American Buttercream Frosting

filed under: Cakes on July 10, 2018

American buttercream is the easiest style of buttercream to make with very few ingredients and steps. American buttercream is a classic with home bakers because of how quick it is to make and how versatile it is for cupcakes and cakes! Be sure to check out the perfect Cake Recipes and Cookie Recipes for all your decorating needs!

Buttercream Frosting

What is American Buttercream Frosting?

American buttercream is by far the easiest style of buttercream frosting to make and is the one most commonly used by home bakers. If you have ever made a frosting by creaming together butter and powdered sugar with vanilla or other flavorings then you have made American buttercream!

American buttercream, also known as simple buttercream or decorator’s frosting, calls for very few ingredients and steps. Typically a ratio of two parts sugar to 1 part butter is creamed together with a small amount of milk and flavorings.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

What is American Buttercream Like?

American buttercream is slightly ivory in color, thick in texture, and pipes easily. The ratio of sugar to butter in American buttercream is much higher than in Swiss meringue buttercream or Italian meringue buttercream, making American buttercream the sweetest of the varieties.

American buttercream is also sometimes referred to as “crusting buttercream” because it forms a thin crust after exposed to air for some time. This characteristic can be desirable at times such as when doing intricate piping work or when frosting cookies that will be stacked.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting

 How to Make American Buttercream

  • To properly cream the butter and sugar to form the buttercream, the butter must start at room temperature. If the butter is too cold, the emulsion might break causing a separated buttercream.
  • A lighter variation on this buttercream can be made by whipping the butter for a longer period of time to make a whipped buttercream.
  • American buttercream stands up well to being flavored with extracts, spices, cocoa powder, and jams or curds.
  • If the buttercream will not be used right away it must be stored in the refrigerator. It will firm up quite a bit and should be allowed to come back to room temperature before piping or spreading. Depending on how long it was stored you may need to re-mix it quickly.

Rainbow Frosting!

Can you add food color to this recipe?

Absolutely! It accepts color so beautifully. I like to make big batches of this buttercream and use McCormick food color to achieve the colors I need. I find that color matching frosting can be tricky so I like to have more on hand rather than less.

4.84 from 18 votes
Basic American Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
10 mins

American buttercream is the easiest style of buttercream to make with very few ingredients and steps. American buttercream is a classic with home bakers because of how quick it is to make and how versatile it is for cupcakes and cakes!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 222 kcal
Author: Amanda Rettke -
  • 4 sticks (1 lb, 454 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups (2 lb, 907 g) confectioners sugar, sifted
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1-3 tablespoons whole milk as needed
  • extracts and flavorings as desired
  1. Combine the butter, sugar, and flavorings in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Start mixing on low speed until the sugar is incorporated with the butter. Increase the mixing speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Adjust the consistency with milk as needed.
  4. Store unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container and bring it back to room temperature before using to pipe or frost.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Note: This recipe makes enough buttercream to generously frost 24 cupcakes or a 2 layer 9” round cake.

 Buttercream Flavor Options

  • Vanilla American Buttercream: Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Chocolate American Buttercream: Add 1 cup of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
  • “Wedding Cake” American Buttercream: Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Lemon American Buttercream: Add 3 TBSP lemon zest and ¼ cup lemon juice. Remove the milk and increase the confectioner’s sugar to 9 cups.
  • Strawberry, Raspberry, or Blackberry American Buttercream: Fold in 1 cup of seedless preserves


Want more Buttercream Frosting Recipes? Check out these winning recipes:

Perfect Crusting Buttercream

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

Chocolate Buttercream

Basic Vanilla Buttercream (Neopolitan Cake)

Kristin “Baker Bettie” Hoffman is a trained chef and online baking instructor. Learn more about the “whys” of baking on!

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  • Frances says:

    What kinder of mixer is that – it has two whisks and just sits in the bowl- cool

  • Shirisha says:


  • Elise says:

    Wow thanks for sharing can’t wait to try it out

  • Mattie Willingham says:

    looks like I am going to enjoy this site. I am always looking for a way to make my own cupcakes in butter cream frosting. I love a good cupcake in the frosting is very important to me. I have to watch my sugar intake as well. I am also trying to eat more Heather so i can keep my weight down. I love to have ladies night in I like mix drink in frozen drinks as well. So I am going to give the site a chance.

  • Curtis says:

    This frosting was WAY too sweet! I would recommend adding vanilla and less sugar. The texture was good though.

  • Soniya says:

    wonderful i love it !!!

  • Regina says:

    I don’t like a frosting to be too sweet, can I use less sugar and if I do will it come out to the same consistency ? Thank you

    • Amanda says:

      You can use less sugar!

  • Hettie Wilkerson says:

    I took a decorating class over 45 years ago . The instructor told us if we would substitute water for the milk that the frosting would last longer and the taste would not be altered . Everyone loves my buttercream/bakery frosting .

  • Marina says:

    I made the blueberry coffee cake It is soooo delicious, my family loved it so bad and it’s very easy. Thank you for the recepie.

  • Deepti gaikwad says:

    Thank you so much dear Amanda.. Vedio was very helpful.. Thankyou as it was wish to learn how to make butter cream love you

  • Virginia Dean says:

    Now my go to recipe for perfect Buttercream Frosting. I used Vanilla Extract but I am sure Almond Extract would be delicious too. Plus I used half and half instead of whole milk. Will be great for piping too! Blended easily with an electric hand mixer. A really great recipe! Thanks!

  • Jessie Gairdner says:

    Tried it and adjusted the sugar, very good and will use this as my go to icing!

    P.S. what is the make of that mixer that is used in the video?

  • Candi says:

    I noticed one tiny error in the written text for the buttercream. You said to use the paddle but the video shows the whisk for beating…which is it?

  • Teresa says:

    That’s a Bosch mixer.
    Great for kneading large batches of bread dough.

  • zelda says:

    the frosting was great. Just found your sit, will be book marking it. Thanks

  • Marcia Hill says:

    Can you use vegetable shorting instead of butter and what would be measureme

  • Tammy says:

    Used your buttercream recipe last night to decorate 16 doz cupcakes for a party. The frosting was delicious. However, 1 batch covered 48 cupcakes. I was pretty generous too. No complaint, just my comment. Thanks for all your recipes! I’ve used many and always love them!

  • Sonya says:

    What kind of mixer do you use? The one that I seen in the video on Pinterest video had to whisk attachments and i have never seen one of those before.

  • Asima asad says:

    Thanx dear…love your cake…

  • Deb Garrison says:

    Looks awesome

  • Diane says:

    Similar buttercream recipe has been our family’s go-to frosting recipe for generations. Same except we halve the amounts and still find there’s plenty of frosting for a 2 layer 9″cake.
    Sub cream cheese for the butter for frosting on carrot cake.

  • Marie says:

    Love all the flavors of buttercream!!

  • Blair says:

    What brand of butter do you recommend or fat content?

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