Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream

Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream

One of the easiest classic frosting recipes that takes just a few minutes to prepare. Learn how to make this fluffy, creamy smooth vanilla or chocolate buttercream. Served on top of cakes it’s always a crowd-pleaser!

I remember these classic buttercream frostings as a child, lots of birthday parties serving fairy cakes in a multiple of colours decorated with hundreds and thousands (sprinkles). This buttercream is so good and great for frosting my vanilla cupcakes, maple date banana bread or double chocolate muffins, plus so many more.

It is also really easy to turn vanilla buttercream into chocolate buttercream, it gets those taste buds tingling. If you want a frosting made with melted chocolate, check out my chocolate fudge buttercream. And as I want to help you achieve the best buttercream recipe that you can use again and again, I have included as many tips and explanations in this post as possible.

If you decide to give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment below and rate it – it’s really helpful to me and the other readers. And don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #thegourmetlarder on Instagram. I love seeing what you come up with! 🙂


  • EASE: incredibly easy to make and even more so if you have an electric hand whisk or stand mixer.
  • FREE-FROM: check out my substitutions section for vegan options.
  • GREAT FOR: frosting a variety of layered cakes, cupcakes, tray bakes, loaf cakes and it can also be used to frost cookies or as a filling for sandwich cookies.
  • TASTE & TEXTURE: smooth and creamy with a sweet vanilla or chocolate flavour.
  • QUANTITY: 6-8 cupcakes/muffins with a swirl on top or a two-tier 24cm (9.5″) cake. I recommend doubling it for a three-tier 20cm (8″) cake. Total weight 490g vanilla buttercream or 530g chocolate buttercream.
  • TIME: 12 minutes.

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    For this recipe all you need are these ingredients:

    • What type of butter? – I like to use unsalted butter at room temperature, it will be much easier to work with and helps to make the frosting light and easy to pipe. Do not use melted butter! If you must soften the butter in the microwave, do it in short bursts on a low setting, rotating the butter every few seconds. But it should only be soft.
    • Amount of icing sugar – to get a smooth velvety texture, we use icing sugar that has been sifted to ensure any lumps get removed. You might also find this sugar labelled as powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar.
    • Whipping or double cream – helps produce a frosting that is creamy and smooth. The cream also helps to thin the buttercream, making it more pliable and easier to frost a cake. I prefer whipping cream because it has a higher fat content.
    • Vanilla – gives this buttercream a beautiful flavour. I prefer to use vanilla pods or paste because with the liquid extract you can often taste and smell the alcohol, but if you don’t mind the small background flavour then feel free to use it.

    Vanilla recommendations: pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste or vanilla pods.

    • Cocoa powder for chocolate buttercream – adds a rich chocolate flavour. I prefer to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder for the best flavour! It’s not sweetened which is ideal, as there is already plenty of added sugar in the recipe.

    Cocoa recommendations: Dr. Oetker fine dark cocoa powder or not as dark – Sevenhills wholefoods organic cacao powder

    • Fine sea salt – also for flavour and to cut down on the sweetness.


    While I am making recommendations for alternative ingredients, I haven’t necessarily tried them. If you try making any adaptions, I would love to know how you get on and share it with the other readers.



    Here are a few suggestions for flavouring your buttercream.

    • Raspberry, strawberry or blueberry frosting: add 3-4 tbsp of seedless jam to the vanilla buttercream.
    • Coffee flavoured: dissolve 1 tbsp of instant coffee in 2-3 tbsp of cream that has been heated. Once the coffee and cream have been incorporated allow to cool down for adding to the butter and sugar mix.


    Chocolate frosting: add 25-30g (3-4 tbsp) of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder. For a chocolate frosting to die for, check out my chocolate fudge buttercream that uses melted chocolate.


    This vanilla buttercream is perfect for adding colour to, I recommend food colouring gels as they are concentrated, meaning that you only need a small amount to achieve the desired effect. Liquid colourings change the consistency of the buttercream and thus require more added sugar. Add 1-2 drops at a time depending on the amount of frosting and the final colour you want to achieve.

    If you want to make black buttercream frosting, I recommend using chocolate buttercream as vanilla buttercream will end up a dark grey rather than black. Add black food colouring gel to the chocolate buttercream with caution as it will darken over time as it sits. You may find you’re adding more and more colour and it seems like it’s not getting any darker, but it’s probably enough.

    Food colouring recommendations: yellow, orange, blue, green, pink, red, purple food colouring gels.


    Serving: per 100g

    Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, or the source of nutrition data.

    I strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy.

    I encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

    vanilla buttercream nut


    Store the buttercream in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before for spreading or piping. It is also a good idea to re-whip it back to a fluffy consistency. Most frosted cakes are best served at room temperature, if you are in a warm environment, keep your frosted baked goods in the fridge, you don’t want the buttercream losing its shape.

    Making ahead: You can easily make this buttercream 2-3 days ahead and keep it in the fridge until needed.

