Decadently silky, creamy, and sweet, this vanilla buttercream frosting is made in just a few minutes with a handful of simple ingredients. Speckled with rich vanilla beans, this frosting is versatile, and perfect for cupcakes, cakes, and more!
This is one of my Frosting recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
A classic vanilla buttercream frosting can go on so many things. Sugar cookies, cakes, cupcakes, fruit, or even just a spoon.
Because honestly, that’s how deliciously creamy and full of rich vanilla flavor this frosting is.
This is a little twist on a classic American buttercream frosting, in which butter and powdered sugar are creamed together and then heavy cream is added until a silky consistency is reached.
There are other kinds of buttercream frostings, but this type is incredibly easy to make. You just need a mixer, minimal ingredients, and a little patience.
How to make vanilla buttercream frosting?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Cream butter. This doesn’t mean you add the cream here, but “creaming” the butter refers to beating the butter until fluffy and light.
- Beat in sugar and flavorings. The exact amount of sugar will depend on how stiff or sweet you want the frosting, as well as the humidity in your area. More humid areas may need more sugar.
- Adjust. If you want the frosting to be more stiff, add more sugar. If you want the frosting to be creamier, add a bit more heavy cream.
- Pipe and serve. Use an offset spatula, spoon, or transfer to a piping bag and add to cupcakes.
The biggest tip I can share with you when it comes to making buttercream frosting is to make sure the butter is softened. Room temperature butter is super important here! Ideally, let your butter sit out on your counter for about an hour before you make your frosting. The ideal temperature for room temp butter is 65-68°. So if your kitchen is warmer than that, you may not need the full hour for the butter to soften. If your butter isn’t softened, it won’t cream together with the sugar, and you’ll have a lumpy, unappetizing frosting.
Variations of this recipe
- Milk – if you don’t have any heavy cream on hand, you can substitute with milk, although I’d recommend whole milk if possible.
- Vanilla extract – if you can’t source vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract can be used instead, or use 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and some vanilla seeds from a vanilla bean.
- Stiffer buttercream – as written, this is a silky, soft buttercream that will hold it’s shape… but if you’d like a stiffer frosting that will hold more intricate shapes (like petals, Russian piping tips, etc), you’ll want to add a bit more powdered sugar until you’re happy.
- Unsalted butter – I prefer to use half salted butter and half unsalted, since adding kosher or iodized salt to frosting can make it a bit grainy at times, but if you’d rather not use salted, using all unsalted will work just fine (you’ll just want to add a pinch of salt to the frosting as you’re mixing it).
I get asked this question a lot, and it’s understandable! Buttercream frosting on a decorated baked good can stay at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can certainly refrigerate it if you’d like, but it’s not necessary.
It could be from the butter not being truly room temperature (and thus not fully blending with the sugar), not being beaten long enough, the heavy cream being too cold, or the powdered sugar not being sifted.
If you’ve tasted the frosting and are happy with the sweetness level, but it’s still a touch too thin/runny for your tastes, you can try beating in some softened butter, a little bit at a time. Softened cream cheese is also a good alternative as well, but will change the flavor. Sifted cornstarch is another alternative.
Making buttercream frosting ahead of time
I love making buttercream frosting ahead of time! It keeps great in the refrigerator or freezer, and makes decorating much easier.
If the buttercream is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator before this next step.
To get the made ahead buttercream back to the classic fluffy texture, it’ll need to be beaten again. Just for a few minutes, and it’ll be good as new!
Extra or leftover buttercream should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Stand mixers are great, but they’re also pretty expensive and hard to come by right now. This hand mixer works like a champ and works really well for this frosting!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup salted butter softened to room temperature
- 4 – 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 4 – 6 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- Gather a large mixing bowl, a hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), and prepared ingredients.
- Add butter to the mixing bowl and beat on MED speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste and 4 Tbsp of the heavy whipping cream. Beat on LOW for about 30 seconds or so, then increase speed to MED/MED HIGH and beat for about 2 minutes.
Adjust if needed
- If the texture is really stiff, add some of the remaining heavy cream (1 Tbsp at a time), beating together until combined. If the texture is too soft, feel free to add about 1/2 cup more sifted powdered sugar.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with desired tip and frost as desired.
Want to save this recipe for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own recipe box!
- This recipe should be enough to frost 12-18 cupcakes (depending on how much frosting you put on each cupcake), or a standard 9×13″ quarter sheet cake.
- For best results, use room temperature butter, and the heavy cream should be closer to room temperature as well (otherwise the frosting could potentially separate).
- My favorite brand of vanilla bean paste is Nielsen Massey.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.