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Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I’ve made vanilla bean buttercream a few times over the years for different projects, but realized I haven’t shared the recipe yet!

This frosting uses my American buttercream recipe as a base, then mixes in the perfect amount of vanilla bean paste to make the best vanilla bean frosting.

image of vanilla bean buttercream frosting piped onto a cupcake

This frosting is definitely on the sweet side, but the intensity of the vanilla and the richness of the heavy cream help balance out its flavor.

You could also add the same amount of vanilla bean paste to a batch of a my Swiss meringue frosting or Russian buttercream to create a less sweet frosting.

What Can I Frost with this Vanilla Bean Buttercream?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to using this frosting. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macarons, you name it!!

image of vanilla bean buttercream that's been piped with a wilton 1M frosting tip to show how easy it is to pipe

I’ve used it to frost my vanilla layer cake, vanilla cupcakes, vanilla bean macarons, and even my buttercream cookies!

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Troubleshooting

While this recipe is pretty straight forward, sometimes people do run into issues making this vanilla bean buttercream. The hardest part is getting the consistency of your buttercream just right.

There are few different factors that influence the consistency of your frosting.

It’s a delicate balance between the temperature of your kitchen, the brand of butter you use, the temperature of your butter, and the amount of heavy cream you use.

The easiest way to see if your frosting is the right consistency is the spatula test! I check the consistency of every batch of frosting I make using this test.

It confirms that your frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape, but spreadable enough for you to easily frost your cake or pipe onto cupcakes. 

To test your frosting, firmly press a rubber spatula into your frosting and pull directly up. Turn the spatula right side up, and look at the frosting on the tip.

image of vanilla bean buttercream frosting being tested for the right consistency
Testing the consistency of a batch of my buttercream frosting using the spatula test.

The frosting should form a somewhat soft peak that has a little curl on the end. It’s stiff enough to hold up that curl, but soft enough to create that little curl.

That little curl is a great visual cue to know that your frosting is just the right consistency.

If it’s too stiff and sticks straight up, I suggest adding in more heavy cream (1 Tbsp at a time).

If it’s too thin and doesn’t form a little peak at all, try adding a bit more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time). You can also chill it in the fridge in 10-minute intervals.

After each adjustment, be sure to retest the frosting with your spatula before making any additional changes.

image of vanilla bean macarons made using the french method and decorated with edible gold paint

Paddle Attachment vs. Whisk Attachment

Now that we’ve covered troubleshooting, the last thing to discuss is our equipment.

Either a paddle or whisk attachment can be used to make this frosting with a stand mixer, or you can use a hand mixer.

I like to use my paddle attachment when making frosting for a cake, to minimize the amount of air that is incorporated into the frosting. This makes silky smooth frosting, which is easier to smooth onto cakes.

I use my whisk attachment when making frosting for cupcakes, which I like to be light and fluffy!

I like to incorporate air into frosting for cupcakes, because I usually pipe massive swirls onto each cupcake.

These are just my personal preferences though, and you can use whatever attachment or mixer you have. They’ll all get the job done!

image of vanilla bean buttercream that's been mixed in a kitchen aid bowl

Make this Vanilla Bean Buttercream in Advance

This vanilla bean buttercream recipe can be made in advance. I highly recommend making it ahead of time if possible.

Not only does it give the frosting time to develop more flavor, it also makes the decoration of a cake or cupcakes less stressful and more fun.

This frosting keeps in the fridge for several weeks if stored in an airtight container.

When you’re ready to use the chilled buttercream, remove it from the fridge a few hours in advance (or overnight) and allow it to come to room temperature.

Give it a good stir with a rubber spatula or an electric mixer to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed. Once the buttercream is smooth again, it’s ready to use!

Tips for Making Best Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting:

  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature before making your frosting.
  • As long as your powdered sugar contains cornstarch (most brands in the US do) there’s no need to sift you powdered sugar.
  • Make sure you use a high quality vanilla bean paste like Heilala!
  • Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream and not normal milk! You need the higher fat percentage for the frosting to have the right consistency.
  • If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed 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.
  • I usually make 1 1/2 batches of frosting to fill and frost a seven or eight inch cake.
image of gluten free vanilla cupcake being frosted with vanilla bean buttercream

Let Me Know What You Think

If you try this vanilla bean buttercream recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating below, and a comment to let me know your thoughts.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 6 cups

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

image of gluten free vanilla cupcake being frosted with vanilla bean buttercream

This vanilla bean buttercream frosting recipe only uses five ingredients! It's so easy and delicious to make, you'll never buy frosting again!!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (434g; 1 lb box)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (12g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (907g; 2 lb bag)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream (45g)

Instructions

  1. Beat 2 cups of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds until smooth with a paddle attachment / stand mixer or a hand mixer.
  2. Mix in 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste and 1/2 tsp salt on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in 7 cups of powdered sugar while mixing slowly on the lowest setting. Half way through add in 3 Tbsp of heavy cream or milk to make it easier to mix. I like to place a kitchen towel over my mixer to contain any powdered sugar clouds.
  4. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. If you plan to color the buttercream, add in the gel food coloring once the frosting is fully mixed and beat on low until it reach the desired colored.

Notes

Yield

This recipe makes about 6 cups of frosting. If needed, this recipe can be doubled or tripled. A double batch will fit/can be made in a 5 qt Kitchen Aid Mixing bowl.

I usually make 1 batch of frosting to stack and frost a seven or eight inch layer cake.

Tips for Making Best Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting:

  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature before making your frosting.
  • As long as your powdered sugar contains cornstarch (most brands in the US do) there's no need to sift you powdered sugar.
  • Make sure you use a high quality vanilla bean paste like Heilala!
  • Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream and not normal milk! You need the higher fat percentage for the frosting to have the right consistency.
  • If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed 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.
  • I usually make 1 1/2 batches of frosting to fill and frost a seven or eight inch cake.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 1074Total Fat 64gSaturated Fat 40gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 171mgSodium 207mgCarbohydrates 129gFiber 0gSugar 126gProtein 1g
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