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vanilla buttercream piped on cupcake
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5 from 39 votes

Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting

Using only one bowl and four ingredients, you can whip up a batch of this easy and classic vanilla American buttercream frosting in just 10 minutes so try it today!
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 24
Calories: 147kcal


  • Standing or Hand-Held Mixer with Large Bowl


  • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks, softened
  • 16 oz powdered sugar 1 pound, about 3.5-4 cups
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or heavy whipping cream up to 1/4 cup, optional
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt optional


  • Using a hand held mixer or standing mixer, cream the butter using a paddle or whisk attachment on medium high until pale yellow, about 4-5 minutes. If necessary, half way through scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing.
  • Turn off the mixer and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix on low for a minute until it incorporates and starts to look crumbly.
  • Once crumbly, turn up the speed and continue mixing on medium to medium high, about 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Gauge the consistency. If the frosting is too thick, you can mix in a few tablespoons of milk or cream, 1/2 tbsp at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.


  • If using salted butter, omit the added salt in the recipe.
  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature or slightly cooler. If using a mix of butter and shortening, make sure they are both at room temperature so they combine easily.
  • Mix the butter for a good 3-4 minutes before and after adding the powdered sugar. Mixing the frosting for so long makes for a very light and fluffy buttercream, and helps cut the graininess of the powdered sugar.
  • If your powdered sugar is hard or has lumps, sift it to get a smooth lump-free frosting. 
  • Start mixing the powdered sugar on low so it doesn’t spill and make a mess.  You can mix ½ or ⅓ at a time  until it is incorporated. 
  • Test the consistency. If the vanilla frosting is too thick add milk or cream 1/2 tbsp at a time and mix until it reaches the desired consistency. If you add too much liquid, add a few more tablespoons of powdered sugar and remix.   
  • You can easily color with frosting with food coloring. I recommend gel food coloring because it brighter and more vibrant than the liquid kind .
  • The frosting will keep up to two weeks in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer in an airtight container.  
  • This recipe makes about 3 cups of frosting and can be doubled as needed.


Serving: 2tbps | Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 68mg | Potassium: 2mg | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg