The Best (American) Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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 vanilla 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.

American Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla


Beat the butter on high 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 medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

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!


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, 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 🙂




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

  1. Do you use the paddle attachment for mixing this? I can never get mine so smooth even for the rosettes. There always seem to be tiny air bubbles in the frosting itself (even before it’s on the cake). Also, is there a specific butter brand you usually use?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Yes, I prefer the paddle attachment! I always use the whole foods brand of butter. Hope that helps! I suggest beating the frosting on a very low setting for a couple minutes at the end of the process, which can help remove any excess air. Happy baking 🙂

      • My buttercream always seems to be sticky and not fluffy the way yours looks. I watched the above video tutorial where you used your whisk on your kitchenaide. Do you do this only when making cupcake buttercream and then use the paddle for cake buttercream? Thank you! I love watching your videos. I made the unicorn cake and filled the center like your pinata cake with skittles. Perfect cake for my 22 year old daughter lol! 🙂

      • Yes, i use the whisk attachment when making buttercream for cupcakes, but the paddle attachment when making buttercream for cakes! And that’s such a cute idea, I love that!!! 🙂

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  3. Can I leave it in room temperature overnight? I would like to make the cake a night before and Im alfraid the cake will gethardwhen I put in the fridge. Thanks!

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  5. Hello! I have a question, I know you said that your buttercream is a crusting buttercream which I love to work with, but I usually do shortening and butter because I’ve had experiences where using strictly butter makes the frosting “loose” and not easy to work with. Have you ever had this problem with this recipe?

    • I actually never have! I very rarely use shortening! I add very little cream, which keeps my frosting pretty study and easy to frost with! I live in NYC,and never really have problems with temperature or humidity in my kitchen though, I know that people encounter issues related to that other places in the world !

  6. I just have a quick question I made your buttercream for Mother’s Day and the consistency was perfect but it was really sweet so sweet we couldn’t eat it what could I do to cut the sweetness please help

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  10. I just tried this for a birthday cake. Love it! Super easy to make and tastes great! However, mine was really hard to pipe on the cake, and it didn’t seem as fluffy as yours. Any troubleshooting tips you can offer? Thanks 🙂

    • Hmm! If you’re having trouble piping, you can always add in a bit more cream to make it easier to pipe! I usually add in slightly more cream when piping vs. covering a cake. Hope that helps!

    • the amount of salt in butter varies by brand, and you can’t control it! so using unsalted is best, then you can add in the exact amount of salt a recipe calls for

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