The BEST Buttercream Frosting

April 8, 2018

This is without a doubt, the Best Buttercream Frosting recipe EVER! What sets this recipe apart is the technique. Learn all the tricks on how to make the best buttercream frosting for all your special occasions!

The best buttercream frosting on an offset spatula.

The Best Buttercream Frosting

This is my go-to buttercream frosting that I’ve been using for years and years. It’s a reader favorite too!

The great thing about it is that it turns out perfect every time, it requires minimal ingredients and it’s super easy to make!

And of course that rich and creamy, sweet buttery flavor is to die for! It’s the perfect compliment to just about any cake.

What Ingredients go into Buttercream Frosting?

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this simple, yet delicious buttercream frosting:

  • Butter – I like to use part unsalted part salted. Otherwise if you add salt in never seems to dissolve properly and you taste little bits of it.
  • Powdered sugar – there’s not need to sift beforehand unless it is clumpy then definitely sift before adding.
  • Heavy cream – no substitutions here for best results.
  • Vanilla extract – use real vanilla. No imitation flavor here.

Three tiered cake covered with the best vanilla buttercream frosting. Cake edges are garnished with multi colored sprinkles and there's one lit candle atop the cake.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using the paddle or whisk attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until nearly white and very fluffy, frequently scrapping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add in powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Immediately spread over cooled cake or cupcakes.

My sister and I both agree this is the best buttercream frosting recipe! Don’t forget the trick is in the technique. There are hundreds of buttercream frosting recipes out there, but the one that sets this apart from the others is preparation (and the use of salted butter).

Tips for the Best Buttercream Frosting

My sister asked if we could get a really white frosting without the yellow tint. I told her she needed a buttercream frosting, and the trick is in the technique. How you make vanilla buttercream frosting doesn’t just begin and end with the ingredients, but also the method in which you prepare the frosting.

In my opinion, these are the keys to a very light, creamy, fluffy buttercream frosting:

  1. Really whip the butter. I am talking until it’s basically white. Really pay attention to the shade of the butter when whipping, making sure it becomes very very pale.
  2. Use heavy cream. Cream makes everything better, and creamier of course.
  3. Lots of butter. Yes, there are days I try to be a little healthier and reduce the amount of butter I add to my buttercream frosting, but on those days, I will admit, it’s just not quite as good. This is an indulgent frosting and sometimes it’s definitely worth it.
  4. Ratio is important, don’t add any more powdered sugar than listed or the proportions won’t be right and your texture won’t be what I call perfect.
  5. Don’t overdue it with the vanilla, add no more than 1 1/2 tsp. If anything, reduce the amount. The beauty of the flavors of the buttercream comes from the butter. Basically it makes it taste like ice cream, it doesn’t need to be enhanced, just lightly highlighted.
  6. Whip it some more. Once you add the cream you still want more air and fluffiness in there. This isn’t a one minute frosting recipe but I’m telling it’s well worth the time and patience invested.

buttercream frosting on the end of a whisk

Frosting vs Icing: What’s the difference?

Generally, frosting is thick, rich and fluffy, while icing is usually thin and glossy. Frosting usually uses lots of butter while icing uses a little, if any. Icing is great for cookies, while frosting is perfect for cakes.

So is this buttercream icing or buttercream frosting? In my opinion, it’s definitely frosting but maybe you’re just used to that name icing, so go with it.

three tiered cake covered in homemade buttercream frosting

Ways to Use Buttercream Frosting

Don’t throw any leftover buttercream frosting out! Here’s some ways to use it up if you happen to end up with a little extra:

  • Sandwich between Nilla Waffers and roll edges in sprinkles for an easy treat the kids will love.
  • Spread over warm toast, add a pinch cinnamon if desired.
  • Spread over graham crackers, optionally sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  • Add a spoonful or two to your morning bowl of oatmeal (I tried a cream cheese in my banana oatmeal one morning, wow good).
  • Use it as a dip for pretzels.
  • Dunk teddy grahams or gingersnaps (its like homemade Dunkaroos).
  • Spread over fruit, such as bananas or strawberries.
  • Melt chocolate frosting and pour over ice cream.
  • Add chopped nuts to it, chill and cut in squares.
  • Spread over warm pancakes or french toast.
  • Sold in some whipped cream or cool whip and use it as a fruit dip.
  • add some caramel sauce and dip apple slices.
  • Turn it into a simple craft with the kids, tint it with food coloring, get out all the different varieties of sprinkles, icings and little candies you have in the cupboard and let them spread it of graham crackers and decorate as desired.
  • Last but not least, simply place leftover frosting in an airtight container, store in refrigerator (up to 4 days) and enjoy throughout the next few days by the spoonful (if you don’t want to tempt yourself so much, freeze it for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator — never microwave to thaw).

