Vanilla bean buttercream is known for its silky smooth consistency, buttery rich flavor, and the way it pipes beautifully on top of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I’m going to show you how to make the very best vanilla buttercream using butter, salt, sugar, heavy cream, and 3 kinds of vanilla!

closeup of vanilla buttercream piped onto a yellow cupcake.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Buttercream

We all need a fallback frosting recipe that we know everyone loves and that is versatile enough to pair with almost anything. A vanilla buttercream is that for me. However, we’re taking it up a notch by making it a vanilla BEAN buttercream!

That’s right, we’re 3 kinds of vanilla, including vanilla pudding mix, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste for the intense vanilla flavor and the beautiful flecks from the vanilla bean. It’s just as easy to make this elevated version, and once you make it, it’ll have you feeling like a pro!

Despite the simplicity of the ingredients, a vanilla bean buttercream frosting is nothing without the right consistency.

Follow along for tips and tricks on making a delectable frosting that’s perfect for piping, spreading, and licking right off the spoon!

rows of frosted cupcakes.

Why you’ll love Vanilla Bean Buttercream

An easy frosting recipe – If you have a bowl, some beaters, and a bit of patience, you can make this buttercream recipe like a pro. Every home baker needs a go-to frosting recipe to fall back and this one is mine!

Silky yet sturdy – Using room temperature softened butter and powdered sugar is what helps achieve the silky smooth consistency that is sturdy enough to pipe onto cakes and cupcakes.

Versatile – Use a vanilla buttercream frosting for something elegant like wedding shower cupcakes, baby shower cakes, or a special occasion, or add a bit of food coloring to suit any occasion!

vanilla buttercream piped onto yellow cupcakes.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.

  • Salted Butter – For a vanilla buttercream frosting to work, it needs to be brought to room temperature so that is soft enough to cream without leaving lumps of butter behind. It also has to blend well with the sugar, so bring it out about 1 hour before you begin.
  • Vanilla Extract – Since it’s all about the flavor, I recommend using pure vanilla extract rather than artificial flavoring.
  • Vanilla Instant Pudding – This powder will not only increase the flavor but also help stabilize the frosting.
  • Salt – We are using salted butter AND a bit of added salt because of how sweet this buttercream frosting is.
  • Powdered Sugar – Adds the sweetness without leaving any gritty granules. Also known as confectioners’ sugar, it also helps to hold its shape thanks to the cornstarch.
  • Heavy Cream – Or half and half. This will thin out the frosting making it pipeable, but using heavy cream will keep it rich and creamy.
  • Vanilla Bean Paste – This is a bit like vanilla extract except you’ll still get those beautiful flecks of vanilla you would get from vanilla bean pods.

How to make Vanilla Bean Buttercream

This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

  1. Step One: Use the whisk attachment on your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer to whip the butter for about 3-5 minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and instant pudding, beating for 2 minutes in between each addition.
hand pouring vanilla into buttercream in a mixing bowl.
  1. Step Two: Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip for 2 more minutes. At this point, the frosting will start to thicken. Turn the mixer to low and add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating in between, until you’ve added the first 4 cups of sugar.
  2. Step Three: Add 1-2 Tablespoons of cream and continue mixing. Then, once again, add the rest of the sugar 1/2 cup at a time. If the frosting is getting too thick, add another Tablespoon of cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  3. Step Four: Whip the frosting on medium-high speed for 3 minutes before adding the vanilla bean paste. Once you do add the paste, continue to whip for another 2 minutes. Once it has all come together and reaches stiff peaks, use a spatula to fold the frosting to remove any air bubbles.
mixing bowl of vanilla buttercream.

Ways to use Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

This classic frosting pairs well with just about everything!

It’s perfect on these marble cupcakes and on top of strawberry jello poke cupcakes. You could use them in chocolate cupcakes filled with vanilla buttercream and of course on top of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, homemade yellow cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes.

Use it to pipe on birthday cakes, anniversary cakes, or wedding cakes. Spread it in between macarons, on top of sugar cookies, or slather over blondies and brownies!

