Here’s my favorite basic buttercream recipe. It’s a great starting point for any cake project, from fully decorated to a simple sheet cake.
Note: If you buy something using links in this post, we may receive a small commission. This helps support Edible Ink to bring you more free, low waste, whole-food recipes!
Patience is Key with Vanilla Buttercream
Really, the key to a good buttercream is allowing the butter enough time to do its thing. Whipping the butter for a prolonged amount of time (either with a stand mixer or a hand mixer) is called creaming the butter. When making buttercream (this is also a trick for great cookies) it’s imperative to take the time to cream the butter first, then cream the butter with the sugar.
Doing so incorporates air into the butter, making it light and fluffy instead of heavy. Don’t rush this process! It’s crucial to achieve that creamy, light consistency.
You can absolutely make this buttercream ahead of time. Store it in the fridge and let it come to room temperature before attempting to decorate your cake.
For those fine details, I like to make my buttercream, then immediately fill my piping bags. If I’m planning on using different colors, I’ll mix the colors, fill the bags, then store them in the fridge until ready to use.
For more details on cake decorating, checkout my birthday cake post.
Keep it Simple
This recipe is intended to be as simple and streamlined as possible. Pick quality ingredients and you’re sure to have a delicious buttercream base for all of your creative cake creations.
Most importantly, have fun!
- 1 ½ lb powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cup unsalted butter (3 standard sticks), softened to room temp.
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Beat butter until soft and fluffy.
- Incorporate powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until combined before adding more.
- Once all powdered sugar is mixed into butter, add salt and vanilla extract.
- Add the whipping cream in a slow steady stream with the mixer still on.