Best Buttercream Frosting
A simple American buttercream frosting recipe is a must-have for any home baker. It is so light and fluffy while still being super creamy. The rich vanilla flavor makes it perfect for any dessert.
What is American Buttercream?
American buttercream frosting is generally made of butter and powdered sugar with a little bit of vanilla and heavy cream. The primary difference between American buttercream and most other types of buttercream is that it does not contain eggs. It is also the sweetest of the buttercreams and the easiest to make.
Other commonly used buttercreams include Swiss Meringue and Italian Meringue. Both of these buttercreams are made by first making a meringue using egg whites. As a result, they are a bit softer and lighter than American buttercream.
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About This Recipe
Here’s why this is my absolute favorite American buttercream recipe:
- I use salted butter because it adds amazing flavor and brings out the sweetness of the buttercream without it tasting overly sweet. I prefer salted over unsalted butter for this reason. A lot of other buttercream recipes call for shortening as opposed to butter, but this creates a greasier and stiffer consistency in addition to (in my opinion) a blander flavor.
- This buttercream recipe uses vanilla extract, but you can transform it into ANY flavor you want. You can swap out the vanilla for another flavor like maple, peppermint, lemon, or raspberry. Adding spices like cinnamon or ginger can take your buttercream to the next level. Citrus zests or fruit purees are another great way to switch up the flavor!
- This recipe works great for cakes, cupcakes, and even cookies. It has a wonderful light and fluffy consistency but is also sturdy enough to hold its shape which makes it perfect for decorating any dessert! Turn it any color with just a few drops of gel food coloring.
- It makes enough frosting to generously frost 16-18 cupcakes or two 8-inch cakes. You can easily double this recipe or cut it in half if needed!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Here are a few tips for perfect vanilla American buttercream frosting:
Use softened butter. The butter should be soft enough to easily slice but not too soft to the point that it becomes greasy. If it’s too soft, it won't cream properly with the powdered sugar, affecting the consistency of the buttercream.
On the flip side, if your butter is too cold, you will have chunks of butter throughout your frosting. Don’t worry if you didn’t plan ahead for this! You can soften butter quickly by using one of these awesome tricks here: How To Soften Butter Quickly.
Cream the butter. This is an important step for the texture of the buttercream. Cream the softened butter for 3-5 minutes until it’s nice and fluffy.
I prefer to use my KitchenAid stand mixer and paddle attachment for this. All I have to do is turn it on and let it do the work for me. This process also lightens the color of the butter so your American buttercream will be nice and white!
Sift the powdered sugar. Yes, it’s more work but, I promise, it’s worth it! Living in a humid climate, my powdered sugar tends to clump up, leaving little chunks in my frosting. If you live in a drier climate, you may not have this issue so you can opt-out of sifting, but I still definitely recommend it!
Sifting not only adds more air to the frosting for a lighter consistency but also prevents it from clumping together and creating lumps. No one wants lumpy frosting!
Use clear vanilla. Although I prefer to use pure vanilla extract in my American buttercream frosting for the best flavor, it may make it more off-white or cream-colored. For more of a pure white, swap out the pure vanilla extract for a clear vanilla extract.
Salted butter - Butter is the base of the buttercream frosting. You can substitute unsalted butter if needed, just add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the frosting.
Powdered sugar - Powdered sugar adds sweetness and provides additional structure to the buttercream.
Pure vanilla extract - Vanilla contributes the classic flavor of a vanilla American buttercream frosting. You can substitute it with any extract to change up the flavor.
Heavy cream or milk - Adding milk or heavy cream is optional in this recipe. It works well in small amounts to thin out your frosting if it’s too thick.
After the cake and filling have been chilled, use a spatula to apply the whipped cream to the cake, covering it completely.
How to Make Buttercream Frosting
- The first step to making this vanilla buttercream frosting is to place your softened butter in a large mixing bowl. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment (either one works great) to cream the butter. Continue to cream the butter for 3-5 minutes until the texture is super light and fluffy and the color is a very pale yellow.
- Next, add the vanilla extract and sift the powdered sugar into the butter in small batches. Adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mixing between each addition keeps your frosting light and fluffy. If the consistency of the buttercream is too thick after adding the powdered sugar, add the milk or heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
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The Best Vanilla American Buttercream FrostingMay 17, 2021
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter softened
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-3 tablespoon milk or heavy cream as needed
- Place your softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy in texture and pale in color.
- Add the powdered sugar in small batches (about a cup at a time), mixing between each addition.
- Mix in the vanilla extract and check the consistency of the frosting. If it’s too thick, add the milk or heavy until the desired consistency is reached.
- Adding the powder sugar in small amounts helps keep the texture of the buttercream light and fluffy.
- Use evaporated milk for a smooth and velvety buttercream.