The Perfect Crusting Buttercream

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I use this recipe when making my rose cake,


my hydrangea cake,

or any cake that I want the frosting to be able to hold its shape!

This makes quite a bit, but can be refrigerated quite easily.

The Perfect Crusting Buttercream


  • Crusting Buttercream
  • 1 bag powder sugar (two pounds or about eight cups)
  • 1 cup shortening (I used original Crisco)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (use clear if want white frosting)
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup milk


  1. Cream shortening and vanilla in mixer for 2-4 minutes. Add in powder sugar, one cup at a time. If you find your mixer struggling, slowing add in milk. Use more milk for a creamy consistency, use less milk for a stiff consistency.
  2. Alternate Method:
  3. Use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening. Place room temp. butter and shortening in mixer. Put entire bag of powder sugar on top, then add vanilla and 1/2 cup milk. Turn mixer on low and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn mixer up to med-high and mix for 2-4 minutes. Can add more milk to reach desired consistency.

And yes, I sometimes use half crisco/half butter.  This recipe is SWEET.  Super sweet.  If you dont like sweet, simply use less sugar.



*Some people seem to get very upset that I call this frosting a buttercream. 

I’m sorry.  I dont have a much better answer.  You are welcome to yell at me all you want in the comments. (Some already have!)


See more examples of how I use this frosting on my Rose Birthday Cake and Royal Wedding Cake.

I also share this decorating technique and many others in my new book, Surprise-Inside Cakes!  I am so honored and touched at the world wide support!  Be sure to let me know if you are baking from Surprise-Inside Cakes!




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    • Kayla says

      I use this same* recipe for my buttercream, but I use butter. I think it tastes better and I’m generally opposed to using shortening unless it serves a functional purpose in my recipes. Shortening will be cheaper to use than butter, but it doesn’t taste as good. I use salted butter, although some recipes specify to use unsalted. I just never have any in the fridge.

    • sara smith says

      shortening is necessary if youre looking for perfect white frosting and it holds better than butter. the problem is you will end up with plain-yet-too-sweet frosting and it doesnt tastes good.but you can always overcome this problem by adding enough amount of fine may not tastes as good as butter but it should be better.

      • Nerio says

        also you can use butter flavoring (the wilton one is excellent), if you use a full tablespoon of vanilla, then do half and half, sometimes i even put a little bit of almond and even tastes like a wedding cake… enjoy!

        • Lori Smith says

          I modified this by adding all BUT approximately one cup or slightly more of the powdered sugar. PLUS, I added 2 tsp of Wilton butter flavoring. PERFECT!

        • Elgie says

          you can add butter flavoring just like you add vanilla . I use it in my wedding and anniversary cakes

    • says

      Being a baker myself .. I can answer that question for you. NO it won’t be the same if you use all butter. The Crisco is what gives it the chance to dry and become a little harder when dried. I have made what this lady calls Butter Cream .. I called it Wedding Frosting that my Sister in law taught me how to make it 50 years ago. I have also used it on Sugar Cookies .. works well. Hope this helped

    • Katie says

      Butter is great too, but it has a tendency to melt in the hot weather so that is why people sub shortening. I actually like my recipe that is similar to this when I combine almond, vanilla and butter flavoring!

  1. Kim Jack says

    I was wondering if you can add a flavor to this recipe and if I do, do I need to take something out, like the vanilla or just not add as much milk?

    • says

      You can definitely add any flavoring you want! I would add the vanilla or extract of choice before you add in the milk, then you will be able to properly adjust the amount of milk needed to reach your desired consistency. :)

    • Pohakulua says

      I use butter flavor crisco for this and find that adding lemon extract makes delicious frosting. Of course you can only use that with some cakes. I do use vanilla with the chocolate cake or a white cake. Banana cake and Carrot cake are my most popular and the lemon is perfect for those.

