Light and airy Vanilla Bean Espresso Buttercream Frosting is made with 5 ingredients in less than 10 minutes. This easy, homemade frosting has speckles of espresso and vanilla seeds for a beautiful and decadent finish to your favorite cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and brownies!
We love coffee-flavored desserts, and this vanilla bean espresso buttercream frosting is a favorite for transforming cakes and cupcakes into irresistible java desserts. It’s the perfect combination of vanilla frosting and coffee buttercream.
As a trained pastry chef, I love adding instant espresso powder to coffee cupcakes and chocolate cake for a delicious and rich coffee flavor. But unlike recipes where the powder dissolves, you’ll see the granules in this espresso frosting for a beautiful finish to any dessert.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Made with five ingredients. You only need simple ingredients for this recipe, plus instant espresso powder. Nothing complicated!
- Freezer-friendly. You can easily make this frosting up to 1 week in advance and refrigerate or freeze it for up to 3 months. It’s an easy prep for a quick dessert topping.
- Versatile. We love using vanilla bean espresso buttercream to top brownies, cakes and cupcakes, and cookies. The options are endless!
Everything You'll Need to Make Espresso Frosting
This buttercream recipe comes together quickly with simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Butter. Adds a delicious flavor to the frosting. Stick with unsalted butter to control the amount of salt. Allow your butter to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It should be malleable without being greasy or melted.
- Powdered sugar. Sweetens the frosting and creates a smooth and creamy consistency. Sift your sugar to remove any lumps.
- Instant espresso powder. The key ingredient for the espresso flavor. You can use instant coffee or instant espresso.
- Vanilla. We’re using vanilla bean paste. It’s the perfect combination of pure vanilla extract and vanilla beans. If you don’t have any, you can substitute an equal amount of vanilla extract.
- Heavy cream. You’ll need a bit to thin out the frosting for the perfect spreadable consistency. Feel free to use any milk.
What's the Difference Between Instant Coffee and Espresso Powder?
Instant coffee versus espresso powder, which one should you use? You might think they’re the same, but I will explain the differences so you can choose the one that’s best for you:
- Instant Coffee. Instant coffee is a dehydrated version of our morning beverage and needs a liquid to transform it into coffee. It’s less strong than espresso.
- Espresso Powder. Although espresso powder is also a dehydrated version of ground coffee, it is more concentrated than instant coffee for a more robust flavor. If you love strong coffee, increase the espresso powder to 2 teaspoons.
Note: Do you prefer drinking decaf coffee? Feel free to use the instant decaf coffee or espresso decaf powder for the same flavor without the caffeine.
Helpful Tools for Making Homemade Buttercream Frosting
You only need minimal kitchen equipment to make homemade buttercream. It comes together in less than 10 minutes. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Digital kitchen scale or measuring cups. Using a scale will give you the most accurate measurements.
- Measuring spoons.
- Mixer. A handheld or stand mixer will work.
- Large bowl. A stand mixer bowl or a large mixing bowl will work.
- Rubber spatula.
Buttercream in 3 Simple Steps
Beat the butter. Use a mixer to beat until smooth and creamy.
Add sugar and espresso. Mix the powdered sugar and espresso powder into the butter until combined.
Add vanilla and cream. Mix in the vanilla and enough cream until desired consistency. Beat for 3-4 minutes until light and airy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
How Much Frosting Will This Recipe Yield?
This recipe yields 2.5-3 cups of frosting for 18-24 cupcakes or a 9x13-inch cake.
Note: The longer you whip the buttercream, the more air gets whipped in, resulting in a greater volume (closer to 3 cups of frosting). However, if you over whip your frosting, you will have lots of air pockets, and you won’t have a super smooth buttercream.
Tips for Making the Best Buttercream
- Sift the powdered sugar. If your powdered sugar is lumpy, sift it before adding it to the butter to have a smooth and creamy buttercream consistency.
- Use the paddle attachment. The paddle attachment incorporates less air into the frosting (otherwise, you will have too many air bubbles).
- Slowly mix in sugar. Once you add the powdered sugar to the butter, you’ll want to turn the mixer to low speed to avoid the powdered sugar flying out of the bowl. I cover the mixer with a kitchen towel until the sugar is incorporated.
- Mix on low speed. If there are too many air bubbles in your frosting, mix the buttercream on low to eliminate large air pockets.
Easy Ideas for Variation and Serving Espresso Frosting
- Dissolve the espresso powder. We love seeing the beautiful specks throughout the frosting. But if you prefer, you can dissolve the espresso powder in the cream before adding it to the buttercream. It will blend in the buttercream and give it a light brown tint.
- Mocha buttercream. Love chocolate? Add 20 g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder (sifted) to the powdered sugar for a mocha variation.
- Cupcake swirls. Use a large round pastry tip or closed star tip to swirl frosting over chocolate cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes. Top with a chocolate-covered espresso bean for the final touch.
Storage & Freezing Tips
We love prepping buttercream ahead of time and storing it in the freezer for an easy last-minute dessert topping. Here are all the ways you can store your buttercream:
- At room temperature. Store espresso buttercream in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. If it's too warm, transfer to the fridge to prevent your buttercream from melting.
- Refrigerator. Store buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and mix with the paddle attachment before using.
- Freezer. Want to prep ahead? Store the frosting in a resealable freezer-safe bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and re-whip before using.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use your favorite milk, dairy or non-dairy, to thin out the espresso buttercream.
Still too thick? Add more heavy cream or milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the buttercream until you have your desired consistency.
If your frosting is too thin, mix in additional sifted powdered sugar until desired consistency. Just note that the more you mix in, the sweeter the mixture will become.
Espresso buttercream can stay at room temperature for up to 2 days (as long as it’s not too warm that it melts the frosting). Anything longer than that, you should store it in the fridge.
Favorite Desserts to Top with This Recipe
Please leave a starred rating and comment below if you make this Vanilla Bean Espresso Buttercream Frosting. I love reading your feedback! And if you’d like to make this recipe later, don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest! Happy Baking!Print