This is my super simple, never fails, trusty Vanilla Buttercream recipe. Perfect to top cupcakes, fill cakes and colour to your heart’s desire.


Buttercream should be fluffy and smooth with enough strength to hold itself up but soft enough to spread with ease. It will depend on what you require it’s purpose to be as to what the ideal thickness should be. For topping cupcakes, I suggest a slightly softer consistency. Where as for piping, I suggest a more robust structure. You can alter the consistency of the buttercream using this recipe by adjusting the milk measurement. Add more milk for a runnier icing and reduce it for a more solid outcome.

Top tip: Add milk to your butter cream 1 tbsp at a time as to not add too much all at once. You can always add more milk but it’s very hard to get it back out of your icing.


I suggest you use a concentrated food colouring. Ideally a paste or gel because the watery ones you can get from the supermarket can add more liquid to your icing and alter the consistency, making it more runny. These are the food colourings I use. They’re great because you only use the tiniest amount and it gives such a full colour. Plus they last ages!


You can adapt this buttercream to make it any flavour you like! Add concentrated lemon or orange for a fruitier taste. Cinnamon is a good one to add to this for more warming bakes such as my Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes or ginger cake. Caramel can be drizzled in the mixture or even melted chocolate. The possibilities are endless but it’s just as good as it is on top of a vanilla cupcake. Check out My Vanilla Cupcake Recipe to make the perfect birthday cupcakes!

Basic Vanilla Buttercream

To make icing 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes


  • 110 g unsalted butter room temp
  • 60 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500 g icing sugar sifted


  • Beat the butter, vanilla extract and half of the icing until smooth using an electric hand mixer or freestanding mixer.
  • Gradually add in the remaining icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Add the milk 1 tbsp at a time until you get the desired consistency.
  • If colouring, add one drop of colouring and mix in thoroughly. Repeat until desired colour is achieved.
Keyword basics, buttercream, cupcakes, vanilla

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