This Perfect Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is creamy, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth soft and is packed with vanilla flavor without being overly sweet! And it’s simple. I’ve also shared tips and tricks that I have for making consistently great vanilla frosting for all of my baked goods and desserts!
The BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe!
Today’s recipe for Perfect Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is deceptively simple, but it’s one that can go wrong in so many ways! So here I’ll be sharing all the tips and tricks that I use to make consistently AMAZING vanilla frosting.
It’s only my second favorite frosting (everything comes second to chocolate!), but I make it all the time, and I’m not at all shy when it comes to slathering it all over any cake!
It’s important to whip the cool butter until it’s light and fluffy as the first step.
What is Perfect Vanilla Buttercream Frosting to you? For me, it means that the frosting is,
- Soft but still holds its shape beautifully
- Melts in your mouth
- Packed with vanilla flavor and
- IS NOT sickly sweet!
This vanilla buttercream frosting ticks all of these boxes!
Why buttercream recipes go wrong!
The main reason why buttercream frosting recipes go wrong for people is actually because they follow the recipe to the letter! 🙂 With buttercream frosting, a recipe is only a guide because the ambient temperature plays a HUGE part in the final result! So you need to learn how to adapt your recipe to get consistently fantastic results!
Most recipes call for room temperature butter for any kind of buttercream frosting. Here’s the problem with that – not everyone’s room temperature is going to be the same, and it’ll be different depending on the season, and so on. So if you make your vanilla buttercream frosting with butter that was softened at a warmer temperature, you’ll end up with buttercream that’s too soft. Then you have to add extra confectioner’s sugar to make it firmer, and that ends up making your frosting too sweet.
So here are my tips for making Perfect Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Cool butter. I don’t mean that your butter needs to have swag. Just that you need to start with butter that’s cool to the touch and very slightly softened. This way you’ll have to whisk it longer to make it creamier, BUT it will hold its shape a lot better than when making frosting with butter that’s warmer and too soft.
- Use a 1:1 ratio (weight-wise) of butter and confectioner’s sugar. This gives me the best level of sweetness. Some recipes call for 1:2 ratio of butter to sugar, but I find that to be way too sweet! But if you do like a sweeter vanilla frosting, you can add UP TO twice the amount of confectioner’s sugar as butter, if you like.
- Cold cream. cold, whipping cream not only adds a creaminess to the frosting, but it also helps regulate the temperature of the frosting. The cream whips along with the butter, making the buttercream lighter, fluffier and creamier.
- Good quality vanilla. I use Madagascar bourbon vanilla in my frosting, but I LOVE using vanilla bean paste too. There’s just something more delectable about seeing those flecks of vanilla bean caviar in the vanilla frosting. Another trick that I like to use with my vanilla frostings is the use of TWO TYPES of vanilla! I like using Madagascar bourbon vanilla for flavor, and then I add a little bit of Tahitian vanilla for that sweet vanilla fragrance. This is completely optional though. Most recipes add vanilla extract at the end of the recipe. There’s no reason for this. You can add vanilla at the beginning AFTER the butter has been whipped if you want. The only reason I would add it at the end , is so that I can taste the buttercream and add more if I want to.
How to soften butter for this buttercream recipe
The way I make sure that the butter is at the right temperature is pretty simple.
In the summer, I take out the butter from the fridge and let it rest for a little while until it’s slightly soft, but cool to the touch. This could take up to about 30 minutes.
IF it’s an exceptionally hot day, and the butter softens too much – you can put the butter back into the fridge for a few minutes to make it harden a little.
In the winter, I keep the butter out overnight because it’s cooler inside the house (even if your thermostat is set to the same temp. all year, it’s still colder inside the house in the winter due to things like heat radiation and the dry air), so the butter stays nice, cool and perfectly soft until the next day. If you have a sugar thermometer, you can actually measure the butter temp., and you need it to be at about 70°F (21°C). This is optional though, so as long as the butter feels cool and slightly soft to the touch, it should be good.
To speed up the butter softening process, cut the butter into pieces and leave it covered on a plate. Smaller pieces of butter will soften faster.
There is also a trick to cover a stick of butter with a warmed glass to soften the butter. I personally don’t like this because you risk making the butter too soft if the glass is too warm.
Whipping the cold butter in a stand mixer until it’s creamy and turns white in color, does take a bit longer than it would with softer and warmer butter, but it’s certainly worth it because you end up with delightfully soft, creamy vanilla buttercream frosting that pipes beautifully. So it is well worth it!
Why add cream to the buttercream?
I like to add 1/4 cup of the cream at the beginning with the butter, so that the cream makes the butter lighter and fluffier. However, I always keep some extra cream to add at the end, just in case I feel like that frosting could use a little extra creaminess. During hot, summer days however, I avoid adding extra cream to prevent the vanilla frosting from becoming too soft.
Can I make this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting ahead of time?
You can. You can store this vanilla buttercream frosting for a day or two as well. I usually don’t like to make buttercream frosting too ahead of time, because I prefer the texture of freshly made buttercream instead.
Just cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until needed. BUT, make sure to let the frosting soften slightly and then whisk it until it’s creamy again, before using it.
PRO TIP – When re-whisking the frosting, use a flat beater to whisk the frosting, rather than the whisk attachment. This will prevent extra air bubbles from forming, and create a smooth frosting.
Can I add color to this vanilla frosting?
This vanilla frosting can be colored too! Just add some gel food coloring to get the colors you want.
If you like Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, then you can use it in these recipes
If you love Vanilla cake to go with your frosting (Like these vanilla cupcakes or a basic vanilla cake), you can get the recipe by clicking here. I’ve shared all the tips I use to get perfect vanilla cake (or cupcakes) with every step!
Or if you prefer chocolate cake, you can make this amazing Classic Chocolate Cake instead!
You may also love these recipes,
EQUIPMENT & TOOLS I USED FOR THIS RECIPE
Stand Mixer – I like using my KitchenAid Mixer for this recipe
Silicone spatula to scrape the bowl while mixing
Offset Spatula – the easiest method to spread frosting on cakes
Perfect Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 8 oz unsalted butter (2 sticks) cool, but not cold – about 70°F
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup cold whipping cream
- 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract Madagascar bourbon vanilla
- 1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract optional
- 8 – 10 oz confectioner’s sugar (in weight) 2 – 2 ½ cups (spoon and level)
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. With a whisk attachment, whip the butter until it’s creamy and white in color – about 3 – 5 minutes on high speed (not maximum speed).
- Add the salt, cream and vanilla, and whisk further until the butter-cream mix is light and fluffy (for a few minutes).
- Lower the speed and add 8 oz of the confectioner’s sugar – a little at a time, and incorporate all the sugar into the butter. Make sure to scrape the sides as you go.
- Once the sugar is incorporated into the butter, increase the speed and whisk on high for 1 minute. Taste and add the rest of the confectioner’s sugar if needed. Whisk for a further 2 – 3 minutes until you have a light, fluffy, soft, spreadable frosting.
- If the frosting is too stiff, you can add extra cream (1 tbsp at a time) to get an even softer buttercream.