Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 to 6 tablespoons 2% milk
- 1. In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Yield: About 3 cups.
Change up the flavor. Prepare the recipe as directed making the following substitutions:
Almond: Add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon almond extract instead of the vanilla.
Chocolate: Use 4 cups confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup baking cocoa and 6-7 tablespoons milk.
Lemon: Use 5-6 tablespoons lemon juice instead of the milk and 1 teaspoon grated peel.
Orange: Use 5-6 tablespoons orange juice instead of the milk and add 1 teaspoon grated orange peel.
Peanut Butter: Use 1/2 cup peanut butter instead of the butter and use 6-8 tablespoons milk.
Peppermint: Use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon peppermint
extract instead of the vanilla.
Test Kitchen Tips
2 tablespoons: 124 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 11mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (21g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.
Reviews for Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
"This is the best frosting and the only one I use!"
"Very nice recipe"
"easy recipe for a great frosting! I like to add almond extract too. Yummy!"
"I used only the 1stick of butter stated, four cups of powdered sugar,1 tablespoon of vanilla, and half & half to get to the proper consistency I needed. Delicious!"
"This is my go-to frosting for cakes and cupcakes... it tastes amazing! The only thing is that sometimes the powdered sugar leaves little clumps, but a little high-power mixing can usually solve that. I love all the variations of this frosting as well."
"I used the called for butter and vanilla in the recipe, and then added a tablespoon of milk and one cup of powdered sugar at a time until I reached my desired consistency. All in all, I probably used 3.5 cups of powdered sugar and 3-4 tbsps of milk, but I achieved the delicious buttery taste and consistency I wanted... and for my first time making buttercream frosting, I was highly impressed!"
"1/2 cup of butter is not enough for good creamy buttercream frosting that calls for 4.5 cups of powdered sugar. To 4.5 cups of powdered sugar I use 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter, yes it's OK to do that, it's called buttercream for a reason. I think that like fudge buttercream frosting is affected by humidity in the air and when using powdered sugar a little liquid goes a long way. I always start out by mixing together the butter and powdered sugar till it's as mixed as it can get and then the milk, I use half and half with the liquid flavoring added to it. With liquid every drop counts so I start with less liquid then called for and then go from there til I get the consistency I want, I have noticed that over the last year or so this site has revamped recipes and seems to dwell on 2% milk instead of the 96% lean (4%) milk which I always have a gallon of in my fridge along with a container of half and half and heavy cream. There is no low fat or non-fat any kind of dairy in our house and we're healthy. I gave this recipe 3 stars because it really doesn't have enough butter. You can't put health before flavor, texture and comfort factor. I know some might disagree or cringe but we're talking dessert here."
"Always an easy recipe to fall back on in a hurry, simple and tasty."
"My hubby and I need a sweet treat after leaving the Thanksgiving pies at his sons house after tonight dinner. Plus neither were gluten free which I need. This was very easy to make. Sift your sugar, that could be why your frosting was grainy. Ours was smooth and creamy and yes sweet. I did add a tablespoon more of vanilla as my hubby and I both thought it needed it. I will admit I liked the flavor of my first taste which was all the butter and a third of the sugar! I used my babycakes 3 in 1 cooker to make mini cupcakes. They are cooling then we will be using this sweet frosting to top them! I can't wait too try more flavors!"
"The best!- Theresa"
"My 9 yr old daughter loves it. We did use 4.5 cups of sugar. We didnt understand. Lesson learned. Thanks it was sumple and tasty."
"This was terrible. So runny! Not happy at all. It should say teaspoons."
"This is delicious!"
"Thanks for sharing this recipe I like that you gave so many ways to make different kinds."
"Very simple recipe with good flavor. It is important to note that the recipe means 4- half cups, as in just 2 cups, not 4 &1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar. I think the person who provided this recipe wrote it the way they did because it is easier to beat in the sugar if you do it just a half cup at a time. Any more than 2 &1/2 cups is going to be far too sweet. I'd also like to add that sometimes I put 4 oz of softened cream cheese in the mix for a slightly different taste."
"Very easy to make and turned out great!!!"
