The BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I’m not even kidding.  This is the BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.  Give it a try, you’ll never want cake without it again.  Or spoons.

I'm not even kidding. This is the BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Give it a try, you'll never want cake without it again. Or spoons.


You guys have to make this frosting.

The end.

Okay, not really.  So this is a frosting recipe that I first made for these adorable sheep cupcakes.  And I made it again for Piper’s cake smash.  But it is seriously so ridiculously good that I feel like it deserved it’s own post.

This is the BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Give it a try, you'll never want cake without it again. Or spoons.

So ironically, my sister in law sent me a text message the day before the sheep post went live and asked me if I had a good vanilla frosting recipe.  And I said, “Funny you should ask . . . ”  A few weeks later I got this message from her:

 “I LOVE it! It makes boxed cake mixes taste like they were made in a bakery. It puts homemade cakes off the charts!”

I love her. :)

This is the BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Give it a try, you'll never want cake without it again. Or spoons.

If that testimonial wasn’t enough, yesterday while I was photographing this cake (recipe coming later this week), Gavin asked me if he could have a piece when I was done.  Who am I to say no to that cute face?  Gavin historically loves cake but doesn’t like frosting at all.  Which is just crazy, but kind of awesome because I always get his left over frosting at birthday parties. #dontjudge

Well, I walked back into the kitchen after giving him some cake and he was eating the frosting!!  I said, “Gavin!  I thought you didn’t like frosting!”

“I don’t.  But, Mom.  This frosting is AMAZING!!”


This is the BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Give it a try, you'll never want cake without it again. Or spoons.

Important note:  One recipe of this frosting was enough to lightly cover 24 cupcakes, but I needed to double it to make this three layer cake with 1/2 a cup between each layer and a nice crumb coat.


The BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk


  1. To make frosting, beat the butter until fluffy.
  2. Then add the powdered sugar gradually, one cup at a time.
  3. Add in the vanilla and milk.

Other frostings you HAVE to try:







  1. Joanne says

    I’ve been making this for fifty years, since before canned icing came out. That makes me feel old….

    • says

      Sooooo simple! The only planning involved is making sure your butter is room temperature, but otherwise, super fast and totally worth making from scratch!

  2. says

    When it calls for the butter use cisco shorting in place of the butter (so the frosting will be pure white) for butter flavor use wilting clear butter and vanilla flavoring….

    • Christa says

      If you use only shortening it will leave a greasy aftertaste…if you want a white icing use 1/2 cup Hard Margarine and 1/2 cup shortening cream together. Add the icing sugar and add milk to get the consistency you want (you wont need to add 1/4 cup with the extra ingredients)

      • says

        Hi, I bake cakes professionally, I would never use shortening it is horrible! If you want it pure white it is worth going to a cake supply shop or ordering online titanium dioxide. It’s what the professionals use, it’s in absorbs of shop bought food. I personally don’t mind my buttercream slightly cream coloured. Some brands of butters are paler than others, I use Lurpak or President.

  3. Michelle Roberts says

    Today is my husband’s birthday! I just baked him a cake and can’t wait to put this frosting on it!
    Looks delicious!

  4. Renee Ellis says

    I just made this buttercream frosting, and as promised, it is AMAZING!!! After following your instructions, the texture is smooth and almost silky. I will make this again and again! Thanks for posting!! #happytastebudsinGeorgia

  5. Samuel says

    my icing was a total flop. It tastes good, but way too runny. It fell right off my cupcakes. Hopefully someone can tell me what I can do to fix it as my sons birthday party is in a few Hours.

    • says

      I’m sorry it didn’t work for you Samuel! If I had to guess, I would say that your butter was too soft. It should be room temperature, so you should be able to push into it leaving just a small dent, but not be able to push all the way through. If you want to give it another go, you can bring butter to room temperature fast by cutting up a stick of butter into one inch pieces and leave them out on the counter for about a half hour.

