Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Easy Vanilla Buttercream is so simple to make yet tastes better than any bakery frosting! It is easy to pipe and for decorating cakes and cupcakes.

Easy Vanilla Buttercream

I have been super busy writing grants for work and hosting my sister’s bridal shower. For this one event I did my first entirely fondant-covered cake and my first dessert table! I was so pleased with how everything turned out, and my sister loved it, which made all of the work completely worthwhile.  I also made mini cupcakes using this amazing buttercream I am now sharing.

Easy Vanilla Buttercream on a cupcake

In my last post, I spoke about the 1st birthday party my friends threw for their son. I did his small cake and these cupcakes for the rest of the guests. I used a yellow cake box mix here, and am so glad I did because everyone raved about how light and fluffy the cupcakes were.  

Easy Vanilla Buttercream on a tray of cupcakes

I’m not a huge fan of canned frosting, probably because my aunt makes the best homemade buttercream frosting ever (my grandma’s recipe). I have never tried to replicate her recipe since she adds a little of this and a little of that until it’s perfect.

I decided to turn to America’s Test Kitchen for this Easy Buttercream recipe. I have to say, it’s delicious and very, very easy! It’s not quite as light and smooth as Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but takes much less time and was actually preferred over the Swiss version by my husband.

Update

It’s been 9 years since I posted this recipe, and it is still my go to buttercream! This is now my go-to buttercream recipe when I need something quick and delicious, and I exclusively use it for cake decorating. I often have trouble knowing how many batches of buttercream I need for a project and will run out. I need a recipe that is fast to make another batch without taking the time to make a meringue.

See all of my CAKE DECORATING Tips here!

Collage of Cakes Decorated with Easy Vanilla Buttercream
Penelope Bird Cake, Daniel Tiger Cake, FROZEN Cake, Cinderella Cake

Recipe Details

This buttercream has simple ingredients but the method turns it from a typical frosting into something spectacular.

Easy Vanilla Buttercream ingredients

In standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. I always use salted butter because I like the extra salt to balance the sweet. I have never had an issue with the buttercream not being as creamy.

Add the powdered sugar and salt, and beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla extract and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. This is what the buttercream looks like at this point:

buttercream before being whipped

Some recipes may have you stop at this stage. You can see on this small silicone spatula how it’s a little dense and not fluffy.

buttercream on a small silicone spatula before being whipped

The key to this frosting is the next step. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. This turns the buttercream into a fluffier, smoother consistency frosting that is perfect for spreading, piping, and decorating.

whipped Easy Vanilla Buttercream in a mixing bowl

The extra whipping time helps dissolve the powdered sugar so the consistency is super smooth, almost like Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is ultra smooth, but Easy Vanilla Buttercream is nearly the same consistency without the hassle making meringue. I always use Easy Vanilla Buttercream for cake decorating because it’s hard to judge exactly how much I’ll need. It’s so easy and fast to whip up an extra batch of this buttercream to finish a cake project.

whipped Easy Vanilla Buttercream on a small silicone spatula to show fluffy consistency

Cakes with Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Thomas the Train Smash Cake
Bridal Shower Cake with Flower Blossoms
Penelope Bird Cake
Daniel Tiger Cake
FROZEN Cake
Cookie Monster Cake and Cupcakes
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

See all of my CAKE DECORATING Tips here!

Gluten Free Easy Vanilla Buttercream

This recipes is naturally gluten free!

Looking for more Frosting Recipes?

Check out these other Frosting recipes:
Traditional Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream {no heat}
Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Coffee Buttercream Frosting
Whipped Ganache Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
Pomegranate Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Meghan
The best homemade buttercream that's so easy to make!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes worth of frosting (8 if piping a mound)

Ingredients
  

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (5 ounces)
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions
 

  • In standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. NOTE: if using a hand-held mixer, increase mixing times by at least 50%.
  • Add powdered sugar and salt, and beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.
  • Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla extract and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds.
  • Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
  • Tint frosting with gel food coloring, if desired. Use immediately or store in refrigerator. If refrigerated, allow frosting to come to room temperature before use.

Notes

This recipe makes enough buttercream to frost 12 cupcakes or a 1-layer cake; double this recipe for a 2-layer cake or if you would like to frost your cupcakes with more frosting.
Source: Adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Complete TV Show Cookbook
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
bakeitafterall.com
Keyword dessert


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