Learn how to make buttercream frosting with this easy tutorial. This is the BEST recipe for homemade buttercream, it pipes perfectly, and makes a great base for other frosting flavors too!
Today we’re covering how to make homemade buttercream frosting. Actually, we’re covering just how EASY it is to make your own frosting right at home. If you’ve been buying store-bought frosting, you’ll want to ditch it after seeing just how easy it is to make your own.
The best part? This recipe makes a great base for so many different flavor variations too! So, let’s get started.
You’ll start out with two sticks of unsalted butter softened to room temperature. I use unsalted butter in all of my recipes because the amount of salt in salted butter can vary quite a bit between different brands. By using unsalted butter, you control the amount of salt in your recipe.
You’ll beat the butter with a mixer for about 1 minute, just until it’s nice and smooth.
Next, you’ll mix in your powdered sugar (also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar). I typically only use about 3 cups of powdered sugar for a batch of this frosting. Some recipes call for quite a bit more powdered sugar, but I’ve found that 3 cups is all you really need. It’s best to sift the powdered sugar beforehand, but if I’m being honest I usually skip the extra step.
When you first start mixing the powdered sugar with the butter, mix it on low speed so you don’t end up throwing it all over the place. Once it starts to come together, you’ll mix in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream really work best in this recipe. You can use milk, but keep in mind that the frosting won’t be nearly as creamy or hold it’s shape quite as well. I usually just mix the frosting for another minute or so until everything is well combined.
Easy, right? The best thing about this recipe is that you can change it up to make different flavors of frosting. I’ve included 4 different variations below, but keep in mind that you can do so much more with this recipe. A few easy ways to change it up is to add different extracts like mint, almond, lemon, etc. and a little food coloring.
Here’s a few of my favorite cupcake recipes that you can use with this frosting:
Any of these cupcake recipes make an excellent base for this frosting. And the possibilities are really endless once you have a good cupcake and buttercream recipe. This recipe also makes enough to generously frost a batch of 12-14 cupcakes. If you prefer less frosting, you can cut the recipe in half. If I’m frosting a single layer cake, I cut this recipe in half as well.
*You can also find my full tutorial for how to prepare your piping bag and frost cupcakes here!*
How To Make Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt adjust to taste
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
Add in the powdered sugar and mix on low speed at first, then increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 1-2 minutes until the mixture starts to come together.
Add in the heavy cream (start with 2 tablespoons and add a little more if needed), vanilla extract, and salt and continue mixing on medium-high speed for another minute or until everything is well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Frosting can be made 1-2 days in advance, cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting cupcakes/cakes.
Frosting will also freeze well for 2-3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and mix well before frosting cupcakes/cakes.
This recipe will make a vanilla flavored frosting. If I’m just making plain vanilla frosting to pipe on cupcakes or frost a cake, I like to add an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract to amp up the vanilla flavor.
Measure out 1/2 cup (40 grams) of unsweetened cocoa powder, sift it, then mix into the frosting until well combined. Add in 1-2 extra tablespoons of heavy cream if needed for a smoother, creamier frosting. If you prefer your frosting sweeter, mix in an additional 1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar.
Mix in 1/3-1/2 cup of homemade or store-bought caramel sauce (start with 1/3 cup and add more if desired). For a salted caramel frosting, you can use salted caramel and just omit the salt in the recipe. Here’s my favorite recipe for homemade salted caramel sauce.
Add a 1-ounce bag of freeze dried strawberries to a blender or food processor and process until the berries are crushed into a fine powder. Then mix the freeze dried strawberry powder into the frosting until well combined.