We all need a quick, easy, and fluffy vanilla frosting recipe in our back pockets, and this basic buttercream is it. The ingredients can be counted on one hand, and it can be made in 10 minutes.
How to Make Perfect Buttercream Frosting
The difference between a buttercream that’s just OK, maybe a little dense or grainy, and one that is smooth and super fluffy is the method. Here's what to do:
- Add the powdered sugar to the butter in two stages.
- Beat the sugar and butter together for a full minute after each addition.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl so everything is well mixed.
- Use heavy cream instead of milk or half-and-half. It’s great for thinning out a too-stiff frosting without sacrificing body.
How to Store and Freeze Buttercream Frosting
Store the buttercream in an airtight container (I love to use quart-sized deli containers) and refrigerate for up to four days or freeze for up to one month.
After refrigerating or freezing the frosting, bring it back to room temperature by leaving the container on the counter for about an hour if it was refrigerated, or several hours if the frosting was frozen.
You can also transfer frozen frosting from the freezer to the refrigerator 24 hours before you need it, then bring it to room temperature on the counter for an hour. Rewhip the previously frozen frosting to make it fluffy and spreadable.
More Easy Homemade Frosting Recipes
- Seven-Minute Frosting
- Easy Chocolate Frosting
- Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
Troubleshooting Buttercream Frosting
- Always start with room temperature butter, about 65°F.
- If the frosting is not stiff enough, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- If the frosting is too stiff, add more heavy cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Bring refrigerated frosting to room temperature and beat it for a minute with the mixer before using it.
- Butter can get very soft when the weather is warm. If the frosting gets too soft and greasy while you are frosting cake or cupcakes, place the frosting in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes so it can firm up a bit.
Easy Ways to Decorate a Cake
Before frosting a cake (or cupcakes), completely cool the cake. Placing the unfrosted cake in the refrigerator for about an hour after it’s cooled can also make it easier to decorate. While the cake should be cool, the frosting should be room temperature.
Place frosting between layers, and then add a thin coat of frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Use a spatula to scrape away most of that layer. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so and then add the outer, thick layer of frosting. You don’t need a fancy tool to make the outer layer look decorative—a spoon is all you need.
How Long Does Buttercream Last on a Cake?
A covered, frosted cake can stay at a cool room temperature for four to five days. After that, put it in the refrigerator (know that this will dry out the cake).
Try Buttercream Frosting on These Cake and Cupcake Recipes
- White Cake
- Yogurt Cake
- Banana Sheet Cake
- Suzanne’s Chocolate Cake
- Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups (460g) powdered sugar, divided
2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
Beat the butter:
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer), beat the butter until creamy.
Add the sugar and a little cream:
Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream. Mix on low until the powdered sugar is incorporated into the butter, scrape down the sides, then turn up the mixer to high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and another 1 tablespoon of the cream.
Add the extract and salt:
Add the vanilla and salt and beat to combine. If the buttercream seems too stiff, beat in an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream at a time. You want it to hold a peak but be soft enough to spread with little effort.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||13%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 22g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 22g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|