Vanilla buttercream frosting is a pretty common recipe-and there is no shortage of recipes available. But finding just the right balance of sweet and butter is so important. I have a couple tips to offer and some variations to easily create different flavors.
I think vanilla has gotten a reputation for being common and boring but I don’t agree with it. The mild, velvety flavor it adds is luxurious. My preferred way to get vanilla flavor is of course with vanilla beans but they can be very expensive. I am not a huge fan of the alcohol in vanilla extract and the beige tint it gives to soft white vanilla buttercream frosting. So I prefer vanilla powder (I use Cook’s vanilla powder). It’s sweet, it’s pale and is a perfect option for the perfect creamy white color.
Buttercream Frosting Texture
I usually make my frostings on the stiffer side so that they can easily be piped onto a cake or cupcakes. If you prefer your frosting more creamy, start by adding 2 tsps milk or milk substitute and mix. Add more if needed. This creamier texture of frosting is nice for spreading onto a gluten-free coconut cake or gluten-free lemon cake. These gluten-free vanilla cupcakes are perfect with this frosting. Or pipe some onto this ganache glazed chocolate sponge cake.
Lemon Buttercream – Add the zest of 1 lemon and 2 tsps lemon juice
Cinnamon Buttercream – Add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon to the powdered sugar
Coconut Buttercream – Replace 2 Tbsps of butter with 2 Tbsps coconut cream and add 1 tsp coconut extract. If it is a bit too runny (coconut cream textures vary widely between brands) add an additional 2 Tbsps of powdered sugar.
Sweet and Salty Buttercream – Use salted butter in place of unsalted and add 1/4 tsp extra salt for the best buttercream you will ever make.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 2 sticks 8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tsps vanilla powder or vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp milk optional for a creamier texture
- Beat the butter with a stand or hand mixer for 2 minutes.
- Add half of the sugar and beat on low until most of it is combined. Add the remaining sugar and beat on low until most of the sugar is incorporated.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, Add the vanilla and salt and beat on high for 1 minute.