How to Make Buttercream

Two Methods:Making Basic ButtercreamTrying Variations

Buttercream is the frosting of choice for cupcakes, birthday cakes and wedding cakes alike. That's because the rich, sweet flavor pairs perfectly with any type of cake. Best of all, it's very easy to make! Basic buttercream should be in any aspiring pastry chef's repertoire. See Step 1 to learn how to make it.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Method 1
Making Basic Buttercream

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    Beat the butter. Buttercream's texture is dependent on light, fluffy butter. It's necessary to start with softened (not melted) butter and beat it until it takes on a pale yellow hue and becomes quite malleable. Use an electric mixture or a stand mixture to beat your butter; it'll be a lot harder to whip in enough air using a whisk.
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    Add the sugar. Start with 3 cups of confectioner's sugar. Measure it out and dump it in your mixing bowl with the fluffy butter, then beat on low until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Turn the mixer to a higher speed and keep beating until the combination is light as a feather.
    • If you want to make chocolate buttercream, now's the time to add some unsweetened cocoa powder. Start with 1/2 cup. If you want the buttercream to be more chocolatey, you can always add more.
    • You can flavor your buttercream with other spices if you're not into chocolate. Consider cinnamon, cardamon, dried crushed rose or lavender - whatever suits your fancy.
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    Whip in the vanilla, salt and cream. To finish your buttercream, add the vanilla and salt, and start with 2 tablespoons cream. Beat the mixture until well combined. Your finished buttercream should be light, fluffy and spreadable.
    • If it seems too dry, add another tablespoon of cream - up to four total.
    • If it seems too wet, add more sugar.
    • You can use a flavor other than vanilla, like almond or mint.
    • You can color your buttercream by adding a few drops of food coloring.
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Method 2
Trying Variations

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    Make buttercream filling. By changing the ratio of butter to confectioner's sugar, you can create a buttercream more suitable for filling cakes and cookies. It's a little lighter than buttercream frosting, and can be flavored in any way you like. [1] Here's how to make it:
    • Beat 1 cup of softened butter until fluffy.
    • Add 1/2 cup shortening and beat well.
    • Add 1 pound of confectioner's sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and keep beating.
    • Add 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until creamy and spreadable.
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    Make buttercream fondant. If you're looking for a frosting more stable and sturdy than buttercream, but with the same rich flavor, buttercream fondant is for you. It's made with marshmallows and butter flavoring, so it emulates the flavor of buttercream but won't melt as easily.[2] Here's how to make it:
    • Microwave 8 cups mini marshmallows, 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract, and 2 teaspoons butter extract until the ingredients are melted together.
    • In a separate bowl, beat 2 pounds confectioner's sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon white corn syrup.
    • Combine the marshmallow mixture and the sugar mixture in a mixing bowl, and beat until fluffy.
    • Turn the dough onto a nonstick surface and knead for 10 minutes. Grease your hands with vegetable shortening to keep the dough from sticking.
    • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour before rolling it out and using it.
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  • If it's too liquid add powdered sugar, if it's too stiff add milk.

Things You'll Need

  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer

Article Info

Categories: Frosting Icing and Fondant