Looking for the best Gluten Free Frosting Recipe? Here’s our family’s go-to easy gluten-free vanilla buttercream frosting recipe! I use it on every birthday cake and cupcake we make.
This gluten free buttercream frosting is super easy. You only need to whip together 5 ingredients and you are on your way to decorating those cupcakes or cake!
There’s no need for anything complicated here. To make a delicious gluten free fluffy frosting, all you need to do is start with some simple (naturally gluten free) ingredients.
I’ve also included some of my best tips to getting the perfect consistency of frosting for your baking project and of course, some tips for cake decorating.
My 12 year old has been decorating cupcakes for special occasions like a professional for several years now. I’ll show you how to use this gluten free icing to make some amazing looking cupcakes that will look store bought!
Alright! Let’s get started!
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Ingredients for Gluten Free Frosting
For this classic buttercream recipe you will need:
1 Stick of Butter Softened- I like to use salted butter. It adds just the right amount of salt. This recipe works best if you soften the butter (lay it out on the counter top for a bit till it softens to room temperature butter).
1/2 Cup of Vegetable Shortening – I use Crisco. I always get great results from it and I love knowing it’s gluten free.
3 Cups (+additional 1/2 cup reserved) Powdered Sugar (aka confectioners’ sugar) – I’ve found that most store brands work fine as long as they are marked gluten free. You will need to have extra powdered sugar on hand to make your frosting the correct consistency.
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract – There are many gluten free brands of vanilla. I’ve used McCormick and Watkins in the past, which always turned out great.
You’ll see that today I used Magnolia Star Baking Supply Co. Pure Vanilla Extract. All work great. Just be sure to check those labels to make sure your brand is gluten free.
Also, if you are wanting pure white frosting, you will want to make sure you buy clear vanilla and not the dark vanilla as this will tint your frosting slightly off white.
I used dark vanilla because it was what I had on hand and I planned to dye the frosting.
2-4 Tbsp Water – When you are working with frosting, you can get a different result depending on the weather/temperature. Sometimes you will have dry frosting and need more liquid, and other times you will need less liquid. I’ll get into that more, in a minute! I typically use cool water (not cold).
Food coloring – I recommend this McCormick Food Coloring. It’s gluten free and you can mix shades until you get the color you are going for!
Cupcakes or a Cake – Today I’m frosting gluten-free cupcakes, but this recipe works for cake as well! I used my favorite gluten free King Arthur chocolate cake mix for these cupcakes, but their yellow cake mix is awesome too.
A Stand Mixer (or an electric hand mixer) – Admittedly it’s been years since I’ve used a hand electric mixer. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer constantly. You’ll want the paddle attachment for this recipe.
How to Make Gluten Free Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
For this classic vanilla frosting, start by laying your butter stick on the counter to soften for a while. After it has softened, add the butter and your 1/2 cup of shortening to the mixing bowl.
Mix on high speed using the paddle attachment until the butter and shortening are creamy in texture. If your butter was a bit hard and there’s a few lumps, don’t worry, it will cream into the mix!
Next add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Most powdered sugar is sifted already, so I don’t feel the need to sift it again. Go ahead and add it to the bowl carefully and set your mixer on the low speed setting so that the powdered sugar stays in the bowl.
Beat until the sugar is fully mixed into the butter/shortening. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
Next, add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 2 Tablespoons of water.
Beat until the frosting is completely mixed and fluffy in consistency. If you find that your frosting is too creamy and not fluffy – just add a tiny bit more powdered sugar.
If your frosting is too stiff, add a tiny bit more water.
When you are first starting out, it’s difficult to know what consistency you are going for so here’s a few tips: You want your frosting to be less runny and more stiff.
If it’s already a little runny, you’ll find that once you try to pipe it onto your cupcakes (or cake) that it will get even more runny. Don’t go the opposite direction with making it too stiff, but just know that it will get less stiff as you work with it. Whew!
It’s an art, and after you do it a few times, you’ll find out what the best texture (or consistency) is for your gluten free cakes and cupcakes!
How to Decorate Cupcakes
Once you’ve got your gluten-free vanilla buttercream frosting ready it’s time to decorate those chocolate cupcakes (or your layer cake!) Make sure your cake or cupcakes are completely cooled.
If I am only doing one color of frosting, I usually add my dye into my large mixing bowl. However, if you are doing multiple colors, you can separate each color into it’s own small bowl.
I always start with just a drop of color and then mix in more as needed until I get the perfect shade!
Now that we have our frosting colored, it’s time to frost! Here’s the biggest tip to getting professional looking cupcakes….use a super simple cupcake decorating kit!
I use a Wilton 16 inch disposable decorating bag with a 1M cake decorating tip. This is the absolute easiest way to make adorable looking cupcakes.
To set up, grab your 1M metal cake decorating tip and place it in the tip of the bag. Take some scissors and snip the top off of disposable decorating bag. Make sure your tip fits snugly in the bag.
Now here’s my best advice for getting your frosting into the bag super fast:
Grab a tall glass cup (or a tall mason jar) and place your bag inside, tip downward, folding the excess bag over the sides of the glass.
Take your frosting and dump it into the bag. It’s often hard to add extra frosting later to the bag, so I usually just stuff it full!
Be super careful to hold the back of your bag at all times or the frosting will come out the wrong side. (I may have done this a time or two in the past!)
If possible, twist the back of the bag to keep your frosting in place. Take a cupcake and squeeze the bag firmly (holding that backside so frosting doesn’t escape out the back!)
Squeeze frosting from the bag, working from the outside of the cupcake, going inwards. It’s rather like starting to make the letter G with a little extra swirl at the end!
If you are new to decorating cupcakes or icing cakes, keep at it! It only gets easier over time!
And that’s it! Time to enjoy!
If you don’t have salted butter, you can substitute unsalted butter with a little salt.
You’ll also note that I am not using cream in this easy recipe. Oftentimes, the sweet frosting or treats for birthday celebrations need to be prepared a day in advance (for convenience). To make this creamy frosting easier to store and not have to worry about refrigeration, I opt for water for my milk substitute.
More Gluten Free Desserts
If you loved this gluten-free frosting recipe, be sure to check out my other sweet treats or those who have Celiac disease or are on a gluten free diet!
There’s an amazing gluten free recipe for Chocolate Lush here. Perfect for potlucks and seasonal gatherings.
You can find a fun Gluten Free Pudding Dirt Cup recipe here. Kids LOVE this great recipe.
There’s also our family’s favorite Gluten Free Zucchini Bread recipe here. This is one of my personal favorite gluten free recipes! It’s full of gluten-free baking tips that will change the way you bake!
Best Gluten Free Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 Cup Salted Butter Softened
- 1/2 Cup Shortening
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar (with extra available)
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 2-4 Tbsp Water
- Beat 1 stick of softened butter and 1/2 cup of shortening using the paddle attachment until creamy in texture.
- Add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Set your mixer on the lowest setting so that the powdered sugar stays in the bowl. Mix until the sugar is fully mixed into the butter/shortening.
- Mix in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 2 Tablespoons of water. Beat until the frosting is completely mixed and fluffy in consistency.
- If your frosting is too creamy and not fluffy – just add a tiny bit more powdered sugar. If your frosting is too stiff, add a tiny bit more water.In general, frosting should be less runny and more stiff as it loosens up as you work with it.