Basic Buttercream Recipe

Buttercream Recipe

Buttercream frosting is one of those things that you either love it or you hate it. I haven’t found many people without strong feelings one way or the other towards it. I am a buttercream lover. I mean seriously, I could do without the cake and just eat a bowl of it. I could also do without the stomachache afterwards… But enough about me, lets get some of this glorious frosting into your hands and then you can let me know – are you for or against loads of buttercream frosting?


Basic Buttercream Recipe:

You’ll need 2 cups (4 sticks) of butter, room temperature, 2 lbs of powdered sugar, up to 1/4 cup of milk, and 1 tbsp of the flavoring* of your choice. Optional – food coloring.

*A note about flavorings. For white buttercream, vanilla is the standard, however if you want pure white icing, you’ll want to steer clear of pure vanilla extract (which is brown) and opt for an alcohol-based synthetic clear flavoring instead. These are commonly found at craft and/or baking stores. Other flavors to try are almond (my favorite!), lemon, butter, banana, champagne…the list goes on and on!

I highly suggest a stand mixer for this – though a hand mixer works well too. If you’ve only got a whisk in your arsenal, you’re about to have Popeye’s forearms as well – may the odds be ever in your favor, my friend.

Begin by creaming together your softened, but not melted butter with your flavoring of choice. They should come together into a creamy, pale yellow mixture.


Begin adding your sugar through a sifter into the butter. Add 1-2 cups at a time, mixing on slow so as not to *poof* sugar dust into the area!

I know that sifting your powdered sugar is a tedious, messy task. And a couple of years ago my dear friend had to beg me to sift my powdered sugar when we baked together, but alas, she was right. It’s worth it in texture, trust me!


Continue adding 1-2 cups of sifted sugar at a time, until all the sugar has been added. At this point, your icing should have a thick, stiff texture, and all the sugar should be well mixed in.


Adding 1-2 tablespoons at a time, slowly pour in milk and mix thoroughly on medium speed. You’re looking for a smooth, peanut butter-like consistency. Once you’ve reached consistency, stop adding milk. Do not feel obligated to add the entire 1/4 of a cup. The amount needed will depend on many factors, and can vary from one day to the next.

At this point, you may notice that your icing has an off-white or yellowish tinge to it. You can opt to add white food coloring if you desire a crisp, bright-white finish. Usually, I do not dye my icing white as I don’t mind the off color, however since I was going to be using this in a recipe that contrasts against a pink cake, I went ahead and dyed it bright white.

Another option is to swap 50-100% of your butter for vegetable shortening, which will produce a crisp white icing that is a little more stable in warm temperatures. The shortening sometimes has a waxy mouth-feel, however, and I think most people prefer a butter based frosting instead.


And there you have it – you’ve got a nice big bowl of sweet, tantalizing frosting! Now the only question remains, what are you going to do with it? (Hint, you can use it to cover a semi-homemade cake).

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Until next time, Enjoy!

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