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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe: Follow my chef-tested technique to making the best ever icing recipe!

How To Make The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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Make the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe with my chef-tested tips and techniques for the perfect buttercream icing every time!


Hi Bold Bakers! 

Working as a professional chef I have learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years. Now I’m going to show you a Bold Baking Basic recipe that I get the most requests and queries for: How to Make the Best Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Watch my step-by-step video below and get all my best tips on how to make icing (along with a complete recipe below!):

How to Make Buttercream Frosting?

How do you make fluffy buttercream icing? The secret ingredient in my buttercream frosting is time.

Most people whip their butter for a few minutes then start adding in sugar and expect a light and airy result, but it’s never achieved. This frosting recipe takes its literal sweet time to really incorporate as much air as possible into the butter. This means allowing your butter to whip to perfection for a full 7-8 minutes. Only then do I add in sifted powdered sugar one spoon-full at a time.

While this takes a bit of patience, follow my steps and you will have the best buttercream frosting every time:

  1. Get Some Air: Use an electric stand mixer or hand mixer. For the stand mixer, use the whisk attachment because this will get all of the air into your frosting.
  2. Soft Butter is Everything: The most important thing that you need is to have soft butter. If you leave your butter out at room temperature for around three hours, it will be a lovely texture for you to start whipping. This is super important and the base of your frosting.
  3. Whip it Good: Turn your machine on a medium high speed and beat the butter by itself for around eight minutes. Get your butter light and fluffy before you add in any sugar.
  4. Sift your Sugar: While the butter is whipping, sift your your icing sugar (powdered sugar). It is really important to sift it because you want to get a lot of air in there and make sure there are no lumps. This will give you a lighter frosting as well.
  5. Spoonful by Spoonful: Once your butter is pale and light, add in your sugar spoonful by spoonful. Add in a spoonful, let it fully incorporate, and then add in your next one. Make sure your machine is on medium high speed here because we want to incorporate all of the lovely air that is going to give us a soft, fluffy frosting.
  6. Finishing Touches: When all of your sugar is added in, add in vanilla extract and a little bit of milk. What that does is it just lightens up your frosting. Turn the machine back on high speed and let everything incorporate. In just a few few minutes, you will have perfect frosting.

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WHAT IF MY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING ISN’T STIFF ENOUGH?

What do you do if you’ve followed my tips but you find your frosting just isn’t stiff enough? 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 over mixed, or made at too warm a temperature. If this does not seem to do the trick, try adding more sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons at a time. With just a few extra tablespoons of sugar, your frosting will transform and be so much easier to work with, saving you from wasting ingredients.

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WHAT IF MY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING IS TOO THICK?

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 to your Buttercream Frosting until you reach your desired consistency. From there, simply pipe or frost as normal. You’ll be surprised how little milk you actually need to fix this problem. This will not at all affect the flavor of your frosting, regardless of what is in it.

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Gemma's Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe)
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 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.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Ingredients
  • cups (12oz/340g) butter, softened
  • 6 cups (1lb 8oz/680g) icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean pod (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. 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 medium/high speed.
  2. Once the butter is pale in color and light slowly add in the icing sugar one spoon at a time on medium speed. Let the sugar fully incorporate before adding in more sugar.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, salt and cream or milk.
  4. Whip on high speed for another 3-4 minutes until very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  5. Use the buttercream straight away or keep it refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Before use, make sure it comes to room temperature.

Watch the Recipe Video!

Recipe Notes

I have updated this recipe to add more sugar to the frosting. This is the new, improved version.

 

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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851 Comments

Write a Comment and Review

  1. Syeda Maryam Ahsaan on October 5, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    When we add milk in butter cream than is it room temperature our cold?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      The milk is cold, Syeda 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma

  2. Brianna on October 5, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    Can I substitute butter for a margarine, like Country Crock?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Brianna,

      Butter will yield the best results. Country crock would not be the best choice to use for a frosting as the flavor is stronger than butter.

      Best,
      Gemma

  3. Patriciapenrice on October 5, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    How to make a cheese cake without baking

  4. Cillie on October 5, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Hi! Will this recipe work with Russian Tips?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 6, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Yes, this frosting is perfect for Russian tips 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma.