  2. suzieq says

    butter can be used in place of shortening….but it wont hold its shape as well, especially in the warmer temps. i tried to make her hydrangea cake but bc i used just butter i couldnt get the shapes to hold. i now use a recipe that is similar to hers but i use 1 stick of crisco and 2 sticks of butter. it crusts and hold its shape better then just butter but also taste more like regular buttercream. : )

    • Lady Anne says

      The son of a friend of ours got married at home, and I offered to make the wedding cake as a gift. Mother of groom insisted she wanted to do it, even though she had never done this sort of thing.

      She used butter instead of Crisco, and the entire cake slid apaort before the ceremony was over. Another woman and I had to take a large spatula to remove the top and sit it beside the cake, before it fell on the floor.

      If you INSIST on using butter, add about 2 tablespoons of dry Dream Whip to the recipe to help it hold its shape, especially if the weather is hot and/or humid.

  3. alycia says

    As a flavor snob and a purist who believes that treats should taste as good as they are beautiful, I have to agree that if it doesn’t have butter and either egg yolk or egg white then it is not a buttercream! It is frosting. Might not sound as fancy, but an important distinction to make in order to maintain the integrity of the craft.

    • Cupcake Cutie says

      Jeez, it’s frosting, not the Mona Lisa. Integrity of the craft? We’re making some cupcakes here, you know what I’m sayin’? There’s nothing wrong with shortening. Bakers have been using shortening or lard for over 100 years. Come on. It’s astounding how people demonized butter in the early 20th century, then again with lard in the later 20th century, and now we’re back to butter. Ay carumba.

    • SouthGALady says

      I agree if there is no butter in it then it is NOT a buttercream. It is a frosting only. When you add butter then it becomes a buttercream. I love the idea of adding the dream whip. I personally don’t care for that flat tasting frosting. Even butter flavored Crisco to me tastes nasty. Sorry as I read some other posts below I disagree with you all. Regardless of what you are baking buttercream is made with REAL BUTTER!

      • says

        Hi SouthGA Lady! Sounds like you are quite passionate about buttercream!! Glad we were able to provide a place for you to share your opinion. I totally support you in that opinion, and support your right to state it. My thought process goes like this… if the definition of buttercream and my ingredient list are technically supported by the dictionary, then who am I to declare otherwise? If you never ever want to eat anything made with this recipe than that is your choice. Just like it is my, and others, choice to use whatever we prefer. Thanks!

        • says

          Hi Amanda!
          Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wonderful recipes and your creative talents with those of us who enjoy reading your blog. I don’t know why some people feel it is necessary to be so critical here on this site. Please don’t let those kind of people bring you down! I am sure the majority of your readers don’t care if your buttercream icing actually contains butter or not. Keep up the good work and keep those recipes coming!

          • Penni says

            I think your craft is very inspiring. I have recently fell in love with baking when I was hosting a baby shower for my daughter and found that all the cookies, cakes and other goodies where so costly. I did it all on my own, a Topsy Turvy cake, lil girl & flower cookie cut outs, dipped marshmallow, strawberries and pretzels. And NO it wasn’t the best but the feeling of accomplishment was more than I could ever have hoped for. You inspire me, I have your site open everyday and tell those who see, “Those are my dreams”. ; ) As far as Buttercream or not. Who cares as long as YOU ARE HAPPY with it….that is all that should matter. Your wonderful!

          • SarahOT says

            I reckon you can call it Shiny White Stuff & I’m still happy with it! :) Life is so full of things to worry about – baking is happy! I love your attitude, Amanda, you’re so sweet!!

        • Kathy says

          Hi I am in Australia and a lot of our ingredients are called different things lol, could someone please tell me exactly what shortening is . Thanks

          • Leslie says

            “Shortening is any fat that is solid at room temperature and used to make crumbly pastry. In pastries such as cake, which should not be elastic, shortening is used. Although butter is solid at room temperature and is frequently used in making pastry, the term “shortening” seldom refers to butter but is more closely related to margarine.”
            (Quote taken from Wikipedia)

            In North America, shortening is usually synonymous with lard, which is animal (usually pig) fat.

            Hope this helps :-)

          • Tiffany says

            Hi Kathy,
            In Oz we call it copha, like you use in choc crackles. Alternately use lard.

