The key to fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting is a lengthy whip at the end - a full 5 minutes. This simple trick makes a light and airy frosting that spreads and pipes beautifully! This buttercream frosting comes together quickly, isn't overly sweet and packs a vanilla punch! It's perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes and for filling Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies (Trust me on this one - they're incredible!) or topping Soft Sugar Cookies.
We have a little cupcake shop here in Bend with made-to-order cupcakes. They offer more than a dozen cupcake varieties and at least that many flavors of frosting, so there are hundreds of options. Keith and I have the same cupcake order every time: vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, no sprinkles! Once in a while I'm tempted to order a more adventurous frosting flavor like salted caramel or even cream cheese, but I always come back to vanilla.
If you're like me, vanilla buttercream frosting is often too sweet, tasting more like sugar than vanilla. Not this one. It's plenty sweet and intensely 'vanilla.' It's also very rich, especially if you splurge for European-style butter with a high butterfat content. If you buy the unsalted version, use ¼ teaspoon of salt instead of just the pinch I've called for in the recipe. And remember to whip, whip, whip at the end for a truly fluffy frosting.
This frosting is incredible but sometimes you might prefer to have icing. If so, try this Sugar Cookie Icing recipe. Or this soft, fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting for cinnamon rolls that's perfect for slathering on while they're warm warm.
I put together a quick video to show you the process. Notice how the color and texture of the buttercream changes at the end!
Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups butter room temperature, ideally 85% butterfat
- 3 cups powdered sugar 375 g, sifted
- 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
- pinch fine sea salt
- Add butter to bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip butter until pale and smooth. You'll hear it slapping the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add half of powdered sugar and mix until combined. Repeat with second half. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle.
- Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and whip 5 minutes, stopping half way through to scrape sides of bowl and paddle.
- Spread or pipe frosting as desired.