"Recipe is great!! I couldnt help myself to add 12 oz cream cheese in addition to the rest of the recipe as listed. It helped calm down the sweetness."
"I felt it as my duty to make this review and let everyone know this is EXTREMELY sweet. I have a sweet tooth and even for me this was way too overboard. I really wanted to throw it all away but I couldn't because I was having my dinner party coming in an hour and had no more defrosted butter to create a new batch. The taste was really good, but too sweet to consume more than a spoonful. And as other reviews mentioned, you know it is too sugary when the texture is really grainy and not soft and airy like most buttercream. My recommendation is to cut the sugar to 3cp, 3 1/2 cp max."
"It is absolutely 4.5 cups. Seems like a lot of sugar compared with the amount of butter. Most recipes for this frosting call for at least 1 cup of butter."
"It doesn't call for 4.5 cups. It's 4, one half cups. Or as most people would say, 2 cups. Once I realized why it was so sweet I added more butter and was able to salvage it!"
"Far, far too sweet. Even adding some salt in with the milk was unable to cut the sweetness. I definitely have a sweet tooth, but couldn't even stomach a spoonful of it, and I didn't even add all 4.5C confectioner's sugar."
"This was simple and tasted great, the best one I have come across"
"Awesome! Absolutely perfect for cupcakes."
"Love versatility!! Thanks"
"This is the recipe I always use for buttercream. I add cocoa for chocolate buttercream."
"I have tried many versions of this frosting and this is by far the best I have had."
"Tasted chalky and just like confectioners sugar - not creamy at all."
"My favorite frosting. I use this recipe but flavor with lemon, using lemon juice instead of the milk, and omitting the vanilla. My grandkid's favorite!MY favorite is almond flavoring."
"Some recipe calls for unsalted butter is that what to use for this or regular butter"
"Keeping this one on hand for all my cakes. My daughter made it with coffee extract for chocolate cupcakes and it was out of this world"
"Loved it, thank you"
"If you devolve about 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the milk or water when making icing it will cut the sweetness."
"I chose to make the peanut butter flavor and used 7 Tbsps of 1% milk and only 3 cups of sugar and that was too sugary for me. I think next time, I will use a bit more peanut butter and 2 cups of sugar. Overall, it was very yummy"
"Ever notice how the 5 star ratings always start out great recipe or so easy, yet they change a half dozen of the steps?"
"I liked it. I made the original vanilla flavor. It was a nice texture for cake frosting. I also used it for piping decorations. I wish it were not so sweet, but I suppose excessively sweet is a given with buttercream."
"This recipe is AMAZING!! But i did make a few adjustments so ill write out the recipe i used.Instead of 4 1/2 cups of sugar i used 2 cups. And i only used 2 tablespoons of milk. I also used ,instead of vinllia, i used raspberry flavor and it tuned out great. I hope this review was useful! :)"
"I followed the instructions, but my icing came out liquidy and runny! It did, however, taste Delicious. I only used 5 tablespoons of milk."
"I found this very simple, just what I wanted, simple. I used the 4 cups of sugar, plus added Hershey's unsweetened cocoa and the special dark cocoa, just added to taste. I also made my own powered sugar with my nutra-bullet because i didn't have any powered sugar. Not bad at all, sweet though. I then made my version of Reese's, added peanut butter to some of the frosting and made chocolate peanut butter frosting. Not bad."
"To those who found the frosting to be gritty, make sure to use pure cane sugar. Many cheaper/store brands are beet sugar, which always produces a gritty frosting for me."
"Looking for a good recipe and i found it"
"This recipe is so simple and delicious! I did have to add more milk for easier spreading. I made it with the cocoa and put almond extract instead of vanilla. Extra yummy!!"
"Eh, it's a bit too sweet for my taste, but that's pretty much a given with vanilla frosting. Onward with my search for a less sweet one!"
"this was excellent!!!! Me and my children just made this recipe it is The best. It tastes way better than the store. I did the recipe a little different I use one whole stick of butter 3 cups of sugar about 8 teaspoons or nine teaspoons of milk and 2 splashes of vanilla extract and 2 dashes of salt. This was so great. I will be putting this on jumbo strawberry cupcakes. Thank you so much for the recipe. I really love it."
