If there is one frosting recipe that every baker should have in their repertoire, it’s a quick and easy vanilla buttercream.  As much as I love Swiss meringue buttercream for its silky smooth texture and rich flavor, I also appreciate the simplicity of an American-style buttercream.  It requires few ingredients and very little time.  In fact, I use it so often that I have the recipe memorized – this comes in very handy if I run short and need to whip up another quarter- or half-batch.

Most buttercreams start out with the same basic concept – combining butter with powdered sugar and beating until they are “light and fluffy”.  Even with extensive whipping, I generally find these frostings to be heavy and cloying.  The reason I prefer this particular whipped vanilla buttercream recipe and method is the addition of a bit of cream.  When the mixture is whipped, it fluffs up and transforms from the heavy buttercream into a cloud of frosting.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Later this week for cupcake Friday you’ll see the finished version of these particular cupcakes.  You’re gonna love ’em!

*The pastry tip pictured above is an Ateco #829. 

  • Yield enough to frost about 2 dozen cupcakes


  • 1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (3 sticks plus 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract


  • 01

    Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod (if using) into the bowl and add in the salt.  Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the heavy cream and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4-5 minutes.