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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

My mom has been making this vanilla buttercream frosting for years. It is her go-to recipe for frosting. After traying a few icing recipes, myself now, I see why mom has chosen this one.

Bakery Style Buttercream Icing

If you are looking for an easy frosting recipe that tastes and looks like it was made down at the local bakery, give this recipe a try. It is a no-fail icing for your next delicious cake or dessert recipe.

It is creamy, buttery, and simply delicious.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Making Icing for Wedding Cupcakes

We made carrot cake and chocolate cupcakes for my bridal shower. Everyone was remarking how scrumptious they were. This is the icing we used. However, we substituted the butter with shortening. The texture is the same, but the taste is smooth and creamy. The butter has a rich taste to the frosting.

This cupcake was the one served at my bridal shower. We had just a few leftovers. They were put in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight. When we removed them to finish them the next day, they had these droplets of water on them. Thought this made them even prettier.

Make enough Icing for an 8-inch layered cake or 16 Cupcakes

The recipe will frost 16 cupcakes with a generous amount of icing on each. However, if you have a layered 8-inch cake to decorate. Double this recipe. Depending on the amount of swirl you want on your cake, you might want to triple this recipe. Yum!

Cupcake Decorated with a Rose
Cupcake Decorated with a Rose

Simple Powdered Sugar Frosting Recipe

This recipe really could not be any easier. It is perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes as it will spread on smoothly. However, this is also great for piping as it holds its shape. With just four ingredients; powdered sugar, butter, cream, and vanilla.

Make Buttercream Icing From Scratch

Using Salted or Unsalted Butter for Frosting

Many recipes call for unsalted butter, yet others use salted butter. You might be wondering which one is best.

This recipe can be made with both salted and unsalted butter. Heck as I explained earlier, we even substitute the butter for shortening. However, when bakers use unsalted butter to their icing recipe, they will add salt. This is so that they can control the exact amount of salt in the recipe. The salt tends to reduce the sweetness of this frosting just a little. 

Unsalted butter creates a sweeter frosting. Therefore, bakers will leave the salt out completely.

Icing for Many Desserts Today on Quick Bread

Why Add Milk or Cream to the Frosting?

The cream can be adjusted for a stiffer or thinner frosting. To make the frosting stiffer, use less cream. You can leave the cream out altogether or use just a little. Mix the butter, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

See if that is the thickness you desire. If not, start adding just a bit of the milk until you reach your desired stiffness.

If your frosting is too thick, you can add a bit more cream. Just 1 teaspoon at a time, because the batter can become too thin quickly if too much cream is added.

Mixing Homemade Frosting
Mixing Homemade Frosting

Food Safety for Frosting

It is a good practice to keep things refrigerated and safe to eat. However, I have had this frosting on a cake and out on the counter for a day. After that, it goes in the refrigerator. I would not leave this out in the hot sun more than just serving it.

Storing and Freezing the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I store this buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I give it a good stir before using.

This can be frozen for up to three months. Just thaw and stir before using.

Making Buttercream Icing from Scratch

There are four basic ingredients for this buttercream frosting. This recipe is simple and straightforward.  

Salted Butter – A good AA quality butter

Powdered Sugar – This is also known as confectioners’ sugar

Heavy Cream – The kind you use in your coffee or to make whipping cream

Vanilla Extract – Adds to the classic taste

Personal choice: For me, I use either salted butter or shortening; sometimes half and half. There are times I want the specific taste and mouth feel of each icing.

Homemade Buttercream Icing

Successful Tips for Quick and Easy Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Use a hand-held or stand mixer to make the frosting. This will give you the best creamy results. Cream well before adding powdered sugar. It should have turned a pale yellow and creamy; about 5 minutes.

Make sure that the butter or shortening is soft. This will help it whip up nice and smooth. If the butter is not creamed well, there could be lumps in the frosting.

Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time to the whipped buttercream and make sure to whip this well before adding the next cup.

Once all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla. Add the cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Once all the ingredients are added make sure to beat with the mixer on medium-high for about 3 minutes more. This helps incorporate the butter with the powdered sugar more and reduce a bit of the sweetness.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Coloring the Icing

This buttercream frosting can be tinted with food coloring. However, it is important to use a paste or a gel. NOT a LIQUID food color. As the liquid may dilute the frosting too much.  

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

Vary the Flavor of this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

It is super easy to vary the flavor of this basic icing. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Almond: Add 3/4 teaspoon almond extract instead of the vanilla.

Chocolate: If adding chocolate powder, reduce the amount of powdered sugar by the amount of chocolate powder you add. I would recommend ½ cup. Therefore, use 3 ½ cups powdered sugar and ½ cup powdered baking cocoa. I generally need to add a few tablespoons extra of the cream as well. Do this by adding 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency.

Lemon: Add 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice instead of the milk and vanilla. 1 Teaspoon of grated lemon peel can be added for another flavor profile.

Orange: Add 3-4 tablespoons orange juice instead of the milk and vanilla. 1 Teaspoon of grated orange peel can be added. Cherry: Add ¾ teaspoon of cherry extract instead of the vanilla.

Quick and Easy Buttercream Frosting

Peppermint: Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract instead of the vanilla.

Peanut Butter: Add 1/2 cup peanut butter instead of the butter and use 6-8 tablespoons milk.

Whipped Vanilla Icing Recipe

Fluffy and creamy vanilla icing that will take your desserts to the next level.

To make a whipped vanilla icing, you’ll need 1 cup of butter, softened, 4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Beat the butter until creamy, then gradually add in the powdered sugar. Once incorporated, add in the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

To use whipped vanilla icing, start by ensuring it’s at room temperature. Then, transfer it to a piping bag or spread it onto your desired dessert using a knife or spatula. You can also add food coloring or other flavorings to customize it to your liking.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

My mom has been making this vanilla buttercream frosting for years. It is her go-to recipe for frosting. After traying a few icing recipes, myself now, I see why mom has chosen this one.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy recipe, Homemade
Servings: 16 cupcakes
Calories: 229kcal

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  • 1 Cup Salted Butter Softened
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream or Milk


  • Use a mixer to make the frosting. This will give you the best creamy results. Make sure that the butter or shortening is soft. This will help it whip up nice and smooth. Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until whipped. Approximately 5minutes.
  • Reduce speed to medium-low, and continue to beat, gradually adding the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
    Mixing Homemade Frosting
  • Once all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla. Add the cream 1tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Raise speed to medium-high; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes more.
    Homemade Buttercream Icing

Your Own Private Notes



This makes enough frosting for a layered 8-inch cake or frosting 16  cupcakes.


Serving: 1frosting for cupcake | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 103mg | Potassium: 3mg | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 396IU | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg


You can find Victoria crocheting, quilting, and creating recipes. She has worked in restaurants for many years. Her many crochet patterns and quilt patterns are enjoyed by many. In her professional career, she has worked in management in a wide variety of businesses including higher education as a dean of a division. All the while attending college part-time to achieve her doctorate in higher education with an emphasis in e-learning.


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