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.
4.93 from 85 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. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. I made my first wedding cake last weekend and the bride and everyone else gave rave reviews. During my cake testing I used my old recipe and everyone, including me, thought it was too sweet. I’ve been using cream cheese buttercream because of the sweetness of vanilla. Now I can use vanilla buttercream!

  2. can you reduce the butter by 1/2 and the difference to hi ratio amount.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the recipe. But can i use milk instead of creamer?

  4. Hi Liz. So you use All Vegetable Crisco shortening in your recipe? Before the Trans Fat ban, I was using Alpine Hi Ratio Shortening for my buttercream. Worked awesome. Then I ran out and bought Alpine Soy Flex Shortening. The first cake I frosted using this shortening was a total disaster.. it literally was melting off the cake, even with my air conditioner going full blast. Since then I don’t trust it.. I have read on some sites that to make buttercream stable after the Trans Fat ban, use a shortening that is part meat fat and vegetable fat. I did find that type of shortening from Walmart (Great Value brand) and it works okay, but you have to order the shortening online to the store. And they only have 42 ounce cans of it. I am just curious as to how your straight crisco vegetable shortening crusts without any meat fat in it. Now I have the remaining of the 50 lb box of the Alpine Soy Flex Shortening that I don’t know what to do with.. (any ideas??) lol.

    1. Hi Denise, yes I use all vegetable crisco. Frosting crusts because of how much sugar is in the recipe, not the type of fat. You can make a crusting recipe with all crisco or all butter if there is enough powdered sugar in the recipe. Hope that helps

  5. Good evening!
    I would like to make a double velvet cake for my nephew’s birthday. So I would like to know If I can make the whole cake from the previous day without the fear the buttercream to be melt or to lose taste and appearance.
    Thanks in advance

    1. Yes of course, not many people can manage to bake and frost a cake all in the same day. Check out my tutorial on how to make your first cake for more info.

  6. Hi!!! You’re website/YouTube channel.. everything is fantastic! Just looking for some advice! I am making my second wedding cake in 3 weeks! First one went well… all butter American buttercream cake! My next bride is asking for a fondant cake(with ruffles, lots of ruffles). This would be my first all fondant wedding cake.
    What is your favorite buttercream recipe to use on your fondant cakes???
    Can I refrigerate my LMF fondant cake for 24 hours prior to delivery?
    Thank you SO MUCH!

    1. I use my easy buttercream for everything 🙂 Fondant ruffles are time consuming but easy to apply. Make them as thin as possible and start from the top, working your way down to the bottom of the cake. You can definitely refrigerate fondant. A chilled cake is much safer to transport than a warm cake.

  7. Hi ! I have to say I love your website and tutorials ! Love how you share your ideas ! Your super cool! Thank you ! I live in Australia and I have been asked to make a 70th birthday cake, so weather is warming up and I have a 2 hour trip to transfer this cake! I am looking at using this recipe? Not sure if I should experiment as I don’t have a lot of time to play. I am Not sure what to use as the liquid creamer? Please can you help ? I have been trying to search through your questions and answers and thought just best to ask you yourself . Also what is the best way to travel this cake also so I don’t have a melting disaster as I usually do fondant cakes? Please help and thank you again for your amazing site xx

    1. Liquid creamer is just creamer you would put in your coffee. I’m not sure if you have that available in your area. I you can’t find it then just use milk 🙂

  8. Can you use this buttercream and frost the 1/2 sheet cake the same way you do in your video? I know your video uses your Easy Buttercream recipe (aka easy SMBC). Thank you

  9. When would you use this as opposed to a regular non crusting ABC recipe?

    1. It’s really just a preference of the taste that you like. Some people really like the sweeter frostings. Or if you’re in a really hot area, american buttercream is more stable than meringue based buttercreams

  10. Can I use this recipe in hot humid weather? And are my toppers going to stay on it?

  11. What could I use for a non  diary creamer?. I’m going to try and.make your banana cake this weekend. Could i use buttermilk ? Thank you

  12. can you put fondant flowers on buttercream icing

  13. 5 stars
    Hi I Made my cake using your frosting during the Christmas holiday, and the family went Crazzzzy!!!!, told me to only use this frosting with your vanilla cake recipe, now that want me to make another cake, would you please answer a few questions, my sister wants a white cake with a red stenciled design on it, using your frosting and the techniques on crumb coating, then final coat and chilling, how would I prevent the red stenciled design from bleeding? would I frost and stencil and leave at room temperature or frost and stencil and then put back in the fridge and then the next day just take out of fridge and allow to come to room temp. I wanted to at least ice and stencil the day before, it’s her birthday cake. Nervous about the red bleeding, Please Help.