          • Tangle says

            Don’t use copha!, copha is vegetable shortening and wont work when making icing, it doesn’t soften nicely unless melted and then it’s just liquid and not good for anything other than chocolate crackles lol
            You can get shortening online or in some Aussie cake decorating stores. Also, sell crisco

          • Karen says

            Just to clarify the pig fat comment: Lard is animal fat. Crisco Shortening is all vegetable!

            Also, I just took a cake decorating class and the recipe the store uses for their buttercream uses Hi Ratio Shortening…not a drop of butter :) They cautioned us about using butter, especially in the summer, since butter softens/melts in warm/hot weather.

          • CelsLovesBacon says

            Hi Kathy,

            I thought this too (I’m also in AUS) but Coles do stock a few options.

            Allowrie is solidified animal fat, or Copha is solid vegetable fat. I’m not 100% sure whether either of these actually TASTE like Crisco, but I would say Copha is the closer comparison as it is vegetable based.



            I’m going to be trying this recipe over the weekend, so I will let you know how it turns out. Happy baking!!

  4. JessB says

    Hello, I just wanted to say thank you for contstantly amazing and inspiring me with your fantastic baking.
    For the first time this weekend, I filled a cake and iced it with buttercream – I’ve never had so many compliments!
    I really appreciate you posting such great recipes, sharing your tips and showing such beautifully decorated cakes and cookies.

  5. Jus' sayin says

    @Alycia then you should have a more constructive comment than telling this wonderful blogger something she already acknowledged in her post, like another name for this excellent, helpful recipe.

  6. mattlondon says

    i know this post is 8 months old, but i just wanted to interject.. that’s known as a “decorator’s buttercream”, hence the perfect crusting and consistency for flowers.. a “real” buttercream is more of a filling/coating

  7. AliRae says

    This stuff is wonderful, I especially love giving it a citrus spin with lemon and orange extract and a bit of butter flavoring!

  8. Cassandra says

    I made this today and loved it. Consistency is amazing. I substituted chai latte concentrate for the milk and added 2 bags of chai tea to it. Mmmmmmmm!

    Used butter flavored Crisco though and not sure about that…wanted butter flavor in a frosting that would hold up better than buttercream. Way strong butter aftertaste. Suggestions, anyone?

    • Gail says

      you can get butter flavoring in a bottle. Of course it is yellow in color but will give you that hint of flavor, about 1/4 tsp is what I use. I mix it with the Crisco before adding anything else! Hope this is helpful

    • A Jones says

      I use a little buttermilk about a tablespoon or so. Organic is best due to taste. It will give a buttery taste and still allow your frosting to crust. It also kills a bit of the sweetness.

    • SarahOT says

      @Jenny, I don’t know if anyone ever answered you or if you still need an answer, i didn’t realize all of this was from 2011! At any rate, Lorann’s is, for me, just a “teeny bit at a time” deal. I actually use an eye-dropper with mine, that stuff is strong! I haven’t tasted the marshmallow, but if it sounds yummy, i would just start with a little bit – like a section of extra frosting – and drop in a teeny bit, taste, then see what you think and slowly add in as needed.

      I always like to try the recipe “as is” as much as possible, except when i am subbing for a food allergy situation. Hope that helps :0)

  9. tammy bigelow says

    I was wondring if you have a good sugar cookie on a stick. We want to make a sugar cookie bouquet for my daughters baby shower this week. We bought a airplane cookie cutter and we wanted to put them in a vases for our center pieces. Also can I use buttercream frosting for decorating or should I use icing ?

  10. Shannon says

    I’m making a champagne cake for a Chanel-themed baby shower and wanted to do a champagne icing as well. Can I substitute champagne for some of the milk in this recipe and have the icing still stand up or will that affect the consistency too much?? THANKS!!

    • says

      Champagne buttercream sounds delish! I think you could easily add it in place of milk, but I would start with a small amount, like a tablespoon, and go from there. Have a wonderful day!