  5. Lindsay on October 5, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Do you sift the sugar before or after measuring?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 6, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      I sift it after measuring it, Lindsay.

      Best,
      Gemma

  6. Sheila Johnson on September 30, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Gemma, love listening to your voice/accent. Can you freeze this for later use? Can it be kept in fridge for any length of time? Have told my friends about your website. Tx, Sheila

    • Gemma Stafford on September 30, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Sheila,

      Aw I’m really happy to hear that. Thanks so much for spreading the word.

      Keep the buttercream in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It lasts for ages.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  7. Allissa mecado on September 26, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I just made the frosting did exactly what you said but mine isn’t fluffy I added more icing sugar but really didn’t make a difference how can I fix it

    • Gemma Stafford on September 29, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Allissa,

      So what you need to do is whip up the room temp butter well and slowly add the sugar. Then once all the sugar is in there turn up really high and beat for 2-3 minutes to incorporate more air. This will make it fluffy.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  8. Marlene N. on September 24, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Can I use salted butter ? or should it be unsalted butter? What do you recommend?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 25, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Hi Marlene,
      Most people will use unsalted butter for buttercream. I use salted butter, but that is because I grew up with it, it is not for everyone.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Farhat on September 23, 2018 at 1:24 am

    Wow Gemma you are amazing!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on September 23, 2018 at 2:21 am

      Thank you Farhat, I do not know why you said that, but I appreciate it!
      Gemma 🙂

  10. Marilyn Whitehead Johnson on September 22, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    I made the 3 ingredient peanut butter cookie and found itmto be a little stiff. Would cutting the baking time down help this or is this a very crispy cookie?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 23, 2018 at 4:45 am

      Hi Marilyn,
      Yes, this is a crisp cookie. You could cut down the baking time which will change the texture a little. With so few ingredients though there is only so much control the texture. Try too the Best Ever Chocolate chip cookies, and the Best oatmeal cookie too: (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/?s=Cookies) lots here for you,
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Larissa Soto on September 20, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Approximately how many cupcakes would u say I could cover with this recipe ?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 22, 2018 at 8:41 am

      Hi Larissa,
      This is a big mix!
      If you look at this recipe it is proportional. It is easy to divide it down, or increase it either. This amount will make between 24 – 30 cupcake toppings, depending on how you use it. If you want 12 cupcakes divide in two, etc.
      Check out too (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/crazy-frosting-recipe/) for the flavor ideas.
      I hope you like this recipe,
      Gemma 🙂

  12. Natalie on September 18, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    If I wanted to make this for a cake would it cover a 2 layer, 8 inch cake. If not how big will it cover?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 19, 2018 at 7:13 am

      Hi Natalie,
      To top and fill a 20cm/8 inch cake: 200g/8oz Butter – 450g/16oz Icing Sugar and a little milk or cream. (approx 4 cups).
      This of course depends on the way you use it, how thickly you apply it. What helps with this type of recipe is that it is easy enough to mix up a little extra if you wish.
      Gemma 😉

  13. Carmen on September 18, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Hi Gemma ,

    I have tried your buttercream recipe n followed exactly the same steps n process. However , I still tasted the sugar icing in the buttercream. Before adding icing sugar the butter was light n pale n flurry but after adding spoon by spoon … the texture is not smooth anymore…

    Rgs Carmen

    • Gemma Stafford on September 19, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Hi Carmen,
      The addition of the little milk/cream really helps with this, but I am not sure about your sugar. This recipe needs powdered sugar, as here (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/how-to-make-powdered-sugar/) to work properly. This sugar dissolves really easily, in the butter to start, and in the milk too.
      I hope this helps, do let me know,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. Eleanor mercado on September 17, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Is that ok that u feel the icing sugar what can i do to not feel the icing sugar

    • Gemma Stafford on September 19, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Eleanor, you should not feel the powdered/icing sugar, it should dissolve in the butter/milk.
      Generally this recipe is smooth and cream like. I would need more information from you to help,
      Gemma 🙂

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