Dessert | April 11, 2019

How to make the BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

 I few months ago I had the best buttercream frosting I’d everEVERever had.  It didn’t taste homemade. and it didn’t taste store bought. But it had to homemade? But it didn’t taste like buttercream frosting. Let me show you how to make the most delicious buttercream frosting for cakes and cupcakes!

 
buttercream frosting on a large beater

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  1. Butter
  2. Shortening (*GASP!* I know. read below why this is important)
  3. Powder Sugar
  4. Milk/ Heavy Cream or Evaporated Milk
  5. High speed mixer

three layer cake, stacked with frosting in-between.

WHY Use Shortening?

I stood to the side watching another lady literally lick the frosting off the cake plate while asking the chef how on earth she made it. Her secret was shortening. …uh, err. Since then i’ve come to understand the importance shortening can have in baked goods. If you want the best of the best use shortening when the recipe calls for it.

In frosting shortening does several things. 

  1. Flavor! It really changes and brings out delicious flavors of the frosting without making it overly sweet or buttery.
  2. Stability! It is a lot more stable than butter, which at the slighted heat (whether from the weather or your hands even) can become soft and melt your frosting. Whereas frosting made with shortening it will withstand the high and low temps much better!
  3. Texture!!! Creamy, smooth fluffy frosting with shortening!

Can I substitute shortening with butter?

Yes, you can substitute shortening with butter. HOWEVER you will be giving up on flavor and texture. 

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING OF YOUR LIFE!

PRO TIP 1: Room temp butter! Set butter out ahead of time. If you forget you can microwave it for a few seconds on each sides but you risk it becoming too warm/liquidy for the perfect frosting.

In a mixing bowl add butter and shortening and mix for about 30 seconds on high. So it is well combined and fluffy.

Butter and shortening in mixing bowl

In a mixing bowl add butter and shortening and mix for about 30 seconds on high. So it is well combined and fluffy.

butter and shortening mixed together so nice and fluffy

Now Add about 2 cups of your powder sugar and mix in on medium speed. Alternate adding milk and the remainder of your powdered sugar.

powder sugar added to butter mixture

HOW LONG DO I BEAT FROSTING?

Beating the frosting is a very important step. You’ve already been beating it for a few minutes now that you have added all the milk and powder sugar to the bowl. Continue to mix, beating the frosting  until it forms stiff peaks so the frosting will hold its shape. This takes between five and 10 minutes of beating using an electric mixer.

beater in frosting bowl

FAQ’s ABOUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  1. CAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING BE MADE IN ADVANCED? A. YES!! You can make buttercream frosting a few days before use, keep it covered and in the refrigerator. 
  2. CAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING BE LEFT OUT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE? A. Because of the large amount of sugar, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Services say that buttercream frosting made with small amounts of milk are safe to leave out at room temperature for two to three days. Buttercream made with cream cheese, however, is not safe to leave out and should be refrigerated.

HOW TO KEEP BUTTERCREAM FROSTING FROM BEING TOO THIN.

If you are having issues with your frosting holding its shape on the your cupcake or cake its probably too thin, or warm. Here are a few suggestions you can do to fix this issue.

  1. You may have added too much milk. Add additional powder sugar to thicken up the frosting to stiff peaks.
  2. Your butter was too warm and soft. (this is also why shortening helps stablize the frosting) Melted butter will act more like the milk than what a whipped creamy butter would for the frosting. Keep the butter at room temp.
  3. If you are making the frosting on a warm humid day it may be melting, or as you work with it in your warm hands through piping it can heat up and soften the frosting. If this is so, when making your frosting make it on the thicker side, and refrigerate your cake/cupcakes afterwards.

 

An overhead shot of buttercream frosting on cupcakes

Tip For quick and easy Piping

I like to use simple gallon sized bags. I cut the tip of a corner off, insert frosting tip (this is a 1M star tip) place in a big cup, with top rolled over and scoop in frosting! SO easy and disposable.
buttercream frosting in a piping bag

Other TIPS:

  1. For CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING add 1/2 cup cocoa powder.
  2. For Ultra white frosting use white vanilla you can find this often at baking stores and Michaels.
  3. When making a layered cake, as pictured I like to double the recipe!
  4. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes it’ll go so much further and much faster.

berries in crescent moon shape on top of cake

Keep in touch!

If you try this recipe  or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave us a comment below. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to see what else we’re getting up to!

5 from 8 votes
beater in frosting bowl
How to make the best ButterCream Frosting
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

The most delicious buttercream frosting ready in only 5 minutes. Use on cupcakes or any cake you like.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Best Buttercream, Buttercream Frosting
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 150 kcal
Author: Desarae
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter if you melt in microwave be SO careful. you easily risk getting it too runny, which will ruin your frosting.
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 4 cups powdered sugar about a half a bag
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • *3-4 TBS of Evaporated Milk can use milk
  • For Chocolate Butter Cream add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Beat butter and shortening together on medium speed for a few minutes. Turn down your mixer to slowest speed and slowly add sugar, vanilla. Turn mixer back to medium speed and **add milk /one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. beat for about 3-5 more minutes the less milk, the stiffer the batter- which is best if you are cake decorating if you get your frosting too thin, add powdered sugar to stiffen back up.

Recipe Notes

In frosting shortening does several things. 

  1. Flavor! It really changes and brings out delicious flavors of the frosting without making it overly sweet or buttery.
  2. Stability! It is a lot more stable than butter, which at the slighted heat (whether from the weather or your hands even) can become soft and melt your frosting. Whereas frosting made with shortening it will withstand the high and low temps much better!
  3. Texture!!! Creamy, smooth fluffy frosting with shortening!