  6. Anabella says

    I’m going to try this for my son’s birthday cake. I am doing a barnyard theme and want the frosting to be light blue for the top layer and green for the bottom. What do you suggest I use for coloring?

    The party is on saturday but like to make the cake friday. Do I have to put it in the fridge or can I leave it out? also, If I need to frosted on saturday will de frosting hold up in the fridge for one night?

    • says

      Hi Anabella! For coloring I really like Wilton’s gel or just plain food coloring. I would personally put the cake in the fridge, and I think that if you frost it Friday it will still be great on Saturday. The frosting really holds in the moisture of the cake!

  7. Renae says

    I just have to say AMAZING! I just made this frosting and I’ve always liked classic buttercream but this one is just heaven. I really like that it’s so easy to pipe with and it crusts real nice too! Thanks so much!

  8. Leslie says

    If I want to make the frosting ahead of time should I cover it and leave it on the counter or put it in the fridge and bring it back to room temp before frosting? Thanks!

  9. Lisa says

    Help on vanilla!!! Hi, I am making and only have vanilla extract- it is double strength (high quality too). How much should I use. When you say vanilla in the recipe, I am not sure what type of vanilla you are using? Thank you soooo much

  10. says

    Making cupcakes with a beach theme using teddy grams,gummy octopi and assorted other beach items what will prevent the teddy grams from getting mushy. Also other recipes I have tried for buttercream use double the amount of butter( two sticks) with one pound of icing sugar. Going to make yours this week.

  11. Keisha says

    I just tried this recipe and I don’t know if maybe I didn’t do it right but the consistancy is good but it just tastes like I am eating a stick of butter. Did I do something wrong?

    • says

      Hi Keisha, It’s hard for me to know what went wrong, but one of the things I love so much about this recipe is how much it doesn’t taste like straight butter where some other buttercreams do. Is it possible you didn’t add the proper amount of sugar?

  12. says

    Amen to your recipe b/c I’ve seen some lately that have eggs listed in the ingredients and a proper, good buttercream frosting just shouldn’t have eggs in it, not only for those with sensitivities but for overall flavor. What a great recipe and wonderful variations you’ve listed here! Thank you!

  13. Lindsay says

    Does it matter the type of milk you use? Whole, 2% or 1%? I tried making icing before but it required 2 sticks of butter and tasted greasy and looked whipped. Im looking forward to trying yours!

  14. karolina says

    I have just tried this recipe and I did not think it would be this delicious! it’s amazing! I baked some chocolate cupackes for a friend’s birthday for tomorrow and decided to try this buttercream frosting (for the first time, yikes) and I couln’t be happier with the results. thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe with us. :)

  15. Courtney says

    I am so oooo glad I found your recipe on Pinterest. I’ve tried a few other butter cream recipes and they just weren’t as delicious as yours. I have now found my go to icing! Thank you!

  16. Stelisa Felder says

    I just made this today! I love the taste! Super easy to make as well! Just a tip- I made cupcakes so if you plan on added sprinkles do it as soon as you frost/pipe onto cupcakes so they stay put :)

    • says

      Yes! Good call Stelisa! One of the things I love about this frosting is that it firms up really nicely so if you do some pretty piping it will stay pretty, but yes! You need to sprinklify things quickly.

  17. Deanna says

    Maden told me he wants vanilla frosting instead of his original choice of chocolate on his birthday cake this weekend. I am SO looking forward to this frosting. I am obsessed. Love you too😉

  18. Ariane says

    I tried this twice and both times it was too sweet, even after adjusting. Well, after doing some reading, I found that I should have sifted the sugar (like the cake) which I didn’t think about. I have another birthday this weekend and plan to try again. I’ve got 3 kids, so even with the errors, it will be worth it in the long run. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Thank you for this comment Ariane. I think it is really important to note that the powdered sugar shouldn’t be packed, just spooned and leveled into the measuring cup.

  19. Jennifer says

    I was just curious but instead of vanilla could I use strawberry? I’m making a strawberry and chocolate cake and thought the strawberry frosting would take these cakes to the next level! What do you think?

