The Best (American) Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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Sometimes simple is best. When it comes to buttercream, that is definitely my approach! While there are tons of delicious variations of buttercream out there (Swiss, German, Italian, French…), I prefer American Buttercream!

Why? I don’t like to mess with eggs when it comes to frosting, and I enjoy the way American buttercream tastes. The standard vanillaΒ frosting recipe I use only requires five ingredients.

I use this icing as the base of every frosting I make, and then make tweaks to recipe to flavor it (see variations section below)! A full tutorial for this recipe can be seen here.

When coloring my buttercream, I like to use gel food coloring! It allows you to get super vibrant colors without adding a ton of liquid into the frosting, which can throw off the consistency of the buttercream. My favorite gel food coloring is Americolor, and it’s the only food coloring I use πŸ™‚

Another thing that can affect the base color of your buttercream is the brand of butter you use! Some butter can be more yellow, either based on the diet of the cows producing the milk (cows eating a lot of grass will produce yellower butter due to the beta carotene in the grass), or if a brand adds in coloring (always check the ingredients!!). My go to brand of butter is the unsalted Whole Foods brand. It is very light in color, and makes very white buttercream!

When using this to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers), I usually make 1.5 – 2 batches,Β depending on how I’m decorating the cake.

American Buttercream Ingredients:Β 

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups (434 grams)Β unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
  • 2Β Tbsp. (30 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla

Instructions:

Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.

Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

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NOTE: If you are making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Variations:

This is the perfect frosting base for any flavor! The ideas are limitless. I’ve made the following variations: peanut butter, Oreo, chocolate, strawberry, almond, Nutella, Speculoos, salted caramel, coconut, mint, ube, lemon, cookie dough, bourbon, white chocolate, maple, and cream cheese!

When I make variations and plan to use a different extract, I usually swap out 1 or 2 tsp of vanilla,Β and replace them with my extract of choice. This is what I do for coconut, lemon, mint, almond, ube, and maple buttercream!

For flavors that require mixing in an addition ingredient, like Nutella or peanut butter, I usually replace 1 or 2 sticks of butter with the ingredient of choice! For example, for Nutella Buttercream, I use two sticks of butter, and one cup of Nutella. I then add a couple extra Tbsp. of heavy cream, since the Nutella makes the frosting thicker than standard buttercream. I use this approach for cream cheese, salted caramel, peanut butter, nutella, and speculoos frosting!

For coloring, I always use Americolor Gel Food coloring, and I mix it into the buttercream once all the ingredients are fully incorporated. This is my favorite brand because of it’s coloring strength!! It’s always true to shade, and is so vibrant!

The possibilities are endless πŸ™‚

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Published by

Chelsweets

I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at Chelsweets.com, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/c/ChelsweetsBakery ) to see my creations :D

237 thoughts on “The Best (American) Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

  1. Hi Chelsey! I love your recipes and have made your cakes twice! I was wondering how you get your buttercream so creamy and easy to frost with? I find I have to add a lot of extra heavy cream (and I let it mix longer) and it’s still not so easy to frost a cake with? It’s a little too heavy and stiff. What’s your secret? Thanks!

    1. A lot of factor can come into play with frosting consistency! I actually do use very stiff buttercream, but my kitchen is usually pretty warm! I think this makes my frosting just the right consistency, but I also freeze my layers! This makes them much easier to frost. If you find your frosting is too thick, you can keep adding heavy cream until it’s just right. The type of butter you use can also affect the consistency. Some butter has slightly more water/ less fat than others!

  2. Hi Chelsey, Thanks for the buttercream recipe, can’t wait to try it. I would like to know though whether this recipe works well in humid places and if I can use replace some of the butter with shortening.

    1. You definitely can, and I recommend you do! It will change the flavor a bit, but it really helps make the buttercream more stable / stand up to the humidity!

  3. Hey Chelsey! I have tried to make your buttercream and many others. But I can always taste the sugar. I have added sieved sugar in batches of 3. Whisked for a good amount of 3-5 minutes. It just doesn’t come out right. And I’m from India, so it’s really humid here.
    Any suggestions?

    1. when you say you can taste the sugar, do you mean the texture is off, or it’s too sweet? it might be the brand of powdered sugar that you’re using, but overall the frosting is pretty sweet. If you want it taste less sweet, you can try using a swiss meringue buttercream, which is less sweet!

  4. Hi Chelsey! I am making a birthday cake for my daughter tomorrow and I was wondering if I can make the frosting tonight and store it in the fridge overnight that way it’s less mess for tomorrow, and if so what do I need to do to it tomorrow before hand so I can get a nice smooth outcome? Thanks!

