Cooking 101: Classic Buttercream Frosting

Cooking Class 101 is back in session! Today’s lesson: classic vanilla buttercream frosting. Whether my cake is homemade or comes from a box, I always make my frosting from scratch. A good vanilla buttercream automatically elevates any cake from good to amazing and is ridiculously easy to make. The key is to beat the butter for a super long time to get a beautifully glossy frosting that looks as good as it tastes.

Classic Butter Cream Frosting, makes enough icing for 1 to 1 ½  dozen cupcakes or 1 round 8″ cake. I’d make double for a sheet cake


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 small pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (you can also substitute your favorite extracts or spirits like bourbon or Cointreau)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Equipment: An stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer

The Process:

1) Place the butter in the mixer and beat the butter on medium speed for at least 5 minutes until its pale, fluffy, and smooth.

2) Turn the mixer to off and add half of the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat until just combined. Add the rest of the sugar and a pinch of salt and beat on low until just combined. Turn the speed of the mixer back up to medium and beat until the butter and sugar are smooth.

3) Mix the vanilla and milk together and add them to the mixing bowl (if you are dying your buttercream a fancy color, mix it into the milk as well). Beat the ingredients together until smooth, creamy, and fluffy.

4) Voila! If using later, store the icing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let it come up to room temperature before using.

Troubleshooting Buttercream:

  1. If your frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar a few tablespoons at a time.
  2. If your frosting is too thick, add more milk a tablespoon or two at a time.
  3. If your frosting is too lumpy, just keep mixing until it smooths its self out. If you are really desperate, try pushing it through a metal sieve, though the mixing method should get the job done

Disclaimer: This is recipe is unsponsored, which is sad. But hey, at least I have cake.

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