This vanilla bean buttercream frosting recipe is the absolute best American buttercream and is perfect on vanilla cakes and cupcakes.
This frosting is my number one, go-to vanilla buttercream to top vanilla cakes and vanilla cupcakes.
This icing is considered an American buttercream, which means it’s on the sweeter side and uses confectioner’s sugar (aka powdered sugar) to thicken and sweeten it.
This recipe uses all butter and no vegetable shortening and has a wonderful buttery vanilla flavor.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk a little about the ingredients that are in this buttercream. (The list of all ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Unsalted & Salted Butter: This recipe calls for both salted and unsalted butter. This is the secret to the best buttercream. Technically, you could use all unsalted butter and add salt yourself, but there’s something about the taste of the salted butter that is just so good.
If you used all salted butter, it could end up too salty, but using half salted and half unsalted is just the perfect combination. To learn more about the differences between the two, check out this post: Salted Butter vs Unsalted Butter
Also, make sure to check out the FAQ section of this post to see what to do if you only have one or the other.
Confectioner’s sugar (aka powdered sugar): This is an American buttercream recipe and therefore it calls for confectioner’s sugar to thicken it and make it sweet. It is on the sweet side, so if that’s what you like, then you’re in the right spot.
Vanilla Bean Paste (or Emulsion): This is the star of this buttercream. Vanilla bean paste lends so much more flavor than just plain vanilla extract.
Now, if you only have extract, then just use that, but if you can get vanilla bean paste or vanilla baking emulsion, then that’s really the best.
Here are some options for vanilla bean paste or emulsion:
- Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste
- LorAnn Natural Vanilla Bean Paste
- LorAnn Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste
Preparation and How to Make this Buttercream:
Let’s talk about how to make this buttercream. (The exact instructions are in the recipe card below.)
First, cream the room temperature butter until smooth. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer. If you use a stand mixer, the flat beater attachment works the best.
Next, add in three cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low at first, so it doesn’t fly all over the place, then mix on medium until mixed well.
Add one tablespoon of milk and the last three cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix well.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the bottom and mix again.
Add another tablespoon of the milk plus vanilla paste or extract, and mix until everything is smooth.
Check the consistency. If it’s too thick, just add another tablespoon of milk and mix well. If it’s too thin, add another cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix well.
Once you get the consistency you want, mix it on medium-high speed for a couple of minutes to make it fluffy.
This will also help it lighten in color a bit.
Check the color. All butter buttercream will have a slightly yellow or cream color to it. If you want it to be super white though, you can add a very tiny speck of violet food coloring to cancel out the yellow. It works, just use a tiny amount at a time and mix well.
Add the buttercream to the cake.
Tips & FAQs:
This recipe is most flavorful if you use both unsalted and salted butter, but if you can’t get either, follow these instructions:
To use only salted butter, just use two cups of salted butter.
To use only unsalted butter, use two cups of salted butter and add in a pinch of salt.
The salt helps to cut the sweetness and it brings out all the flavors.
Since this buttercream is made with all butter and no shortening, it will have a slightly yellow or cream tone to it. If you want it to be very white in color, you can add a very tiny speck of violet food coloring to cancel out the yellow. Just use a very tiny amount at first (just a speck of it), then mix to check the color.
Also, make sure to whip the buttercream for several minutes once it’s mixed. Whipping it seems to lighten the color a bit.
Alternately, you could also add clear vanilla extract instead of regular vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and that will lighten the color although the vanilla taste will not be quite as strong as if you’d used vanilla bean paste.
This buttercream makes enough to cover a two-layer, 8″ round cake or about 24 cupcakes.
Yes! I’ve frozen this buttercream many times. After it’s mixed up, add mounds of it on plastic wrap and wrap it up well, then place the bundles into a freezer bag.
For the full tutorial on freezing buttercream, check out this post: Freezing Buttercream
Buttercream can last in the freezer for several months.
Store this buttercream in an airtight container at room temperature for about 4-5 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Note About How I Write Recipes: I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are more familiar with and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated when baking. For metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card below. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s just a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using volume measurements, I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Best Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 cup salted butter, room temperature (2 sticks – salted tastes better, but if you don't have it, just use unsalted here and add in a pinch of salt)
- 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- Cream the butter well with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high until very smooth.
- Add in three cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low until incorporated and then on medium until well mixed.
- Add one tablespoon of milk and the last three cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low until combined, then on medium until well mixed.
- Add another tablespoon of milk and the vanilla bean paste or extract, then mix on medium until well mixed.
- Check the consistency. If it’s too thick, add another tablespoon of milk. If it's too thin, add another cup of confectioner's sugar and mix well. Once the desired consistency is reached, mix on medium-high speed for a couple of minutes. The icing will lighten a bit in color and fluff up.See notes for how to make this buttercream whiter in color.
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