The BEST Buttercream Frosting

April 8, 2018  ·  Published September 10, 2012

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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:

4.94 from 46 votes

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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
Prep15 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes


  • 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


  • 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. 
  • 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.
  •  Immediately spread over cooled cake or cupcakes.


  • *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.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.
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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  • Anne Schuknecht

    Studied notes and followed directions, except for one thing. I used Mexican clear vanilla. Be careful, Mexican vanilla is a bit more intense than what I buy in Florida.

    Beat butter to white. With the clear vanilla the frosting was a gorgeous, glowing white. For me, the heavy cream lifts this recipe to new heights. Decadent texture!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes. If you need smash the air bubbles out by rubbing the frosting against the bowl.

  • Christina

    I was thinking about using cream cheese frosting, but I am putting a fondant decoration on top of cake and I have heard that fondant does not work well with cream cheese frosting. Can you give me your input?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes that’s true with fondant because cream cheese frosting doesn’t hold up quite as well.

  • Christina

    Hi, can you use less confectioners sugar to make it not so sweet?
    and also can you use food coloring to change color of frosting?

    Thank you

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I recommend something like an Ermine frosting instead. If you reduce the sugar here the butter can become overwhelming. Another option is always cream cheese frosting.

      If you do stick with this recipe you can tint with food coloring, I like to use gel.

  • Sumiya K

    Hi, I was wondering if I use all unsalted butter instead of salted how much salt do I need to add in to substitute for the salted butter?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I would add 1/8 tsp. Usually 1 stick of butter has 1/4 tsp but it doesn’t dissolve as well when added here so I think 1/8 tsp would be enough. Enjoy!

  • Nidhi

    I liked your chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream so much that I have become a fan of you and would like to try other recipes of yours. Looking forward to try this one for my daughter’s birthday cake. When can I add the colouring in the buttercream? Once it is ready and fluffy? TIA. Good luck

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I like to add it once the butter and sugar have been blended together then keep whipping until fluffy. Just keep in mind as the cake sits the buttercream can deflate a little and the color can intensify a little.

      • Lindsey

        The consistency of this frosting is nice but it is ridiculously sweet. I’m surprised it has so many good reviews. I couldn’t even taste the butter and heavy cream, it’s like eating pure sugar. Yuck. Won’t be making this again.

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          Sorry you felt that way, frosting is almost always rather sweet the key is just to use less over your cake/cupcakes if you don’t want as much sweetness. Just a thin layer then freeze remainder for later.

  • Caroline

    This frosting is incredible! Question though- I made it this past Friday and I’ve kept the cake in a cake dome at room temperature. (We keep our house no higher than 69-72 degrees.) I’ve been eating it every night and it seems fine. I have some extra that’s been in a covered mixing bowl since Friday as well. Is it safe to eat??

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It heard that it’s is safe to keep buttercream out for 2 – 3 days at room temp.

  • Alisha

    This is amazing! I didn’t know buttercream could be like this! Best recipe. All tour recipes I’ve tried are excellent! Thank you for sharing!