The best homemade vanilla frosting recipe! Learn how to make the perfect buttercream frosting for all your favorite cakes. Pipe it onto cupcakes, slather it over a sheet cake or scoop it up with cookies. Vanilla goes with everything!
Confession: sometimes I make a batch of cupcakes just for an excuse to eat frosting! If you love citrus, my Lemon Buttercream Frosting is for you.
Table of Contents
Why this Recipe Works
If you learn to make just ONE frosting flavor in your life, make it this one: classic Vanilla Buttercream.
- Made with real vanilla for rich flavor.
- Four simple ingredients.
- Whipped to fluffy perfection!
- The most versatile frosting you can make. Enjoy it on my vanilla sheet cake, chocolate cupcakes, and even this dark chocolate cake recipe!
Vanilla extract. Always use real vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring. You can even make your own vanilla extract at home for an even richer flavor.
Milk. I use whole milk , but any kind of milk or cream will do.
Powdered sugar. Also referred to as confectioner’s sugar.
Butter. Choose unsalted butter for best results.
That’s it. Four easy ingredients to perfect frosting!
The beautiful thing about vanilla frosting (besides how great it tastes) is that it complements so many other flavors. Just about everyone loves vanilla, whether it’s a main flavor or a complementary touch.
Once this frosting recipe is in your repertoire you’ll want to put it on everything in site!
- Cake. Add it to a classic chocolate cake for a black and white treat.
- Cupcakes. Make some dreamy Vanilla Bean Cupcakes for vanilla lover’s heaven. It’s tasty on Pumpkin Cupcakes too.
- Cookies. Spread a thick layer of vanilla frosting on your Chewy Sugar Cookies then add a few sprinkles for a pop of color.
- Cake Balls. Whip up a boxed cake mix and a batch of this frosting to make the best vanilla cake balls.
Tips and Tricks
Vanilla bean variation.
Using whole vanilla beans in place of the vanilla extract adds a fresh, aromatic dimension to the vanilla frosting.
Cut open a vanilla bean pod. Scrape out the seeds. Add about 2/3 of the seeds to the frosting in place of the vanilla extract.
Don’t throw away that vanilla bean pod. Use to to make a batch of Vanilla Sugar for using in all your dessert recipes.
Cupcakes. This frosting is the perfect consistency for piping on cupcakes. Want it thicker or thinner? Change the amount of milk.
Food Coloring. Want to color the frosting for a holiday or special occasion? I recommend using gel food coloring, as it tends to not have any flavor and a little goes a long way!
This recipe yields enough vanilla buttercream to frost about 24 cupcakes or a 2-layer cake generously. Feel free to double this recipe if you want a lot of leftover frosting.
Keep vanilla frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you’re ready to use it, let the frosting sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to let it soften.
If you only have salted butter, you can still make this frosting recipe. We prefer unsalted because the level of salt in salted butter varies widely depending on the brand. Use a good quality butter with a high fat content for most delicious results.
Yes, vanilla buttercream freezes well. Go ahead and make a big batch to stash away for whenever a frosting craving takes hold! You can keep it in a freezer bag frozen for up to 3 months. Let frozen buttercream thaw in the fridge overnight before using. You’ll also want to let it soften at room temperature before piping it onto your cupcakes or cakes.
Vanilla bean paste works beautifully in this frosting. 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste can be used in place of the vanilla extract.
More Frosting Recipes
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting
- Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Frosting
- Sugar Cookie Frosting
- Sour Cream Frosting
Vanilla Frosting Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- For the frosting, beat butter for 3-4 minutes until pale in color.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Beat an additional 3-4 minutes until fluffy and smooth!
- Vanilla bean variation. Using whole vanilla beans in place of the vanilla extract adds a fresh, aromatic dimension to the vanilla frosting.
- YIELD: This recipe yields enough vanilla buttercream to frost about 24 cupcakes or a 2-layer cake generously. Feel free to double this recipe if you want a lot of leftover frosting.
- STORAGE: Keep vanilla frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you’re ready to use it, let the frosting sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to let it soften. Once piped onto a cupcake it does NOT need to be refrigerated.
- Cupcakes. This frosting is the perfect consistency for piping on cupcakes. Want it thicker or thinner? Change the amount of milk.
- Food Coloring. Want to color the frosting for a holiday or special occasion? I recommend using gel food coloring, as it tends to not have any flavor and a little goes a long way!
A good vanilla frosting recipe is a baker’s best friend. This simple frosting is rich, creamy proof that vanilla is anything but boring!
Is there anything that I need to change for if I am frosting a 6 by 6 cake?
6 inches by 6 inches that is. 🙂
Can I use heavy whipping cream instead of milk?
You sure can.
Comes out nice an creamy if you do, though I found you will want to use an extra 2 or so tablespoons if you do since it doesn’t thin the frosting nearly as much as milk does.
My family and I just used this recipe to make frosting for cupcakes and cake and it came out sooooo delicious 😋😋😋 Thank you, Thank you, thank you!
Are you sure the recipe calls for 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar? I followed the recipe and had to as much much more milk to get it creamy. The yield of frosting was huge! I read and re-read the ingredients and used exactly The amount and it was way too thick.
Do you heat the butter using a double boiler
I just threw the sticks of butter on a plate and microwaved it in 10 second intervals until it was suitably softened?