The Perfect Crusting Buttercream

filed under: Decorating · Food + Drink on February 21, 2011

The Perfect Crusting Buttercream is the perfect frosting that goes on your cakes easily and sets which makes it perfect for a solid base as well as decorating into shapes that will keep their form. Try my American Buttercream Frosting for another versatile frosting recipe.

The Perfect Crusting Buttercream

This buttercream is sweet, and I do mean sweet! (You could probably guess that by looking at the amount of confectioners’ sugar in the recipe.) However, you can always use less sugar if you don’t want the crusting buttercream to be quite as sweet. You will also notice the recipe uses a cup of shortening. I have also provided instructions on making the buttercream using half shortening and half butter.


The Perfect Crusting Buttercream Ingredients

Sugar: Yes, you are reading that amount correctly…a 2-pound bag of confectioners’ sugar is used in this recipe (approximately 7 1/2 cups). You can always use less for less sweetness.

Shortening: Shortening (hydrogenated vegetable oil) is any fat or oil that is solid at room temperature. If you have heard of or seen a big can of Crisco, that is shortening. If you don’t want to use a full cup of shortening, I did provide instructions to make crusting buttercream with half shortening and half butter.

Vanilla: If you want white frosting, use clear vanilla extract.

Milk: Start by adding the minimum amount of whole milk to the frosting mixture. You can always add more until the buttercream reaches your desired consistency.


How to Make the Perfect Crusting Buttercream

This recipe is the recipe I use when making my rose cake, my hydrangea cake, or any cake that I want the frosting to be able to hold its shape! To get it made, first, cream together the shortening and vanilla. Next, add the confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time. Finally, mix in the milk, adding more until you have reached your desired consistency, and add the pinch of salt. This makes quite a bit, but can be refrigerated quite easily.

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.

How to Make Crusting Buttercream with Shortening and Butter

If you are using half shortening and have butter, the method to make the buttercream is a little different. First, add the butter (make sure it is room temperature) and the shortening to the bowl of a stand mixer. Next, pour all of the confectioners’ sugar on top. Then, add the vanilla, milk, and salt. Start mixing on low; then, turn the mixer to medium-high and mix for 2-4 minutes.


Looking for More Frosting Recipes?

The Perfect Brownie Frosting

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Cookie Dough Frosting

Easy Coconut Frosting

5 from 14 votes
Lemon Frosting Hydrangea
The Perfect Crusting Buttercream
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins

The Perfect Crusting Buttercream is the perfect frosting that goes on your cakes easily and sets which makes it perfect for a solid base as well as decorating into shapes that will keep their form.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream
Servings: 12
Author: Amanda
  • cups (2 pounds or 937g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup shortening, or ½ cup room temperature butter and ½ cup shortening (See alternate method of making buttercream if using butter and shortening.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, use clear if want white frosting
  • ½-¾ cup whole milk, as needed for desired consistency
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream shortening and vanilla (2-4 minutes).

  2. Add in the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time. If you find your mixer struggling, slowly add in milk. Use more milk for a creamy consistency; use less milk for a stiff consistency. Finally, add salt.

Alternate Method (Using ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening)
  1. Place room temperature butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer. Put the entire 2-pound bag (7½ cups) of confectioners' sugar on top. Then, add vanilla, ½ cup milk, and salt.

  2. Turn the mixer on low and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix for 2-4 minutes. Add more milk, if needed, to reach desired consistency.

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  • Ruth Gleason says:

    Your frosting is the same one Wilton Cake decorating classes had us use. Yes, it is a Butter cream frosting, because of the consistency not because it contained butter. Using butter you can not achieve the consistency and make the roses or have your piping turn out looking as nice as a bakery. Try adding Butter flavor instead of Vanilla extract if you want the flavor.

  • Ana says:

    I’ve adopted this recipe as my go-to for buttercream. Both vanilla and chocolate. And even a chai buttercream. But I’m stumped. I want to make a peanut butter buttercream and am wondering how I can use this recipe but incorporate peanut butter into it?

  • Marie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I use it all the time.

  • Liset says:

    Hi Amanda, i want to pipe rosettes, 8″ cake, 3 layers, should i double or triple this recipe
    Thank you

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Doubling would be plenty. 🙂

  • Liset says:

    I forgot to ask you about the shortening, is this hi ratio or i can use regular shortening crisco, the new crisco doesn,t have hi ratio
    Thank you

  • Sydlowsouth says:

    It’s your frosting and you can call it whatever you want. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa says:

    Just made this buttercream and it’s amazing paired with sugar cookies. Question: do u keep this buttercream on the counter or in the fridge? How long is it fresh for?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Hi Lisa! I keep it at room temperature for a couple of days or refrigerate for about 2-3 weeks. Just make sure it is being stored air-tight.

  • Amy Pattenden says:

    Can I leave at room temp? Or will it go bad ?

  • Veronica D Cantor says:

    I want to know more about cake decorating

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Veronica! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Check out the Decorating page with lots of ideas. Have a great day!

  • Yossu says:

    How well does this buttercream freeze?

  • Jan says:

    Is there any concern with using milk in recipe and safely leaving frosting out for length of time at room temperature? Your recipe looks great!

  • Cheri Hawley says:

    I was given this recipe in a cake decorating class 40 years ago and they called it a buttercream. Over the years I have modified it to make it less sweet by substituting 4 oz cream cheese for 1/2 of the butter.I I don’t know what to call this…it is not a “real” butter cream for the purest and diffidently not cream cheese frosting. Everyone loves it. They don’t care what it’s called.

  • D. Morgan says:

    I use a similar recipe. I also add 1 teaspoon of butter flavoring, 1/8 teaspoon of almond flavoring, and a heaping tablespoon of meringue powder.

  • Linda P Franklin says:

    I love this site…Thank You so much for all the wonderful information…keep up the great work…❤️❤️❤️❤️You are awesome ❤️👍

  • Joanne L Smith says:

    This recipe is AMAZING ❤
    Wish I had found it years ago.
    I only have a mid priced hand beater which unfortunately gathered the shortening in the centre of the beaters and held it there. I scraped it out and by-passed the creaming stage. I added a few spoonfuls of sugar at a time mashing it into the shortening with the back of a spoon.
    After adding all of the sugar and a dash of milk I used the dough hooks and mixed for quite a few minutes adding a little more milk as needed then finished it off using a spoon.
    I was making a smash cake that nobody would be eating anyway.
    I loved the way I could take a small amount, colour it and then add more milk to change the consistency I needed for any particular purpose.
    I didn’t use any vanilla or salt and even though I never creamed it, it was lump free and delicious.
    This spreads and pipes so easily and crusts quickly and allowed me to smooth the work with baking paper and a light rub.
    I was worried it would harden but the crust is so thin and the biggest bonus was that I didn’t have to refrigerate the cake at any time and had no separation of the icing.
    Made the cake the night before the party and left it at room temperature before serving at 2pm following day .. just perfect.
    Many, many thanks to you Amanda

  • Briannon Hutcheson says:

    Do you know why this would not set up? I did all shortening and had 2 cakes fall over the weekend even when I made the frosting super thick. They were melting at room temp.