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. It will last about a week in the refrigerator.

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.

 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 41 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.

Did you make this recipe?

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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 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. I’ve been making butter cream frosting since I was six years old. It’s so easy I do not like canned frosting. I don’t understand why anyone would buy when you can make. But these days people pay for boiled eggs. ?? Thank you for sharing your recipes.

    1. Hi, Stacey! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Sure! Have a great day!

  2. I’ve been making and decorating cakes for many years now, with that ratio of sugar and butter (I often do half butter and good shortening), you’ll need more milk that that to make a spreadable consistency. Also, corn syrup can be substituted for part of the milk. That will make the spreading much smoother. I lightly spray the just iced cake to make it smooth out better.

  3. I’ve been looking for a buttercream for my cookies that will crust. Can’t wait to try this. Do you have to keep the cookies refrigerated?

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