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, 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.

Buttercream That Sets Firm

American buttercream is also sometimes referred to as “crusting buttercream” because it forms a thin crust after being 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. It will last about a week in the refrigerator.
Rainbow Frosting!

Can you add food color to buttercream?

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.

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
basic-american-buttercream-3
4.91 from 42 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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • Combine the butter, sugar, and flavorings in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  • 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.
  • Adjust the consistency with milk as needed.
  • Store unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container and bring it back to room temperature before using to pipe or frost.

Video

Notes

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

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

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

    1. Did you mean stiff flowers? If so, then no. You would need royal icing for that. Buttercream will always stay soft while forming a very thin crust. When you push your finger on it slightly, it will smoosh. If you pushed slightly on a royal icing decoration, nothing would happen to it, except cracking and breaking if you push hard.

  1. Would like to make this buttercream with raspberry jelly folded in. Do I need to adjust any of the other ingredients to keep the consistency the same?

  2. Thanks for the review of making buttercream frosting I.Ive made many wedding cakes. It’s been awhile since I’ve baked a wedding cakes. I enjoyed the information it really refreshed my memory.

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