Cake Decorating Basics: Simple American Buttercream Recipe

Updated on January 30, 2020
Perfectly piped buttercream ruffles can turn a normal cake into a stunner!
Perfectly piped buttercream ruffles can turn a normal cake into a stunner!

American Buttercream

Did you know there are many different types of buttercream? There's American, Italian meringue, Swiss meringue, French, German, pudding-style, and some more that I've never tried before. Of all these, American buttercream is the simplest and quickest to create. There are only four main ingredients, and you don't have to cook anything. You can also make it with a hand mixer, as long as the hand mixer motor is super strong. Trust me on this one—I went through 6 hand mixers before I figured out that horsepower really does matter!

There are some things you need to know about this recipe. Because I use all butter, it does not stand up well to heat and humidity. I've had more than a few disasters and literal meltdowns before I figured out it was my recipe that was the problem. There is a tweak to it, though, and I'll explain that later in the article.

Another thing is you're not going to have a pure white finish with this recipe. It's going to be off-white. If you need a pure white buttercream then you're going to have to substitute the butter with high ratio shortening or add some white food coloring.

This is a crusting buttercream, which means that once it dries it stays put—making it perfect for roses and intricate designs. Even though it crusts over and seems to dry out, it still melts in your mouth with every bite.

All the textures on this wedding cake were achieved with only buttercream.
All the textures on this wedding cake were achieved with only buttercream.

Super Simple, Super Easy

These super simple and super easy instructions will get you on your way to a perfect buttercream finish. You're going to love the taste as well! You can keep it simple and use it as-is or add some flavorings to tweak it and have something completely different!

Some of my favorite additives are freeze-dried strawberries and a dash of strawberry extract, Nutella, peanut butter and white chocolate, and espresso and dark chocolate. There's really no limit to the way this recipe can be tweaked to match any number of cravings you may have!

I have meringue powder in the ingredients as an option, because some bakers use it and some don't. I've found that on more humid days the meringue powder helps keep the buttercream from melting so quickly.

This is a peanut butter variation of American Buttercream. Simply add a cup of peanut butter to the base!
This is a peanut butter variation of American Buttercream. Simply add a cup of peanut butter to the base!
Prep time: 15 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: 6 cups of buttercream


  • 2 lbs 10x powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder, (optional)


  1. Place the softened butter in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the meringue powder on top of the butter (optional).
  3. Cream the butter (with the meringue powder, if you're using it) until the butter is a very light yellow color and has become fluffy.
  4. Alternate adding sugar and cream, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally to ensure proper mixing.
  5. Add the flavorings last and mix until a stiff consistency is reached. You'll know you've achieved a stiff consistency when your rubber spatula sits straight up in the bowl and doesn't fall over when stuck in the middle of the frosting.
  6. Once you reach stiff consistency, mix the frosting for another 5 minutes on low to remove as much air as possible.
  7. If you need a looser consistency, add more cream to the icing until your preferred consistency is reached.
Piping consistency buttercream was used here to create this effect.
Piping consistency buttercream was used here to create this effect.

Tips for Flavor and Consistency

Keep in mind that each time you add a dry ingredient to this recipe, you'll need to compensate with more liquid to keep it from becoming crumbly. For instance, if you add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to make a nice chocolate buttercream, you'll want to add another 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream to keep it nice and moist. You could also use a flavored ingredient, such as espresso, as your liquid element when adding flavors. All that's going to do is make it taste better and better!

A very common addition I use is crushed Oreo cookies to create a cookies-and-cream buttercream. It is absolutely delicious, and I hate Oreos!

Play with the recipe to your heart's content. The best recipe I came up with just by playing around tastes exactly like a Reese's cup. I have to make that variation constantly to keep my boys sated. You'd think they'd be sick of cake and frosting by now, but not when I can come up with different stuff for them to try!

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 19 g
Calories 100
Calories from Fat54
% Daily Value *
Fat 6 g9%
Saturated fat 3 g15%
Unsaturated fat 3 g
Carbohydrates 12 g4%
Sugar 11 g
Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
Cholesterol 5 mg2%
Sodium 14 mg1%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
My writing sucks, but you can see how smooth and creamy the buttercream result is in this picture.
My writing sucks, but you can see how smooth and creamy the buttercream result is in this picture.

Troubleshooting: Temperature and Curdling

Say it's super hot and humid in your area, as it is here in Alabama right now. Replace half the butter with high ratio shortening and it will help the buttercream to not melt off the cake.

If your buttercream is curdling on you, it's going to look like cottage cheese. This is called a broken buttercream. One of two things is happening here—either your butter was too hot or too cold. If it was too hot, you can throw the entire batch in the freezer for five minutes or so and bring it back out and try to whip it back into shape. If the butter was too cold, you can place the bowl over a pan of hot water and whip it until it emulsifies and smooths out.

I've had all this happen before and sometimes I was able to save it, sometimes I just had to scratch it and start all over again. The good thing is with American buttercream, it's really hard to break. You're going to have more problems with breaking with a cooked buttercream recipe, but it absolutely can happen with this one.

I once added some warm cooked strawberries to my buttercream and it instantly broke. I tried everything I could to save it and it was a lost cause. It still tasted amazing, but the texture was disgusting. Into the garbage can it went. That's when I started using freeze-dried strawberries and a dash of strawberry extract for a delicious strawberry buttercream.

If any of this happens to you, don't give up! Keep trying and you will persevere! Happy baking and rock on!

American Buttercream Ratings

5 stars from 1 rating of American Buttercream


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)