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. I made this frosting tonight and… WOW! It was easy to work with and every bit as fabulous as you described! I like the tang the lemon juice adds to the flavor. I used your suggestion and cut back to 1/2 a tsp. of lemon juice. I do not think I have ever had a recipe for buttercream frosting which calls for lemon juice, so it was a refreshing addition. Many thanks for sharing – I do believe this is now my new favorite buttercream frosting recipe!

  2. admin says:

    I am so happy that you liked it as much as I did!!! Thanks for giving it a try!

  3. Ashley says:

    I haven’t met a buttercream recipe with powdered sugar that I really like yet. But I love the addition of lemon juice to aid in that usual over sweetness.
    Your blog is great!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    This frosting is incredible! and I love your pink blog!

  5. nichole says:

    out of the many, many buttercreams i have made…this is mine & especially my boyfriends favorite! any suggestions for making it a chocolate buttercream??

  6. [...] then frosted the cake in vanilla buttercream and let it set up in the fridge for a couple hours.  Next I covered the cake with fondant in two [...]

  7. sheilah says:

    Melody, Ive said this once and I will say it again! You are the BOMB! I love You and all the great idea’s and tutorials…The buttercream frosting is so IT!!!!!! Thanks so muchXXXXXOOOOO Sheilah

  8. [...] then frosted the cake in vanilla buttercream and let it set up in the fridge for a couple hours. Next I covered the cake with fondant in two [...]

  9. mommy2girls says:

    Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I just frosted my 4 year old’s birthday cake with it. It is very tasty, and has a great texture. Used 1/2 t of lemon juice as suggested. Perfect!

  10. Anna says:

    I always sort of dread having to make buttercream, because it’s generally too sweet and too buttery (in a bad i’m-going-to-have-to-vomit-if-i-eat-even-a-1/4-teaspoon way). However, I cannot think of a more apt way to characterize this recipe than “perfect.” Salt! Who woulda thunk it?

  11. Angel says:

    I was looking for a not so sweet buttercream and this recipe is PERFECT! This was actually my first time making my own frosting, and I’m so happy I decided on this recipe. I can’t stand overwhelmingly sweet frosting, so this is an A++.

  12. [...] in this case. I used this recipe from Rachel Allen, which produces a dense, rich cake. Topped with my favourite buttercream recipe (I pumped up the flavour with some extra lemon juice), these made a great treat for the end of the [...]

  13. Jeremy says:

    I hate frosting… So, it stands to reason i never made my own. I have not frosted the loaf cakes i made yet, but licking the beater on this recipe might make me change my mind about frosting. I followed the directions, but swirved and changed lemon to lime (i did not realize i did not have lemon) and added a splash of white rum and almond extract. And a shake of nutmeg. Tastes good, but i am not sure if it got “fluffy” enough… hmmm, maybe more sugar…

  14. Kendra says:

    MELODY, I must say tonignt is the first time I tried your icing… OH MY GOODNESS! I have never had a a crumb coat go so smooth, so quick and easy. I altered it just a bit because I did not have Kosher Salt (was a bit worried). But, otherwise: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I will use this from now on. I wish I had know about your favorite recipe months ago. Keep up the wonderful work!

  15. alida says:

    hi,with all the great comments i will have to try your recipe!
    but before i try it i will like to know if the buttercream stand well for piping borders on the cake and can i leave the cake on the table for more than 2 hours during my father’s birthday?thanks

  16. I am way behind on this but I just have to say… I AM IN LOVE! This is by far the best buttercream I’ve ever made. It was dense but fluffy, sweet but not shocking. The only tweak I made was a touch more milk and lemon. Definitely my new go-to buttercream!

  17. olivia s. says:

    does this frosting have to be refrigerated because of the milk????

  18. Saba Sheikh says:

    This recipe seems amazing. i will definitely try it. I have a question. Is this buttercream stiff enough for piping cake borders and buttercream roses or no?

  19. Carol says:

    Was wondering since everyone is saying that this is so good, can you make borders with this icing???

  20. Ruby says:

    I don’t have kosher salt, could I use regular salt?

  21. stony says:

    GREAT texture and consistency and melts in your mouth! the lemon extract is just special!

    thank you so much for sharing! i looked at a few different recipes to make a last minute cake. i chose this one because i had all the ingredients in my cupboard. i used it and everyone who tasted my cake loved it. i’ve even referred one to this website!

    i can’t even imagine how any of the other recipes could possibly be any better than this! simple and so delicious!

  22. [...] enough about feet, everything else about the macarons turned out great! For flavors I went with a vanilla butter cream recipe I found online. I altered the recipe slightly by scraping the seeds of a raw vanilla bean into [...]

  23. [...] while the cake was not made from scratch, the vanilla buttercream frosting was!  I think this may be my new favorite recipe (courtesy of My Sweet and Saucy).  I [...]

  24. Suzy says:

    I really want to try this recipe. It sounds great. My question is will is harden a little so that I can smooth the cake with Viva papertowels. I really want a smooth cake look.

