Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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This rich, buttery frosting has just the right amount of sweetness. So it's a perfect compliment to any flavor cake.
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
MAKES:24 servings
Quick Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
MAKES: 24 servings


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (2 tablespoons) equals 155 calories, 13 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 84 mg cholesterol, 118 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 1 g protein.


  1. In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; cook over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Add a small amount of hot mixture to egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes longer or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a bowl with the whisk attachment, cream butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in cooked sugar mixture. Beat in confectioners' sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. If necessary, refrigerate until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 cups.
Classic Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Prepare buttercream frosting as directed above and set aside. In a saucepan or microwave, melt 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips with 1/4 cup water; stir until smooth. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Stir into buttercream frosting. Yield: 3 cups.
Originally published as Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting in Complete Guide to Baking 2004, p138

Sweet White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a sweet white wine such as Moscato or a sweet Riesling.

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Reviewed Aug. 20, 2015

"Was.disappointed in this recipe after all the rave reviews. Was too buttery for my taste. Will not make again."

Reviewed Jun. 14, 2015

"I used a lot more powdered sugar than was called for to stiffen up the icing without having to chill it for a long time & also to cover the slightly egg-y flavor. If I make this again, I'd probably reduce the egg yolks to 4. It would still thicken but the icing would be whiter."

Reviewed Dec. 5, 2014

"Delicious and addicting. The first time takes a while to learn."

Reviewed Feb. 23, 2013

"This frosting was worth the effort. My family loved it!"

Reviewed May. 6, 2012

"I made this frosting for some cupcakes. The frosting turned out really good. The process kind of long to make it, but it was worth it. I will make it again."

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