Can I substitute shortening with butter?

Yes, you can substitute shortening with butter. HOWEVER you will be giving up on flavor and texture. 

FAQ's ABOUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  1. CAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING BE MADE IN ADVANCED? A. YES!! You can make buttercream frosting a few days before use, keep it covered and in the refrigerator. 
  2. CAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING BE LEFT OUT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE? A. Because of the large amount of sugar, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Services say that buttercream frosting made with small amounts of milk are safe to leave out at room temperature for two to three days. Buttercream made with cream cheese, however, is not safe to leave out and should be refrigerated.

HOW MUCH DOES THIS MAKE FOR A TIERED CAKE? 

If making for a tiered cakes as shown it will cover the cake, If you are using frosting instead of a filling for in-between the cakes then you will need to double the recipe.

Nutrition Facts
How to make the best ButterCream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 150 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 34mg1%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Sugar 19g21%
Vitamin A 120IU2%
Calcium 1mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

32 thoughts on “How to make the BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

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  1. Hey, I fully intend to make this frosting, but I also want the little rainbows. I’ve searched and searched and found similar items, but nothing in that color order. For some reason, it’s making a difference to me and I want those!! ha! So… do you know where they came from and where I can get my hands on them?

    1. They can be so tricky to find, and it always seems like when you need something it disappears from the shelf! I have seen them at target and walmart, and even the reg grocery stores- but it has always been random. They are called Airhead Extremes Rainbow berry Sour Candy. You can get them off amazon http://www.amazon.com/Airheads-Extremes-Rainbow-Berry-2-Ounce/dp/B004D7K19G. Try checking next to the sour straws in the candy isle or at the check out, I usually find them right by those. Good luck!

  2. 5 stars
    I have been in search of the frosting made from crisco shortening called “buttercream” for my whole adult life. I remember eating it when I was a kid back in the 60’s…OMG I just loved it. Ate the cake, left the frosting. I hardly ever eat cake these days, but when I do, I am looking for that taste I remember oh-so fondly!

    1. Make sure your frosting is a stiff frosting (less milk more powder sugar, also refrigerating it after its piped helps too). If the rainbows are not too long they stay up really easily. I only ran into problems with the rainbows were long and too tall for the cupcakes.

  3. Just wondering if there’s a mistake in the amount of sugar listed. I needed more icing then the recipe so I used 2 cups of butter 2 cups or shortening and 1 whole bag of sugar which would be 8 cups of powdered sugar and everything seems to be perfect. I’m wondering, should I really add the extra bag of sugar?

    1. No, If you feel your frosting is the perfect taste and consistency leave it! Sometimes humidity and other factors do make a difference in our baking and frostings. Also the temp of the air and of the butter, so go with your gut. If you feel the frosting is a little more runnier than you need for piping or it tastes little too much like butter then I would add a little milk and sugar. Otherwise leave it!

  4. Hello,
    It’s my first time to make buttercream frosting. Unfortunately, my powdered turned into hard rock. Can I substitute ultra fine sugar? If so what is the equivalent measurement? Thank you so much😊

    1. Hi Cherry, I have not tried ultra fine sugar. The closest sub I have used is to blend sugar in a high powered blender to make powdered sugar. You might be able to try this!

    1. yeah, I feel like the shortening doesn’t change the taste a whole ton but is a little lighter than if using butter. If you want, you can use butter as a substitute.

  5. 5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe which I’ve used as written successfully. I would like to use it again to pipe ‘leaves’ to decorate a cake. I’d like to know if this recipe will work if I add gel food coloring? TIA

  6. 5 stars
    I love buttercream made with crisco in it, I feel it is a more professional frosting. I made this today for some Christmas cupcakes for my son and his co-workers. It came out so light and fluffy! I did tweak it a bit, I doubled the recipe then added only 1 tsp of clear vanilla and 1T plus 1 tsp marshmallow flavoring taste pretty darn good!!!

  7. Hi, I just found your site and I’m excited to try your Buttercream Frosting recipe, but I have a question first. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of shortening. I noticed in one of the photos there are 2 sticks of butter, which would be a cup. Would I then use 1 cup of Crisco also? Thanks!

    1. If you are doubling the recipe you will use double of everything listed. I believe in these photos I doubled the recipe.

  8. Hi I made buttercream today using crisco with butter and I made buttercream with just butter to compare the stability. Strangely the crisco one is much much softer than the plain butter one. It doesn’t make sense? I added no milk to either. And I used 1:1 ratio on icing sugar for both as we don’t like it too sweet. Do you know where I could’ve gone wrong? Surprisingly the plain butter one is harder to touch! Any explanation would be helpful as I’m planning on making Tasting Boxes this weekend and I really can’t have buttercream that’ll melt!

    1. Is it possible you added a different amount of sugar by mistake. To stiffen the frosting just add a little bit more frosting. Otherwise- a few things may have caused this 1. humidity and 2. temp of the room :)

  9. The frosting recipe states 24 cupcakes, but the picture shows a 3 tier cake.
    So is it just 1 batch of frosting to cover the 3 tier cake, or more?
    And would it be full coverage plus decorations, or just enough for in-between the cakes????

    1. If you are not doing a filling for the layers of the cake and doing frosting instead I would double the batch. I’m not sure how big your cake is however, are you doing a 3″ 6″ 9″ It’s hard to know!

  10. Hi There

    Will this frosting ‘crust’ over enough so that I can frost Sugar Cookies and be able to stack them?

    Thanks