Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

For another Hirata family birthday potluck celebration last month, I made a birthday cake using my new go-to chocolate layer cake recipe, this time, with a classic vanilla buttercream that I stumble upon browsing Add A Pinch.  It was a triple celebration for Kevin, his mom, and his uncle:

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

The great thing about buttercream is you can totally customize it to whatever consistency you want it to be – stiffer, creamier, the frosting world is your oyster!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 C butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3-4 C confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2 t vanilla
  • Pinch of salt (sea salt is my preference)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  1. Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, half a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  3. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

I took a wee bit of the leftover frosting and added a few drops of red food coloring to make it pink.  I didn’t have a small enough piping tip, so I put the pink frosting into a ziploc baggie and snipped a corner to write the happy birthday, and then created the “flowers” using a closed star tip.  And yes, I am aware that I have had better cake decorating days.


The frosting was sweet, but not too sweet.  If you want your frosting to be a little less sweet, add a little bit more salt (another small pinch or two).  The salt really balances out sweetness in frosting, but doesn’t necessarily make the frosting salty by any means…unless you over do it.

Birthday Candle Blowout!
Birthday Candle Blowout!

I made a batch of strawberry ice cream to go with the cake too.  Yup – I get things done! The ice cream recipe will follow soon!

2 thoughts on “Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting”

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