These frosted vanilla brownies are chewy, tender, and topped with silky vanilla buttercream. Also known as blondies, these sweet dessert bars are buttery, moist, and full of vanilla flavor. They're a fun twist on classic fudgy chocolate brownies!
I've never met a brownie I didn't like. They're one of my sister's favorite foods and they're definitely one of mine too. Oreo brownies, red velvet brownies, peanut butter, cheesecake; they're all delicious.
Blondies are basically brownies without chocolate, but I'm calling these vanilla brownies because they still have an incredibly fudgy, gooey, chewy texture. Sometimes blondies can be a little cakey, but these aren't at all. To make them even better, they're topped with the best vanilla frosting ever. I'm going to vanilla heaven!
If you like brownies and bars, check out these frozen Greek yogurt granola bars!
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy to make- You can make the brownies in one bowl! It's super easy to make with kids.
- Ultra rich and chewy texture- The brownies are extra dense and fudgy because of the extra egg yolk.
- Gluten free- They're made with gluten free flour but can be made with regular all purpose flour too.
- Pure vanilla flavor- There's no almond extract or white chocolate chips in this recipe. Pure vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste are the only flavorings, making the brownies a vanilla-lovers dream.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Here are notes about the some of the ingredients used. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card below
- Unsalted butter- Since we are melting the butter, it doesn't have to be at room temperature when you start! Just let it cool a bit after melting in the microwave.
- Granulated sugar- I used cane sugar to highlight the vanilla flavor.
- Eggs + egg yolk- An extra egg yolk makes the brownies super moist and gives them structure without using cornstarch. Pull them out an hour before baking.
- Gluten free flour- Use measure-for-measure gluten free baking flour. I like Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur.
- Vanilla extract- Use pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla or anything with artificial flavors. It can be clear or brown. My favorites are from Nielsen-Massey, Beyond Good, and Penzey's.
- Vanilla bean paste- This adds beautiful vanilla bean flecks to the brownie and the frosting and has a strong vanilla flavor. Mine is from Nielsen-Massey.
- Gluten free flour: Regular all purpose flour works.
- Vanilla bean paste: If you don't have vanilla bean paste, double the amount of vanilla extract in the brownies and substitute vanilla extract in the buttercream. You can use the caviar inside a vanilla bean too. One 2 inch vanilla bean = 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- Mixing bowls- I love my Duralex nesting bowls. They're heat-proof and dishwasher safe.
- Square baking pan- I like this one from USA Pan because of it's flat, harsh edges. This makes it easy to clip parchment paper to the sides so you can easily lift bars out. The 8x8 inch and 9x9 inch pans both work.
- Parchment paper- I love these precut parchment sheets!
Step by Step Instructions
You only need one large mixing bowl to make this recipe! You also need measuring cups, measuring spoons, a rubber spatula, square baking pan (glass or metal), and parchment paper.
For the vanilla buttercream, you need a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer with a large mixing bowl, rubber spatula, and a spoon.
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients.
- Bake the brownies.
- Make the buttercream.
- Frost the brownies.
Step by Step Instructions for Brownies
BEFORE YOU START - First, preheat the oven to 350F and spray a square baking pan with non-stick spray. Then, line it with parchment paper.
STEP 1: Melt the butter. First, microwave the butter in a bowl for about 1 minute or until it is completely melted. Stop the microwave and stir every 30 seconds so it doesn't explode. Then, let it cool for about 5 minutes.
STEP 2: Mix the wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar together. Then, add the egg and egg yolk one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and vanilla bean paste.
TIP - Mix the wet ingredients well, but mix the dry ingredients until just combined.
STEP 3: Add the flour. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together. Then, fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
TIP - Sift the flour to eliminate lumps.
STEP 4: Bake the bars. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smooth it out, and bake for 25-30 minutes. The brownies should look slightly underdone. Let them cool completely before removing from the pan and frosting.