    1. definitely! just be sure to take it out a few hours before you need it to let it come to room temp, and give it a very good stir with a spatula to smooth it out, and remove any air bubbles! they tend to form as the frosting warms up.

  5. One one of your live streams I heard you say you make your frosting ahead of time and freeze it until needed. Any special methods for freezing? And how long does it need to thaw before using?
    Thanks!

    1. Nope! just store it in an airtight container, and let it sit on the counter to thaw! I give it a good stir before using, to remove any air bubbles that may form while it thaws!

  6. Hi there do you recommend this buttercream recipe to be used with your best ever vanilla layer cake recipe?? Does it make enough to fully cover and to use between the layers? Thanks, I am loving your page so much πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Chelsea-
    I love your buttercream recipe and use it everytime I make a cake! I was wondering if I want to make cream cheese buttercream, how much cream cheese do I use and do I still substitute it for 2 sticks of butter like the nutella version? So it would be 2 sticks of butter and a cup of creamcheese? Thanks so much!!
    Kaitlin

  8. Hi Chelsea, Does your buttercream need to be refrigerated once on the cake or can the cake sit on the counter?

  9. Hi! I want to make a chocolate buttercream to frost the outside of my cake. I looked at your Whipped Chocolate Buttercream, but this one seems easier to frost. How do I take this Vanilla Buttercream and make it chocolate?

  10. Hi, this recipe is good for fully frost and fill how many cakes? What size? how much would you need for a 3 tiered cake? If its so suppose to be 100 degree weather will this frosting hold?

    1. I’d recommend swapping out some of the butter for shortening if you want it to hold up in 100 degree heat. As for the amount of frosting you’ll need, that varies drastically based on how much you add between the layers, and how you plan to decorate it! I usually use about 1.5 batches on an 8 inch cake with four layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  11. hello Chelsey and congratulation for your work!
    could you please tell me about this buttercream ,when i use it for a cake , the cake the cake must be kept in the refrigerator or it’s ok outside the refrigerator at a room temperature?
    πŸ™‚

  12. Hey Chelsey! I’m making my dear friend’s wedding cake in August and wanted to do a mascarpone buttercream. I love your recipe and want to still use it for this. Would I substitute one cup of mascarpone for one cup of butter? Have you worked much with mascarpone? Love following you on instagram and FN’s facebook live for inspiration!

    1. Hi Samantha!! I have made a marscarpone filling, but not a buttercream to cover a cake! i’m not quite sure what the best ratio would be :/ sorry i can’t be of more help!

  13. Hey Chelsweets! LOOOOOVE your channel! I follow you on IG, Youtube and FB!! I love your work

    Quick question: i’d love to make a big batch, and then just freeze it so I can use it bit by bit….any tips? I’d hate to ruin it, but be able to use it later! Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. you can def make a big batch ahead of time! just store it in an airtight container, and be sure to give it a good stir once it’s thawed back to room temp before you use it! it will get airbubbles as it warms, but these will go away once you stir it with a spatula!

  14. HI Chelsy! I love watching your videos. I’m really not much of a baker but it’s so fun to watch you decorate. For the recipe, would it work to use salted butter and not add the 1/3 tsp of salt or is it better just to get the unsalted butter?

  15. Hi Chelsea! If you were making four tiers of this recipe in a 10 inch pan, how many times the above
    recipe would you go? 1.5x or 2x to get the right layer thickness?

  16. Hello. I live in Florida where it is really hot and humid. I have used this frosting but it does not hold up in this weather. Do you have another buttercream recipe that fairs better in the extreme heat and humidity?

    Thank you in advance!

  17. Hi Chelsea, I love the way the frosting flowers look on this cake. I’m a very novice cake decorator. How do u make those flowers? What decorating tip do I need to make those flowers?

  18. Hi Chelsey, love your videos! if I wanted to make a 6″ double barrel cake, how many batches of this icing would I need? Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. I’m not sure what a double barrel is! but to make 3 6 inch cake layers, i usually use a half batch of my frosting <3

  19. Hi Chelsea! I love yor recipies and tips! I do not miss your videos! … I have a question, please help me, how is the proportion of ingredients to make it white chocolate buttercream?
    Thank you for your comments

    1. I would just add in 6 oz of melted white chocolate, and an extra 2 TBSP of heavy cream. it will seem too thin at first, but will firm up as the white chocolate cools <3

  20. Hi would like to know is you have a recipe to make 1/2 of your butter cream frosting.I just love your videos .

    1. I do make half batches sometimes! The process is the exact same, and you just use half of the ingredients <3

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