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How to Make the Perfect Buttercream for Cakes and Cupcakes

Passionate ADHD mother discovering balance in daily routines. Embracing the good, the bad and the ugly

Tips and tricks from a self-taught baker

Tips and tricks from a self-taught baker

Simple 3-Ingredient Buttercream

All you will need to create a substantial buttercream is just three simple ingredients and one stand mixer or hand mixer.

Due to the pandemic I lost my full-time kitchen supervising position. With my suddenly cleared-up schedule I decided to make cupcakes for the kids to enjoy after dinner. Little did I know it would soon spark a huge interest locally and launch a successful baking business.

Today I'm focusing on other ventures—but I still accept special orders on occasion. My regulars come back for their buttercream fix.

The buttercream was heaven, and I've been on the hunt for the perfect cupcake.

— One of my customers


  • 450 grams unsalted, good-quality butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar or confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract or pure vanilla bean paste
  • Salt (optional)


  1. To your mixing bowl add 450 grams or one block of unsalted room temperature butter.
  2. Start off at medium to low speed until the butter is softened and has a whip-like texture.
  3. Slow the speed down and add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Incorporate at high speed.
  4. Repeat until 3 cups of powdered sugar is fully incorporated. Beat at high speed for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and measure with your heart. I prefer a couple tablespoons. Mix to incorporate and enjoy! It's that easy!

Perfect Buttercream Tips and Tricks

Even though buttercream itself is a very simple recipe, there are still some tips and tricks to remember when making.

  • Use high-quality ingredients: If possible use high-quality ingredients. Since there is not much going into your mixing bowl, make sure those three ingredients are premium. It's not a deal-breaker, but your testers or clients will taste the difference. I used local fresh butter and pure vanilla bean extract. Its worth it!
  • Butter should be room temperature: Always make sure your butter is room temperature. If it's too cold it will prevent the powdered sugar from incorporating properly, and if it's too warm will make your buttercream greasy, leading to an unpleasant mouth feel.
  • Butter should be unsalted: You also want to control the salt going into whatever you're baking. Salted butter can vary by brand; more or less salt could be present within the butter. You always have the option to add a pinch of salt if you feel the brand of unsalted butter you're using would require it.
  • Keep your work area clean! A clean kitchen will ensure safety and proper sanitation techniques will prevent any sort of contamination. Make sure your surfaces, tools and hands are always clean.
  • How to get the right consistency: Buttercream should be smooth and silky but also hold its shape and have some structure. That will give you the ability to pipe designs. Getting the proper consistency isn't as challenging as you might think. The rule of thumb is the more icing sugar you add to the mixing process the firmer it will be. If you feel like it's too runny and not acceptable to put on the cupcake be patient and add more sugar while whipping at high speed.
  • Take your time and be patient: In general, baking is time-consuming. Even a basic design cupcake still takes time and effort. however by reading this article you could make buttercream in under 10 minutes. Clear a couple hours in your schedule and dedicate that time to being fully invested, once you find your groove you could whip up buttercream for any occasion and look like a pro.

Before I launched my accidental baking business, I had always seen baking as extremely intimidating and frustrating. I'd certainly had my share of epic baking fails in the past.

Now I realize I just needed the proper tools and a little bit more confidence. I'm not claiming to be a baking expert, and I'm still learning and growing—however, I can now comfortably support my family all thanks to buttercream. I've gained a lot of substantial catering contacts and made strong professional relationships within my community.

Most importantly my portfolio is impressively loaded with different techniques I've accomplished. With dedication and hard work I've been able to expand my horizons within a short period of time. With this foolproof recipe you can skip the grocery store baking aisle and whip up delicious, high-quality buttercream for any occasion.