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Vanilla Buttercream Icing

This recipe for homemade Vanilla Buttercream Icing is one everyone needs in their recipe file. It’s perfect for frosting layer cakes, sheet cakes and cupcakes with versatility of flavor options, too.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Easy Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe

In the past, when I made birthday and special occasion cakes for people, vanilla buttercream icing was the single most requested icing that I used. I suppose it’s the universal standard for decorating cakes and cupcakes. Vanilla buttercream is really a blank canvas that can be easily transformed using different flavorings or fruit zest.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing

How to Make the Best Homemade Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe

A classic vanilla buttercream frosting recipe will often use all butter, but in general it  usually comes down to the preference of the baker.
  • Ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe for whipped Vanilla Buttercream: Butter, solid vegetable shortening i.e. Crisco, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt.
  • For this icing I choose to use part solid vegetable shortening to stabilize the butter, without adding a conflicting flavor. On a hot day or at an outdoor event, an all butter icing can become very soft and turn into a real disaster, if you’re not careful.
  • How do you make a bright white frosting? If you want a pure white icing, you’ll need to use all vegetable shortening, clear butter flavoring and clear vanilla for the best results.
  • By adding fresh orange or lemon zest or extracts such as almond, orange or lemon the flavor of this frosting can be transformed depending on the flavor profile you’re looking to create. You can also use vanilla bean paste in place of vanilla extract.
  • You could also add sprinkles to the frosting for a birthday cake party.
  • This frosting can be made in advance and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Allow it a few minutes on the counter to soften and then whip with an electric mixer to bring it to frosting consistency before using.
  • Can I freeze buttercream icing? You can freeze extra frosting for up to one month. Thaw in the fridge and whip with a mixer before using.
  • Any cakes you frost with this vanilla buttercream recipe should be stored chilled in the refrigerator. It should last for up to 1 week when stored properly.
  • Other homemade buttercream frosting recipes in the MSSK recipe index is this peanut buttercream frosting, dulce de leche cream cheese frosting and chocolate frosting. 
  • You may also like this lemon buttercream frosting from My Cake School.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Pastry Tips Used in Images from Left to Right:

Wilton tip 6B
Wilton tip 1M
Wilton tip 2D
Different cake decorating tips and designs using Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Use Vanilla Buttercream Icing to Frost these Homemade Cakes

You can use this buttercream to frost cupcakes, sheet cakes or layer cakes. I have several classic cake flavors in the recipe index that you may like to try.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing star tip shape

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Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Cakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homeade-vanilla-buttercream-icing, vanilla-buttercream-frosting
Servings: 8 cups
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 lb powdered sugar
  • 8 Tbsp heavy cream plus additional as needed
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together the softened butter and vegetable shortening. Beat for 3-4 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color.
  • If you'd prefer, you can use the exact same technique using all butter. In that case, it would be 4 sticks total. [The small amount of vegetable shortening stabilizes the frosting.]
  • Add the sifted powdered sugar alternately with the heavy cream.
  • If you'd like the icing to be easily spreadable for frosting cakes, add more cream one tablespoon at a time. If you'd like a more stiff icing to maintain it's shape for piping onto cupcakes, add slightly less.
  • After all of the powdered sugar has been added whip in the vanilla and salt. Adjust the mixer speed to medium-high and whip for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • If you'd like to add color to this buttercream, I recommend using color gel additives so as not to change the consistency of the icing.
  • Makes enough tol frost [2] 8/9" rounds for a layer cake or 30 cupcakes.
  • Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to one month.


Buttercream icing prepared in this way will form a "crust" rather quickly. So, keep a damp cloth over the bowl of icing while you frost your cake or cupcakes to slow this process.
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


    1. If you mean that you want to use all shortening, you’d replace the amount of butter with additional shortening. You’d also need to add butter flavoring. Start with 2 teaspoons, taste and adjust.

  1. Hi Talana,
    Welcome! What a great question, I really need to research that option since I’m not certain what low sugar ingredient would work best. I’ll see what I can find out and perhaps develop a recipe or add a footnote to this recipe. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa

  2. Hello Melissa,
    . This is my first time at your site looking forward to trying the vanilla butter cream frosting. I have a question do happen to know of a diabetic friendly recipe for the frosting?
    . Thanks Talana

  3. Hi Kim, oh goodness, that’s never fun! I’ve used this combo over and over again, I do hope it suits your taste. ☺ I actually prefer purchasing the powdered sugar in the 32 oz bags rather than 2 [16] oz boxes, it seems to me that it makes a buttercream that is more fluffy, at least to me. Add cream until it’s the texture that you need for your project and you should be good to go. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa

  4. Oh boy! I took a few Wilton Classes a few years ago but I wasnt wild about the recipe we got for butter cream frosting. The one time I made a huge amount, it was a disaster.. lol.. I wound up fixing it but it was a very scary process. 🙂
    Looking forward to trying yours soon!

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