Do you know what makes me happy? Well, lots of things. But, the one that I have in mind right now is my children’s great love for the light and airy vanilla frosting I make. Jack, in particular, will sometimes say (just out of the blue), “Mom — you make the best frosting I’ve ever had. It’s so much better than frosting from the store.”
Love that kid.
This light and airy homemade vanilla buttercream frosting recipe is simple, and you probably have everything in your house right this moment to make it.
Want to mix it up? You could try this Almond Buttercream Frosting Recipe or Orange Buttercream Frosting Recipe next!
Light and Airy Homemade Vanilla Frosting Recipe
If you want a printable version of the recipe, just scroll farther down in the post until you see the heading for the printable recipe.
Light and Airy Vanilla Frosting Ingredients
- 3 cups powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, soft and at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 3 tablespoons of milk (approximately – you’ll decide on how much exactly based on the consistency you want)
Light and Airy Vanilla Frosting Directions
1. Put the butter in a bowl first. Since I have a handy dandy Kitchen Aid mixer, I beat the butter pretty well after adding it to the bowl.
You can do this with a hand mixer as well, of course. But, you know what? I’m pretty spoiled by my Kitchen Aid. (She’s red and I love her.)
2. Add the powdered sugar a bit at a time to the butter, and cream them together.
3. Stir in the vanilla and milk.
4. Then, beat the mixture well. If it is not thick enough, add in some more powdered sugar.
However, if you’re like me, you are always apt to add in just a bit more milk to make it slightly thinner.
5. If you want to add in food coloring, this is the time to do it!
6. At this point, I beat the frosting for several more minutes to give the frosting a light, airy texture.
This is my favorite food coloring to use. I didn’t always use it, which is why I had a horrible time trying to get a particular color once and figured out how to make the frosting extra fluffy. (I’ll tell more about that below.) So, while that ended up being a super awesome bonus, it was a pain at the time. But, now, I always use this food coloring for easy-to-achieve, vibrant colors.
This recipe usually makes enough for me to be able to generously frost 24 cupcakes, sometimes with some leftover.
More on How to Get Your Frosting Light and Airy
I didn’t always beat the frosting so long to get the light, airy texture that everyone loves so much.
However, one time, I was trying to make the frosting orange, and I had a horrible time making it happen. I just kept having to add more yellow, then more red, then more yellow, then more red, and so on.
All that time, of course, I was mixing it in my Kitchen Aid. I was then rewarded with not only orange frosting, but light, airy, and delicious orange frosting. I got so many compliments, and people even asked how it was so light.
Perhaps you don’t want to make orange cupcakes though. Just keep in mind, there’s always blue cupcakes with monkeys instead.
Thanks to Party Cupcake Ideas for the Barrel Full of Monkeys cupcake idea. I sent them in to Eric’s work, and everyone loved them. (Plus, as a bonus, I filled the barrel they came in with extra vanilla frosting and sent in graham crackers. Yum!)
What are the different types of buttercream frosting?
- AMERICAN: Powdered sugar + softened butter + milk + vanilla
- SWISS: Egg whites + light corn syrup + white sugar + softened butter
- FRENCH: Egg yolks + homemade sugar syrup + butter
- ITALIAN: Homemade sugar syrup + egg whites + white sugar + softened butter
When you consider how perfectly smooth, rich, creamy, and heavenly this buttercream frosting is and how incredibly easy it is to use for decorating, it will soon be one of your favorites. Whether you use it for a dry crumb frosting base only before adding fondant and fancy decorations, or you cover the entire cake in buttercream frosting, it truly is one of the most gorgeous things you can put on a cake.
How to make Perfect Buttercream Frosting:
- You must get your sugar to the soft-ball stage which is 235 degrees F. I live close to sea level, so this is the temperature I go by. At high altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature. For example, at 4500 feet above sea level, water boils at 204° F. If candy is cooked until it reaches the soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer, it will have cooked too long.
- I add a bit of corn syrup because it adds a beautiful sheen, but this can be omitted if you want to make a pure Italian buttercream recipe.
- When you whip your egg whites, you want them to have a lot of air and a beautiful sheen, but do not let them get to the stiff peak stage.
- Remember to be patient. I’ve had a lot of readers who had this recipe turn out perfectly and others who couldn’t get it to work. Once you start adding the butter, it will look awful, but you just have to keep mix and just like magic, you will end up with the best buttercream frosting.
I’ve talked before about my fear of boiling sugar. I’ve since gotten over that fear because I’ve found making homemade marshmallows is worth it, and am so proud that I’m not longer afraid to face boiling sugar because that’s how you make this buttercream. If you follow the directions exactly, you’ll watch magic happen right before your eyes. To think, whisking in melted sugar at the exact right temperature into whipped egg whites and then adding an obscene amount of butter yields absolute perfection – its like a chemistry class right in your kitchen!
What else you can make with boiling sugar besides buttercream icing?
Some of the tools I used to make this Perfect Buttercream Frosting:
Stand mixer: This is a kitchen must-have. I use mine almost any time I bake. It’s one of the few appliances I will allow to always remain on the counter rather than be put away.Silicone spatula: Any time you’re working with a frosting, you’ll need a good quality scraper. These are the ones I use because they do the job right and don’t leave a nasty silicone taste when I like the batter off at the end!Icing decorating set: You can always use the old snip-the-corner-off-the-ziplock-bag method, but using a real bag and an official frosting tip makes it oh-so-pretty. I know it’s wasteful, but I prefer the disposable bags for easy clean up.