"I don't know why people think this came out dry I work at a bakery and make this every day it never comes out dry. A tip i would reccomend to unexperienced bakers is to listen to the instructions VERY carefully if you mix up the order of adding the ingrediants you could make it dry."
"Love this recipe........ Made some double chocolate cupcakes and used this recipe but added some raspberry extract. They turned out amazing, my first time making frosting :) super simple and fast."
"For those that rate this as a "bad" recipe probably have not had a lot of practice with frosting. It's a technique, like anything else. I use this basic base of ingredients and make wonderful frostings. Too stiff? add a little milk? too thin, add some sugar. Pretty simple. You do need to beat this with an electric mixer to get the creamy texture you desire."
"This is so great! I made a homemade yellow cake with chopped up strawberries mixed in. This icing is perfect for my new take on a strawberry shortcake!! I love it."
"TASTE SO GOOD! Came out perfect, I just added like half a tablespoon of extra milk. I am putting my icing on homemade cupcakes I made!"
"I'm delighted with so many recipes to choose from. I love the homemade frostings because from one basic recipe you can make different flavors just by changing one or two ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing them with us."
"This is officially the worst frosting recipe I have ever used! First it comes out all powdery so I had to add an extra cup and a half of milk! Then no matter how much I mixed it, it was still all gritty! So "what an amazing recipe"? I don't think so!"
"I thought it was very good..I am going to try "fhquilting" idea next time! I took down her notes! To buttercreamhater, what??? your crazy because its good! I added a little lemon juice..I want to learn how to make my own icing! next my own cake mix!"
"this sux. it was literally powder. you might want to change the recipe name to "bread loaf" because it was literally dough. thanks for nothing. i have lost respect for this website."
"I learned to make this frosting when I was a girl and I am 74! This is not a new idea and is lacking just a few tricks to make it even more wonderful: Use 1/2 C of softened butter (no margarine) and a 1/4 C or so of shortening. Add box of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp of salt and vanilla. Put all of this in your small mixer bowl. Add 3-4 Tbsp. of milk and beat the mixture. If you need more milk, add it very carefully . I beat the frosting on high for 10 min or so to beat as much air into it as possible and make it very light and fluffy. It does not need to be refrigerated! This is the best frosting ever! If you use it on a whie cake, after frosting it, cover with coconut and press it in with your hand. People will worship at your feet."
"I modified the recipe slightly. I didn't want to use soo much sugar, and knew that if I didn't, it would be really soft. So, I ended up using about 2 1/2 cups of sugar and added 4 - 6 ounces of cream cheese. The thickness of the cream cheese added to the consistency nicely, and maintained the sweetness. I also put it in the fridge for about an hour.My family LOVES this, and it will be a keeper for sure!"
"Veryyyyy sweet! Nice and fluffy and easily spreadable though. It's nice. I'm probably going to make this again unless I find a better one."
"I used only 4 cups of the sugar and added 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice and lime zest. Nice tangy flavor. Spread easily and didn't run - even on a hot humid day. Everyone loved it :)"
"This recipe was so easy. I also found it a little runny,but I made the frosting before the cake. I put it in the fridge while the cake was cooking & cooling. The frosting now how the Consistency of regular frosting! I also put a package of Strawberry jello in the butter when mixing! It was yummy!!"
"My family loves this."
"This recipe was amazing! My cupcakes were the talk of the month!"
"This was good, next time I'll cut butter down to 1/4 cup. I used heavy cream, tad bit of carol syrup (keeps it from cracking)."
"Very good and easy to make. Incredibly sweet though. Will definitely try adding a touch of salt next time to tone down the sweetness. I only used 4 cups of sugar instead of 4 1/2 cups and I used evaporated milk."
"This is the same frosting my mom always made. It's really good and so easy to make. Thanks for sharing it!"
"Icing was very good but I followed instructions and had not read all reviews first. I added 6 tablespoons of milk as instructed. Finished product was too thin and I was not able to decorate cupcakes as I had hoped. But overall icing was really good and was a hit and everyone ate them up!"
