American Buttercream

This classic American buttercream recipe is the frosting that most people think of when they hear the word, "buttercream.” It’s sweet, creamy, very stable in hot temperatures, and the easiest buttercream to make. Perfect for frosting your cakes or cupcakes, piping flowers on a wedding cake, and using under fondant.
↓ Recipe Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 cups

Classic American Buttercream is a sweet, fluffy frosting that is very stable and develops a slight crust on the outside. This recipe is incredibly easy, only uses 5 simple ingredients, and takes less than 15 minutes to make. Follow this recipe for tricks on how to get your buttercream smooth and bubble-free, and how to avoid grainy, separated frosting.American buttercream photo

I have tested so many frostings to combat the summer heat, and American buttercream is the most stable. Many of my go-to recipes use egg whites, so if you are vegan or unable to eat eggs, American buttercream is a great option. It goes great with Funfetti cake, chocolate cake, or really any recipe.

American Buttercream Ingredients

american buttercream ingredientsButter is, of course, a key ingredient for “butter”-cream, so using high-quality butter is important. I like using Plugra or Irish butter, but Darigold is also a great option when butter is expensive! You can also use dairy-free butter if you need dairy-free buttercream. If you need stable buttercream for hot and humid climates, replace half of the butter with shortening. High-ratio shortening works best, but Crisco will work too.

Heavy cream is important to help thin out your frosting and make it fluffy, but you can also use water, milk, or non-dairy creamer.

How to Make American Buttercream

  1. First, bring your butter to room temperature. If your butter is not at room temperature, you will get lumps of butter. 
  2. Place the room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or an electric hand mixer) with the whisk attachment and mix together on medium speed until smooth. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the bowl often. Pro-Tip: If you need more stable buttercream, replace half of the butter with high-ratio shortening.hand with spatula adding a bowl of butter to a stand mixer
  3. Add in your powdered sugar one cup at a time while mixing on low speed until smooth.hand adding a cup of powdered sugar to the stand mixer bowl.
  4. Add in your salt, clear vanilla extract, and cream. If your buttercream looks too dry, you can add more cream until you reach the right consistency.hand pouring bowl of cream into a mixer
  5. Whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy.hand holding whisk covered in buttercream above mixing bowl.
  6. Optional: If it looks curdled and separated, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Pour it back into the mixing buttercream to bring it all together.
  7. Optional: To remove bubbles, mix on low with a paddle attachment for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth.piping swirls with american buttercream.
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap until you’re ready to use it. This frosting can stay out for a few hours but should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer if you don’t need it for a few days. Bring it to room temperature and mix on low before each use.
  9. This is enough buttercream to frost and fill three 8″x2″ layers, or 24 cupcakes.hand holding piping bag piping decoration on top of cake.

What are the different types of buttercream?

  • American buttercream (ABC) is made with powdered sugar, butter, and liquid. It’s very sweet, creamy, and the most stable in warm temperatures due to the high amount of sugar.
  • Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) is made by combining meringue with whipped butter and extracts. This buttercream is light, soft, and not very sweet. My Easy buttercream is an easy mock-Swiss buttercream recipe.
  • Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC) is made by pouring boiled sugar into whipping meringue. This produces a very stable and light buttercream frosting that’s not very sweet, but it is a little bit trickier to make. 
  • French buttercream is made with egg yolks or whole eggs in a meringue base. It’s similar to a custard or pastry cream, is not as sweet, and has a richer flavor compared to some of the other buttercreams.
  • German buttercream is made by combining pastry cream, butter, and powdered sugar. It’s very rich, silky, and not too sweet.
  • Flour buttercream or boiled milk frosting like Ermine frosting is an old-fashioned type of buttercream. It’s made by cooking flour and sugar with milk to make a sweet vanilla bean paste, then whipping that with butter and extracts.piping american buttercream on a vanilla cupcake.

FAQ

Does American buttercream melt in the heat?

ABC is the most stable buttercream in high heat and humidity. The combination of butter, shortening, and a lot of powdered sugar creates a crusting buttercream that prevents the butter from melting. White chocolate ganache and whipped dark chocolate ganache are also great options for high heat.

What is the difference between buttercream and American buttercream?

American buttercream is one of type of the many buttercreams out there. Vanilla buttercream frosting could be made with butter, shortening, meringue, boiling sugar, or other variations. People often use the terms “buttercream” and “frosting” interchangeably, but true frosting recipes do not contain butter as an ingredient.

What is American buttercream made of?

