August 25, 2014

No-Fail Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

No-Fail Vanilla Buttercream Frosting with one box (1 pound) powdered sugar and one stick of butter.

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 with one box (1 pound) powdered sugar and one stick of butter.

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


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  1. Just ordered a set of the baking cups and pinned the recipe. You can NEVER go wrong with cupcakes!

  2. Love the photo with the sprinkles! They're all lined up like they're going down a slide at the county fair!
    Making my mouth water!

  3. Yay. Someone besides me prefer a simple butter cream to overly fussy cooked icings (which are usually made with egg whites anyway, and sweetened egg whites are just disgusting).


  4. How many cups are there in 1 lb. of powdered sugar. I always buy bags of powdered sugar. Do you sift the powdered sugar first? Thank you.

    1. *According to the manufacturer of the box I used with this batch, one pound equals 3 3/4 cups. No need to sift first :)

  5. The bags are generally 2 lbs and if you eyeball half the bag, you'll be a okay!

    Your cupcakes are adorable! Great way to simplify the 'you know it when you see it' kind of recipe :)

  6. Can I sub sour cream for the milk or cream? Thanks in advance!

  7. Just made this for the first time!! THANK YOU!!!!! Fantastic recipe and SO EASY!! I will more than likely never buy store bought icing again!

  8. I love that you use salted butter for this rather than the standard unsalted! I've always thought that the secret to having the best sweets is to add a touch of salt. This recipe is perfection when made with heavy whipping cream. Thank you so much!!

  9. Whenever I whip butter manually since I don't have electric mixer, it always ends up turning into liquid. After that how much ever sugar I add it just doesn't resolve. Is it because climate is hot out here or I use homemade butter and normal sugar. Plz help.


Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy

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