"As a busy mom of two and an English teacher with 200 students, I was looking for a quick and easy buttercream frosting recipe for my eggnog cupcakes I made for our annual staff cookie day at work. This was perfect. quick, easy, and easy to personalize. Instead of milk, I substituted the same amount of Captain Morgan spiced rum. Sooooo yummy. Perfect for the eggnog cupcakes, and just the right amount of alcohol for a frosting. I'm thinking about trying the rum frosting on my shortbread cookies...should be fantastic. Or maybe I'll try it with Bailey's Irish Cream..."
"I like the recipe but i changed it up a bit i used 10 tbs of milk to 5 cups of c. sugar. i thought the peanut butter recipe was to strong so i just added like 5 tbs of peanut butter to the original recipe came out great"
"I haven't used this recipe yet. I was wondering if it is salted or unsalted butter?"
"This is essentially the buttercream recipe found in the Wilton cake decorating books, though this recipe has a bit more sugar and as a result is a bit too sweet. Consequently I have given this 4 stars instead of 5. I have been making this for decades to decorate cakes, though I use one pound of confectioners' sugar per 1/2 cup fat (3 3/4 cups sugar). Also, to get a pure white frosting use white Crisco and clear vanilla. Use sifted sugar for the best results, and alternately add sugar and flavoring/milk to the creamed fat. For good consistency I usually use 1 Tbsp liquid per cup of sugar, though this can vary due to weather/humidity conditions. Of note, on very warm and humid days a frosting made with butter can soften and slump - make it with Crisco and it won't do that even on the hottest, stickiest days (believe me, I've done outdoor weddings set up under tenting on humid, 95 degree days). When properly mixed, adding liquid to obtain the right consistency, you should never have to refrigerate this frosting in order to use it. I also suspect the first reviewer who had a "crunchy" frosting used granulated sugar instead of confectioners' sugar - if left out to the air this may get a crust but the frosting itself is never crunchy. Good basic frosting that is endlessly adaptable."
"@Arisu i think you meant whether, not weather. there's a big difference."
"This is the recipe I have used all my life (50+ years). It is the ONLY frosting I really like. Canned frosting never does develop the firmness I like. I don't know how it could ever be called "crunchy", the confectioners sugar dissolves as soon as it is touched by the milk. It never needs to be refrigerated, if it is too thin, then you added too much milk. I always add the milk by the teaspoonful after the first couple of Tablespoons, it thins down fast. I use margarine and if it is in sticks that are hard from the fridge I just melt it in the microwave and mix in a couple Tbl. of the milk and flavoring, then add the powdered sugar. I find that easier to mix than to cream the butter. I can't believe that this totally basic, ancient frosting is actually a top recipe."
"Very good icing!"
"I am going to make this later today and I want to know how long I should put the frosting in the refrigerator for?"
"by far the easiest recipe ever &&& dont use regular sugar use powdered sugar.!"
"This frosting does not match my taste. It's very sweet. I always wondered weather or not I would like Buttercream frosting, but I don't. I like a frosting that is moderately sweet and thin. That's almost the complete opposite of this. If your a fan of Buttercream, I'm sure you'll love this."
"This is definitely a keeper! Made it with chocolate cupcakes and it was amazing! Thanks for this one, my kids loved it."
"I know why it was crunchy for the first reviewer!! She put all of the sugar in at once or she didn't mix it very well when she put it in separately!! You have to add the sugar little by little!!!"
"Also very good when substituting sour cream for milk! Delicious!"
"i used half cup of peanut butter some maple syrop with the vanilla and 1 cup of icing sugar and a bit of milk ...peanut butter was just peanuts peanut butter"
"As a complete novice...and I do mean NOVICE...I wasn't aware that I should have refrigerated the frosting before applying it. It was a liquidy mess, but worked out fine and tasted great after refrigeration. Are there any substitutes for confectionary sugar? Considering the amount...the calories..."
"Can also start with one 8 oz. brick of Cream Cheese then add the rest of these ingredients"
"This was my standby recipe until I discovered the difference Evaporated milk makes. Much richer and creamier. 1/4 cup will do it!"
