The best Buttercream Frosting is so easy with simple ingredients. Butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. This frosting is great for topping cookies, layer cakes, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls.
The debate is strong when it comes to which frosting recipe people prefer. People really like their buttercream or really like their cream cheese frosting. I did a poll with my youth group as we were decorating sugar cookies and it was 50/50 for each frosting.
At parties, I’m guilty of picking the birthday cake slice with the most buttercream icing. But whether it’s cream cheese or homemade buttercream I don’t care as long as I get a thick layer of fluffy frosting.
INGREDIENT IN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- UNSALTED BUTTER – I like to use unsalted butter in my frostings so I can control the salt. Ideally you want a light colored butter if you are doing a white frosting. More expensive butters (like KerryGold) are more yellow and are fine to use if you plan on coloring the frosting. You don’t want room temperature butter. You want it to be soft but still cold. Obviously, you want to use real butter and not margarine.
- POWDERED SUGAR – Some people call this confectioners’ sugar. Ideally you should sift it so there are no lumps.
- PURE VANILLA EXTRACT – If you want a bright white frosing you can buy clear vanilla. For most cases, it won’t matter. Sometimes I add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract as well.
- HEAVY CREAM OR MILK – Not necessary but can thin out your frosting to your desired consistency.
- PINCH OF SALT – Just a little bit of salt helps balance the sweetness.
TIPS FOR THIS RECIPE
- The first step to success is to beat your butter at high speed for a few minutes to get light and fluffy. Also to make sure that your butter isn’t too warm. That will result in a runny frosting.
- You can use a whisk or a paddle attachment on your stand mixer. I prefer the paddle attachment because it gets it done! You can also use an electric mixer.
- If you don’t like the texture of your frosting, keep beating it.
- If you feel like 4 cups is too much sugar, start with 3 cups and add to taste.
- Does frosting have to be refrigerated? Yes, technically it does because it contains dairy. Personally, if I’m frosting cookies or cake I do not store them in the fridge if I’m serving them the same day. If making ahead of time I store it in an airtight container for up to 5 days. When ready to use, let frosting sit at room temperature until soft enough to spread.
- Can I freeze frosting? Yes. I store in a ziploc bag or piping bag and freeze for up to one month. Let thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before using.
- How much does this make? This makes enough frosting to frost a double layer cake, a 9×13 cake or 24 cupcakes.
- Can I color this? Yes. You can add food coloring to make this any color you like.
HOW TO USE THIS FROSTING
- Spread – you can spread this on cakes and cookies with a rubber spatula.
- Pipe – If you are fancy you can use a piping bag with a piping tip. My favorite piping tip is a #2D which is a drop flower. It’s a big pretty swirl. I am cheap and use a gallon size ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and put a piping tip in the corner then fill the bag with frosting. See how I pipe in these Flag Cupcake Recipe with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.
- Lemon zest and juice (or lime zest).
- Caramel sauce to make a caramel frosting.
- Cocoa powder for chocolate buttercream.
- Fruit puree (blueberry, strawberry…)
- Peppermint extract
COOKIES I USE THIS ON:
OTHER FROSTING RECIPES
- Frosting that will get you hugs (less sweet buttercream)
- Cookie Dough Frosting
- Chocolate Frosting
- Peanut Butter Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup butter, (2 sticks, soft but cold)
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Up to 4 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment or whisk attachment on high speed.
- Add powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
- Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and beat for 3 minutes scraping down the sides as needed with a spatula. If your frosting needs to be thinned out add milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time. For a more stiff consistency, add more powdered sugar.