I like trying new and different vanilla frosting recipes, but when I need a solid tried and true recipe for topping cupcakes, this is my favorite vanilla frosting. This is known as American Buttercream and it's what a lot of home bakers consider the best buttercream frosting for everyday cupcakes and such.
American Buttercream has plenty of butter, high quality vanilla and a little salt to offset the sweetness. Plus it's easy! You can make it with any brand of vanilla extract or for a change of pace, vanilla bean paste. The frosting in the photo has vanilla bean paste, hence the speckles of vanilla bean.
You can use unsalted or salted butter in this frosting. Using unsalted butter gives you more control over the salt level, but I've made this with salted butter and liked the flavor of that too. So it really depends on what you have, what's on sale, etc.
Favorite Vanilla Frosting Brand of Vanilla
I love trying different brands of vanilla. My two favorites, especially for recipes like this where the vanilla is prominent, are Sonoma Syrups Vanilla Bean Crush and Nielsen Massey. Most often I buy Vanilla Massey. For a deeper flavor, I recommend the Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste. This recipe is a great way to use it!
Favorite Vanilla Frosting
- 8 oz butter, softened (230 grams)
- 3 ¾ cup powdered sugar (1 pound) (448 grams)
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract or Sonoma Syrups Vanilla Bean Crush (You can use less vanilla if desired)
- 2 tablespoons whole milk (you can also use half & half)
- ¼ teaspoon salt but only if using unsalted butter
- Beat the butter with an electric mixer until it is soft and fluffy.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and some (about a teaspoon) of the milk. Beat on high until light and creamy, scraping sides of bowl.
- Add remaining milk if needed. Taste test and add more sugar, vanilla or milk to get the consistency you want. If you did not use salted butter, add salt to taste (up to about ¼ teaspoon).