The Best Homemade Vanilla Frosting

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The best homemade vanilla frosting recipe! This vanilla frosting recipe is easy to make in 5 minutes with 6 ingredients! Great frosting for decorating cakes & cookies! Ditch the store-bought frosting for good!

unicorn cake decorated with homemade vanilla frosting


This is a recipe for the best Homemade Vanilla Frosting Recipe that is perfect for decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies! There’s no reason to ever buy store-bought frosting again, when this frosting recipe is so easy to make that it comes together in 5 minutes with 6 ingredients!

This is seriously the best vanilla frosting.  Every person who tries it falls in love…even if they’re “not a frosting person.” I love that it not only tastes great but it’s also excellent to decorate with. The mixture of shortening and butter makes it easy to pipe, plus it hardens beautifully! It’s really a recipe you need in your tool belt!

I have used it to decorate every cake (this chocolate cake from scratch and this chocolate chip cookie cake) I’ve ever made over the last 13 years – which, with 6 kids plus one husband is a lot of cake decorating.  It can also be frozen and saved for later. Seriously you need to try this easy vanilla frosting recipe ASAP!

front view of a cake decorated with homemade vanilla frosting

Vanilla Frosting: Ingredients & Substitutions

This homemade vanilla frosting is made with only 6 ingredients, so we’ll chat about them quickly before we jump into the recipe!

Use Room temperature ingredients

An important note about the ingredients in this recipe is that they all need to be at room temperature. They mix much better if they are not cold. Frosting also pipes much easier at room temperature.

overhead view of the ingredients in this homemade vanilla frosting recipe
  • Salted Butter. I use salted butter to make frosting (and just about everything). Unsalted butter works perfectly as well. You can also try using vegan butter for a dairy-free version. 
  • Shortening. I use Crisco all-vegetable shortening to make this vanilla frosting. It works well and is easy to use because it comes in stick form. I don’t recommend making substitutions for the shortening. 
  • Milk. I have used many different varieties of milk, I recommend whole milk or 2% milk to make this homemade frosting. 
  • Pure vanilla extract. Use pure extract for the best flavor. You can also use vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste. 
  • Sea salt. I like to add a pinch of sea salt to really bring out the flavors. This is optional, and you can omit it if you’d like. 
front view of a cake decorated with homemade vanilla frosting

 How to Make Homemade Vanilla Frosting 

This vanilla frosting recipe is very straightforward, but here are a few tips to ensure that it turns out perfectly!

Cream together butter and shortening

The first step in this homemade vanilla frosting recipe is to cream together the butter and shortening. Make sure there are no lumps in the mixture before moving onto the next step. 

Add vanilla and sea salt

Next, add vanilla and sea salt and beat again until the mixture is smooth. 

overhead photo showing how to make vanilla frosting

Add half of the powdered sugar

Next, add half of the powdered sugar and beat until it is all incorporated. 

overhead photo showing how to make vanilla frosting

Add milk & the rest of the powdered sugar

One the first half of the powdered sugar is incorporated, add the milk and the rest of the powered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. You may need to pause, scrape down the sides, and continue beating to be sure to incorporate all the powdered sugar. 

Front photo showing homemade vanilla frosting on a beater over a mixing bowl

Food coloring

If you would like to dye the vanilla frosting, add coloring after your frosting is well-mixed and has reached the desired consistency.  

If you are making many colors, pull out small bowls and dye them one at a time.  I highly recommend using gel food coloring instead of the liquid variety, and always save some pure white just in case!

overhead photo of 3 bowls of frosting dyed with food coloring: blue pink and purple

Decorating with Vanilla Frosting

You can use this homemade frosting to decorate many different baked goods. From sugar cookies to cake, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this vanilla frosting! Here are some suggestions:

Freeze cake before frosting

If you are using this vanilla frosting to decorate a cake, I recommend baking the cake a day ahead of time and freezing it. That way after you make the frosting, it will spread onto the cake easily without catching crumbs. Remember, do not chill or freeze the frosting, it spreads and pipes easiest at room temperature. 

Overhead photo of vanilla frosting being spread onto a cake

Frost a crumb coat

Even if you plan on covering the cake in a design, roses, etc. I recommend doing a thin crumb coat with the vanilla frosting on the entire cake first. This also minimizes crumbs in the frosting so the final product looks pretty. I use this large pastry scraper to make smooth edges/tops. 

Front view of a cake being frosted with homemade vanilla frosting

Pipe on a design

For this video I made my daughters 5th birthday cake, and of course she requested a unicorn cake. I put 3 colors into a piping bag and piped on rosettes using a Wilton 1M tip.

front view of a cake decorated with homemade vanilla frosting

FAQs about Homemade Frosting

Here are some commonly asked questions about this vanilla frosting recipe. 

