Vanilla topping

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There are two types of people in the world. Those who love frosting and those who avoid it by any means necessary. This vanilla buttercream frosting is a dream for people who love frosting, and enough to get even the most firm frosting hater to eat!

For over a couple of years now, I've been talking to people about how I want to do this whole series on icing recipes. I wanted to go over all the types of frosting, plus give recipes for each. It's a huge task considering how many guys there are in the world, but I'm finally getting started. We're starting with the American buttercream frosting and, more specifically, my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe. (Also, a little tip my sister swears makes it even better.)

What is vanilla butter cream?

Vanilla Buttercream is a basic frosting recipe that is perfect on its own or to use as a base to create a flavored buttercream frosting recipe. It mainly consists of four main ingredients: butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.

There are a few substitutions you can make for certain ingredients, plus additional ingredients you can add to adjust the vanilla frosting to your liking. We will review some of these throughout the post.

Is the vanilla frosting gluten free?

Vanilla buttercream frosting is naturally gluten free. None of the ingredients in this buttercream recipe inherently contain gluten. It is perfect to beat any of your favorite gluten free desserts.

If you're looking for a frosting recipe that covers any other dietary need, you may need to make adjustments or continue your search. This recipe is not vegan, keto or paleo.

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What to do with vanilla frosting

The possibilities for vanilla frosting are endless! Traditionally, you can use it to top any flavor cupcakes (like these vanilla cupcakes) or to freeze cakes (like my vanilla cake or vanilla butter cake), but that's not the only thing you can do with your frosting!

  • You can stir it into an edible sugar cookie dough.
  • You can mix it with homemade ice cream.
  • You can use it to freeze brownies.
  • Make cupcakes with it.
  • Mix it in sweet sauces.
  • Decorate cookies and skillet cookies.

How to make vanilla butter cream without milk

Most people use milk to loosen their vanilla buttercream to make it easier to spread or spread. If you don't have milk, there are alternatives for you!

I prefer to use thick cream, which gives the icing a more delicious and velvety texture, as well as making it more creamy.

You can also use an alternative to milk, such as cashew milk, almond milk, or even oat milk. Coffee creams work, too, and can add a different flavor if you're interested.

If necessary, you can even use water.

Did you know that using (plain) yogurt or sour cream can also work, in addition to giving your icing a little flavor. Try it out and let me know how you like it. If you decide to use thick Greek yogurt, you may need to thin it down slightly with water.

How to make vanilla buttercream less sweet

One problem that people tend to have with vanilla frosting is that it tends to be quite sweet. My best suggestion to help reduce sweetness is add a pinch or two of salt.

Salt doesn't make the frosting salty, but it does help make it taste less sweet. Salt also has the added benefit of better enhancing the flavor of vanilla.

What type of butter can I use?

The best American butter cream recipes use unsalted butter. This is because it highlights the best flavor and allows you to control the level of salt you add to the recipe. No one likes salty frosting!

Many people try to use margarine, but the results change with each brand and often do not give it the right consistency. Many brands will really leave you with watery frosting.

Butter and lard are also sometimes used, especially in bakeries. The problem with this is that it doesn't taste as nice and will often leave a greasy taste or a mouthfeel.

What type of vanilla to use

There are many types of vanilla available, pure and imitation extract, vanilla bean, and vanilla paste are popular, but you can also use something like vanilla powder, which is sold in some specialty stores.

I'm a big fan of using vanilla to get the best vanilla flavor, closely followed by vanilla paste. Sometimes both ingredients can be hard to find – and expensive! If you can't get any, don't worry.

Most of the time, I recommend and use pure vanilla extract. This gives you the best real vanilla flavor and is available at most grocery stores. Imitation Vanilla Extract does not taste the same and has a very artificial flavor. I would never recommend it unless you are specifically looking for that kind of flavor.

As long as you're using pure vanilla extract, it doesn't matter so much which brand you use – even the pure vanilla store brand will work! If you are curious, my favorite brand is Rodelle, but I will also use other brands without hesitation.

How to store your icing

You should always store any leftover icing in an airtight container. It should last overnight at room temperature. In the refrigerator, it should last about 1 to 2 weeks. Its frosting will last at least a month in the freezer. Always thaw frozen frosting in the refrigerator overnight before bringing it to room temperature.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

A velvety smooth vanilla frosting you don't want to skip

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons heavy cream, room temperature


  1. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add a cup of powdered sugar and beat until well combined.
  3. Repeat the shakes in one cup of powdered sugar at a time until all the sugar has run out.
  4. Add the vanilla and salt and beat well.
  5. Add thick cream one tablespoon at a time until smooth and creamy consistency that is easy to pipette.


Store any leftover frosting in an airtight container

Nutritional information:



Portion size:

1 Calories: 83 Total Fat: 4 g Saturated Fat: 3 g Trans Fat: 0 g Unsaturated Fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 11 mg Sodium: 10 mg Carbohydrate: 12 g Fiber: 0 g Sugar: 12 g Protein: 0 g

vanilla topping

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