Many vanilla buttercream recipes use just butter, powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla. This frosting recipe has some variations with heavy cream, water, and vegetable shortening.

Which buttercream is best for wedding cakes?

It all depends on your preference and what you’re using it for, but I find that easy buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, or American buttercream works best for wedding cakes. If you live in a hot and humid area, you can always fill your cake with a less stable frosting like cream cheese or whipped cream, and then frost the outside with American.

Can buttercream be made ahead of time?

Yes, this American buttercream can last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer. Bring it to room temperature and mix it on low to make it smooth again. You can also add a little bit of extra milk to thin it out if needed.

How do I get the air bubbles out of my buttercream?

Mixing on low and using room-temperature butter are the first steps to smooth, bubble-free buttercream. If it still has air bubbles, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Pour it back into the mixing buttercream to bring it all together.

Why is my buttercream grainy?

Room-temperature butter makes a huge difference in the texture of your buttercream. If it is too cold, it will make the shortening form clumps and lead to a grainy buttercream. The type of powdered sugar you’re using could also be leading to grainy buttercream. Sifting the sugar can help avoid lumps.

How do you make your frosting white?

Buttercream tends to have a yellow tinge from the butter. Adding a tiny drop of purple food coloring can counteract the yellow in the frosting and make your buttercream whiter.

How do you get vibrant buttercream colors?

To color American buttercream, I prefer to use Americolor or Chef Master gels because they are very bright and help you achieve vivid color with not a lot of food coloring. The colors will darken overnight, but you can also remove about 1 cup of the colored buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Then pour it back into the mixing buttercream for a darker color.

Stabilized whipped cream

Cream cheese

Chocolate buttercream

Brown butter frosting

Strawberry buttercream

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!

American Buttercream

This classic American buttercream recipe is the frosting that most people think of when they hear the word, "buttercream.” It’s sweet, creamy, very stable in hot temperatures, and the easiest buttercream to make. Perfect for frosting your cakes or cupcakes, piping flowers on a wedding cake, and using under fondant.
4.91 from 92 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 1226kcal

Ingredients

American Buttercream Ingredients

  • 24 ounces (680 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 40 ounces (1134 g) powdered sugar
  • 5 ounces (142 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 3 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon butter extract optional for flavor

Equipment

  • 1 Stand mixer with the paddle attachment

Instructions

American Buttercream Instructions

  • First, bring your butter to room temperature. If your butter is not at room temperature, you will get lumps of butter. 
  • Place the room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or an electric hand mixer) with the whisk attachment and mix together on medium speed until smooth. Don't forget to scrape the bottom of the bowl often. Pro-Tip: If you need more stable buttercream, replace half of the butter with high-ratio shortening.
  • Add in your powdered sugar one cup at a time while mixing on low speed until smooth.
  • Add in your salt, clear vanilla extract, and cream.
  • Whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy.
  • Optional: If it looks curdled and separated, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Pour it back into the mixing buttercream to bring it all together.
  • Optional: To remove bubbles, mix on low with a paddle attachment for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap until you're ready to use it. This frosting can stay out for a few hours but should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer if you don't need it for a few days. Bring it to room temperature and mix on low before each use.
  • This is enough buttercream to frost and fill three 8"x2" layers, or 24 cupcakes.

Notes

  1. Butter is, of course, a key ingredient for “butter”-cream, so using high-quality butter is important. I like using Plugra or Irish butter, but Darigold is also a great option when butter is expensive! You can also use dairy-free butter if you need dairy-free buttercream.
  2. Heavy cream is important to help thin out your frosting and make it fluffy, but you can also use water, heavy cream, or non-dairy creamer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ounce | Calories: 1226kcal (61%) | Carbohydrates: 142g (47%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 75g (115%) | Saturated Fat: 48g (240%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 203mg (68%) | Sodium: 308mg (13%) | Potassium: 42mg (1%) | Sugar: 139g (154%) | Vitamin A: 2386IU (48%) | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 34mg (3%) | Iron: 0.1mg (1%)
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101 comments on “American Buttercream Recipe

  1. If i dont get a non diary creamer, is there another substitute i can use?

  2. 5 stars
    I stumbled on this recipe a couple of months ago and haven’t used anything else since – so many compliments about how fluffy it is, and not too sweet 🙂

  3. I have a kitchen aid 6 quart mixer. What would my measurements be?

  4. How much does this make? Would it frost a 2 tier wedding cake? 8in (2 layers) and 6in (3 layers) Which brand of high ratio shortening do you recommend? And the non dairy creamer….is that unflavored (I’m assuming)? I’m excited to try a test batch before I make it for the wedding cake. It’s safe to leave out for a wedding?

