Here’s the thing with buttercream recipes… many of us don’t really use a recipe. You just mix butter, powdered sugar, some flavoring and a splash of milk or cream and keep adjusting until it looks right.
Well, that’s hard to put in a recipe. Another thing that’s hard for folks following recipes is measuring powdered sugar (and flour, by the way). Three cups at my house probably isn't the same as the three cups you measure at your house. In most recipes, that’s OK but when you’re making buttercream with just ounces of liquid, it matters.
That’s why I love this recipe. It uses one 1-pound box of powdered sugar. Ain't nobody got to measure anything. It’s a pound. Period.
The only variance is whether you need 3 or 4 tablespoons of milk or cream and that’s really about preference and climate. I usually use milk because it’s what I have but cream makes for a more luxurious, silky buttercream so I definitely recommend using it if you have it!
No-Fail Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 1-lb. box powdered sugar* (confectioners sugar)
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk or cream
Whip butter and vanilla extract on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add 3 tablespoons milk or cream and powdered sugar and continue mixing on medium speed until well combined and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add more milk or cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
Yields enough for 24 normal cupcakes or 16 heavily frosted cupcakes (like these) or one 13x9 cake. If you’re making a layered cake, double the recipe to ensure you have enough.
Make chocolate frosting by adding 1/3 cup cocoa powder when you add the powdered sugar (you’ll need about a teaspoon more milk or cream if adding cocoa).
*According to the manufacturer of the box I used with this batch, one pound equals 3 3/4 cups