How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Pretty Witty Cakes
Sep 06

06 September 2018

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream

Vanilla buttercream is an absolutely staple for cake maker.  In this free tutorial, learn how to make a basic but highly reliable American Buttercream (otherwise known as ABC).  

Ingredients you will need

You will need 4 ingredients:

  • 250 grams butter (around 2 large sticks) . Choose the whitest one you can find
  • 500 grams icing sugar (around 4 cups)
  • Vanilla extract (not essence). I use the Neilson Massey brand
  • A tiny bit of full fat milk. 

Steps to take

To make this simple buttercream, you:

  1. Make sure your butter is room temperature and mix on high speed for a couple of minutes so it is really soft, almost liquidy. Mixing it will lighten the butter so it is whiter. 
  2. Add the icing sugar. You don't have to sift it but I always do. Initially mix it 1/3rd at a time so it doesn't go everywhere. It will be clumpy at this point. If you are using a handmixer it will be hard to mix.  Therefore, before you carry on add a little bit of vanilla extract. 
  3. Keep mixing then add more of the icing sugar.  Then more vanilla then more icing sugar until it is all mixed in. Mix it all on low speed to avoid the air bubbles getting in (high speed will give you lots of air bubbles)
  4. Add a tiny bit of milk (1 tablespoon is usually fine). 

Secret steps


Ever had buttercream that is just full of tiny bubbles?  That usually comes from mixing it too fast. As you will see from my tutorial, I mix it really slowly and that gives you a really smooth buttercream. 

White butter

There is no such thing as white butter (that is Trex/Crisco).  So your buttercream is likely to have a yellowish tinge.  You can reduce this by:

  1. Mixing the butter on high speed for a few minutes before you start
  2. Adding a tiny bit of purple paste food colouring once the buttercream is made and mixing in. This will counter the yellow and make it whiter (although it is a grey/purple white)
  3. Not stressing too much - your customer is unlikely to notice whether the buttercream is pure white or off white!

Other buttercreams

Amercian Buttercream is one of the easiest to make.  However, some people find it just too sugary. 

If that is you, you may like to try some of the other recipes which can all be found inside the Pretty Witty Academy. These include SMBC (Swiss Merignue Buttercream) and IMBC (Italian Meringue Buttercream) both of which are more buttery and less sugary. 

How long will buttercream last?

Buttercream has a very high sugar density so a coloured buttercream will be find for a couple of days outside a fridge.  Inside the fridge it will last a good week or more (depending on whether you add milk to the recipe).