The Best American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

tequila lime cake pink ruffles

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!!).

frosting smoothed

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.

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Flavor Variations:

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

Keyword americal buttercream, vanilla buttercream, Vanilla frosting
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 seven inch layer cake

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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. 


  3. 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).

  4. 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

Recipe Notes

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!

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Published by

Chelsweets

I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at Chelsweets.com, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/c/ChelsweetsBakery ) to see my creations :D

301 thoughts on “The Best American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

  1. Hi Chelsey! I love your recipes and have made your cakes twice! I was wondering how you get your buttercream so creamy and easy to frost with? I find I have to add a lot of extra heavy cream (and I let it mix longer) and it’s still not so easy to frost a cake with? It’s a little too heavy and stiff. What’s your secret? Thanks!

    1. A lot of factor can come into play with frosting consistency! I actually do use very stiff buttercream, but my kitchen is usually pretty warm! I think this makes my frosting just the right consistency, but I also freeze my layers! This makes them much easier to frost. If you find your frosting is too thick, you can keep adding heavy cream until it’s just right. The type of butter you use can also affect the consistency. Some butter has slightly more water/ less fat than others!

  2. Hi Chelsey, Thanks for the buttercream recipe, can’t wait to try it. I would like to know though whether this recipe works well in humid places and if I can use replace some of the butter with shortening.

    1. You definitely can, and I recommend you do! It will change the flavor a bit, but it really helps make the buttercream more stable / stand up to the humidity!

  3. Hey Chelsey! I have tried to make your buttercream and many others. But I can always taste the sugar. I have added sieved sugar in batches of 3. Whisked for a good amount of 3-5 minutes. It just doesn’t come out right. And I’m from India, so it’s really humid here.
    Any suggestions?

    1. when you say you can taste the sugar, do you mean the texture is off, or it’s too sweet? it might be the brand of powdered sugar that you’re using, but overall the frosting is pretty sweet. If you want it taste less sweet, you can try using a swiss meringue buttercream, which is less sweet!

  4. Hi Chelsey! I am making a birthday cake for my daughter tomorrow and I was wondering if I can make the frosting tonight and store it in the fridge overnight that way it’s less mess for tomorrow, and if so what do I need to do to it tomorrow before hand so I can get a nice smooth outcome? Thanks!

    1. definitely! just be sure to take it out a few hours before you need it to let it come to room temp, and give it a very good stir with a spatula to smooth it out, and remove any air bubbles! they tend to form as the frosting warms up.

  5. One one of your live streams I heard you say you make your frosting ahead of time and freeze it until needed. Any special methods for freezing? And how long does it need to thaw before using?
    Thanks!

    1. Nope! just store it in an airtight container, and let it sit on the counter to thaw! I give it a good stir before using, to remove any air bubbles that may form while it thaws!

  6. Hi there do you recommend this buttercream recipe to be used with your best ever vanilla layer cake recipe?? Does it make enough to fully cover and to use between the layers? Thanks, I am loving your page so much 🙂

  7. Hi Chelsea-
    I love your buttercream recipe and use it everytime I make a cake! I was wondering if I want to make cream cheese buttercream, how much cream cheese do I use and do I still substitute it for 2 sticks of butter like the nutella version? So it would be 2 sticks of butter and a cup of creamcheese? Thanks so much!!
    Kaitlin

  8. Hi Chelsea, Does your buttercream need to be refrigerated once on the cake or can the cake sit on the counter?

  9. Hi! I want to make a chocolate buttercream to frost the outside of my cake. I looked at your Whipped Chocolate Buttercream, but this one seems easier to frost. How do I take this Vanilla Buttercream and make it chocolate?

  10. Hi, this recipe is good for fully frost and fill how many cakes? What size? how much would you need for a 3 tiered cake? If its so suppose to be 100 degree weather will this frosting hold?

