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You have made an amazing birthday cake, or the most delicious cupcakes, or those fantastic holiday cookies for the party, now you need a great buttercream frosting to push your dessert to perfection.

Frosting in a can may be convenient, but this quick and easy recipe will show you step by step how to make a smooth and fluffy American buttercream frosting with a few ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.

2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers.

Plus, with a few simple tweaks, you can change the flavor and color. Add a few drops of red food coloring to make pink frosting. Change the basic vanilla frosting by using vanilla powder (check out how to make vanilla powder here), amaretto or another flavoring instead. So, ditch the store-bought, and use this buttercream icing recipe!

2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers.

Step #1. Prepare Ingredients

Buttercream ingredients on wooden counter.

Gather the following items and ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Electric mixer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spatula

    This recipe makes enough buttercream (2 cups) for about 12 cupcakes.

    Step #2. Cream Butter & Powdered Sugar

    Adding vanilla to sugar and butter.

    Place the softened butter in a bowl. Beat it on low speed with an electric mixer for about 1 minute or until smooth and fluffy.

    Step #3. Mix

    Using a hand mixer to combine vanilla, butter and sugar.

    Add the icing sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, and continue mixing on low speed until fully combined. Add the milk and vanilla and mix on medium speed until smooth and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).

    Note: You can add adjust the thickness by adding more milk if it is too stiff, or adding more icing sugar if it is too runny.

    Step #4. Your Buttercream is Ready to Use!

    2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers.

    You can use the buttercream frosting to spread onto cupcakes, cake, as a filling etc.

    2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers.

    Tips & Tweaks

    If you plan to use the buttercream frosting for piping, you will want to make sure it is thick. A simple trick on how to make buttercream frosting stiffer is to add less milk to the recipe or more sifted, powdered sugar. Sifting the powdered sugar before you add it, ensures the frosting will be smooth. 

    To make the frosting a little less sweet, try adding a little salt, substituting heavy cream for the milk, or adding in a little lemon juice.

    If you don’t want to add the vanilla because it darkens the frosting a tad, replace it with the same amount of milk. This will ensure the same consistency.

    2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers, sprinkles on the side.

    Storage

    Buttercream frosting can be made in advance and stored for up to a week in the fridge or two months in the freezer. Place the frosting in an airtight container and store it away from foods with strong odors. When you are ready to use it, let the buttercream come up to room temperature.

    2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers.

    How to Make Buttercream

    Joss D
    Frosting in a can may be convenient, but this quick and easy recipe will show you step by step how to make a smooth and fluffy American buttercream frosting with a few ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 5 mins
    Total Time 5 mins
    Course Condiment
    Cuisine American
    Servings 8 1/4 cup servings
    Calories 252 kcal

    Ingredients
     
     

    • ½ cup butter - softened
    • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

    Instructions
     

    • Place the softened butter in a bowl. Beat it on low speed with an electric mixer for about 1 minute or until smooth and fluffy.
      ½ cup butter
      Adding vanilla to sugar and butter.
    • Add the icing sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, and continue mixing on low speed until fully combined. Add the milk and vanilla and mix on medium speed until smooth and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes). You can add adjust the thickness by adding more milk if it is too stiff, or adding more icing sugar if it is too runny.
      2 ½ cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
      Using a hand mixer to combine vanilla, butter and sugar.
    • Your buttercream is ready to use for cakes, cupcakes, etc.
      2 cupcakes with buttercream frosting in purple wrappers.

    Equipment

    Electric mixer

    Notes

    • Buttercream frosting can be made in advance and stored for up to a week in the fridge or two months in the freezer. When you are ready to use it, let the buttercream come up to room temperature.
    • This recipe makes enough buttercream (2 cups) for about 12 cupcakes.
    • If you don’t want to use the vanilla, replace it with more milk.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 0.2gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 93mgPotassium: 11mgSugar: 37gVitamin A: 361IUCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.03mg

    Nutrition information on In the Kitch is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It may not include toppings and/or sauces.

    Keyword butter, frosting, vanilla
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