This easy-to-make vanilla frosting is the ultimate dessert baking staple that perfectly pairs with your favorite cake, cookies, cupcakes, or brownies. Make it in one bowl in just 10 minutes.

vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting colored pink with sprinkles on top, sitting on top of a white cake platter

Classic vanilla buttercream frosting is one of those go-to recipes that all home bakers need.

Beginner bakers can be intimidated by the thought of making classic buttercream frosting for the first time, I know I was when I started out! Trust me though, you cannot mess this up.

There is zero baking or cooking involved in making this homemade frosting recipe, just mixing and tasting.

In fact, tasting as you go is the key to making a perfect buttercream. Buttercream is very forgiving because you can adjust as you go. If you need more confectioners’ sugar you can add it to taste, and then if it becomes to thick you can even it back out with a dash of whole milk or heavy cream.

vanilla buttercream frosting in a white bowl sitting on top of a striped kitchen towel with a bowl of sprinkles and metal piping tips around it

Why You’ll Love This Vanilla Frosting Recipe

  • 3 simple ingredients
  • Only 10 minutes to make
  • Easily make it a different color for themed desserts
  • Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Perfect Pairings for this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Plain vanilla frosting pairs perfectly with so many different recipes, but here are some of my favorite pairings:

partially eaten slice of yellow cake topped with vanilla frosting on a plate with a fork

What You’ll Need

This easy vanilla frosting recipe uses basic ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Get all the measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Unsalted butter – The butter for the frosting also needs to be room temperature so it can be whipped into a smooth, creamy topping for your cupcakes.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar – Also called confectioner’s sugar.
  • Milk or heavy cream – You only need to use this if the frosting is too thick.

How to Make Vanilla Frosting

Making homemade vanilla frosting is easier than you may think! Get the full instructions in the recipe card below.

Mix wet ingredients. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and vanilla extract, and beat using an electric mixer / hand mixer until fluffy, 1-2 minutes.

Add powdered sugar. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing on low until combined.

Add food coloring (optional). If you want to add food coloring, do so now.

Taste and adjust if needed. Taste as needed to determine if you want more powdered sugar. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a dash of milk or heavy cream.

Make it extra fluffy. If you want an extra fluffy vanilla frosting, add in 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream when adding the last bit of powdered sugar. Whip for 3-4 minutes.

a slice of yellow cake with vanilla frosting on a white plate with sprinkles all around it

Tips for the Best Vanilla Buttercream

  • Let butter soften. Use room-temperature butter because it whips more easily and produces a fluffier frosting
  • Whip it good! Want fluffy frosting? For best results, whipping is the key!

Best Way to Store Vanilla Frosting

You can store frosting in a sealed container on the counter for up to 2 days.

For longer storage, you can store frosting in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Before using, place the frosting on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature. Give it a quick whip with an electric mixer before using.

a pattern of piped vanilla frosting that has been colored purple

Substitutions & Variations

  • Color it – This is the best frosting to use as a base for colored frosting. For vibrant colors, use gel food coloring to change the color of this icing recipe for any themed dessert. I recommend AmeriColor. Liquid food coloring will work too, it’s just not as pigmented as gel food coloring.
  • Peanut Butter If you like peanut butter flavor, try my peanut butter buttercream frosting.
  • Chocolate – Have a recipe that would pair well with chocolate flavor? Try my chocolate buttercream frosting.
  • Lemon – Add fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for citrusy lemon frosting.
vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles, with sprinkles all around it and more sprinkles and a chocolate cupcake in the background

FAQs

Is vanilla frosting the same as vanilla buttercream?

Buttercream is a type of frosting. Most people are talking about vanilla buttercream when they say vanilla frosting. Buttercream is the typical frosting you see paired with sheet cake and cupcakes.

Why are there air bubbles in my frosting and how do I get rid of them?

Air bubbles form when whipping the frosting, which is a necessary step in making buttercream! But you can reduce the amount of air bubbles by beating the frosting on low speed for a minute or by hand mixing the frosting. You are essentially pushing out the air bubbles.

How do you make vanilla frosting with a thicker consistency?

You can thicken your frosting by combining cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of milk, then add it to the frosting.

How much frosting does this recipe make?

This recipe makes enough frosting to frost 12 cupcakes or a two layer 8 inch cake. 

What food coloring do you recommend?

For vibrant colors, use gel food coloring. I recommend AmeriColor. Liquid food coloring will work too, it’s just not as pigmented as gel food coloring.

More Frosting Recipes

Vanilla Frosting

4.84 from 6 ratings
Prep Time: 10 mins
Yield: 2 cups
This easy-to-make vanilla frosting is the ultimate dessert baking staple that perfectly pairs with your favorite cake, cookies, cupcakes, or brownies. Make it in one bowl in just 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (1 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • Dash milk or heavy cream if frosting becomes too thick

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and vanilla extract, beat using an electric mixer until fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing on low until combined.
  • If you want to add food coloring, do so now.
  • Taste as needed to determine if you want more powdered sugar. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a dash of milk or heavy cream.
  • If you want an extra fluffy frosting, add in 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream when adding the last bit of powdered sugar. Whip for 3-4 minutes.

Notes

This frosting recipe makes enough frosting to frost 12 cupcakes or a two layer 8 inch cake. 
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Beth
Calories: 483kcal, Carbohydrates: 120g, Protein: 0.01g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 3mg, Potassium: 6mg, Sugar: 118g, Vitamin A: 37IU, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 0.1mg
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