    1. I’d recommend swapping out some of the butter for shortening if you want it to hold up in 100 degree heat. As for the amount of frosting you’ll need, that varies drastically based on how much you add between the layers, and how you plan to decorate it! I usually use about 1.5 batches on an 8 inch cake with four layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  11. hello Chelsey and congratulation for your work!
    could you please tell me about this buttercream ,when i use it for a cake , the cake the cake must be kept in the refrigerator or it’s ok outside the refrigerator at a room temperature?
    🙂

  12. Hey Chelsey! I’m making my dear friend’s wedding cake in August and wanted to do a mascarpone buttercream. I love your recipe and want to still use it for this. Would I substitute one cup of mascarpone for one cup of butter? Have you worked much with mascarpone? Love following you on instagram and FN’s facebook live for inspiration!

    1. Hi Samantha!! I have made a marscarpone filling, but not a buttercream to cover a cake! i’m not quite sure what the best ratio would be :/ sorry i can’t be of more help!

  13. Hey Chelsweets! LOOOOOVE your channel! I follow you on IG, Youtube and FB!! I love your work

    Quick question: i’d love to make a big batch, and then just freeze it so I can use it bit by bit….any tips? I’d hate to ruin it, but be able to use it later! Thanks 🙂

    1. you can def make a big batch ahead of time! just store it in an airtight container, and be sure to give it a good stir once it’s thawed back to room temp before you use it! it will get airbubbles as it warms, but these will go away once you stir it with a spatula!

  14. HI Chelsy! I love watching your videos. I’m really not much of a baker but it’s so fun to watch you decorate. For the recipe, would it work to use salted butter and not add the 1/3 tsp of salt or is it better just to get the unsalted butter?

  15. Hi Chelsea! If you were making four tiers of this recipe in a 10 inch pan, how many times the above
    recipe would you go? 1.5x or 2x to get the right layer thickness?

  16. Hello. I live in Florida where it is really hot and humid. I have used this frosting but it does not hold up in this weather. Do you have another buttercream recipe that fairs better in the extreme heat and humidity?

    Thank you in advance!

  17. Hi Chelsea, I love the way the frosting flowers look on this cake. I’m a very novice cake decorator. How do u make those flowers? What decorating tip do I need to make those flowers?

  18. Hi Chelsey, love your videos! if I wanted to make a 6″ double barrel cake, how many batches of this icing would I need? Thanks 🙂

    1. I’m not sure what a double barrel is! but to make 3 6 inch cake layers, i usually use a half batch of my frosting <3

  19. Hi Chelsea! I love yor recipies and tips! I do not miss your videos! … I have a question, please help me, how is the proportion of ingredients to make it white chocolate buttercream?
    Thank you for your comments

    1. I would just add in 6 oz of melted white chocolate, and an extra 2 TBSP of heavy cream. it will seem too thin at first, but will firm up as the white chocolate cools <3

  20. Hi would like to know is you have a recipe to make 1/2 of your butter cream frosting.I just love your videos .

    1. I do make half batches sometimes! The process is the exact same, and you just use half of the ingredients <3

  21. I am looking for your different fondant recipes and not sure where to find them.. I want to use something that is easy and taste good. I love your videos and site. Thanks . Susan

    1. I don’t make my own fondant, but if you google baked by dan (he’s a fellow food network digital contributor) marshmallow fondant, he shares his recipe which is supposed to taste great! hope that helps, happy baking!

  22. How much shortening and butter should I use when replacing the full 4 sticks of butter in the buttercream to withstand 100° weather?

    1. oh geeze, at least half!! I’m not sure how much you’d need to stand up to that kind of heat though, that’s hot!!

  23. Hi there! Thank you for all your insight!!! Do you have a favorite frosting recipe you use for when people ask you for a cake that’s not too sweet? Because American buttercream, to my knowledge, is the sweetest right? I would really appreciate your help on this! 🙏🏼

    1. it’s definitely very sweet! if someone wants a less sweet frosting, I usually recommend my whipped frosting recipe, or a ganache!

  24. Thank you for sharing your recipes. I made the buttercream frosting recipe and color dripped recipe.

    1. it depends on how much frosting you add between your layers and your decorations, but one batch of buttercream should be enough to cover one 4 layer cake made with 7 or 8 inch cake layers!

