There is no real trick to making this easy vanilla buttercream icing. Now I am no cake decorator, but I love to have butter icing on my cakes and cupcakes. It complements them beautifully, and you can have fun decorating with it.
However, just like everything piping any kind of icing takes practice and patients. But even my kids get in on the action, piping on the icing and adding their favourite decorating sprinkles on top.
This recipe will cover 12 to 18 cupcakes depending on what you have planed or 1 small cake.
For large cakes such as 4 layers, you will need to double the mixture.
Buttercream icing also is great for just the crumb coat before adding fondant.
How To Make Easy Vanilla Buttercream Icing.
You can make buttercream icing using a fork and whisk, but it is much easier to make using a stand mixer and the paddle attachment or a hand mixer with the beater attachment.
To make this you are going to need the following ingredients:
- Unsalted Butter
- Icing Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Food Colouring (optional)
Before starting make sure your butter is soft and sift your icing sugar. Add the butter to a large mixing bowl and beat on a medium speed until pale yellow in colour.
Gradually add the icing sugar to the bowl, I do about 1 cup at a time. Mix on a low speed to avoid the icing sugar going everywhere.
Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
Once all the icing sugar is incorporated add the vanilla extract and mix through at a low speed.
Gradually add the milk and mix through on a low speed at first and then on a medium speed.
Once the mixture has reached the consistency you want, you are ready to either add colour or directly to your cakes.
*TIP – If you want to use a clear vanilla flavouring, you can do so also. The measurement will not change for this.
If you are in America measurements for your butter is one cup, 226 g or 2 sticks.
Adding Colour To Your Vanilla Buttercream Icing.
You may not always want that white colour to the icing, so adding a few drops of food colouring can add to your decorating. And you can get creating with how you do it.
However, here is a tip for you all when adding colour to your icing. Use gel food colouring. I have found that with the gel I am able to control the consistency of the buttercream icing better than the standard liquid food colouring. I have also found that my icing does not get a grainy texture to it either.
Add the colour you want a few drops at a time till you get the right colour you want.
Remember, with colour like red and black; you are mixing with white, and you will get pink and grey. Keep adding till you get the red or black colour. Also, make a few days ahead of time, and the red and black will darken over time.
Be careful not to overdo it, as the more liquid you add, the thinner your mixture will become.
Adding Sprinkles Of Food Colour Or Colours To Your Icing.
A technique I like to use on odd occasions is adding sprinkles of different colours to my icing without mixing.
Add a spoonful of icing to a small bowl. Get a wooden skewer and dip it into your food colouring.
Then take the skewer and tap it with your fingers or the side of the bowl to create sprinkles of colour, just like a painter flicking paint onto a canvas.
Then repeat this with another spoonful of icing on top and another colour.
You can do this with any colours you like and as many as you like. And without mixing, spoon all your icing into the piping bag or to the cake.
*Note – Do not mix the colours through. You want the piping bag or spatula to you that for you while you are piping or spreading your icing.
Keep in mind the colour may eventually mix entirely, so be careful what colours you use to start.
Mixing Colours To Make Another.
If you want a specific colour for your icing, but do not have it on hand or unable to purchase it at the time, you will need to mix a few colours to get it.
When mixing colour to create another, always do it in a separate bowl first till you get the right colour you need. To test, add a drop on some white paper or paper towel to see your colour better.
When you are happy with the colour, then a few drops at a time to your icing.
Storing Buttercream Icing.
You can keep your vanilla butter icing in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
You will need to give it a good mixing with your hand mixer or whisk before using, to smooth it out and get rid of any clumps, especially if you plan to use a piping bag and tip.
This will avoid anything getting stuck in the tip and creating a mess.
It’s great if you want to make your icing ahead of time, especially if you’re going to colour it red or black. Or you want to store for any leftovers to use later on instead of throwing it out.
What If My Icing Is Too Think Or Too Thin?
If at any stage you find your vanilla buttercream icing is too thick or too thin, you can easily adjust it to the consistency you require.
For thick buttercream icing add some more milk, a little at a time till you are happy with it.
For thin icing add some extra sifted icing sugar a little at a time.
Does Icing Sugar Need To Be Sifted?
To avoid clumps of icing sugar in the mixture, always sift the icing sugar first before adding it to the butter or adding extra.
Doing this will make your buttercream icing smooth and consistent. It will also help it to better combine with the butter more evenly.
Try this recipe with some of our favourites.
Easy Vanilla Buttercream Icing For Cakes And Cupcakes
- 250 g Softened Unsalted Butter
- 4 Cups Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tbsp Milk
- Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl.
- Gradually add the sifted icing sugar and mix on low speed until all combined. Scrape down the bowl each time.
- Add Vanilla and mix well at a low speed, until all is combined.
- Add the milk and mix well on a low speed.
- Add more milk if needed to get the right consistency you need for your decorating.
For large cakes such as 4 layers, you will need to double the mixture. Buttercream icing also is great for just the crumb coat before adding fondant.