Tips & Suggestions

  • Add 1/2 Tablespoon of meringue powder with the vanilla instant pudding for a stiffer frosting.
  • Cut the recipe in half if you prefer less frosting. This recipe makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes, bakery style.
  • If the frosting gets warm (too soft), place it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Whip it for 1 minute to fluff it up and then go ahead and use it.
  • Do you still find it too runny? Add a bit more powdered sugar.
  • Make sure you’re starting with softened butter. Not melted, but soft enough that it easily incorporates with the powdered sugar without leaving behind any grittiness or clumps.
  • Do not overbeat the frosting. This is how it starts to separate and capture too much air.
  • Don’t go any lower in fat than half and half. You want the fat!

How to reheat and store Vanilla Bean Frosting

How to store leftovers

If you plan to use it right away, you can keep it at room temperature for the day. If your place is too warm, however, keep it in the fridge right away.

How long will vanilla bean buttercream last in the fridge?

It’ll stay fresh for up to 1 week in the fridge when kept in an airtight container.

Can I freeze buttercream?

It can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it, whip it, then use it again!

piping bag piping vanilla buttercream onto cupcakes.

FAQs

Can I make this buttercream ahead of time?

Yes, you can! Whip it up, and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. Bring it to room temperature and whip it again to fluff it up before using it.

What’s the difference between American buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream?

American buttercream is what we’re making here today. It’s sweet, easy to make, and when exposed to air once it has been piped or spread, forms a “crust” that keeps its shape and holds sturdy. Swiss buttercream, on the other hand, is not so easy to make. It involves whipped egg whites, does not form a crust, and isn’t quite so sweet.

American buttercream is popular among home bakers, whereas we tend to leave the Swiss buttercream to the professionals or those who want to take the extra time to make it.

Do I need to use all three types of vanilla?

You don’t. You can omit either the instant pudding or the vanilla extract if preferred. All 4 combined deliver a beautiful vanilla flavor but if you’d like it a bit lighter, go ahead and use just the vanilla bean paste.

Is vanilla bean buttercream frosting the same as vanilla buttercream?

Nope! In the case of vanilla bean frosting, we’re using vanilla bean paste (coming from vanilla pods), whereas vanilla buttercream is a less intensely flavored frosting using just vanilla extract.

Need more frosting recipes? Try these:

Raspberry Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate buttercream frosting

Chocolate Milk Frosting

Click here for my entire collection of dessert recipes.

yellow cupcake sliced in half with vanilla buttercream.

Did You Make This?

If you made this recipe, I’d love to know how it went in the comments section below.

You can also tag me on Instagram – @melissa_ppplates or share a pic in the Persnickety Plates Community Facebook group. I love seeing what you’ve tried!

closeup of vanilla buttercream piped onto a yellow cupcake.
5 from 1 vote

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Servings: 8 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Vanilla bean buttercream is known for its silky smooth consistency, buttery rich flavor, and the way it pipes beautifully on top of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I'm going to show you how to make the very best vanilla buttercream using butter, salt, sugar, heavy cream, and 3 kinds of vanilla!

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups salted butter at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla instant pudding
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or half & half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

  • To a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and use the whisk attachment to whip it until it is light and fluffy. It will take approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and whip another two minutes.
  • Add the instant pudding and salt and whip another two minutes.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip another two minutes. The frosting will start to thicken.
  • With the mixer on low, add the first 4 cups of sugar, ½ cup at a time, until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Once 4 cups of sugar has been added, add 1-2 tablespoons of cream and continue mixing.
  • Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, adding another tablespoon of cream if the frosting is getting too thick.
  • Once all the powdered sugar has been added, scrape down the bowl again, and whip the frosting at medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste and whip at medium-high speed for two minutes.
  • Once done, use a spatula to fold the frosting to remove any air bubbles and transfer to a piping bag.

Notes

  • If you prefer a stiffer frosting, add 1/2 tablespoon of meringue powder in addition to the vanilla instant pudding.
  • Recipe makes enough to generously frost (bakery style) 24 cupcakes. Cut recipe in half if you prefer less frosting. Half a recipe will frost a 9×13 cake.
  • If the frosting gets too warm, put it in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, then remove and whip for a minute to fluff it up.
  • If making ahead of time and storing in the fridge, the buttercream will need to be whipped to fluff it back up as it will start to solidify. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 918kcal | Carbohydrates: 124g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 538mg | Potassium: 25mg | Fiber: 0.02g | Sugar: 121g | Vitamin A: 1528IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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