This vanilla buttercream frosting is hands down, 100%, one of my favorite recipes! It only requires a few ingredients, AND is super versatile! Best of all, it takes virtually no time to make!
Because of the limited number of ingredients in this recipe, this would be considered an American buttercream frosting, and is much sweeter than its counterparts. Although I’ve been known to have a massive sweet tooth, a lot of the recipes I’ve tested throughout the years have been OVERLY sweet… like, hit you over the head, sweet. So with this recipe, I made it a point to increase my butter to powdered sugar ratio so the balance is truly a great one. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
To note, there are indeed other variations of buttercream: Swiss, French, Italian, German +, that are much less sweeter, and actually, I’ll be posting my all-time favorite Swiss buttercream frosting shortly!
Just like any recipe, I’ve sifted (like what I did there?? 😉) through many FAQs and troubleshooting problems/solutions. So, if you’re still with me, I’ll be covering things like:
- Proper storage of this frosting recipe
- How long this recipe will be good for (and how long in advance you can prepare it)
- What those pesky air bubbles are, and how to get rid of them
- Using food coloring liquid or gel, and what brand I highly recommend
To start off, I’ve learned that preparing my buttercream frosting in advance has been a huge time (and really, life) saver. And I’m happy to report that you can make this frosting recipe months in advance!
At this point, I try to always prepare my buttercream ahead of time. But the key here is storing it properly. As long as you make sure to place your frosting in an absolutely air-tight container, this frosting recipe can last up to one month in the refrigerator, and up to three months in the freezer. As added insurance, when I do prepare my buttercream to store, I usually also cover the open container with saran wrap (I use Glad Press’n Seal) then cover it with the lid.
Once you’re ready to frost your cake or cupcakes, just remember to take out your fridge-chilled frosting at least 3-4 hours in advance to get it to room temperature. For freezer-chilled, I typically take mine out the night before and let it thaw overnight.
One of the misconceptions I had when I first started baking, was that buttercream had to stay in the fridge at all times. This is false. As long as your kitchen room temperature does not exceed 70 degrees, buttercream can sit out at room temperature for up to 2 days. I’ve left buttercream out on my counter MULTIPLE TIMES and have had absolutely zero issues every time!
Now on to the bane of my existence… the air bubble problem…
You’ll see air bubbles a couple of different times throughout the process of working with buttercream frosting.
After you’ve thawed your frosting and it reaches room temperature, you’ll very likely see air bubbles as you scoop it out to re-mix. Don’t stress! As you re-mix your buttercream frosting on low speed, the air bubbles will work themselves out. Give it a couple minutes and you should start seeing your frosting mix back into its smooth texture.
If you’ve opted to not make your buttercream frosting in advance, and are making it in real-time, you may see air bubbles develop towards the end. Once you have all your ingredients incorporated and mixed together well, it’s important to remember to mix your frosting on low speed for an additional 2-3 minutes at the very end of making this frosting recipe. The slow mixing will eventually mix out all those air bubbles, and again, get your frosting to that super smooth texture.
Just remember, if at ANY POINT during cake decorating, you notice that your frosting has developed air bubbles, just pop your bowl back onto the mixer and re-mix on low speed for a couple minutes until the frosting is smooth again. You can repeat this process as many times as you need to ensure your cake has that smooth frosting finish!
Earlier on in my post, I mentioned how amazingly versatile this buttercream frosting recipe is, so I’d like to expand a bit. This buttercream frosting is FANTASTIC for decorating both cupcakes and cakes, and makes piping any special details on your cake that much easier!
This buttercream frosting recipe is also a great base for making an infinite number of other frosting flavor variations like peanut butter, almond, lemon, cookie butter, Nutella, cream cheese, semi-sweet/dark/white chocolates, etc. I’ll get into these different variations in a future post!
Last, but certainly not least, I also wanted to cover coloring your frosting! When I first started getting into cake decorating, I would go to my nearest grocery store to get a bottle of food coloring to color my frosting whatever color I needed. Grocery stores typically will have the liquid variety, and the more I used liquid food colors, and especially if I needed my frosting to reach a DEEP color, I noticed it would heavily dilute my frosting… which is never a good thing.
So I started researching, and found something AMAZING called food gels. My mind was blown. Food gels let you get those super vibrant colors without needing to add in a large amount of liquid. The food gel I use is the Americolor brand. I’ve used the Wilton brand in the past, and it certainly does the job, but the Americolor brand comes in this great squeeze bottle that really allows you to control the amount of gel you use… which isn’t a lot since its already so concentrated!
THE BEST Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 7-8 inch layer cake
Keywords: American buttercream, vanilla buttercream, vanilla frosting, buttercream frosting recipe, best buttercream recipe, buttercream flavors, air bubbles, crusting buttercream, easy buttercream frosting recipe
- 3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon cold heavy cream
- 4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place butter in mixing bowl and beat on a medium speed for about 1 minute with a paddle attachment, until smooth and fluffy. SLOWLY add in powdered sugar, 1-2 cup at a time. You want to be sure you are adding the sugar slowly so as to not have a powdered sugar snow storm occur in your kitchen!
- (NOTE: If you forget to take your butter out of the fridge to reach room temperature, just microwave the butter for about 2 intervals of 10-15 seconds each. After first interval, turn butter so the bottom is now on top. But keep close watch to make sure the butter doesn’t melt!)
- Mix in heavy cream.
- Once fully mixed, add in vanilla and salt, and beat on low-medium speed until everything is fully incorporated.
- If your frosting is too thick, mix in about 2-3 tsp of heavy cream until it reaches the desired consistency.
- If the frosting is too thin, mix in about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.
This recipe will cover 1 7-8 inch cake, or frost 12-16 cupcakes (depending on how much frosting you use).
If you plan on piping rosettes or other details onto your cake, I’d recommend making 1 1/2 – 2 batches of this recipe. I’ll typically have left-over frosting, but personally, I’d prefer to have too much than too little. Plus, you can also use left-over frosting on another cake or cupcakes! Just remember to store it properly! 😉