How do you store homemade frosting?

You can store the vanilla frosting for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
You can also store it in the piping bags in the freezer or refrigerator. I often use disposable decorating bags and if I have leftover frosting I just toss the bags into the freezer or refrigerator

Can you freeze homemade frosting?

This vanilla frosting recipe recipe makes a ton of frosting, and it freezes exceptionally well! Even if I know I only need half of the recipe I still make the whole batch so that I can have some on hand in the freezer!
When you’re ready to use it remove from freezer and let it come to room temperature gradually (do NOT microwave). 

How do you store a decorated cake?

Once you use this frosting to decorate a cake, I suggest storing the decorated cake in the refrigerator so that the frosting hardens faster. However, we are a room-temperature cake-eating family. If you are too, take the cake out of the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving. If there are any leftovers, store at room temperature covered in foil for up to four days. Or in the refrigerator for longer.

overhead view of a cake decorated with vanilla frosting

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Best Homemade Vanilla Frosting Recipe

Laura
The BEST homemade vanilla frosting recipe! 5 minutes and 6 ingredients is all it takes to make the best frosting at home! Ditch the store-bought varieties! Great for decorating cakes & cookies! 
5 from 13 votes
Course condiment, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 (servings) Enough to frost a 2-layer 8-9″ round cake
Calories 283
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Cream together butter and shortening until smooth.
  • Add salt and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  • Slowly add powdered sugar 1 or 2 cups at a time until your mixture is thick and a little lumpy (you can always add more later).
  • Add milk and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
  • If necessary, add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Use to frost your favorite cakes, cookies and cupcakes!**

Video

Notes

Notes: 

  • As you can see, my frosting isn’t pure white. This is because I used vanilla extract that is brown. If you want a whiter frosting, use clear vanilla.
  • If you plan to decorate with this frosting please keep it at room temperature. Cold frosting does not pipe well (or at all)!
  • If you’d like to add color, simply mix it in after your frosting has reached your desired consistency!
  • I usually decorate cakes the night before and let them set up in the fridge. Then I remove from the fridge at least 2 hours before serving so they can come to room temperature.
  • This makes a TON of frosting! If you don’t use it all you can freeze it to use for later!

How to store vanilla frosting:

  • This vanilla frosting lasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • You can also store it in the piping bags in the freezer or refrigerator. I often use disposable decorating bags and if I have leftover frosting I just toss the bags into the freezer or refrigerator

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Salted Butter. I use salted butter to make frosting (and just about everything). Unsalted butter works perfectly as well. You can also try using vegan butter for a dairy-free version. 
  • Shortening. I use Crisco all-vegetable shortening to make this vanilla frosting. It works well and is easy to use because it comes in stick form. I don’t recommend making substitutions for the shortening. 
  • Milk. I have used many different varieties of milk, I recommend whole milk or 2% milk to make this homemade frosting. 
  • Pure vanilla extract. Use pure extract for the best flavor. You can also use vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste. 
  • Sea salt. I like to add a pinch of sea salt to really bring out the flavors. This is optional, and you can omit it if you’d like. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2TBS | Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 16.3g | Saturated Fat: 84g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5.8g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 9.3mg | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Calcium: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Have a question? Leave a comment below!

This sunflower cake was for M’s first birthday. Still my most favorite cake I ever decorated to date! 

overhead view of a sunflower cake decorated with the best homemade vanilla frosting recipe



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48 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Lol Laura!
    I stumbled upon your blog a few years ago and I cannot get enough of it!
    I love this recipe but is there a way to make less sweet frosting?
    I have looked and looked for a recipe like that but I can’t find one!
    Lol!
    Is best your favorite descriptive adjective? You use it so much!
    I think you are an amazing mom. I love how much you incorporate your love of God into you kids.
    Thank you so much for posting and if you could give me some tips on how to be an amazing mom that would be great. I’m not married yet but I think the lord wants me to a mother and put strong and loving children that will love and serve him in this crazy world.
    Lol I’m so sorry I keep rambling on thank you soo much
    God bless you and your sweet family I really appreciate all you do in this blog i have learned so much about cooking from you, as I said thank you so much
    I will pray for you. ❤️Ps: please post your comment out on the blog because I really like to keep my email very private thank you

  2. Can you make this frosting into a peanut butter frosting and will if work then by piping it onto cupcakes and hold up

  3. I don’t need that much frosting for cookies I’m making and if like to know how to go about making less. Please. Thank you.