My Favorite Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

I have had a couple viewers ask about the type of buttercream that I mainly use, so I thought that I would share it with you.  I had many buttercream woes leading up to this fantastic find of a buttercream.  Either the buttercream was too sweet, too artifical tasting, grainy looking, not thick enough to pipe with, or had some other quality that led me to turn my nose up to it, but once I tried Elizabeth Falkner’s vanilla buttercream from her book Demolition Desserts my buttercream nightmares were over.  This, in my opinion, is the perfect buttercream to use on everything from cakes to cupcakes.  I love her addition of salt to the recipe, which I think takes away that overly sugary taste, which I am not a fan of.  Also her addition of lemon juice aides in this as well.   However, I don’t add quite as much lemon juice to my buttercream as she does.  This is not the recipe that I use for buttercream roses though, so please don’t try it, instead go to my posting on “A Dozen Rose Cupcakes” and click on the link for Martha Stewart’s swiss meringue buttercream recipe.  Anyways, I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I have and let me know if you try it and what your opinion is.


Vanilla Buttercream

as adapted from Demolition Desserts

Makes about 2 cups


4 oz. unsalted softened butter

2 1/2 c. or 10 oz. powdered sugar

1/2 t. kosher salt

1 T. plus 1 t. whole milk

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 t. fresh lemon juice (I put 1/2 t.)


In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter & salt for about 30 seconds and then add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the lemon juice and beat until combined.  Scrape down the bowl again.  Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.  She says that she prefers to use it the same day, but that it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped.  I have also left it out at room temperature overnight (if I was going to use it in the morning) and it was just fine.  Make sure and stir the buttercream well though before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting.  

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71 Responses to “My Favorite Vanilla Buttercream Recipe”

  1. Amy says:

    Just made this buttercream for the first time and it turned out great! For years I’ve been making all my frostings from scratch but every time I use a different buttercream recipe because i can never seem to find one that I love.

    I LOVE this one!

    It came out just sweet enough with the perfect smooth consistancy to get a great smooth coating on the cake. The flavor is great! Not too sweet or buttery and adding the lemon and salt really does improve the flavor.

    Single recipe doesn’t make a whole lot just FYI. I had to make a triple batch to get enough for a 10″ square cake (I like to make sure I have enough to work with).

  2. Tommie says:

    Could sea salt be used instead of kosher salt?

  3. Amy says:

    I was looking for a salted caramel frosting to go on my chocolate rum cupcakes with rum ganache filling. I thought I would try this one out. I omitted the vanilla and lemon and added imitation caramel, the same amount as the vanilla. It is to die for!!! Thank you! Love this recipe!

  4. renay says:

    second time using this recipe super yummy , best i have used

  5. Brigid says:

    This is a good recipe. Just like everyone else here, I’ve never found a buttercream icing I like or will settle on. The salt and lemon juice make this. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Abby says:

    I plan to use this recipe for cupcakes. Can I decorate them the night before and leave them out?

  7. Gabrielle says:

    Using this to do wedding cupcakes with :). I LOVE this frosting! Amy is right it doesn’t make a lot but that’s an easy fix :) I think I’ll be doing about 9 batches for 100 cupcakes lol

  8. Kylie says:

    I can’t wait to try this. Stupid question here but does the T stand for Tablespoon and t stand for teaspoon?

  9. Jojo says:

    OMG. I was about to give up on making my own buttercream until I found this recipe. The ones I’ve made before this one were always too sweet or grainy. But then I made this one and WOW — the lemon realllllllyyyy does make a difference! It amazingly softens the sweetness of the confectioners sugar. (I only added 1 cup of confectioners sugar only because I’m not a big fan of super sweet things.)

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m making my wedding cake and I can’t wait for people to taste this!

  10. Derp says:

    Yes, ‘t’ equals teaspoon and ‘T’ equals tablespoon :)

  11. Helen says:

    I tried this frosting this weekend and loved it, I used it to frost both cupcakes and a cake! 1 batch frosts 15 cupcakes, 2 batches was good for a 2 layer 8 inch cake to put frosting between the layers and to frost the whole cake with some extra left aside. The frosting does look a little yellow at first but once you continue beating it you will see it turns into a nice white vanilla frosting. I also used clear vanilla instead of the normal vanilla you buy in grocery stores.

  12. Tammy says:

    This icing is awesome! My fiancé doesn’t like really sweet icing but loves this! Thanks for the recipe! I will be using this again most definitely!!

  13. Lety says:

    How much lemon did the original recipe use? And will it cause a difference in texture?

  14. Newbie Alice says:

    After about 8 buttercream recipes tried I LOVE the flavor of this one – however am hoping some of you pro’s can help me understand just what I can be doing wrong. I can not seem to get any buttercream smooth (not grainy) I have sifted the powdered sugar…creamed everything possible… mixed forever…. still grainy and the fact that every recipe I have tried is grainy tells me it is ME and not the recipes…. Would appreciate any advise you can offer.

  15. Bren says:

    Hi. Kosher salt is not readily available in my area therefore need to substitute with sea salt. To ensure I have the correct amount of sea salt in the recipe, can I trouble you to give me the weight of the 1/2 t. kosher salt. Thanks :)

  16. Kim says:

    I’m not sure how often you check this but i need a reply asap! i am in the same boat as everyone else….can’t stand buttercream. I love swiss meringue but my husband doesn’t like the buttery texture. So….the comments on here have intrigued me. However, I am confused with measurements. Can you give me the amount of butter in cups, and the amount of icing sugar in cups. You did specify 2 1/2 cups but 10 0z doesn’t match up.

    Thank you!!

  17. teagen says:

    does it work well for piping?

  18. Cathy Brooks says:

    To the questions about graininess, not sure if this is it but I know that if you let your vanilla extract touch the powdered sugar directly it will cause tiny lumps. Either incorporate your vanilla when you first beat the butter or wait until you have fully incorporated every bit of the powdered sugar to add the vanilla. Even little bits of sugar hiding along the side of the bowl or on the beaters can cause lumps if they come in contact with the vanilla.

  19. Keara says:

    Literally the only buttercream frosting I have ever loved. I have been making (and failing) at buttercream from scratch for 20 years. I love you for publishing this recipe. You save my cakes!!

  20. Lisa says:

    This frosting was way too sugary. I did not like it.

  21. Laurie says:

    I almost gave up making buttercream frosting….too sweet!! However, I saw this and thought I’d give it one last try…glad I did! The kosher salt and the lemon juice made this frosting awesome. I wasn’t sure about it at first but it really tones down the sweetness but doesn’t change it to a “lemon” flavor. Great recipe. Thank you!

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