  20. Emily says

    Hi Lisa,

    I have been hunting for a good buttercream recipe for YEARS but haven’t found one (and people I know with a good one arent willing to share..) just wondering why yor recipe works with 1/2c butter when most call for 1c with about 3-4c icing sugar… Genuinely curious :)

    I will try it and let you know :) I’d prefer to use less butter where possible anyways :)

    • says

      So it’s all about the texture you want at the end. More butter and less sugar results in a much creamier richer frosting that isn’t really going to harden. I like my frosting SWEET. Like that’s the whole point to me. To give me a good sugar rush. This frosting will harden up nicely and thus as someone mentioned earlier in the comments you need to be sure to add any decorations as soon has it’s piped/spread

    • says

      I would personally use it within about two or three days of making it. That said, it stores much better in the refrigerator if you whip it. You make the recipe as written and then you continue beating it on high for about five minutes.

  21. Denise says

    Why oh why does everybody have to change a posted recipe? This is Lisa’s recipe, as it is written. As a chef this makes me crazy. Why not just try it as written? If you don’t care for the finished product, there are lots of variations of butter cream frosting out there. I’ll get off my soap box now!

  22. Kim Hallowell says

    I am searching for a great buttercream to use on my cupcakes…. I understand that this recipe will harden, but will it LOOK crusty?

  23. says

    I just made this frosting and it is delicious! I substituted heavy whipping cream for milk though. I’m so happy to find a fairly simple recipie. This will become a fan favorite in my house. Thank you! :)

  24. Pam says

    I just got making this frosting it turned out so pretty. I have try different buttercream recipe, but I found the best not going to stop useing. Thanks for the recipe.

  25. Georgina says

    Hi there! I was just wondering to make this dairy free can you just substitute the butter for margarine or would that alter the taste? Thanks x

    • says

      Hi Georgina, it will definitely not taste good with margarine. I’m sure there are some really great recipes out there for vegan buttercream, but I’m not sure what adjustments you could make to this one to make it vegan. You could try vegan butter and soy milk, but it won’t quite be the same.

  26. Patty says

    HI Lisa,
    I love this frosting! I even use it on my cake pops and they were delicious. I want to add vanilla bean paste to it. How much do you think I should add?


  27. Leah says

    Was really disappointed with this buttercream. Yielded very little, super sweet and crusted almost before I got the lid on the bowl! Even with sifting the confectioners sugar, not sure I could get it into a piping bag….super stiff. Thanks for the recipe, but I think I’ll stick with the one I usually use. Worth a try though!

    • says

      I’m really sorry you didn’t like this Leah! I have made this countless times and I really love it. It does harden pretty quickly, but that is usually only an issue when you want to add sprinkles, as in you need to add the sprinkles immediately. I have piped with it more than once, most recently on this Cookie Cake. And you can see it worked out really well.

  28. says

    Absolutely LOVE this recipe!! Made it for my daughters 1st birthday (for the grown ups cake) and everyone RAVED about it!!! My husbands birthday is coming up and he requested a chocolate buttercream, how would I convert this to chocolate?

    • says

      Yay! I’m so glad you liked it! Ashley, I have a chocolate frosting recipe coming, but it’s not ready to post yet. It’s definitely different than this recipe, so it’s not a quick sub in or sub out. Stay tuned!

  29. says

    Hi Lisa, your frosting recipe is very good, and you are right children especially love it! It crusts nicely too. I also have an amazing buttercream frosting recipe, it is not as sweet, lighter and creamier, I would love your opinion on it if you want to give it a try? I use it on my celebration and wedding cakes and people always remark how amazing it is.
    250g salted butter (I prefer Lurpak or President)
    500g icing sugar
    3tsp pure vanilla extract (I use Neilson & Massey)
    Double cream
    Beat up the room temp butter for a couple of minutes first with a paddle if you have one, if not a hand mixer is fine. Sift in the icing sugar a little at a time adding a splash of milk if gets to thick. Add vanilla and a good splash of cream & whip up. Keep adding the cream until desired consistency is reached. I find this is great to work with and tastes amazing!

