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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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  • Prep 10 min
  • Total 10 min
  • Servings 12
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This easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is bound to be the star of any cake, cookie or cupcake—it's rich, sweet and basically foolproof to make! With just 4 simple ingredients and 10 minutes, this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe is ready to turn any dessert into a real special-occasion treat. Never underestimate the power of a good frosting!
Updated Sep 26, 2023
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What Is Buttercream Frosting?

Buttercream frosting is a sweet, fluffy frosting that takes almost any dessert to the next level—it’s most often used to frost cakes, but it’s also delicious when swirled on top of cupcakes and spread over cookies. Frostings are generally thick, spreadable and opaque, unlike most icing which is usually much thinner, shinier and smoother in consistency. Icing recipes typically combine powdered sugar and liquid (like water, milk or juice) whereas buttercream frosting is made by creaming together butter, sugar and a little bit of milk to make the frosting fluffy, smooth and perfectly spreadable.

Our buttercream frosting recipe also uses real vanilla to get that classic, crowd-pleasing vanilla flavor we all know and love. This homemade frosting provides a great starting point for plenty of different flavored buttercream frostings—try stirring in a dash of almond extract or grated citrus zest for a tasty twist on a simple frosting recipe. Once you’ve mastered this classic, try whipping up a smooth, tangy Cream Cheese Frosting or decadent Fudge Frosting. Yum!

How to Store Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

If you have any leftover Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, you can easily store it for later use. This buttercream frosting will keep for up to one week when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator—don’t worry, it won’t dry to a hard finish!


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk


  • 1
    In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.
  • 2
    Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar. Frosts 13x9-inch cake generously, or fills and frosts an 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    Allow your butter to soften at room temperature so it easily and smoothly beats up with the powdered (also called confectioner’s) sugar.
  • tip 2
    We recommend using a real vanilla or vanilla bean paste instead of an imitation one to make this easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Vanilla provides more than just flavor—it also enhances the sweetness of sugar, so bumping up vanilla flavor allows you to decrease the amount of sugar needed in recipes.
  • tip 3
    This frosting pairs well with these homemade Chocolate Cupcakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Buttercream Frosting to Ice Cookies?

No time or patience for royal icing, but still want something homemade? You can easily ice sugar cookies (or any of your favorite cookies) with this simple Vanilla Buttercream Frosting instead! This method for decorating cookies is oh-so-simple, but still gives you beautiful, bakery-quality results.

Let your cookies cool completely to prevent the buttercream frosting from melting. Holding one cookie at a time, scoop out about a tablespoon of frosting with a small metal spatula and place it in the center of the cookie. Slowly spread the frosting using the spatula, working your way towards the outer edges of the cookie until the frosting looks smooth and evenly distributed. Give your frosted cookies a festive touch by adding sprinkles, colored sugar or any of your favorite toppings.

Can I Add Food Color to This Buttercream Frosting?

Want to switch up the color of your homemade frosting? Just grab your paste or gel (not liquid) food color and add a very small amount at a time—remember, a little goes a long way! If you’re making more than one color of buttercream frosting, just divide your white frosting into multiple bowls before adding the different food colors to each bowl and mixing to achieve your desired shade.


170 Calories, 5g Total Fat, 0g Protein, 30g Total Carbohydrate, 29g Sugars

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Serving
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
2 1/2g
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 1 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

More About This Recipe

  • Four simple ingredients—sugar, butter, vanilla and milk—come together in a homemade frosting recipe that proves the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Hundreds of home cooks and bakers have used this recipe for decorating cakes, filling layer cakes or topping off a pan of brownies. Before you begin, check out this step-by-step tutorial on making frosting. You’ll learn that a perfect buttercream frosting recipe starts with room-temperature butter that can still hold its shape but is starting to soften at the edges. Test it by pressing a finger into the butter; if it gives and your finger leaves an indent, it’s ready to go. Once you’ve mastered vanilla buttercream frosting, expand your skill set with more frosting recipes.
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