31 Jan

How to Make Perfect Bakery Style Cupcake Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream

This is the Vanilla Buttercream recipe I demonstrated at my Valentine’s Day cupcake decorating event.  Enjoy!

Enjoying Vanilla Buttercream at our cupcake decorating event!

Its been awhile since I’ve made a classic American buttercream frosting, as its not on my cupcake menu, and I only make it when requested.  I don’t have classic buttercream frostings on my menu as they are readily available from every other bakery you walk past, and I personally prefer the less heavy silky smoothness of the frostings we use on my menu.  But this is recipe is a little different from your regular American buttercream.  I find most buttercreams way too sugary for my taste (some have up to 8 cups of powdered sugar for one stick of butter!), and all the extra sugar is unneccessary (and so horrible for you!).  American buttercream is the first cupcake frosting I perfected (almost a decade ago!) and I made this buttercream recipe for years until I started developing my own recipes.

perfect vanilla cupcake frosting

yummy vanilla frosting

This is a fantastic, super easy, buttercream recipe that whips up like a dream.  I call it “bakery style” as its super smooth and stiff enough to pipe gorgeous swirls on your cupcakes that will stay up for display.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
courtesy of Dorothy Tong from Cupcake and Cookie

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2-3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted very very well

21/2  tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1-3 Tbsp milk or cream, as needed

Beat softened butter for a couple minutes in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy.  Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and blend well with the butter.  Add more sugar, if needed, to adjust for taste.  (I find that 2.5 cups is perfect).  Add vanilla extract, salt,  and 1 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for for a few minutes on high, until light a fluffy.  Make sure you really beat it for a few minutes (at least 3) so you get that super smooth and fluffy frosting texture.  If your frosting is too thin, add more sugar.  If your frosting is too thick, add milk/cream 1 Tbsp at a time. I like to use 2 Tbsp milk for a thicker frosting to pipe on cupcakes, and 3 Tbsp milk for a slightly smoother frosting to frost a cake.

I am taking frosting recipe/tutorial requests, so please leave yours in the comments below!  I already have a bakery-style cream cheese frosting tutorial here.

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37 thoughts on “How to Make Perfect Bakery Style Cupcake Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream

  1. Pingback: The Morning After (Halloween) CureThe Cupcake Princess | The Cupcake Princess

  2. How about a fantastic chocolate frosting for cupcakes? I am frosting cupcakes for my friends wedding and really want to do pretty frosting. I am going to use this recipe but she also wants chocolate.

  3. Thank you for the recipe! Could I add strawberry jam to the buttercream recipe to make strawberry buttercream? or would that make the buttercream too runny for piping?

  4. Pingback: How to Make Perfect Bakery Style Frosting: Chocolate Fudge Frosting | The Cupcake Princess

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe! I couldn’t find one I liked until now. Love it, and got great feedback from family members who usually scrape the frosting off :)

  6. OMG, I always thought store bought frosting tasted a little bit cheap and had a terrible after-taste so I decided to try your recipe and ALL of my friends loved it! I’ve had a couple of friends ask for the recipe already! THANKS SO MUCH <3

  7. Thanks for the tutorial! How many cupcakes will I be able to frost with this recipe?
    Enough for a good size swirl on each. I also love the cream cheese recipe, do they yield the same amount?

  8. I am planning on making about 3 dozen cupcakes for my son’s birthday. I was hoping to do angry bird cupcakes, would this recipe work for that? I was hoping to buy originally, but due to a gluten allergy, this turned into a diy project.

    • Hi Gloria!

      Do you want to pipe angry birds with this frosting? What exactly are you planning to do with the frosting? If you would like to pipe images, I think it would be best to use an icing. If you are frosting them and then adding angry bird accents, this will be fine.
      By the way, we always do custom gluten free cupcakes at Cupcake & Cookie :)

  9. Pingback: How to Make Bakery Style Cream Cheese Frosting | The Cupcake Princess

  10. This recipe absolutely saved me & my cupcakes! All the other recipes I tried were too runny, didn’t taste right, etc. I’m so glad I found your website!

  11. Hello! I am making cupcakes for my sons birthday this weekend. I plan to make them Friday while he is at day care and take them to his party ( outside party) Saturday night at 5. Will these cupcakes hold up sitting out until time for the party and will the frosting hold its shape? Thank you!!

  12. Hi CP, i have a few questions:
    • how much almond extract would you use to flavor this frosting? And would you reduce other liquids?
    • If I’m piping big swirls on cupcakes a day before a party and leaving out if the fridge, do I need to put in a container or cover?
    • is there a way to adapt this for a good tasting and stable cream cheese frosting that I can also leave out of fridge?
    • do you have any good recipes for a stable chocolate buttercream?
    Thanks so much!!

  13. Hi.

    I’m in the UK. Just followed your method (the ingredients are the same as I would normally use) and what a difference! The frosting is so smooth. Love it!

  14. Hi. I used your recipe for vanilla buttercream icing and last night I put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it. I took it out to ice my cake and it is hard as a rock. What happened? And, more importantly, will it soften again?

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