★★★★★

Vanilla Frosting Recipe

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.

Vanilla buttercream frosting piped onto chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles.

Why this Recipe Works

If you learn to make just ONE frosting flavor in your life, make it this one: classic Vanilla Buttercream.

Ingredient Notes

Four ingredients to make vanilla buttercram frosting.

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!

Vanilla frosting piped onto chocolate cupcakes.

Serving Suggestions

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.
Vanilla frosting on an electric beater.

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!

Recipe FAQs

How much frosting does this recipe make?

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.

How do you store buttercream?

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.

Can I make frosting with salted butter?

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.

Can I make this ahead of time and freeze it?

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.

Can I use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract? How much do I use?

Vanilla bean paste works beautifully in this frosting. 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste can be used in place of the vanilla extract.

Vanilla frosting on chocolate cupcakes with colorful non pariels.

More Frosting Recipes

Yield: 24 servings

Vanilla Frosting Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

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!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons milk

Instructions

    1. For the frosting, beat butter for 3-4 minutes until pale in color.
    2. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Beat an additional 3-4 minutes until fluffy and smooth!

Notes

  • 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!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 0g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

A good vanilla frosting recipe is a baker’s best friend. This simple frosting is rich, creamy proof that vanilla is anything but boring!

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on April 19, 2021

Comments & Reviews

  1. Love your recipies Aimee!!! Thank you. I do love a great vanilla frosting. I see in your pictures the frosting is fairly white. Just how I like it. Would clear real vanilla be just as good in this recipe ? Thank you !!!

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