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Quick and Easy Homemade Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream is a beautiful frosting that is perfect for cakes, cupcakes and sugar cookies. This specific recipe is so simple to make and I’m going to walk you through all of the steps to make sure that, even if this is your first time making buttercream, it turns out perfectly.

A vanilla cupcake piped with buttercream frosting with a bite taken out of it.

Buttercream is the ultimate frosting. It holds its shape, it’s sweet but not overly sweet, it can be used on just about any dessert and honestly, it’s very simple to put together. 

Once you find a buttercream frosting recipe that works for you, there’s no reason to purchase a can of store-bought frosting ever again. Nothing beats the flavor of a true blue American buttercream frosting.

This easy buttercream frosting recipe is delicious, simple and with a silky smooth texture. It has a light buttery flavor, the feel of whipped cream and all the sweetness of vanilla and powdered sugar.

Best of all, this perfect buttercream frosting recipe produces a fluffy frosting that is beautifully white, which is great for frosting desserts for a birthday cake, baby shower, bridal shower, wedding or really any special occasion. It is a picture perfect frosting that is easy to put together for any occasion!

For a Good Buttercream, Follow These Simple Steps: 

Vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting resting on a cooling rack.
  1. Butter: The first step is to use real butter. There is no substitute. Allow the butter to come to room temperature for just the right consistency for whipping.
  2. Scrape: The next biggest tip is to scrape down the sides of your bowl often as you mix your buttercream. You want to really make sure everything is being mixed together and no ingredients get pushed to the bottom of the bowl. 
  3. Taste!: My final suggestion is to taste test your frosting before using it. This is one of those recipes you can adjust as you go, so take advantage of that! Make sure before you spread your frosting that it is the right consistency and flavor that you want. You can always make changes–which is what makes this recipe so fantastic! 

Spread this homemade buttercream frosting on sugar cookies, vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cake or chocolate cake and you can’t go wrong making this your go-to frosting!

Why Make This Recipe

  1. Classic: A good buttercream frosting recipe is a kitchen staple. The look and taste of buttercream is perfect for so many desserts. 
  2. Versatile: This Buttercream recipe is made with simple ingredients but it’s also easy to dress up with so many other flavors. Add some zest to give it some citrus flavor, a hint of almond extract for richness or top with fresh fruit or chocolate for a different twist. 
  3. Picture Perfect: Buttercream is great for spreading on cookies, piping on cakes or twirling onto cupcakes. No matter how you use it, it will hold its shape, cling to sprinkles and turn out beautiful every time!

What Do You Need to Make This Recipe?

Ingredients

Ingredient shot for Buttercream Frosting.
  1. Unsalted butter: Softened to room temperature. Using unsalted butter gives you more control over the saltiness of the buttercream
  2. Powdered Sugar: Also called confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar. 
  3. Vanilla Extract: Normal vanilla extract works just fine but if you want a truly white frosting look for clear vanilla
  4. Heavy Whipping Cream: In a pinch you can use milk or half and half, but I really recommend heavy whipping cream so that your Quick and Easy Buttercream Recipe is as stable and fluffy as possible.
  5. Salt: You only need a pinch, but this cuts down on the sweetness in the recipe and makes the buttercream more enjoyable! If your buttercream is too sweet for you at the end, add a bit more salt! 

Tools

  1. Large Mixing Bowl
  2. Electric Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer with the whisk attachment

How to Make This Recipe

Step One: Whip the Butter

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Step Two: Add the Sugar

A large mixing bowl filled with powdered sugar and butter and with an electric hand mixer in it.

Beat in the powdered sugar on low speed 1 cup at a time until combined.

Step Three: Add the Cream and Vanilla

Whipped buttercream frosting in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer next to it.

Add the vanilla extract, heavy cream, and salt then beat until light and fluffy.

Step Four: Enjoy!

Spread or pipe the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Expert Tips

Cupcakes piped with buttercream frosting on top with a piping bag next to them.
  • To ensure you don’t get any lumps in your frosting, I recommend sifting your powdered sugar. Some brands of powdered sugar will clump more than others and any lumps can cause big problems if you are trying to pipe the frosting through a piping tip.
  • Whip the butter for a good 1-2 minutes at medium-high speed until it has a very even consistency and no lumps.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula so you reach every edge. Start your mixer on a low speed and slowly build up more speed over time, stopping to scrape often to ensure everything gets mixed together well. 
  • This recipe is for a very basic buttercream but it can easily be dressed up with different syrups, citrus zest or chocolate. If you do decide to add something, you may need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar you use and be aware of how any lumps might affect the use.
  • Buttercream can be stored easily, but it’s a good idea to bring it back to room temperature and whip it up one more time before spreading and serving.
  • Adjust as you go. If you feel like your frosting is too dry, add a teaspoon more heavy cream. If it is too thin, try refrigerating it for a half hour and then slowly add a tablespoon more of powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency.

