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If you want a traditional smooth texture for your buttercream, fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment. If you want a lighter more whipped texture, fit your mixer with a whisk attachment. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer.
Place your room temperature butter in your mixing bowl and beat on high for about 1 minute, until fluffy. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the mixing bowl and start mixing on low until the sugar starts to combine with the butter. Turn the mixing speed up to high and beat for about 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Taste the buttercream and decide if you would like a sweeter texture. 2 cups is the minimum amount needed and will produce a slightly sweet buttercream with more butter flavor. Add more powdered sugar based on your taste preferences. Up to 4 cups total is standard but you can add up to 8 total cups for a very stiff and sweet buttercream. Add a bit of milk or heavy cream if needed to thin out the texture.
If you are using your whisk attachment and want a more whipped texture, turn the mixer back on high and whip the buttercream for 3-4 more minutes.
If not using immediately, store the buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Allow to come back to room temperature and re-whip to use.