Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 15 Mins
5/5 - (1 vote)

 This Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is perfect for piping cakes and cupcakes! It is so smooth and whips up perfectly every time. 


The ingredients used in a classic vanilla buttercream often vary only a little. Most of the time I will use a combination of butter and shortening. However, if my cake or cupcakes will be sitting outside, I will use all shortening.

  • Butter – I’d recommend using all unsalted butter and then adding salt to taste. Be sure you are adding unsalted butter because if you use salted butter it will cause your buttercream frosting to be too salty. We are using room temperature unsalted butter.
  • Shortening – Shortening is used for consistency purposes. If you leave out the shortening and use all butter, your cake will not hold up at room temperature. When a cake doesn’t need to be refrigerated because of a filling or something, I like to leave my cakes at room temperature. If you live in a warm climate or if you are making your cake that will be outdoors, shortening will be the ingredient that keeps it stable. 
  • Powdered Sugar – Powdered sugar makes this buttercream stable and pipe-able. If you reduce the amount of powdered sugar, you change the consistency of the frosting. I find that the ratios of powdered sugar that I use in the recipe works. It is very pipeable, which is important when you are making cake and cupcakes.
  • Vanilla Extract – The vanilla adds flavor but it is adaptable. You can swap out the vanilla for a different extract and give it a whole new flavor.
  • Heavy Cream or Water – I tend to use heavy whipped cream but milk also works well. You can actually use milk or half and half. 
  • Salt – This buttercream frosting can get a little sweet so you can add a tsp of salt. The salt can help cut back on the sweetness a bit. Too much though and it gets quite salty. Salt to taste is what I always do.


Yes! Wrap your buttercream in saran wrap and refrigerate it for up to a month. Make sure you keep it wrapped so air doesn’t get to it. You can even freeze it for up to 3 months.


Make sure you sift the sugar and keep everything at room temperature. I also recommend alternating the powdered sugar and milk, whipping after each addition. Remember you can’t rush perfection.


Sure you can reduce it. Who’s to stop you? You’ll end up with a buttercream frosting (technically). But this question is really one of consistency. If you are looking for a thinner buttercream, try adding 1/4 tsp of milk and then check for consistency.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 5 Cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is creamy, sweet, and easily adjustable! It’s super easy to make and pipes perfectly onto cakes and cupcakes!


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup shortening 
  • 8 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp water or heavy cream
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt


1. Combine the butter and shortening in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
2. Add about a third of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
3. Add a third of the vanilla extract and a third of the water or cream and mix until smooth and well combined.

4. Add another third of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.

5. Add another third of the vanilla extract and another third of the water or cream and mix until smooth and well combined.
6. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
7. Add the remaining vanilla and the remaining water or milk until consistency is reached, then add salt to taste.


It should be fine on the counter for a couple of days or so, fine in the fridge for about 2 weeks and fine frozen for about a month.
Just let it come back to room temperature for frosting.
Will the cupcakes be sitting outside? If so, you’ll probably want to use all shortening.
If inside, then half and half would be fine. And yes, you can add Nutella or lotus spread.

Adding fruit can be tricky because it’ll thin out the frosting. I’d recommend pureeing the fruit, then straining it to remove the seeds. If you find you can get a strong enough flavor just by adding the puree,
do that. Otherwise, maybe cook the puree a bit to reduce it and make the flavor more concentrated, then add it.

When adding coffee flavor you can add dry powdered coffee, or you can add actual coffee or espresso. I often dissolve powdered espresso or coffee in a small amount of water so that it’s more concentrated and then I can add the flavor to the frosting without adding too much liquid.

Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 702Total Fat 40gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 64mgSodium 123mgCarbohydrates 88gFiber 0gSugar 86gProtein 0g

The writers and publishers of Pickled Barrel are not nutritionists or registered dietitians. Occasionally, this website,, may offer estimated nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. This information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed to be accurate. This nutritional information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients you use in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator, or your own nutritionist or medical professional. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate. Here are some online nutritional calculators that are currently free to use: The writer(s) and publisher(s) of Pickled Barrel are not responsible for adverse reactions, consequences or effects, resulting from the use of any recipes or suggestions herein or procedures undertaken hereafter. This website is not intended as nutritional advice and readers of this website are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to their health. This website is not intended as nutritional advice and readers of this website are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to their health.

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