FAQs

Buttercream frosting on vanilla cupcakes.

What Butter Should I Use for Buttercream?

The brand of butter doesn’t matter as much as the consistency.

It’s always a good idea to start with room temperature or softened butter. You do not want to use melted butter for buttercream frosting. You may end up adding too much powdered sugar if your butter is melted to reach the right consistency, which results in a frosting that feels thick and sugary. 

I recommend unsalted butter so you can control exactly how much salt is in the frosting, but you can use salted butter if that’s all you have on hand.

How Can I Soften My Butter?

If you don’t have time to let your butter naturally come to room temperature, you still have options. You want your butter to feel slightly cool but soft enough to easily give when touched.

To speed up the softening process you can slice your butter into cubes and allow it to sit.

Another option is to use indirect heat to soften butter. You can place your cubes of butter near a warm oven or stove or heat a mug or bowl and place it over your butter to cover it for about thirty seconds.

In a real pinch, you can pop those same cubes into the microwave at 50 percent power and heat for just ten seconds at a time until it is soft but not melted. Be aware that the power levels on different microwaves can vary greatly so this process requires you to watch your butter carefully. If you do this incorrectly it can impact the texture of your buttercream so only use this method if you have no other option! 

How is Buttercream Different From Whipped Frosting?

piping bag filled with buttercream frosting sitting next to a frosted cupcake on a cooling rack.

Whipped frosting is light and delicious but it does not hold its shape the same way buttercream does. In fact, whipped frosting may often fall flat and needs to be carefully refrigerated. 

Buttercream is an excellent choice because it can be left at room temperature even overnight. As it sits it forms a light shell on the exterior but stays soft and delicious on the interior.

How Much Frosting Does This Recipe Make?

This buttercream recipe makes enough to frost both layers of 8-inch layer cakes or up to 24 cupcakes, depending on how thickly you pipe or spread the frosting. You can easily double the recipe to help it go even further.

Does the Frosting Need to be Refrigerated?

If you have already piped this frosting onto a cake or cupcakes, it is fine to be left out at room temperature. I recommend putting it in an airtight container if possible to keep it from drying out.

If you are saving leftover frosting to use later on, I would recommend refrigerating it to preserve freshness. To use, bring it back to room temperature and whip it with a fork or electric mixer to restore the fluffy texture.

If you make a buttercream frosting with cream cheese or a cream cheese frosting it should be refrigerated.

Did you enjoy this Buttercream Frosting Recipe? If so, check out these other recipes I picked out just for you: 

Buttercream Frosting piped onto vanilla cupcakes and left to cool on a cooling rack.

Quick and Easy Homemade Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream is a beautiful frosting that is perfect for cakes, cupcakes and sugar cookies. This specific recipe is so simple to make and I’m going to walk you through all of the steps to make sure that, even if this is your first time making buttercream, it turns out perfectly.
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 cups

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Electric Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer with the whisk attachment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • tsp salt

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  • Beat in the powdered sugar on low speed 1 cup at a time until combined.
  • Add the vanilla extract, heavy cream, and salt then beat until light and fluffy.
  • Spread or pipe the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Notes

Recipe copyright The Domestic Spoon. For educational or personal use only. 
  1. Unsalted butter: Softened to room temperature. Using unsalted butter gives you more control over the saltiness of the buttercream
  2. Powdered Sugar: Also called confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar. 
  3. Vanilla Extract: Normal vanilla extract works just fine but if you want a truly white frosting look for clear vanilla
  4. Heavy Whipping Cream: In a pinch you can use milk or half and half, but I really recommend heavy whipping cream so that your Quick and Easy Buttercream Recipe is as stable and fluffy as possible.
  5. Salt: You only need a pinch, but this cuts down on the sweetness in the recipe and makes the buttercream more enjoyable! If your buttercream is too sweet for you at the end, add a bit more salt!
  6. To ensure you don’t get any lumps in your frosting, I recommend sifting your powdered sugar. Some brands of powdered sugar will clump more than others and any lumps can cause big problems if you are trying to pipe the frosting through a piping tip.
  7. Whip the butter for a good 1-2 minutes at medium-high speed until it has a very even consistency and no lumps.
  8. Scrape the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula so you reach every edge. Start your mixer on a low speed and slowly build up more speed over time, stopping to scrape often to ensure everything gets mixed together well. 
  9. This recipe is for a very basic buttercream but it can easily be dressed up with different syrups, citrus zest or chocolate. If you do decide to add something, you may need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar you use and be aware of how any lumps might affect the use.
  10. Buttercream can be stored easily, but it’s a good idea to bring it back to room temperature and whip it up one more time before spreading and serving.
  11. Adjust as you go. If you feel like your frosting is too dry, add a teaspoon more heavy cream. If it is too thin, try refrigerating it for a half hour and then slowly add a tablespoon more of powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency.
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