      • says

        If you are making champagne flavored icing, I would look into reducing the champagne down, so you don’t have to use all the water that comes along with the champagne. I boiled my champagne down from 2 cups to 4 tablespoons. It seemed to work out fine.

      • BobU. says

        I use champagne flavoring so as to not add too much liquid and to get enough of a “flavor bump.” I have also been reading lots of the post regarding Butter cream butter versus shortening. I usually add some meringue powder to help stabilize my frosting/icing whether I use all shortening, or shortening/butter blend. The problem with doing that is if the cake is for someone else you have to let them know in case anyone that will consume it has an egg allergy, the same goes for Italian, Swiss or French butter creams which all have eggs either whites, yolks or whole eggs. The problem I find with all butter is that you cannot get a true bright wedding white frosting if it’s part of the recipe. As far as taste goes a big problem I seem to see lots is that salt is omitted from frosting/icing recipes. This is REQUIRED as far as I am concerned because it cuts down on sweetness and enhances the other flavors. I usually use fine (popcorn) salt and dissolve it in the liquid that will be incorporated into the butter cream. Just my two cents worth.

  11. kathleen says

    I love the rose cake, it is beautiful. The recipe for the “butter cream frosting” could be called “White Icing” The CIA recipe for butter cream is quite simple, 2#butter 1/2-3/4# crisco 4# confectionery sugar, any flavoring you would like, it holds up well to piping, doesn’t get crusty and makes enough to frost and decorate a half sheet cake, sides and top

  12. Suzanne Glowicki says

    1/2 butter, 1/2 crisco + butter flavoring (near the vanilla) + a 1/4 t. almond extract = Great taste and excellent texture.

  13. Brandie says

    I am new to this ans want to try the rose cake but I have a question. Is the # symbol in the CIA recipe meaning cups? Thanks!!

  14. Faith says

    Hi! Can anyone tell me if I use this crusting buttercream to frost a cake…can the cake be refrigerated? Will the crusting buttercream “crack” ? Hope someone can reply me :)!!

  15. says

    Brandie, I often see the # symbol used to indicate weight, as in “#” meaning “pound”. Hope your cake is wonderful — both visually and flavorfully :D!

    I’m going to try the strawberry version substituting a seedless blackberry puree I made and froze last summer. I’m guessing it will be a light purple, doesn’t that sound enticing? 😀

  16. Claire says

    I absolutely love this rose cake. It’s simply gorgeous. I do have an issue with the icing however. I decided to go by this recipe rather than using my usual recipe for buttercream frosting. When I made this recipe, I found the frosting too grainy and it tasted way too much like sugar straight out of the bag. It also reacted funny when I tried to color it. I ended up doubling the amount of crisco because in my usual recipe, it was 1 cup of crisco to 4 cups of powdered sugar, rather than 8 cups. When I added the extra cup of crisco, everything balanced out and it was perfect.

    • zoe says

      i just want to ask,you said ( it was 1 cup of crisco to 4 cups of powdered sugar, rather than 8 cups. When I added the extra cup of crisco, everything balanced out and it was perfect.)that extra cup crisco is put in that for 4 cups sugar or 8 cups???thanks

  17. Philip says

    I love the rosette cake and have pinned it about 22 times! :) I am curious what tip you use when making the rosettes on the large cake?

  18. Sam says

    I Love the cake!!! I do have one question though. In your very first pictures i see this is a tiered cake…how did you tier the cake without messing up the bottom tier’s roses? Did you use any pillars for this?


  1. […] Speaking of our buttercream compared to other varieties!  Did you know that many bakers use a buttercream that has neither butter nor cream in it?  This is called “crusting buttercream.” (Doesn’t that sound delicious?  Just kidding.  The only thing I like crust on is my bread!)  Crusting buttercream is made from mostly shortening, powdered sugar, and some milk.  Some people add vanilla, butter flavor, or even a little real butter.  What makes this “buttercream” crust is the massive amounts of powdered sugar.  Part of what keeps powdered sugar powdery is the corn starch in it.  This cornstarch draws out the moisture in crusting buttercream and allows it to set up hard (and super sweet- seriously just look at this recipe). […]