The Best Buttercream Frosting
This is THE Best Buttercream Frosting recipe and the only one we use. It is easy to make and anything you put it on will taste better. We promise!!
I hate, loathe, and despise store-bought frosting. I understand that it is super convenient, but I think it ruins what could otherwise be a delicious dessert. I am proud to say I have never used a can of frosting. Does that me a frosting snob? Probably. I have been using this recipe forever. It is easy and makes whatever you are putting it on taste better. I promise!!
How to Make
Step 1: Add 1 cup of slightly softened butter. I only ever use real butter, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Although I think margarine changes the taste, your buttercream frosting made with margarine will still be better than canned frosting. “Slightly softened” is somewhere between straight out of the refrigerator and room temperature. If the butter is too cold it will not mix smoothly with the vanilla extract. If it is too soft, the butter will start melting during the process of mixing and the consistency of your icing won’t be correct at the end. Now add 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla. My family loves vanilla so I am a little heavy-handed with it. I’ll start with 2 teaspoons and then add more at the end.
Step 2: Mix the butter and the vanilla on medium speed until thoroughly combined (about 2 minutes.) You want to give the butter and vanilla and chance to meld together.
Step 3: Use a spatula to scrape the butter and vanilla mixture down from the sides of the bowl before moving on to the next step.
Step 4: Measure 1 pound of Powdered Sugar. I use my food scale. (If you don’t have a food scale the equivalent would be 4 cups.) You can sift the powdered sugar if it is really lumpy. I do not always do this. Instead, I rely on the mixer to do that work for me.
Step 5: Add the powdered sugar to the mixer.
Step 6: I usually put a clean dishtowel around my mixer to keep the sugar from flying out.
Step 7: Start your mixer (or beaters) on the lowest setting. Keep on low until the butter and sugar are incorporated (about 30 seconds.) Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another 30-45 seconds so the frosting gets light and fluffy. If the frosting is too dry or still crumbly, add 1 teaspoon of milk and mix again.
Step 8: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS taste your frosting. You are trying to determine if the taste is right and if the consistency is correct. My husband is the best frosting taster. He will always tell me if the consistency is wrong, if it needs more vanilla or more milk. You can check out our FAQ section below to see some other advice on making the perfect batch of frosting. If you are adding food coloring now is the time to do it. Make sure the food coloring gets fully incorporated. (Most of the time I do this part by hand.).
How to Serve
How much frosting will you need? That always depends on how thick or thin you apply the frosting or how much decorating you do but here are a couple of guidelines. Our recipe should make enough Best Buttercream Frosting to cover a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake or a two-layer 8″ cake. If you are making cupcakes, you should be able to frost 24 cupcakes if you apply the frosting with a knife. If you swirl on the frosting with a pastry bag like we have done here, you should be able to frost 15-18 cupcakes depending on the size of the swirl.
Expert Tips and FAQ’s
No, this frosting does not need to be refrigerated. Cupcakes frosted with this Buttercream Icing would be fine left out on the counter for 2-3 days if covered. However, we normally refrigerate our frosted desserts to keep the baked good from going stale even if the frosting would be fine. We think frosting tastes best at room temperature so we will take them out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before we will serve them.
Frosting stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator should be usable for up to a week. If you carefully store the frosting in order to avoid freezer burn, the frosting should last in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Buttercream is a sweet frosting. One thing you can do if it seems too sweet for your palette is to add a pinch of salt to the frosting. But please note that a little salt goes a long way. We cannot stress enough that a pinch (10-15 granules of regular table salt) is all you usually need. Even 1/4 a teaspoon of salt would probably ruin the frosting. Add the salt and mix again and see if that has cut down on the sweetness level.
Add another teaspoon of milk and mix again. Continue to add the milk, a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is the consistency that you like it
Temperature plays a big part in the consistency of frosting. A thin frosting could mean that the butter has gotten overworked and is too melted. The first thing to do is refrigerate the frosting for an hour and then check to see if the frosting has set back up again. If not, the next step is to add more powdered sugar or cornstarch. Start with either 1/2 cup of Powdered Sugar or 1 tablespoon of Cornstarch. Mix again and see if the consistency is better.
Yes, any milk substitute like Half n’ Half, Whipping Cream or even Almond Milk will work.
The short answer is yes. But we don’t recommend it. Most home mixers don’t have the capacity to get the frosting to the right consistency with double the amount of ingredients in the mixing bowl. If we need more than 2/12 cups of frosting, we make two separate batches.
Yes. You can use any decorating tip to make pretty decorations with this frosting and they will keep their shape.
We would call this a “slightly crusting” buttercream. In our opinion, a true crusting buttercream recipe has shortening in it. You can use our frosting to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and even Christmas Sugar Cookies but this is not a traditional crusting buttercream recipe.
Other Classic Frosting Recipes You Will Love
- 1 cup Butter, slightly softened (We use Salted Sweet Cream Butter)
- 2-3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 pound Powdered Sugar (or 4 cups)
- 1-2 tablespoons Milk (as needed)
- Add the “slightly softened” Butter (somewhere in between straight out of the refrigerator and room temperature) to the mixing bowl along with the Vanilla Extract.
- Mix the Butter and Vanilla together until they are fully combined (about 2 minutes on medium speed.) You want the Vanilla to fully meld with the Butter to get the best-flavored frosting possible.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl down before moving on to the next step of the recipe.
- Measure 1 pound of Powdered Sugar. If you don’t have a food scale, the equivalent is 4 cups.
- Add the Powdered Sugar to the mixing bowl.
- Start your mixer (or electric beater) on the lowest setting. Keep on low until the butter and sugar are incorporated (about 30 seconds). Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 30-45 more seconds until the frosting starts to be light and fluffy.
- If the frosting is still dry or crumbly, add 1 teaspoon of Milk and mix again.
- Taste your frosting! You are trying to determine if the consistency is correct or if it needs a tiny bit more Vanilla Extract. Depending on how it tastes, you will take the next step. If the frosting has the right taste but is too thick, add some Milk and mix again to check to see if it is now the right consistency. How much milk? That depends on the state of your frosting. A good rule of thumb is to add the milk a teaspoon at a time.