The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Yield: 1¾-2 cups (420 grams)
Creamy and fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness, this classic frosting can easily be spread or piped onto cakes, cupcakes, and cookies for desserts that look as great as they taste!


  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature*
  • 2¼ cups (270g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk or cream


  1. Beat the softened butter over medium-high speed with an electric mixer until creamy, about a minute. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the powdered sugar. (Helpful hint: To avoid a big poof of powdered sugar, I add the sugar in several additions, stirring with the turned-off beaters to incorporate somewhat before blending.) Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    Add the vanilla extract, salt, and the milk, one tablespoon at a time, beating on medium between additions, until the frosting is a good consistency to pipe or spread. Increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes.

    Prep ahead and storage: The frosting may be made in advance. For up to one day, it may be covered (airtight) and stored at room temperature. For longer storage, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week. Before using, bring to room temperature and stir well. (I take a dinner fork and whip it to reclaim its full creaminess.) Buttercream frosting may also be frozen for up to three months. It will be safe to eat for longer than that, but the quality can start to degrade.


*I use salted butter. If using unsalted butter, you may add an extra pinch or two of salt if you like. The salt adds a hint of balance to the sweetness and enhances the flavor of both the butter and vanilla.

• If the frosting seems too loose or runny, add more powdered sugar.
• If it looks too stiff, add milk, a tiny bit at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.
• If adding sprinkles, add them right way, before the frosting firms up.

This recipe yields 1¾-2 cups frosting, enough for piping a border and center decoration/message on a 14-inch cookie cake. If you’d like to decorate the cake more liberally, consider making 1½ times the recipe. Keep in mind that some of the frosting will be lost to the piping bag.

General recommendations for amount of frosting needed:

  • For a two-layer cake: 3½ to 4 cups
  • For a three-layer cake: 4½ to 5 cups
  • For 12 cupcakes: 2 cups (double the frosting recipe if piping)
  • For a 13×9-inch cake: 3 cups

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