  25. Tiffany says:

    I made this frosting for my daughter’s birthday cake and was able to smooth it with paper towels and pipe borders and decorations on the cake. It was delicious and I usually hate buttercream frostings. I made 2 batches and cut back just a tiny bit on the salt on the 2nd batch and thought it was perfect. Definitely worth trying!

  26. Mary D says:

    This recipe saved my life!!! I am starting a cupcake business and couldnt find a buttercream that didnt feel like u were eat a mouth full of powdered sugar!!!

  27. Christy says:

    I have been using this recipe for several months now and everyone loves it! Thank you so much for sharing!

  28. Lisa says:

    I have tried several buttercream recipes and this one beats them all by far! Thank you, thank you, thank you! The salt totally makes it!

  29. Thanks for the great vanilla buttercream recipe! It sounds like it will taste divine and the photograph is gorgeous. It would be perfect material for wedding programs or Valentine’s Day cards.

  30. Kirstin says:

    Ok so I am new to this whole frosting thing. Will 2% milk ok or does it NEED to be whole milk?

  31. samantha says:

    I have searched for ages for a recipe that doesnt sag, go too soft, marble and separate to no avail until I found your recipe I did everything you said but without salt and it is amazing! First attempt and it is firm enough to hold cupcake swirls but pipes easily, no grainy appearence or marbling with food colouring, I used yellow in this one, my cake look and taste amazing thanks so much for sharing this :-)

  32. Lucy cubillas says:

    Sooo glad I stumbled upon your website by googling “not so sweet buttercream”. Allof the buttercream I have made has been overly sweet to where you have to have a glass if milk handy for each bite. I would like to know how to make this a chocolate buttercream. Add cocoa powder? I would really appreciate it. Thank u

  33. Kellea says:

    This icing was amazing, i made my little brothers birthday cake with this frosting and it was amazing, now adding it to my load of recepie books :)

  34. LT says:

    Is this a “crusting” buttercream? Is it good for piping?

  35. Crystal says:

    i don’t have a paddle attachment can i use the whisk attachment?

  36. Ari says:

    Thank you a hundred times over! I too had some serious buttercream woes. Every recipe I tried was so sweet it would make my teeth hurt. This recipe is IT! I don’t know you but I love you for posting this!

  37. renay says:

    wow this is amazing , was sceptical on the lemon and salt , but made to batches first used ur suggested lemon amount was awesome and in second batch used full amount of lemon and was even more amazing

  38. renay says:

    by the way i had to use a regular hand mixer at my mom’s and was still a++++

  39. kari says:

    Hi! I would like to ask you if this frosting can be use under fondant. Thanks in advance!!!

  40. Lisa says:

    Hi I;ve always struggled with getting buttercream just right, it was either too sweet or too grainy but tried this one this morning and its was so delicious. The texture was great for piping and you were right on the money with the lemon juice and salt taking the ultra sweet taste out of the buttercream. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  41. pow says:

    Great icing! Everyone in my family loved it and asked for the recipe. Tried it with kosher salt once & table salt a different time, and both tasted great to me. When I used the table salt the texture was just slightly nicer for my tastes, just because I don’t really like salt and the kosher salt was coarse enough for me to notice it while I ate the icing. I used 1/2 tsp for lemon juice as well and it seemed like the right amount. Thanks SO much for a fantastic recipe!

  42. sally says:

    I love your buttercream. I always make my buttercream using this recipe and it turns out great. I like my buttercream to be not so sweet and a bit lemony.

    I’ve used it for cakes to and also when I made it when fondant. Turned out really nice~

  43. Sharan says:

    Made this buttercream today with half butter half cream cheese for red velvet cake!! Absolutely wonderful! Gonna use it for whoopee pies! Thank you for this recipe!

  44. Bree says:

    This is the first buttercream recipe I have ever made. I am just starting out and I think I will stick with this recipe.(: It is delicious and I am in love with it! Usually buttercream is to sweet for me and this isn’t. Thank you so much!

  45. Gabrielle says:

    I had made a buttercream recipe for my brothers birthday ( doing test runs for the cupcakes I’ll being for my moms wedding) and it was SO sickeningly sweet and blech! Already feeling defeated I found this recipe and OMG! I used the 1/2 tsp lemon juice and everybody loved it! It is so smooth and light and not gritty and most importantly, not so friggin sweet! Thanks so much!

  46. BreeBree says:

    OMG! I just googled buttercream recipes and stumbled on this. I decided to make it because of all of the great reviews. I can’t STAND buttercream so I’ve been trying to find the perfect recipe that not only I will personally like, but will be something no one is expecting…. and you guessed it — I AM IN LOVE with this buttercream! OMG! I ate a couple of spoonfuls! This is the best buttercream I have ever tasted! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this blessing of an icing!

  47. [...] Cookie bars from The Curvy Carrot, frosting from My Sweet and Saucy Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  48. LisaB says:

    I was wondering if anyone used regular salt? I really want to try this recipe but i don’t have kosher salt

  49. Sue says:

    How much powdered sugar should be used….2 1/2 cups or 10 ounces? Recipe unclear….thanks!

  50. dinita says:

    hi i was wondering if this butter cream worked well under fondant ?

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