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Item# WLRECIP-41

Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Item No. WLRECIP-41
2 Cups
Prep Time
20 min
Skill Level
Total Time
20 min

Vanilla buttercream frosting is the traditional choice for bakers and decorators alike. Quick and easy to make, this delicious recipe is well-loved for its flavor and versatility. Use this vanilla frosting as is, or try other delicious flavor variations like chocolate or strawberry buttercream. Our vanilla buttercream frosting recipe is smooth and spreadable, making it perfect for frosting cupcakes, cakes, and cookies. This buttercream can also be stiffened to hold its shape for decorating treats with buttercream flowers or piped messages. Pair with a basic yellow cake for consistency or a chocolate layer cake for a bit of contrast. If you're after a super white frosting, this homemade buttercream can also be prepared with all shortening, resulting in a pure white frosting.



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  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening*
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons milk, heavy cream or water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (pure or imitation)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • *can be substituted for an additional 1/2 cup unsalted butter


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  • Notes:

    • To color: Use Icing Colors or food coloring to tint frosting to any color without disturbing the consistency of the frosting.
    • Air bubbles troubleshooting: If your frosting has air bubbles, let it rest for a few minutes to allow it to deflate. To avoid creating air bubbles, make sure to use the paddle attachment rather than the whisk attachment on your electric stand mixer.
    • Grainy/gritty consistency: Make sure your ingredients are all room temperature to avoid a grainy consistency.
    • To preserve while in use: Depending on the weather and humidity, your buttercream may start to crust over. To avoid this, cover your frosting bowl with plastic wrap.
    • To store: Frosting should be stored in an airtight container and can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.

    Substitutes & Modifications:

    • Shortening substitute: 1/2 cup butter can be substituted for the ½ cup of shortening, although the buttercream will appear more yellow.
    • Liquid substitute: Water can be used as the liquid ingredient, although the fat from milk and heavy cream make for creamier and more flavorful buttercream.
    • Butter substitute for pure white buttercream: To make pure white buttercream, substitute out the 1/2 cup of butter for additional white vegetable shortening and opt for clear vanilla extract. To add the butter flavor to the shortening frosting, add 1/2 teaspoon of clear butter flavor.
    • Using a hand mixer: If using a hand mixer, add your milk or water a little earlier in the process to avoid exhausting your hand mixer. Start gradually adding the liquid if the hand mixer starts to slow down while mixing in the powdered sugar.
    • To cut sweetness: If your buttercream is too sweet, add a pinch of salt. Popcorn salt is optimal for adding to buttercream because it’s more granular than other salts. Make sure it dissolves completely once mixed in. You can also opt for ½ cup salted butter rather than ½ cup unsalted butter to avoid overly sweet buttercream.
    • To add flavor: This recipe can be easily flavored in a variety of ways using extracts and other flavorings, like almond extract or cocoa powder. Liquid flavoring may water down the frosting, so substitute out some of the milk or water with liquid flavoring.


    This buttercream recipe is for medium consistency, which is excellent for piping decorations like rosettes and dots. However, it will need to be thinned for frosting birthday cakes and borders.

    Stiff Consistency: Gradually add additional confectioners’ sugar for a stiffer consistency. Best for dimensional decorations that need to retain their shape when piped. This consistency is generally used for piping upright petals for flowers.

    Medium Consistency: Add 1 teaspoon of liquid (light corn syrup, milk or water) for each cup of stiff frosting. For pure white frosting, add up to 2 tablespoons of clear liquid. Medium consistency is used for borders such as stars, dots, rosettes and shells, as well as other decorations that will remain relatively flat.

    Thin Consistency: Add 2 teaspoons of liquid (light corn syrup, milk or water) for each cup of buttercream frosting. For pure white frosting, add up to 4 tablespoons of liquid. Thin consistency is best for cake frosting, as well as piping lines and letters. If you are making a buttercream intended for writing, use light corn syrup as your liquid. Writing will flow easily and won’t break.

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