"This is my go to frostingI love it! I use about half the amount of milk though for cupcakes...it makes it easier to work with and set when i'm piping."
"I prefer it a little less sweet, so I just use 3 or 3.5 cups of powdered sugar. I also add a good pinch of salt. It's easy to make it vegan, too. Just use non-dairy margarine and soy milk instead of butter and regular milk."
"I have a recipe similar to this that I have been making for about 40 years. It has the addition of a few shakes of salt. It seems to tone down the sweetness."
"I use this recipe often, but instead of 2% milk, I use evaporated milk. this makes it even creamier."
"Perfect! The vanilla and the orange versions are so good! I want to try all the other ones."
"Just tried a practice run of this recipe last night because I plan on using it for my daughter's birthday cake. It was very good but HOLY COW it was so sweet it blew my mind lol Any ideas on how to tone the sweetness down just a little? I am a baking rookie and I am afraid to try any changes on my own lol Any help on this would be appreciated"
"GREAT recipe! I used the food coloring gel instead of the liquid so there was no watering down. My Christmas cookies are delish!"
"This frosting is soooo good! I wanted to find a frosting for a tonka truck cake that I was making and I tell ya, this was the one! Thank you for sharing your recipe we really enjoyed it :)"
"This is a really simple recipe with a nice flavor. It is the easiest buttercream frosting I've found and one of the best tasting. easy to decorate with."
"This is a very simple, straightforward recipe for frosting. Please dont give poor rates when you dont bother to read the recipe. It states clearly Confectioners sugar, so why would anyone use regular sugar? Who knows... MAke it right then rate!"
"Did you use confectioner's (powdered) sugar or regular sugar? 'crunchy' happens to me all the time with regular sugar..."
"Thank you for a delicious basic frosting recipe. I felt that the amounts shown would make too much frosting, so I used 1/2 c I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cups Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, and 2T milk. It turned out great and was more than enough to frost 36 cupcakes!"
"If you want a richer, more confectionary flavor use evaporated milk in place of regular milk."
"I love this frosting. Use it for the base on my decorated cakes but use a different frosting for decorating. The two frostings really complement each other."
"@Destrena - you said "crunchy" - maybe you used granulated sugar instead of Powdered sugar?"
"This is the frosting my mother taught me to make! I'm thinking if you want to decorate, you make it thicker--esp. if you add food coloring; use less milk or more p. sugar.@Destrena--you didn't melt the butter, did you? It's just softened at room temp. And always add milk slowly, no matter what amount a recipe gives--you want to add a little, mix, check texture until you get the consistency you want. And you used powdered sugar, right?"
"I've been using this recipe for years and it has never let me down. It's delicious!"
"Buttercream frosting is my go to frosting. It's so easy and we love the taste! I never use that much milk though because I like it to be a thicker consistency (better for decorating). I usually end up using closer to 2 tablespoons of milk, than what this recipe calls for."
"This recipe is FANTASTIC! Smooth, creamy, delicious! I added a few drops of food coloring. To the previous reviewer, did you use confectioner's sugar or granulated sugar... I used confectioner's (powdered) and it was not crunchy."
"Really easy to make just think I will double recipe next time. Has a good taste."
"Nice and easy to make and it is tasty. I couldn't get it to work for me though. No matter what I tried it was crunchy (sugar would not fully dissolve) Get it the right thickness for frosting it was crunchy and get it so it's almost watery and it was crunchy. If anyone would have any tips to fix this I would love to hear them."
"I have yet to find a frosting recipe that beats can frosting : ("
"Far too sweet and too much vanilla. Looking for a different recipe. This is not what I was hoping it would be."
"I did not find this frosting fluffy at all. After I made it, it got stiff very easily and was hard to spread over the cake."
"delicious recipe, better than store bought icing anyday! very easy would make again and again."
"Very easy.. But i would modify it as well.. Prob a little less milk..it was a little runny with 6 tablespoon. I added food coloring which the kids loved."
"this buttercream recipe is fantastic!!"
"Very easy. Used 2 tsp vanilla and whipped it on high speed with my stand mixer. Made a very fluffy frosting."
"easy and definitely better than store bought"
"It was okay."
"It was okay."