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Easy Vanilla Buttercream

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream – Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes. Recipe VIDEO below.
4.84 from 30 votes
Active Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes


  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Approx. 1 tbsp milk - I use skimmed but any is fine



  • Cut the butter (250g) into cubes (about 1″) and beat in an electic mixer until soft.
  • Add the icing sugar (500g) and beat until fully combined – I prefer to add the sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time as this minimises the amount of sugar that flies out all over the kitchen! You’ll find that at first it’ll start to look lumpy but keep persevering and it’ll smooth out.
  • Add the vanilla extract (½ tsp) and mix until fully combined.
  • (See note about about the required consistency) Take a look at the consistency of the icing, is it spreadable? If not add ½ tsp milk and mix until fully combined. Check the consistency again and repeat until it is just spreadable.
  • Once you’ve got the icing to the right consistency – have fun piping, spreading, or just licking if off the spoon!


This recipe makes enough for 12 buttercream cupcake roses or for a thin covering over a 20cm round sandwich cake with a layer in the middle (as I do for celebration cakes). You can find the recipe for my vanilla cupcakes here.
You may find you’ve got a bit leftover from your cupcakes but attempting a neat rose with an almost empty piping bag isn’t easy so I’d prefer to make a little too much. You can easily make as much or as little icing as you like depending on what you’re trying to cover.


Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 5mg | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 520IU | Calcium: 7mg

Any nutritional information provided is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you would like to learn more about how this is calculated.