This is my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe – fluffy, creamy, and velvety-smooth, this frosting is not overly sweet. It’s the perfect buttercream frosting recipe for cake decorating and cupcakes. And the best part? It’s so easy to make!
A fluffy, classic buttercream recipe is essential for any baker. Just like swiss meringue buttercream, buttercream is extremely versatile because you can flavor it with almost anything (think chocolate, peanut butter, jam, the possibilities are endless) and it can be used to top any dessert, like white cake, funfetti cupcakes, or even cocoa brownies.
While there are only a few ingredients in vanilla buttercream, each recipe varies slightly in how much of each it calls for. I usually find classic vanilla buttercream recipes to be a bit too sweet, so I add a pinch of salt and lemon juice to cut down on some of that sweetness.
How to make vanilla buttercream frosting
- Cream butter and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sifted powdered sugar. Pour in half the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Then, add the second half and combine.
- Add cream, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes until fluffy.
Baker’s tip: Feel free to add more and less sugar, depending on how sweet you like your buttercream frosting. You can also replace the paddle attachment with the whisk attachment if you want extra light, fluffy, and whipped frosting.
How to use vanilla buttercream
Vanilla buttercream is the perfect topping for all kinds of cakes and cupcakes. You can use a piping bag with a piping tip to create beautiful swirls, or simply use a large spoon, knife, or spatula to spread it on cakes.
Here are some of my favorite cakes to frost with vanilla buttercream:
- Easy Homemade Chocolate Cake – spread on buttercream instead of chocolate ganache glaze.
- Chocolate Coconut Cake: replace the topping with vanilla buttercream with an added teaspoon of coconut extract.
- Chocolate Cupcakes – replace the chocolate frosting with vanilla buttercream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
- White Cake
- Funfetti Layer Cake
Does vanilla buttercream need to be refrigerated?
If you want to make the frosting ahead of time, store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Before using, bring to room temperature and mix it up with a whisk or electric mixer.
If you’re making cupcakes, frosted cupcakes can be made one day ahead, covered, and stored at room temperature. It’s safe to keep it at room temperature because the butter and cream are stabilized by the large amount of sugar. If you intend to keep cupcakes or cake for longer than a day, store in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
This rich and creamy vanilla buttercream recipe makes enough to frost 16-24 cupcakes, depending on how generous you are with the frosting. For a 9-inch layer cake, multiply the recipe by 1½.
- 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups (480g) powdered sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat until combined, then add another 2 cups, and beat until completely smooth. Add cream, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Beat in more sugar as needed, until desired consistency (thick enough to pipe).
*Salt and lemon juice are added to cut sweetness and are optional. Depending on your personal taste, you can add more or leave out entirely.