Skip to Content

Not Too Sweet Buttercream Frosting

This “not too sweet buttercream frosting” recipe is the perfect hybrid between American buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream! It has an amazingly fluffy texture and tastes so delicious.

It’s a dream to frost on cakes and cupcakes and I even use it to make wedding cakes. It’s a total crowd-pleaser and is perfectly sweet (hence its name!).

This recipe is adapted from my friend (and wedding cake genius) Minette Rushing’s faux Swiss meringue frosting recipe.

image of chelsey white next to a wedding cake made with the perfect hybrid frosting that she likes to call her not too sweet buttercream

How to Make This Not Too Sweet Buttercream Frosting

To make sure this recipe turns out as amazing as possible, let’s walk through each step together!

I’ve also included a video tutorial of the process below.

image of a cupcake frosted with perfectly sweet buttercream frosting

Step 1: Whip the Meringue into Soft Peaks

Place the room-temperature pasteurized egg whites and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you plan to make it with a hand mixer).

Mix on a low speed to combine.

Once all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, mix on high with a whisk attachment for 5-10 minutes until the meringue has soft peaks.

Sometimes the egg whites will reach stiff peaks like in the picture below, but if you only get soft peaks, the frosting will still turn out great once you add the butter.

image of egg whites and powdered sugar that have been whipped to stiff peaks to make a not too sweet buttercream frosting

Step 2: Slowly Mix in the Butter

Swap the whisk attachment for a paddle attachment. This will help make your buttercream super smooth once it’s fully made.

Mix in 3 sticks of room temperature butter on a low speed, one at a time. Wait until each stick of butter has been fully mixed in before adding the next stick.

image of a stick of room temperature butter being added into meringue to make a perfectly sweet frosting

Once the butter is incorporated, mix on medium speed for an additional 5 minutes until the frosting looks fluffy and smooth.

If the frosting breaks during this stage, don’t worry! Just keep mixing and it should come back together in 5-10 minutes.

Step 3: Add in the Flavoring

Add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp of salt and mix on a low speed until combined.

The final step is to stir it for a few additional minutes by hand with a rubber spatula to make it silky smooth. Then it’s all ready to go!

image of not too sweet buttercream that's been whipped up to the perfect consistency

Flavor Variations

This frosting can easily be turned into different flavors! I’ve used this base recipe to make everything from chocolate buttercream to matcha buttercream.

image of matcha cupcakes topped with a not too sweet matcha buttercream

To make chocolate buttercream, add 3/4 cup of melted and cooled dark chocolate into the frosting after adding in the vanilla and salt.

For strawberry buttercream, add 1/2 cup of freeze-dried strawberry powder into the frosting after adding in the vanilla and salt.

Coloring This Hybrid Buttercream Frosting

I recommend using gel food coloring if you want to color this buttercream

It allows you to get vibrant colors without adding a ton of liquid to the frosting. I avoid liquid food coloring because it can throw off the consistency of the buttercream if you add too much.

My favorite gel food coloring is Americolor. It works so well and makes coloring buttercream a breeze!

I used different Americolor shades to color the frosting for my mom’s birthday cake this year (picture below) and I loved how vibrant it looked!

image of a strawberry cake frosted with a buttercream that's not too sweet

While some colors are easy to make, others can be more challenging.

I have a separate post that shares all my tips and tricks for making black buttercream and red buttercream frosting.

How Much Frosting Does This Recipe Make?

This recipe makes about 4 cups of frosting, which is enough to frost a 6-inch or 7-inch layer cake or 3 dozen cupcakes.

This recipe can be doubled if you have a 5 Qt. or larger KitchenAid or stand mixer, but it will give your mixer quite a workout (mine always gets quite warm when I make a double batch).

Tips for Making the Best Hybrid Buttercream Frosting

  • Don’t bother sifting your powdered sugar! Most brands in the US contain cornstarch to prevent caking, and this means no sifting is needed. Only sift if you notice clumps in your powdered sugar.
  • Make this recipe with a stand mixer if you have one. You can use a hand mixer, but it will take about twice as long to whip up the meringue.
  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature! If it isn’t, the frosting will break, and it can take a lot longer to get it to the right consistency.
  • If the frosting breaks or becomes soupy once you add in the butter, don’t worry! Just keep mixing and it should come back together in 5-10 minutes. When in doubt, keep mixing!
  • Switch to a paddle attachment once you’ve whipped up the egg whites and powdered sugar! It’ll help make the frosting nice and smooth.
  • Seal off the top of your piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from seeping out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.
  • If you make this frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple of minutes to get out any extra air that might have been incorporated during the mixing process.
image of sprinkles being added to a cupcake frosted with a perfectly sweet buttercream

Making This “Not Too Sweet Buttercream Frosting” in Advance & Storage Tips

Make this frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Be sure to give it a good mix with either a hand mixer or a stand mixer once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for up to a day or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

image of sprinkles being added to a cupcake frosted with a perfectly sweet buttercream

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. If you freeze the cake, transfer it to the fridge the night before you plan to eat it.

