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How to Make Buttercream Frosting

Updated on October 26, 2017
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years, and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting

Sweet, silky, and oh-so-delicious, buttercream frosting is a snap to make at home. Check out how much better this is than store bought, and you'll be hooked!
Sweet, silky, and oh-so-delicious, buttercream frosting is a snap to make at home. Check out how much better this is than store bought, and you'll be hooked!

Quick and Easy Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Buttercream frosting is one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal. Absolutely delicious when homemade, it can be used on any number of cakes or cupcakes exactly as it is.

You can also vary the recipe in almost endless ways, changing the extracts, the liquid used, or adding any number of additions. Instead of cream, use orange juice and orange zest, or replace part of the cream with a tablespoon of bourbon or apple juice. Add cocoa and a little more cream to make a rich, fudgy version. You really can tailor buttercream frosting into the perfect match for any dessert.

However, you'll never go wrong with using this simple buttercream frosting recipe exactly the way it is. Once you know how to make buttercream frosting, you'll never want the stuff from the store again. Using real, fresh ingredients makes all the difference in the world - and you'll realize that since it takes almost no time at all, it's easier to make from scratch than it is to go to the store!

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional - one of the glorious things about this frosting is that you can flavor it in almost endless variety. Try swapping out the vanilla for almond, peppermint or lemon extract. You can add a little bourbon and use on caramel cookies, or use Chambord for a raspberry flavor. Seriously - you can do anything with this stuff!

Buttercream Frosting Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until light and fluffy - the mixture will almost resemble coarse sand.
  2. In a second small bowl, mix together the heavy cream and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in the cream mixture, a tablespoon at a time, beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the frosting is at the correct spreading consistency.
  3. Use however you'd like - we love it on chocolate cakes especially, but it's also perfect on simple white cake as well.

Note: Watch the consistency of the frosting as you add the last tablespoon or so of the cream. If your frosting is too loose, don't add the last little bit. If the frosting is too stiff, add a teaspoon or so extra cream. This often can happen as the temperature fluctuates, so use the cream to make the frosting the exact, spreadable, consistency you want.

Start with the Butter in the Buttercream!

Start with a cup - 2 sticks - of real butter, at room temperature. Room temperature butter will whip more easily, and become fluffier. It's also easier to incorporate the powdered sugar  without lumps. Real butter - not margarine - is a must.
Start with a cup - 2 sticks - of real butter, at room temperature. Room temperature butter will whip more easily, and become fluffier. It's also easier to incorporate the powdered sugar without lumps. Real butter - not margarine - is a must.

Beat Until Light and Fluffy

Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. It will almost resemble coarse sand, and you shouldn't see any obvious lumps of butter. Beating well at this stage helps ensure the finished frosting is super smooth.
Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. It will almost resemble coarse sand, and you shouldn't see any obvious lumps of butter. Beating well at this stage helps ensure the finished frosting is super smooth.

Heavy Cream and Vanilla Extract

Mixing the vanilla into the heavy cream and adding them together helps ensure a very even distribution of the vanilla extract. Use real vanilla here - the flavor is center so it's important.
Mixing the vanilla into the heavy cream and adding them together helps ensure a very even distribution of the vanilla extract. Use real vanilla here - the flavor is center so it's important.

Add the Cream a Little at a Time

Adding the cream a little at at time allows you to control the consistency of the finished frosting. I've found 4 tablespoons is almost always perfect, but if you want a stiffer frosting, use less. If your frosting is too stiff, add just a touch more
Adding the cream a little at at time allows you to control the consistency of the finished frosting. I've found 4 tablespoons is almost always perfect, but if you want a stiffer frosting, use less. If your frosting is too stiff, add just a touch more

Beat Frosting Until it Reaches Desired Consistency

Beat, beat, beat...after adding the cream, you're almost done. Scraping down the sides of the bowl, beat the frosting until it reaches the desired consistency.
Beat, beat, beat...after adding the cream, you're almost done. Scraping down the sides of the bowl, beat the frosting until it reaches the desired consistency.

Perfect Buttercream Frosting

Homemade buttercream frosting ready to use - this stuff is fabulous! Perfect for almost any cake or cupcake, knowing how to make buttercream frosting will give you super powers in the kitchen!
Homemade buttercream frosting ready to use - this stuff is fabulous! Perfect for almost any cake or cupcake, knowing how to make buttercream frosting will give you super powers in the kitchen!

Check out the Quick Tutorial - How to Make Buttercream Frosting

How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

© 2017 Jan Charles

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