Here’s a recipe for buttercream frosting that is perfect for cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Once you make homemade buttercream, you won’t go back to store-bought frosting!
I use buttercream frosting for so many of my recipes and I realized that I didn’t even have the recipe on my blog. So I am finally getting around to sharing it!
Homemade buttercream frosting doesn’t even compare to store-bought frosting in a can. Or even the frosting on some cakes and cupcakes. It’s so easy to make and so worth it.
This is a recipe for buttercream frosting that I use on my cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bars.
Where is a recipe for buttercream frosting? In this post, I will share step-by-step instructions with photos for how to make the frosting, as well as answering FAQs about the recipe and sharing a short video showing the recipe in motion. But you can go directly to the recipe by scrolling down to the bottom of the post.
Why use shortening in a recipe for buttercream frosting?
Using a combination of butter and shortening gives you the best combination of taste and stability.
The shortening is 100% fat and doesn’t melt like butter does when it gets warm. So, the shortening will make the frosting more stable. This is especially important if you’re bringing your dessert somewhere to share and the space might be warm.
On the other hand, shortening doesn’t have the flavor that butter does. You can make an all shortening frosting but the only flavor it will have is whatever you add to it.
Adding artificial flavors can therefore make the frosting taste artificial. So that is why this buttercream frosting recipe uses a combination of both butter and shortening.
What does beat until light and fluffy mean?
The instructions for this recipe and many other recipes of mine, say to “beat the butter and the shortening together until they are light and fluffy”. That means you beat the mixture until it is light in color and fluffy in texture.
The butter will go from looking yellow to light yellow or almost white. In the photo above, you can see how light and fluffy the butter and shortening look after beating them.
Why sift the powdered sugar when making buttercream frosting?
It is super important that you sift the powdered sugar when making buttercream frosting. That is how you eliminate lumps in your frosting. It’s kind of a pain to take the time with an extra step but it really does make a huge difference.
Start by measuring out how much powdered sugar you need and then sift the powdered sugar after you’ve measured it. Sifting the powdered sugar is actually faster and easier than you may think.
Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to press the clumps through the sieve. If you were to just dump the powdered sugar into the buttercream without sifting it first, all of those clumps would end up making the buttercream frosting lumpy.
Gradually add about half of the sifted powdered sugar to the cream butter and shortening a 1/2 cup at a time. Allow the powdered sugar to mix in a bit before adding more.
After about half of the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add the half-n-half mixture. Then, gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar.
Should I use milk, half-n-half, or heavy cream?
You can use milk, half-n-half, or heavy cream to make your buttercream frosting. I’ve even seen recipes that call for water as the liquid. This recipe calls for half-n-half.
I prefer using half-n-half or heavy cream because they add extra creaminess to the buttercream.
What kinds of flavoring can I use in my buttercream?
A recipe for buttercream frosting can include any kind of flavorings or extracts you want to use. I use vanilla extract 99% of the time when making the buttercream. It has the best flavor and I don’t usually need super white frosting.
If I am concerned about the color of the buttercream being more white, I use clear vanilla flavor because it is clear instead of dark brown like the vanilla extract is. The difference is that the clear vanilla is artificially flavored.
The great thing is that you can use any flavoring or extract you want. Other popular frosting flavorings include peppermint extract, almond extract, and maple extract. When trying a new flavor, start by mixing in a small amount, taste the frosting and then increase if needed.
Don’t forget that you can also add food coloring to your buttercream to tint it any color you desire! Remember that the flavorings, extracts, and food colorings are liquid so they can change the texture of the frosting. If you add too much liquid it will get runny and you’ll need to slowly add more powdered sugar.
Which attachment should I use to make buttercream frosting?
A recipe for buttercream frosting should be made using the paddle attachment on a KitchenAid stand mixer.
If using a hand mixer, use the beaters which look like a heavy-duty whisk. Also, keep in mind that you may want to add the liquids early on so that the motor isn’t overworked.
The whisk attachments for either mixer aren’t strong enough to handle beating all of the powdered sugar into the butter and shortening.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe FAQs
1. What should I do if my buttercream frosting is too thick? If your buttercream frosting is too thick, you can add more half-n-half, a tablespoon at a time. After beating in the half-n-half check the consistency before adding more.
2. My buttercream frosting is too thin, what should I do? When you buttercream frosting is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar, a little at a time, until the frosting reaches the right consistency.
3. What can I do about soupy or curdled buttercream? If it is soupy or curdled looking, you either added too much liquid or the buttercream is too warm. First, try chilling it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes (or longer depending on how warm it is) and then beat it again. If it is still too soupy, try adding more powdered sugar (see question 2 above.)
4. How can I fix lumpy buttercream? Lumpy buttercream is usually a result of two things. Either the butter wasn’t softened or the powdered sugar wasn’t sifted. Once everything is mixed together and you find lumps, you first need to determine what the clumps are.
If the lumps are butter, you can beat the buttercream longer. Or warm the bowl slightly to help soften the butter and then beat until smooth.
Or if the clumps are powdered sugar, you can try beating longer but be careful not to overbeat or the buttercream will “break” or separate. Sometimes the only solution for lumps of powdered sugar is to pick them out. Or if that is too much work, to ignore them.
5. Why does my icing have air bubbles? The air bubbles come from beating the frosting. If you notice air bubbles, stir the buttercream by hand with a wooden spoon for a few minutes to remove them.
Here Are Some Ways To Use Buttercream Frosting
The BEST Sugar Cookie recipe for soft, tender cookies with NO refrigeration needed, NO rolling dough and NO cookie cutters! Delicious when topped with buttercream frosting.
This Hot Cocoa Cake is the perfect thing to enjoy after a day of fun winter activities. With hot chocolate buttercream, chocolate ganache, and even mini marshmallows, this cake is sure to be a hit!
Try it on these chewy Peanut Butter Cookie Bars from Taste of Home and they won’t last long!
These fun Watermelon Cupcakes have actual watermelon baked inside with a swirl of buttercream and mini chocolate chips for seeds on top.
This recipe for Brown Butter Sugar Cookie Bars with buttercream frosting is perfect for serving at parties and easier to make than sugar cookies.