Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Pat Duran


This is a rich and very creamy frosting by William Sonoma from 1996 in their Good Cooking Book.
I use this all the time- it makes a lot and saves well refrigerated if you have any left over.


★★★★★ 1 vote

makes 2 1/3 cups frosting
20 Min
5 Min
Stove Top


  • 2/3 c
    granulated sugar
  • 4 large
    egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 1 c
    unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp
    vanilla extract

How to Make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


  1. In a metal bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks and water. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 170^ on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes.
  2. Remove bowl from over the water. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat the egg mixture until cool and thick, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the butter pieces, beating until smooth after each addition. Beat in vanilla. If the buttercream looks broken or lumpy, set the bowl back over simmering water for a few seconds, then beat again until smooth. (I never had this happen yet.)
  3. Photo of finished buttercream frosting.
    To store: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Before using, let stand at room temperature until softened. If necessary ,rewarm over simmering water for a few seconds, then beat until smooth.
  4. For coconut flavor:
    Omit water and whisk in 3 Tablespoons canned sweetened cream of coconut with the sugar and egg yolks. Then add 1 teaspoon imitation coconut extract with the vanilla extract. Mix 1/2 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut into the finished buttercream, if desired.
  5. Coffee Flavor:
    Stir 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder when cooked egg mixture is removed from the heat, then beat as directed.
  6. Orange Flavor:
    Add 1 Tablespoon grated orange zest with the vanilla extract.
  7. Vanilla Bean Flavor:
    Cut 1 vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the bean into the finished buttercream; beat in the seeds to distribute evenly.

Printable Recipe Card

About Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Course/Dish: Other Sauces, Spreads
Main Ingredient: Dairy
Regional Style: American
Other Tags: Quick & Easy, Heirloom

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