  25. Hi Chelsea, I’m making a wedding cake in October. Should I freeze the multiple layers ahead of time and take them out the day I frost the cake? I worry about too much moisture when they come to room temperature?

    Thank you, you are amazing!

    Marcia

    1. They will get some moisture as they thaw, so I’d let the layers sit out and thaw for about 40 minutes before decorating, then assemble the cake! this should help with any issues with condensation!

  26. I love your videos, im going to make your totally pink cake formy daughters Birthday next week. I love you live near Dylans candy Bar. I will have to find pink candies here in California lol

    1. haha I feel like California has some pretty awesome candy shops too 🙂 You’re daughter is a lucky girl!! Happy baking <3

  27. Hi there! I am making your semi naked tiered cake from youtube for my sister’s baby shower on Saturday. I am using 4, 6″ layers for the top tier and 4, 8″ layers for the bottom half using your classic vanilla cake recipe. How many batches of this buttercream will I need for this cake? thanks so much!

    1. I’d recommend 2 batches! you may have a bit of leftover batter, but i like having slightly thicker layers! I’ve made it with 1.5 batches before, but if you’re making 4 layers, they may be a bit thin!

      1. Hi Chelsea 🙂 I wanted to know how much buttercream to make? 🙂 I already made the cakes and 2 batches worked perfectly and I used all of the batter. hoping you get this in time! If not I will make 3 JIC! 😉

  28. Hiya – why don’t you whip the butter before adding the sugar like lots of other bakers recommend? Thanks!

  29. Hi Chelsea, love this recipe! It’s my go to for the best buttercream for my cakes. Just curious, what’s the green food coloring for? I’ve never seen that on this recipe before. Is it new?
    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  30. Hi! I am making a 2 layer 11×15 sheet cake, what would you recommend for the frosting? I plan to use the vanilla american buttercream, and possibly tripling the recipe – do you think that would cover it?

  31. Hi Chelsea! I’m making a wedding cake in Nov and I’m wondering how many batches of your vanilla recipe I will need for the bottom 14in cake? I would like to do three thicker layers instead of 4 thinner ones. LOVE your vids and advice! You have helped me so much!😊

    1. If you want 4 thick layers, you’d need one batch of cake for each 14 inch layer (based on the formula of a circle). That’s going to be one huge cake!!

  32. Hi Chelsea! First of all, love all of your cakes! Two questions for you:
    1. If I wanted to make this icing 2 days in advance, do you recommend putting it in the fridge or leaving it at room temp? And do I need to whip it again before using?
    2. If I’m making a couple of colors (red, yellow, and black), should I do that in advance or the morning I’m decorating?
    Thank you!

    1. I recommend refrigerating buttercream if you don’t plan to use it within 12 hours! Sometimes I’ll leave it out overnight, but if I don’t plan to use it for a couple days I pop it in the fridge. Definitely remix it to get out any air bubbles that can form as it comes to room temperature!!

      I recommend coloring the frosting in advance, as the shade can deepen overtime! this is always great for reds, or other vibrant colors 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  33. Hi Chelsea! Recently started following your Instagram and loving every bit of it! Already made your vanilla cake and edible cookie dough and was a huge hit! If I need to make this completely dairy free is it best to use margarine or Crisco bars? Thanks!

    1. so happy to hear that!! To make this dairy free I would do exactly that, swap the butter for crisco, and use almond milk instead of cream!

  34. Oh my goodness. I’m making a semi-naked came for my daughter’s wedding in a few weeks, so I’m in the process of recipe testing. This buttercream (with the additional couple tbsp of cream) is AMAZING. THANK YOU!! I actually feel like I might be able to do this thing now. 😂

    1. so happy to hear that!! yes, sometimes the amount of cream needs to be adjusted a bit based on the butter you’re using and the temp of your kitchen!! (in the winter when my kitchen is colder, i have to add more to get the consistency right!)

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