    1. It just depends on how much frosting you use. I would make a double batch for two tiers. I use regular shortening (crisco) non-dairy creamer can be flavored or not flavored. Yes it can be left out for a wedding. Thats what buttercream is for hehe sorry couldn’t resist 😉 Have fun!

  5. I attempted this recipe this weekend and it was a disaster. I obviously did something wrong. For one, I was using a hand mixer and that certainly didn’t help. But the main issue was it was too much sugar. By the time I had gotten 2lbs of it in, the consistency was like wet cement. If I had put the remaining 2lbs in it would have been dough. Can someone please tell me where I went wrong. I’m in desperate need of a good, easy, crusting buttercream and this recipe was my solution.

  6. Is the non-dairy creamer in liquid form or powdered/dry?

  7. Hello I absolutely love all your recipes and just had a question, when I made this it was very grainy. Did i not let it mix enough between each addition of powder sugar? Any help is greatly appreciated.

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious and a perfect crusting buttercream. For me it yielded more than 6 cups of frosting though (it was closer to 8 cups total when measured in my glass Kitchen Aid mixer bowl). Has anybody else experienced this?

    1. Thank you for the feedback. It can vary depending on how fluffy you make your buttercream (not a bad thing!) you can freeze the leftovers so you have some when you need it 🙂

  9. Do you weigh the shortening or measuring cup portion it out?

  10. I have a 6 quart mixer what measurements would I need to use

  11. Is the shortening really important or could I use all butter?

  12. 4 stars
    Hello, happy to find this website 🙂 I am new to cake decorating, but not to basic baking. My question is, do you think I could substitute an organic shortening such as palm oil that is firm at room temperature in place of Crisco type products? Thanks much for any feedback.

  13. Can I do the half of the Recipe u did
    I want to Try it

  14. 5 stars
    I recently made a cake and it was nice and smooth when I went to bed. A few hours later I checked it and had a big blowout. I used a paper towel and smoothed it down as best I could. When I got up this morning the cake wasn’t smooth…wrinkled. Will this help with the blowouts and the wrinkles? I love the decorating but am about to just give up. I’m a nervous wreck because of the constant worry about blowouts. Love you and you’re the best help we could every ask for.

    1. To try to avoid ‘blowouts’ I do as follows : bit of icing on cake board, add first layer, add icing/filling (buttercream etc) and then next layer of cake, now take something flat and larger than the cake layer and place it on top of your cake layer, press down gently, evenly and firmly, repeat until all your layers are done, this should help to settle your cake. Also avoid using really cold cakes because as they warm up to room temp the air in them expands which can also cause air pocket blow outs. Make sure your icing is stiff enough to avoid it being crushed and squeezed out other wise this can cause sagging fondant, if your filling is too soft but it’s the way you like it you can use a stiffer icing dam to prevent the cake layers crushing the filling.

      1. I’ve never heard of a blowout (unless talking about a tire or one of my patients having problems “down there”) in baking! This is interesting info! Thanks!!

  15. Hi Liz,

    Is this recipe good for hot and humid climates? I recently asked on the facebook page, and ganache seemed to be the answer, but I am not sure I want to go that route just yet.

  16. Is this recipe good to use to pipe buttercream flowers?

  17. I know it’s okay to be left out, but will it hurt the buttercream to be refrigerated after the cake has been decorated? I’m planning to use for flower decorations, but don’t want them to wilt.

    1. I always refrigerate my cakes after decorating 🙂 Just leave them at room temp for an hour or two before eating otherwise the cake will be very hard from being cold.

  18. Is this the type of buttercream that you can smooth using that “Viva Paper Towel Method”? Thanks for all of the wonderful information and recipes that you so generously offer to the “caking community”, you’re terrific!

  19. What are you using now that high ratio shortening is no longer available?

  20. 5 stars
    I Love this recipe so yummy! My question is how long can it be frozen? Thank you in advance ?

  21. 5 stars
    I was wondering after you have froze and thawed your buttercream how many days is it good for? Thank you in advance?

  22. Have you ever used almond extract in the frosting to make it have the more wedding cake flavor?

  23. 5 stars
    How would I make this into chocolate American BC? Would I replace some of the powdered sugar with unsweetened cocoa powder? how much would I replace in this recipe? Thanks!

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