the temperature, the frosting should tighten up immediately. This is a great trick for buttercream frosting that may have been overmixed or made at too warm a temperature. If this doesn’t seem to do the trick, try adding more sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons at a time. If your frosting feels too thick, there is no reason to start over from scratch on a new batch. Simply add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. From there, simply pipe or frost as normal. Don’t worry, adding the milk will not affect the flavor of your frosting. Ways to Use Vanilla Buttercream Frosting & More Flavors Gemma’s Best Vanilla Birthday Cake recipe or Gemma’s Best-Ever Vanilla Mug Cake This festive sprinkle-covered cake is the perfect choice for any Bold Baker. Make it in a mug for a quick dessert! Gemma’s Best Cake Recipes, Crazy Cupcakes, all your favorite mug cake recipes, and even sugar cookies! Lemon Cake With Lemon Buttercream Frosting White Velvet Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting Best-Ever Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting, Fluffy Nutella Buttercream Frosting, Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream and more possibilities! Even More Frosting Recipes! Best-Ever Cream Cheese Frosting The Perfect Ermine Frosting Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Dairy-Free Vanilla Buttercream Frosting And don’t forget to check out my new cookbook, Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day! IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 4/19/2023 to include additional detailed tips on ingredients and process, step-by-step photography, answers to the most frequently asked questions (why runny/grainy, less sweet, etc) and Pro-Chef Tips. Full (and printable) recipe below! Try These Recipes! Crazy Frosting Recipe: The Best Buttercream Frosting with Endless Flavor VariationsMy Buttercream Isn't Stiff Enough: How to Perfect FrostingGemma's Best-Ever Vanilla Birthday Cake RecipeHow To Make Powdered Sugar (With Video!) Watch The Recipe Video! Play Gemma's Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe 4.52 from 1776 votes Print Recipe Add to Favorites Loading… Learn how to make my easy, Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe, which is perfect for my Vanilla Birthday Cake and any of my cakes & cupcakes. Author: Gemma Stafford Servings: 5 cups Vanilla Less than 30 Minutes Electric Mixer Prep Time 20 minutes minsTotal Time 20 minutes mins Learn how to make my easy, Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe, which is perfect for my Vanilla Birthday Cake and any of my cakes & cupcakes. Author: Gemma Stafford Servings: 5 cups Ingredients 1½ cups (12 oz/340 g) butter , softened6 cups (1lb 8oz/680 g) icing sugar (powdered sugar) , sifted2-3 tablespoons whole milk2 teaspoon vanilla extract Instructions In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using an electric hand mixer) whip the butter until light and creamy for about 7 - 8 minutes on High speed.While the butter is whipping sieve the icing sugar about 3 times to remove lumps and incorporate air. Once the butter is pale in color and light slowly add in the sifted icing sugar one spoon at a time at Medium speed. Let the sugar fully incorporate before adding in more.Add the milk and vanilla extract and whip on High speed for another 3-4 minutes until very light, creamy, and fluffy.Use the buttercream straight away or keep it refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Before use, make sure it comes to room temperature. It also can be frozen for up to 8 weeks. Recipe Notes ** For about 3 mug cakes or 6 cupcakes it would be 3ozs/85g of butter, 170g sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tsp- 2 1/4 tsp of milk and cream . This will generously frost this batch. * This recipe amount will generously cover at least 24 cupcakes and cover and fill an 8-inch sponge cake. It is easy to adjust this recipe as it is proportional, at a ratio of 2:1. That is two measures of sugar to one of butter. I.E. I always use salted butter unless specified otherwise. If you use unsalted butter, add salt to your frosting as needed for enhancing the flavor.