    1. Hey Carol, I haven’t had a lot of experience stenciling dark colors so I can’t make any for sure suggestions but I would say to make sure you’re not using too much food coloring. Start with pink, then add in red and let it mature overnight to let it deepen in color. Make sure your first layer of buttercream has crusted and is chilled before doing your stencil.

  14. Hi. How long ahead of frosting my cake will this last In the fridge ? How long should it last in the fridge ? Thank you !

  15. How many cupcakes would you say this can ice, say, a rosette onto?

    1. There’s really no way for me to know for sure, it would vary depending on the person and I have never thought to count how many rosettes one batch of buttercream makes

  16. Hi liz, how much of this buttercream i will need for a 8″ 3 layers rosettes cake, i,m planning to use hi ratio shortening because i live in florida, but i only have 4 cups of that shortening, can i add regular shortening?
    Thank you

  17. I’m trying to make a two layer 6-inch cake, and this is my first time trying out this recipe. How much do I use of everything?

  18. In your description you mention creamer but your recipe mentions milk and water? I have made Sugar Shacks version of this with all shortening and the hot creamer but I do not wish to make that much buttercream. Can you tell me where you use the creamer? mix etc?

  19. 5 stars
    Wow! Idk why I didn’t make this sooner. I always use Liz’s Easy Buttercream which is nice and smooth and not overly sweet but I’ll be switching to this American Buttercream as my new go to for party cakes! It’s super delicious compared to other American Buttercreams I’ve tried and it’s the sweetness my clients are wanting. I really love this recipe. One batch makes a lot! I actually can’t double it in my 4.5 qt. Kitchen Aid lol. Thank You Liz for another amazing recipe

  20. Hey Liz, What brands are high ratio shortening? Do grocery stores sell it?

  21. Hi Liz,
    Could you please clear something up for me about this recipe?? I’ve always used Chelsweets american buttercream recipe (https://chelsweets.com/2016/11/01/the-best-american-buttercream-recipe/). I thought I’d try yours just for fun, but I’m having big time problems. I did use all butter instead of half shortening, half butter (so 4 sticks), but after weighing out 64 oz of powdered sugar into a bowl (yes, I zeroed out the scale with the empty bowl on it first), I thought, wow! That is a ton of sugar! I decided to try to trust the recipe, but the more sugar I added, but stiffer it got, until I couldn’t add any more in because my kitchenaid mixer was burning up hot and the buttercream was so stiff it was completely clearing the sides of the bowl. I still have probably 3 cups left to add, and there’s no way I can do that. I feel like I have no choice but to scrap the rest of the sugar and just add more liquid until it’s normal consistency. I think your recipe calls for about double the amount of sugar than other buttercream recipes do. Is there any chance you accidentally wrote double the amount of sugar in the recipe that you meant to? I don’t mean to question you (you’re the pro!), but I’ve never had a problem like this before. Thoughts?

    1. You didn’t use enough butter. You said you used four sticks which is only 16 ounces. The recipe calls for 16 ounces of butter and 16 ounces of shortening. If you don’t want to use shortening then you need to replace it with more butter.

  22. 5 stars
    Hi liz i love this recipe. what is the ratio for adding chocolate ganache to my buttercream?

  23. How long can this frosting sit out and still be safe to eat? Thank you!

  24. Hi Liz!.

    Can a chocolate drip be done over this buttercream?. I am doing a semi naked cake & they want a chocolate drip.
    Should I use this American buttercream receipe or your other buttercream receipe?.
    Please advise.
    Thank you!. 🙂

  25. 5 stars
    Is this right??
    I was comparing this to my own recipe just to see what’s out there. TWO ounces of milk to all this?
    Comments seem to suggest what I was thinking. This is going to be so thick, no?
    This is almost identical to mily recipe, but it would have to be more like 20 ounces (maybe 12 depending on type) of milk. 😳 (I use evaporated milk, which I know would yield different results, but such a drastic difference between recipes!). I once eyeballed the sugar and put just slightly too much and THAT was impossible to mix.
    Just commenting to help out, in case I’m missing something!

    1. Nope, not missing anything. I only use 2 oz of milk. The recipe is mostly butter and sugar with just a small amount of liquid

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