Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Buttercream

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Recipe - Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Buttercream

Image and Recipe from Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery's classic vanilla cupcakes are iced with an American-style vanilla buttercream in our trademark swirl. All bakers need a reliable recipe in their arsenal when it comes to decorating cakes and cupcakes. This one is sweet, but not too sweet it hurts your teeth. If you make it correctly, it shouldn't be too gritty or heavy. You must mix this on low speed–if you get impatient and go too fast you will create air bubbles, which makes it difficult to get a smooth finish on your cakes. Adjusting the amount of milk or cream changes the consistency. This buttercream is great for icing cakes with more complex designs, as it holds a shape really well.


  • 1 cup/2 sticks (226g/8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (500g/17.6oz) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • Food coloring (optional)


  1. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  2. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, 1 cup (125g/4.4oz) at a time. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl again. When you have added the third cup of sugar, the mixture will start to thicken and appear dry. Add 3 tablespoons of milk, then add the rest of the sugar and add more milk if the buttercream is too stiff. The desired consistency is creamy and smooth. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. The great thing about buttercream is that you can adjust the quantities of sugar and milk to achieve the consistency you desire.
  3. Continue to beat the icing on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until smooth and creamy. Do not mix on medium or high, as it will add too much air and be too fluffy. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring, one drop at a time, and mix thoroughly to get the right color.
  4. Store the icing at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

Makes: 4 cups (enough for one 9-inch or 24 cupcakes)

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