How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Looking for a chocolate recipe? I’ve got one HERE you’ll love!

More Buttercream Frosting Recipes You’ll Love:

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

4.91 from 30 votes

This has been my go-to vanilla buttercream frosting for years and years and I'll never need another recipe. It's perfectly rich, amazingly fluffy, it has a wonderfully sweet taste, and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The best topping to your favorite cakes!

Servings: 20 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) butter, at room temperature (3 sticks)*
  • 4 1/2 cups (570g) powdered sugar
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using the paddle or whisk attachment whip butter on medium-high speed (if using whisk attachment whip on high speed) until nearly white and very fluffy, about 7 - 8 minutes, frequently scrapping down the sides of the bowl. 

  2. Add in powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3.  Immediately spread over cooled cake or cupcakes.

Recipe Notes

  • *I use 1/2 cup salted butter and 1 cup unsalted butter for a nice balance.
  • If using a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl reduce each mixing time by a few minutes. Mostly just pay attention to the shade, it should become very pale, almost white, and fluffy each time.
  • This recipe yields enough for a two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes with a shorter layer of frosting.
  • If you want an alternate flavor of frosting, coconut or almond extract would be a great substitute for the vanilla extract, just add it to taste.
Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 342 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 41mg14%
Sodium 128mg6%
Potassium 4mg0%
Carbohydrates 53g18%
Sugar 52g58%
Vitamin A 475IU10%
Calcium 6mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream frosting
Author: Jaclyn
Baby's first birthday cake with buttercream icing

How Make A Mini Cake Using Glass Storage Containers

If you were wondering how to make the mini tiered birthday cake, this is how I did it:

  1. Line each a 1 cup, 2 cup and 4 cup oven safe, round glass storage container with aluminum foil, pressing and molding the foil directly to the insides of each container and leaving an slight overhang of foil on the sides (to lift out the cake), then spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray (or use a baster and baste with vegetable oil or melted butter) then dust with flour and shake off excess.
  2. Preheat oven according to directions listed on cake mix box and prepare cake according to directions listed on package.
  3. Fill foil lined cups 2/3 full (you may have just a bit of excess batter).
  4. Bake in preheated oven (baking time will vary based on what type of cake mix you use, so judge accordingly), I made the confetti cake and it took about 25 – 30 minutes for the one cup, then an additional 5 minutes for the 2 cup, then another 5 minutes for the 4 cup (so you should be removing the smallest first, letting the medium bake a little longer and the largest bake the longest), insert a toothpick into the center of cakes to check for doneness.
  5. Allow cakes to cool in glass bowls several minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool run a knife evenly along the top (about 1/2 – 1 inch down) to make cake even and remove excess on top.
  6. Turn cakes upside down and frost with buttercream frosting, frosting largest first, then medium and finishing with the smallest (note that frosting sets quickly so keep that in mind if adding sprinkles).
  7. Celebrate and enjoy!

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437 Comments

  • terry anderson

    What is the difference between gel and liquid food coloring?
    I will be frosting 40 frozen cupcakes, refrigerating and would like to know how long they need to be at room temperature before serving.
    Thank you.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Gel color is more concentrated in color and you don’t get the watery liquid.
      And as far as resting at room temp it really can vary based on the room temp but I’d say about 30 minutes on average.

  • Heather

    I made this recipe and decorated a cake with rosettes. The frosting is delicious, but I found that the rosettes were very soft and didn’t hold their shape very well and some of the frosting fell off of the cake. Did I do something wrong?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear that happened!
      Did the frosting get warm? With all buttercreams you don’t want them to get warm or they’ll start to melt and not hold their shape.

  • Catherine

    I love this frosting! It’s so delicious! I am wanting to make this cute tiered cake for my baby’s first birthday next week, but I’d rather make the cake homemade than use a boxed mix. I’ve made your funfetti cupcakes several times and we love those…would that amount in the cupcake recipe substitute well for a boxed mix for the mini tiered cake? And how much frosting would you recommend for the cake…full recipe or half? Thanks! :)

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’ve heard that a 12 count cupcake recipe is good for a 6-inch tiered cake. And as far as frosting goes I’d still make the full amount.

  • Jessica Adams

    I’ve used this recipe as is quite a few times now, but I was wondering if I could add in salted caramel sauce to the recipe? Based on other recipes I think it would be maybe 1/3C or a little more of the caramel sauce. Do you think this would work out? Thank you! :)

  • Barb Soltis

    Can I make this frosting 1-2 days before the party? Also, does it travel well on a warm summer day? Thank you…

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes you can make it in advance but you’ll want to let come to room temp and whip up a bit again. And it does need to be kept cool if it rises above room temp the butter will start to melt.

  • Regina

    Would this be able to be doubled in a Kitchenaid Artisan (4.5 qt), or would you recommend just making two separate batches?