This will help it gradually thaw and minimize any temperature shock. Remove the cake from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cut into it.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try my perfectly sweet buttercream frosting recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 4 cups

Not Too Sweet Buttercream Frosting

image of a cupcake frosted with perfectly sweet buttercream frosting

This not too sweet buttercream frosting recipe is the perfect hybrid between American buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream! It's a dream to frost cakes and cupcakes with it, and I even use it to make wedding cakes!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Hybrid Buttercream Frosting (adapted from Minette Rushing's Faux Swiss Meringue Frosting)

  • 1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites from a carton, room temperature (120g)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (454g or a 1 lb. box)
  • 1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (339g)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)

Tools and Equipment

Instructions

Not Too Sweet Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Place 1/2 cup of room-temperature pasteurized egg whites and 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you plan to make it with a hand mixer).
  2. Mix on a low speed to combine.
  3. Once all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, mix on high with a whisk attachment for 5-10 minutes until the meringue has soft peaks. Sometimes the egg whites will be able to reach stiff peaks like in the picture above, but if you only get soft peaks, the frosting will still turn out great once you add the butter.
  4. Swap the whisk attachment for a paddle attachment. This will help make your buttercream super smooth once it's fully made.
  5. Mix in 1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks of room temperature butter on a low speed, one at a time. Wait until each stick of butter has been fully mixed in before adding the next stick.
  6. Once the butter is incorporated, mix on medium speed for an additional 5 minutes until the frosting looks fluffy. If the frosting breaks or becomes soupy once you add in the butter, don't worry! Just keep mixing and it should come back together in 5-10 minutes. When in doubt, keep mixing!
  7. Add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp of salt and mix on a low speed until combined.
  8. Stir for a couple of additional minutes by hand with a rubber spatula to get the frosting silky smooth. Then use as desired! This frosting is amazing on layer cakes, cupcakes, and macarons.

Notes

Yield

This recipe makes about 4 cups of frosting, which is enough to frost a 6-inch or 7-inch layer cake or 3 dozen cupcakes.

This recipe can be doubled if you have a 5 Qt. or larger KitchenAid or stand mixer, but it will give your mixer quite a workout (mine always gets quite warm when I make a double batch).

Tips for Making the Best Hybrid Buttercream Frosting

  • Don't bother sifting your powdered sugar! Most brands in the US contain cornstarch to prevent caking, and this means no sifting is needed. Only sift if you notice clumps in your powdered sugar.
    • Make this recipe with a stand mixer if you have one! You can use a hand mixer, but it will take about twice as long to whip up the meringue.
    • Make sure the butter is at room temperature! If it isn't, the frosting will break or can become soupy and it can take a lot longer to get it to the right consistency.
    • If the frosting breaks or becomes soupy once you add in the butter, don't worry! Just keep mixing and it should come back together in 5-10 minutes. When in doubt, keep mixing!
    • Switch to a paddle attachment once you've whipped up the egg whites and powdered sugar! It'll help make the frosting nice and smooth.
    • Seal off the top of your piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from seeping out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.
    • If you make this frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple of minutes, to get out any extra air that might have been incorporated during the mixing process.

    Making This Buttercream Frosting in Advance & Storage Tips

    Make this frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

    Be sure to give it a good mix with either a hand mixer or a stand mixer once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

    Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for up to a day or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

    A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. If you freeze the cake, transfer it to the fridge the night before you plan to eat it.

    This will help it gradually thaw and minimize any temperature shock. Remove the cake from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cut into it.

    Nutrition Information

    Yield

    4

    Serving Size

    1

    Amount Per Serving Calories 1008Total Fat 69gSaturated Fat 43gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 22gCholesterol 182mgSodium 353mgCarbohydrates 97gFiber 0gSugar 95gProtein 4g

    Lyra Sisk

    Thursday 16th of May 2024

    I have been trying to find a less sweet icing for piping. I came across this one and thought it looked great little did I know I would be whipping the egg whites and butter for over 1 hour now. The flavor turned out great but took forever, and recommendations?

    Chelsweets

    Sunday 19th of May 2024

    Hi Lyra,

    That is wild! You whipped them for over an hour?!? Was the mixture just like completely soupy up until that point? This frosting will still turn out even if the mixture doesn't have stiff peaks! Even if the meringue is at the soft peak stage, the frosting sohuld still come together once you add in the butter.

    I've never had to mix the egg whites and powdered sugar for more than like 10 minutes! Is there a chance they weren't at room temperature? Were you using pasteurized egg whites from a carton? Hopefully we'll be able to figure out why it took so long this past batch!

    Michelle

    Tuesday 14th of May 2024

    Mine is too creamy I don't know what I did wrong

    Chelsweets

    Sunday 19th of May 2024

    Hi Michelle,

    When you say creamy, do you mean it's too soft? Or not sweet enough for your palette? Let me know, and we can try to troubleshoot together!

    Melissa

    Tuesday 7th of May 2024

    This is a perfect less sweet buttercream in my opinion. My butter was soft but I think I didn’t let me egg whites get to room temp long enough, I got soft peaks but when I added my butter I had small tiny chunks all through it. I solved this by taking a small amount and warming in the microwave, then setting it back in the mix and whipped. It got all the small clumps of butter out and perfectly whipped up. So if you think you ruined it like I did, it can be saved!

    Chelsweets

    Monday 13th of May 2024

    Hi Melissa,

    I'm so happy to hear that!!! :) And that is the perfect work around, love that troubleshooting!!!

    Sandy

    Tuesday 30th of April 2024

    Can you freeze the icing in a piping bag? If so how long will it be good for in the freezer?

    Chelsweets

    Sunday 5th of May 2024

    Hi Sandy,

    Yes you can! It's good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it gradually in the fridge then at room temp when you're ready to use it again. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    Not Too Sweet Chocolate Frosting: Delicious & Fluffy

    Monday 8th of April 2024

    […] essentially the chocolate version of my popular not-too-sweet buttercream recipe, and it has an amazingly fluffy texture and a rich, decadent chocolate […]

    Skip to Recipe