    Freezing: This frosting can be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month. Defrost for one day in the fridge and then allow it to come to room temperature on the counter and give the frosting a good whip before using.

    © THE GOURMET LARDER. All images and content are copyright protected. If you want to share this recipe, please do so using the share buttons provided. Please do not republish the recipe or its content in full instead, include a link to this post for the recipe. Further information can be found in my FAQ’s.


    Here is some kitchen equipment that I use and recommend for this recipe. An electric mixer, either hand-held or standing, makes quick and easy work of creating a light and fluffy buttercream.

    I like the sturdiness of this bowl and its 4 litre capacity means I can use it for mixing just about everything in the kitchen. It is also microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe.

    These different size mixing bowls are really useful depending on the amount of food you are preparing. They also have airtight lids that fit snugly to seal and keep food fresh, so this set can be used as dry storage bowls with lids on. The plastic lid of the largest bowl has a removable centre. Where one of 3 graters can be used.

    I do own a plastic mixing bowl but I am personally not a big fan of them. These 3 bowls are on the smaller size but good for the odd cake making.

    These strainers are durable and sturdy, built to last, for a wide range of needs in the kitchen.

    Not everyone is lucky enough to have one of these but they are useful if you do a lot of baking or making bread.

    I like this model of electric hand mixer because it comes with a large stand, meaning you don’t have to always hold it.

    The Gourmet Larder is an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    TIP: I highly recommend using metric measurements and a digital kitchen scale, rather than cup measurements. If you have ever ended up with dry, dense or crumbly baked goods, it might be because of inaccurate volume measurements, not all measuring cups are made equally. All my recipes on this blog are carefully developed so that you can easily recreate them in your own kitchen with success, using metric measurements. It is also a lot easier, less messy and you will get far better, consistent results. 🙂
    If you are interested in understanding conversions, here you will find the best conversion chart.


    Room temperature ingredients – ensure the butter is at room temperature before mixing, so that the buttercream will mix effortlessly, lump-free and avoid splitting. Using cold butter causes the frosting to curdle.

    Icing sugar – remember to always sift your icing sugar to avoid getting lumpy buttercream and use enough in the recipe. I know you don’t want it to be too sweet, but you also don’t want it to be too thin, that it runs off the cake or cupcakes.

    There are lost of concerns over the amount of sugar used in frostings. And while the amount can be reduced, it almost always jeopardises the consistency of the frosting. One of the key requirements for me is that I am able to pipe the frosting and for it to hold its shape.

    Frosting – allow your cakes or cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them. This is important because it will prevent the frosting from melting when applied.


    There are three types of consistency for buttercream and each one has a different role in cake decorating.

    Medium Consistency – This is the most used of all three. It is great for filling between layers, crumb coating, frosting a cake (especially if you want a smooth finish), and even decorating cupcakes. To check the consistency, dip your spatula into the buttercream and it will come out with soft peaks and spread easily when you move your finger over it.

    Thin Consistency – This is mostly used for painting or writing a message on the cake. To achieve this, just add 1-2 teaspoons of room temperature whole milk to thin out the buttercream.

    Stiff Consistency – perfect for piping flowers, especially ones that need to stand upright. Add extra icing sugar and mix it until you get stiff peaks. When piping with it, make sure it’s not so thick that you have to put a lot of extra pressure on the piping bag or clog the tip. If you find this is the case, simply add a teaspoon of room temperature cream or whole milk, until it’s just right.


    Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream

    Preparation:10 minutes
    Total:10 minutes
    Servings: 460 g
    One of the easiest classic frosting recipes that takes just a few minutes to prepare. Learn how to make this fluffy, creamy smooth vanilla or chocolate buttercream. Served on top of cakes it’s always a crowd-pleaser!


    • 150 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
    • a pinch of fine sea salt
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp of vanilla paste
    • 3-4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (for chocolate version only )
    • 330 g icing sugar (US powdered sugar)
    • 2-3 tbsp whipping or double cream (15-30ml)


    • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (approx. 5 minutes). Alternatively, use an electric mixer, either hand-held or standing to make it easier.
    • Add the salt, vanilla and if you are making a chocolate buttercream add the cocoa. Mix until well combined and smooth, stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl a couple of times.
    • Gradually sift in about half of the icing sugar with 2 tbsp of cream and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    • Add the remaining icing sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.
    • Getting the best consistency depends on what you are going to be frosting. Check out my recipe tips section on the right consistency needed for piping or frosting.
    • For a stiffer frosting add a little more icing sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more cream, beating after each addition until the desired consistency is achieved.
    • This recipe makes enough frosting for 6-8 cupcakes/muffins or a 2-layer 20cm (8") cake. Total weight 490g vanilla buttercream or 530g chocolate buttercream.
    KEYWORDS buttercream recipes, cake basics, cake decoration, cake recipes, chocolate buttercream, chocolate frosting, frosting recipes, vanilla, vanilla buttercream, vanilla frosting


    If you tried this Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you got on in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you’re there!

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