Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski
Prep Time
10 Mins
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

This vanilla frosting can be flavored many ways; see our variations that follow. You can make the frosting up to 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and stir until creamy and spreadable before using.

How to Make It

Step 1

In a bowl, with a mixer (preferably fitted with whisk attachment) on low speed, beat butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, and the salt until blended. Add milk and vanilla; beat until blended. Add remaining powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until incorporated. Turn mixer to high speed and beat frosting until fluffy and smooth.

Step 2

Coffee frosting: Replace milk and vanilla with 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3 tablespoons hot water, then cooled.

Step 3

Lemon frosting: Replace milk with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and vanilla with 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel.

Step 4

Mint frosting: Replace vanilla with 4 teaspoons crème de menthe or 1 teaspoon mint extract and 2 or 3 drops green food coloring, if desired.

Step 5

Orange frosting: Replace milk with 2 tablespoons orange juice, and vanilla with 2 teaspoons grated orange peel.

Step 6

Note: Nutritional analysis is per tablespoon of Vanilla Frosting.

Ratings & Reviews


June 26, 2017
This is an amazing recipe. I've made this frosting multiple times and have had tons of compliments. My daughter asked for a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting for her 8th birthday. This weekend I had 11 girls sitting around a table eating the requested cake and nearly every girl was in disbelief that this was homemade, that their friend's mother made it, and at it's deliciousness. They gobbled it up. As many of moms/dads know, it's difficult to please a large group of kiddos! Some awesome things with this is the vanilla flavor, creamy texture, stiffness (easy to spread and any decorations with it stay in place), it doesn't melt if at room temp and it doesn't taste powdery or overly sugary like other frosting recipes with confectioner's sugar.  I didn't change a thing with this recipe and will make it many more times - whenever I'm asked for vanilla frosting! I'd like really like to know how I can make something very similar but chocolate instead. I am still on the quest for a killer chocolate frosting with the same consistency. 

tonksandlupin's Review

August 07, 2011
I used this frosting for a birthday cake I was making for my friend. Everyone was raving about how yummy it was. AND IT REALLY WAS. I looked this recipe up again to continue using it. Review coming from a pastry chef: Delicious.

housegirlfriend's Review

October 15, 2012
GREAT RECIPE! Quick, easy and delicious. I cut the recipe in half and was very pleased with the results. Used varying amounts of food dye to make a cake with a gradient effect. I will use this frosting recipe again and again!

Bchilde's Review

June 24, 2009
This is YUMMY! I made the coffee version of this recipe except instead of instant espresso, I used instant coffee. I thought it tasted just fine! I will definitely use this recipe in-laws and husband loved it on the chocolate cake I made!

lweiske's Review

April 23, 2011
I made the lemon version of this frosting and it is just delicious - perfectly tangy and lemony but still sweet. I used only 1/2 of the butter called for and don't think it needs any more.

AndreaMiller's Review

April 26, 2011