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. 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
4.92 from 37 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.

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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  • Eleanor Drcaro says:

    Looks delicious & creamy

  • Lorraine Nunez says:

    I would like to make home made chocolate icing. I remember as a chikd my mom use powder sugar butte, evaporated milk, extract and chocolate syrup

  • Mary Daniel says:

    Nice 👍🌹 recipes

  • La milagros says:


  • LaVonne MacGrath says:

    I am a beginner when it comes to cakes and cupcakes. I have always preferred making pies. But I live the cute cupcakes I have been seeing. So I tried using a kit with premade frosting. At least I had some practice but the frosting tasted awful. I m so intimidated by those frosting bags and the tips. Any advice?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Just get in there! Once you try it, practice, you’ll see that there is no wrong way to pipe and that it can actually be very fun! 🙂

  • Vanessa says:

    I want to make my mother a strawberry cake for her 90th birthday!! Any good yet simple recipes??

  • Genevieve says:

    Thank u for sharing😻😻

  • Nanasharon says:

    Lavonne MacGrath practice on a sheet of wax paper or a silpat sheet. Then you can reuse over and over until you’re ready to pipe on your cake or cupcakes, etc. that’s how I learned.

  • Sharon says:

    Does it really stay firm? I leave in a tropical island and it’s hot as hello.very humid. I bake at times just for pleasure. And would really love to do the buttercream frosting without having to refrigerate

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      A tropical island is a bit of a different story. I would use all shortening or a butter/shortening combination for a bit of extra added protection.

  • Jenni says:

    Ive just used this for my mother in laws 60th birthday cake. Everyone loves it, thank you!

  • Joyceline says:

    Awesome recipe

  • Sha says:

    If I don’t want it too sweet how much cups of sugar can I use Instead Of 8 cups of powdered sugar ?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      I work with iambaker and am happy to help out with questions!
      Hi, Sha! You can definitely decrease the amount of sugar. Have a great day!

  • Kasia says:

    This frosting was divine. We added vanilla and almond extract to use on our sugar cookies. I do have a bit left over, how long would you say it last airtight in the fridge?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Kasia! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. The buttercream will last for about a week in the refrigerator. Have a great day!

  • Eileen says:

    Just amazing first time baking so proud of my self thank you 😊

  • Tecyleen Tatogmai says:

    i love all your goodies here on facebook and instagram.Thank you for sharing your recipes here.I makw the brownies and chocolate chip cookies ,etc

  • Nadia says:

    Really explained beautifully and easily understandable. Keep up the awesome work. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela R Via says:

    Thank You

  • Tammie Burns says:

    Can you use Granulated sugar instead

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Tammie! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. No, I would not suggest using granulated sugar; it is too grainy. Have a great day!

  • Val Nijm says:

    I have made this recipe countless times and it never fails! I am so happy you shared this recipe with us all. Cheers!

  • Mariya says:

    Your recipes are awesome
    Thanx for the help 😋
    I loved ur recipe😍

  • Lily Hart says:

    Probably the best buttercream I’ve ever made!

  • Jan says:

    Your frosting is yummy! Since the frosting has milk in it, is it okay to leave it out on the counter once you’ve frosted your cake?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Jan! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. A cake with buttercream frosting can sit out for a couple of days at room temperature. I would recommend covering it with a cake cover. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Joan Amell says:

    I use whipping cream instead of milk.a richer fluffier frosting

  • Paula Jayne says:

    I making frosting all the time but how do you get it so white as our putter is yellow in the UK. Can you tell me what butter you use please

  • Linda Abercrombie says:

    Recipes look very easy.