Step by Step Instructions for Buttercream
STEP 5: Cream the butter. Using your stand mixer with the paddle/whisk attachment or electric hand mixer, cream the butter on high for 5-8 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
STEP 6: Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat in half of the powdered sugar on low for 3 minutes. Then, add the other half of the powdered sugar and the vanilla bean paste and mix on low for another 3 minutes. This helps eliminate air bubbles.
STEP 7: Add the heavy cream. Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, add the cold heavy cream until the desired consistency is reached. The buttercream should have soft peaks.
STEP 8: Frost the brownies. Spread the buttercream on top of the cooled brownies with the back of a spoon (an icing spatula or butter knife also work). Cut into 16 squares and serve.
Here are some of my expert baking tips!
Tips for the Brownies
- Measure the flour with a kitchen scale or use the spoon and level method. Spoon flour into the measuring cup until it is full and swipe the excess back into the bag.
- Don't overmix! Fold the flour in until there are no dry spots.
- When the brownies are done baking, they will look gooey and sink slightly. If they're super sunken, they need more baking time. If they didn't sink, they're overbaked.
- Wait for the brownies too cool completely before removing them from the pan. They'll fall apart if they're too hot.
Tips for the Buttercream
- Whip the butter by itself for a long time. This helps create a creamy, fluffy buttercream.
- Sift in the powdered sugar for super smooth frosting.
- Let the vanilla brownies cool completely before frosting, about 1-2 hours. The buttercream will melt and slide off if they are too hot.
Additions and Variations
There are many ingredients you can add to the batter for extra flavor. Here are some ideas:
- White chocolate chips
- Dark chocolate chips
- Milk chocolate chips
- Nuts (walnuts, macadamia, pecans)
- Dried fruit
- Almond extract
Feel free to use a different kind of topping, like cream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache, melted chocolate, or a flavored frosting like strawberry. The brownies make a delicious treat served with ice cream!
Make Ahead and Storage
- Make ahead- You can make the vanilla brownies ahead of time and store them using the methods below. I recommend making the frosting right before serving.
- Counter- If you didn't frost the brownies, they can be stored on the counter in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They need to be refrigerated if frosted.
- Refrigerator- Store the frosted vanilla brownies in an airtight container in the fridge. They need to be chilled because of the buttercream. Store up to 5 days.
- Leftover frosting can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Add a couple tablespoons of milk if it gets dry or clumpy.
- Freezer- Freeze the brownies in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 30 days. Thaw in the refrigerator an hour before eating.
- Leftover frosting can be stored up to 30 days in the freezer and thawed in the refrigerator the night before using.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, just increase your baking time by 5-10 and keep an eye on the brownies while they bake. They will be very thin.
Unfortunately no! Eggs are a vital ingredient in this recipe. They provide moisture, flavor, and structure.
You probably added too much flour or they are overbaked. Make sure to either measure your ingredients with a kitchen scale or measure the flour using the spoon and level method.
More Brownies and Bars
Frosted Vanilla Brownies
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper. Spray again or secure with binder clips so the parchment stays in place.
- Melt the butter in the microwave for about 1 minute and let cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the melted butter and sugar.½ cup unsalted butter, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time until well combined. Then mix in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste.1 large egg, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- In a separate bowl stir together the baking powder and flour. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed and no clumps of flour remain.1 cups gluten free all purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the brownies are golden brown and the edges are set.
- Let the brownies cool completely before removing them from the pan and frosting.
- Beat the softened unsalted butter on high for 5-8 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally until smooth and creamy.¼ cup unsalted butter
- Add in the vanilla bean paste and ½ cup of powdered sugar. Beat on low for 3 minutes.1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, 1 cups powdered sugar
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in another ½ cup of powdered sugar. Beat for 3 more minutes. Then, add the heavy cream until the desired consistency is reached.1-2 tablespoon heavy cream
- Spread the buttercream on top of the brownies with the back of a spoon. Slice and enjoy.