How to Make Buttercream Frosting

how to make buttercream icingFor many people, the best part of a cake, a cupcake, or any other similar type of sweet treat is the icing. While that’s not necessarily true – the icing and the cake should complement each other for the most enticing dessert option possible – the icing is pretty important. And when it comes to icing, one of the most popular varieties available is flavorful, rich, sweet buttercream.

There are many reasons that buttercream icing is so popular, and it’s not just the rich flavor – although that plays a big part. Buttercream icing is also easy to color, easy to spread, and has just enough body to allow you to create beautiful and tasty cakes. Later, you can learn how to decorate cakes with both buttercream and fondant in this great Udemy course. For now, let’s focus on making buttercream icing itself – something that is actually relatively simple, so long as you have a great recipe and a little bit of baking know-how.


There are many different recipes for buttercream. However, this one produces a consistently smooth and creamy icing with a rich, delicious flavor that is perfect on many different types of cakes.

  • 3 to 4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Ideally, you should have a stand mixer for the process of creating buttercream icing. However, a hand mixer – while it may take a little bit more care – can work just as well for this process.

Begin by ensuring that your butter is softened to room temperature, but not melted. Using your stand mixer, first blend together the softened butter and the shortening until completely mixed together. Continue blending at a medium speed for about two minutes.

At this point, you can begin mixing in the confectioner’s sugar. Do so 1/2-cup at a time, blending each until it has been fully combined with the butter and shortening mixture. After each 1/2-cup of confectioner’s sugar has been fully blended into the mixture, briefly turn the stand mixer onto its highest speed setting. This will help to give the icing the right texture.

Once you have added three cups, check for the icing’s consistency. For decorating cakes and creating design features such as borders and flowers, you may opt to use all four cups of confectioner’s sugar to create a stiffer icing. However, this is ultimately up to you.

Once the sugar, butter, and shortening mixture is completely blended, add in the whipped cream and the vanilla. You can continue to tweak the icing at this point to make it stiffer or softer, depending on your needs, by adding in small amounts of cream or confectioner’s sugar, 1/4-cup at a time.

If you are coloring your icing, add in a food coloring gel at the same time that you add the whipped cream and vanilla. Do remember that the food coloring you use is a liquid, and may soften the icing, so plan accordingly to avoid the icing becoming too soft for your needs.

This recipe will make approximately three to four cups of icing. That is enough to decorate either two single-layer cakes (with some leftover) or a large two-layer cake, with enough icing to be used as filling for the cake.

Vegan Buttercream Icing 

As great as buttercream icing is, it is simply not an option for those who follow vegan diets and those who are lactose intolerant. For a yummy vegan alternative to the aforementioned recipe, choose a 1/2-cup of dairy-free soy margarine in place of the butter in the original. Instead of whipped cream, we recommend vanilla almond milk or vanilla coconut milk substitute. You can even use thicker vanilla coconut “cream”, which is often used as a vegan replacement for coffee creamer.

For more information on cooking vegan and vegetarian foods, check out this great vegan cooking course on Udemy. There are many great ways to create appetizing alternatives to desserts like these, as well as many other popular desserts and foods.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing 

Whether you choose to use it on yellow cake, chocolate cake, or even on fudge, chocolate buttercream icing can be an incredible and scrumptious alternative to ordinary chocolate icing. Chocolate buttercream icing has a rich flavor that is the perfect complement to many different kinds of desserts.

  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Prepare this chocolate buttercream icing in the same manner in which you would prepare the vanilla buttercream icing above. Add the confectioner’s sugar first, and finish with the addition of the cocoa powder.

While you can use natural vanilla extract if you prefer a more traditional buttercream flavor along with the chocolate flavor, natural almond extract can produce a rich and nutty flavor that complements the cocoa well.

For another unique alternative, you can also choose to use dark cocoa powder to create a rich, dark chocolate buttercream icing.

Strawberry Buttercream Icing 

Strawberry is a popular favorite when it comes to icing, and strawberry buttercream icing is an especially sweet and tasty treat that tastes great on many different types of desserts. You have two different options available to you when creating strawberry buttercream icing – you can either use strawberry extract, or you can make a fruity and flavorful strawberry puree with real berries.

The preferred method is always to use real strawberries, though the former option can be fine in a time crunch. Simply blend a cup of strawberries in a food processor, and then transfer the mixture to a saucepan, where you will bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once the mixture has been reduced by about half, let the strawberry puree cool while you prepare the rest of your icing. Add two tablespoons of this mixture into the icing during the final stages of making the buttercream icing for a flavorful treat.

You can do this with any other type of berry for an even tastier twist, including raspberry and blueberry. Play around with different options to see what you can create.

Whether you are looking to create yummy desserts for your family or you want to get into the baking business, learning to make buttercream icing is essential. You can learn how to make even more delicious desserts in this beginner’s pastry course from Udemy, and be sure to check out this great course on baking many types of incredible cookies to learn how to make even more sweet treats.