There are so many reasons why I love this buttercream frosting recipe. I love the that is only uses 5 ingredients, which most of us already have in our pantries! It also is seriously the easiest recipe; it’s pretty much fool-proof, and only takes about 5 minutes to make.
However, as with any recipe, sometimes you need to do a little trouble shooting! I get TONS of questions about my buttercream recipe, including:
- Can buttercream icing be made ahead of time?
- Can buttercream frosting be frozen?
- Can buttercream frosting be left out overnight?
- Which type of buttercream do you use?
- Why does my frosting have air bubbles in it?
- How do I get the air bubbles out of my buttercream?
- Does buttercream need to be refrigerated?
- Is this a crusting buttercream recipe?
- Does buttercream frosting go bad?
- Can this recipe be used to pipe buttercream flowers?
- Why is my buttercream yellow? Why isn’t my buttercream white?
- How do you get such vibrant colored frosting?
- Why is my buttercream grainy?
I’m here to answer all of these and more! As you can see, the general theme to most of these questions involves making buttercream in advance, and storing it. I almost always make my buttercream ahead of time. If placed in a large, sealed piping bag or airtight container, it can last in the fridge for up to a month, and in the freezer for up to three months.
When you’re ready to use the chilled or frozen buttercream, simple take it out of the fridge or freezer, and place on the counter to thaw. The amount of time it takes to thaw can vary based on the amount of buttercream, and how it’s stored. I usually take my buttercream out the night before I need it.
Once the buttercream has reached room temperature, it will likely be riddled with tiny air bubbles!! But fear not, you can get your buttercream back to a silky smooth consistency by mixing it on a low speed with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a rubber spatula. I do this with every batch of buttercream, to make it easier to get super smooth sides on my cake.
In general, buttercream can sit out at room temperature for up to 2 days. Most people freak out when they hear that. “Won’t the buttercream spoil??” “But this recipe has cream in it!! Won’t the frosting go bad?” And the simple answer is no. The high amount of fat and minimal amount of cream keep it from spoiling. Trust me, I leave buttercream out overnight at least once a week, and no one has ever gotten sick from it.
Some people also run into the issue of grainy frosting! If the texture of you buttercream isn’t nice and smooth, it may be because you need to add a bit more heavy cream (1 TBSP at a time)! If there isn’t enough liquid in your frosting to dissolve the sugar, sometimes that can throw off the consistency of your frosting.
If adding additional heavy cream doesn’t solve the problem, it may be the brand of powdered sugar you’r using! Some brand are less fine than others, and in some place of the world powdered sugar is also less fine.
Another important thing to note when making this buttercream is that it is a crusting buttercream! Now I know what you’re thinking, “Crusting sounds gross!!” “Why would buttercream crust?”
My buttercream recipe crusts overtime as the buttercream is left exposed to air, due to it’s high sugar content. But it’s really not a bad thing. In fact, most of the time it’s actually a great thing!
Crusting buttercream recipes are usually stiffer due to the high amount of powdered sugar, and therefore easier to smooth on cakes. Other benefits of crusting buttercream include reduced risk of bulging sides, the ability to paint designs onto a cake, and it helps piped flowers or designs keep their structure.
As many of you probably know from the minimal list of ingredients and simplicity of thsi frosting, this is an American Buttercream Frosting (ABC)! While there are tons of delicious types of buttercream out there (Swiss, German, Italian, French…), I prefer American Buttercream!
I don’t like to mess with eggs when it comes to frosting, and I enjoy the way American buttercream tastes. I have a huge sweet tooth, and Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) honestly isn’t sweet enough for my palette. I grew up eating loads of sugary candy, sweet breakfast cereals, and sweetened beverages, and I think my brain has been hard-wired to just love sugar over the years
This buttercream recipe is amazing for frosting both cakes and cupcakes! It’s also pipes really well, and works great for piping buttercream flowers and other frosting details.
I use this icing as the base of every frosting I make, and then make tweaks to recipe to flavor it (see variations section below)! I’ve also shared a full video tutorial showing exactly how I make my buttercream on my YouTube Channel.
Now onto coloring my buttercream! To make my buttercream super vibrant and colorful, I use gel food coloring! It allows you to get vibrant colors without adding a ton of liquid into the frosting, which can throw off the consistency of the buttercream. My favorite gel food coloring is Americolor, and it’s the only food coloring I use.
One last thing to note when making this American Buttercream!! Since this recipe is only 5 ingredients, each ingredient really counts when it comes to flavor and consistency. With this in mind, the brand of butter you use has a huge impact on the taste and color of your frosting!!
Some brands of butter are more yellow, either based on the diet of the cows producing the milk (cows eating a lot of grass will produce yellower butter due to the beta carotene in the grass), or if a brand adds in coloring (always check the ingredients!!).
My go to brand of butter is the unsalted Whole Foods brand. It is very light in color, and makes very white buttercream! If you can’t find a brand of butter that is lighter in color and your buttercream is still a bit yellow, try adding the smallest (TINIEST) drop of purple gel food coloring. I promise, it will color-correct the yellow tint, leaving you with white frosting.
When using this to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers), I usually make 1.5 batches, depending on how I’m decorating the cake. I usually have left over frosting, but I’d always prefer to have leftover frosting, rather than run out! I don’t mind since it can easily be saved to use on another cake.
This is the perfect frosting base for any flavor! The possibilities are limitless. Some of the different flavors I’ve made include: peanut butter, Oreo, chocolate, strawberry, almond, Nutella, Speculoos, salted caramel, coconut, mint, ube, lemon, cookie dough, bourbon, white chocolate, maple, and cream cheese!
When I make variations and plan to use a different extract, I usually swap out 1 or 2 tsp of vanilla, and replace them with my extract of choice. This is what I do for coconut, lemon, mint, almond, ube, and maple buttercream!
For flavors that require mixing in an addition ingredient, like Nutella or peanut butter, I usually replace 1 or 2 sticks of butter with the ingredient of choice! For example, for Nutella Buttercream, I use two sticks of butter, and one cup of Nutella. I then add a couple extra Tbsp. of heavy cream, since the Nutella makes the frosting thicker than standard buttercream. I use this approach for cream cheese, salted caramel, peanut butter, Nutella, and cookie butter frosting!
Vanilla American Buttercream Recipe
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams)
- 8 cups powdered sugar (907 grams)
- 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (30 grams)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)
- gel food coloring, if desired
Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
If you plan to color the buttercream, add in the gel food coloring once the frosting is fully made, and beat on low until it reach the desired colored
If you are making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!