    • says

      Hi Kate! I think the first time I made it I did use skim! It’s a little better with a higher fat content milk but skim is fine! If you happen to have some half and half in your fridge you could use that too :)

  30. Nicole says

    Wow this was a great recipe!! I didn’t want to use one that called for whipping cream or half and half (would have had to go to the grocery store lol) and so I found yours and tried it. Delish! I love new buttercream recipes. The kids are all the frosting and left the cupcakes lol- so it was definitely a win, thank you!

  31. Evelyn Marlow says

    I am making my daughters wedding cake and wondered if you can tell me if this recipe will be ok to use as a crumb coat for a base to then add fondant icing and if it will keep for several days.

  32. MARIA says

    hi i’m from south africa… what is a stick of butter. most of our recipes here are in metric weight…. 1/2 cup of butter to measure would have to be really soft butter…can you help?

  33. Lenna says

    Hi Lisa – I’ve had other icing go runny on me the moment I put the milk in. I want to pipe this frosting onto the cupcakes and have it hold it’s shape – will it hold up? Thanks!

    • says

      It will definitely hold it’s shape. In fact, if you want to put sprinkles on too, you should put them on immediately after piping. Like when I pipe the edge of a cake with this frosting, I pipe about two inches, add sprinkles, and then pipe more. It firms up fast!

  34. says

    Could I use this same recipe to make a chocolate buttercream as well by adding cocoa powder? If so, how much cocoa powder would you recommend?



    • says

      Yes, though it will not be as delicious as the original vanilla. I really need to develop this recipes chocolate cousin. Anyway, if you go for it, I would do 1/4 cup.

      • Amanda says

        If you make the chocolate cousin, let me know. I am going to try this recipe with the cocoa addition tonight. I cannot wait.

  35. Deana says

    I’m going to make cupcakes for Easter and I cannot wait to try this…is it stiff enough for piping the icing!

    • says

      In my experience, yes, perfect for piping. If you are putting sprinkles on the cupcakes you will actually need to put them on RIGHT after you pipe. Like pipe a cupcake, sprinkle, pipe, sprinkle. You can see it piped here, here, and here!

  36. Kayanne says

    Love this buttercream recipe! I made it last weekend for a bake sale and received rave reviews from everyone who got a cupcake! It has already been requested by my sister and nephew for their birthday treats this week! Looking forward to trying out some more recipes from your blog!

  37. Lauren says

    I just made this on a whim, cause its 10pm and I wanted frosting. It’s so good and so quick to make. The only issue I had was putting it in the pipping bag, so I just ate it off the spoon. :)
    Made my day.

  38. Heather says

    I want to use this recipe for my daughter’s smash cake as well as the cupcakes for the adults. I was hoping to frost the cakes a couple days in advance. If I pipe them on Thursday for a Saturday party will they still taste yummy? Also, do you refridgerate the cake once iced?

  39. Marie says

    Hey there! Just made this icing for hubbies birthday cake and I have to say it was the best I’ve ever tasted!! It was a little hard to begin with (I couldn’t even spread it) but in my experience, pure icing sugar can be tricky to work with. Only a few extra drops of milk can make it completely runny, or a few less and it’s far too hard to work with. I just added a couple extra drops of milk and got the perfect consistency you were talking about and it now has that lovely soft crust over the whole cake. Thank you so much! Have been looking for a good recipe for icing for a while now. Will be using this one all the time!

    • says

      Marie, thank you so much for this comment! Yes! I should add to the recipe that if it is hard to work with or feels too stiff to just add a tiny bit more milk. I’m so glad you liked it!

  40. Teresa says

    Hi Lisa, I want to try this recipe to make a birthday cake for my grandaughter. I was just wondering if I’m supposed to sift the powdered sugar?

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