The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe – Smooth and Delicious!

Easter Bunny Cake

Buttercream frosting is probably the most commonly used frosting for cake decorators.  It is very versatile, being used for filling layers, covering the cake, and for making decorations.  It can be easily colored and can be made in a variety of flavors, just by changing flavor extracts and adding ingredients like crushed cookies, coffee, and marshmallow fluff.

My first experience with buttercream frosting was a huge disappointment.  The recipe I used, which I can’t even remember anymore, was too sweet, tasted like plastic, and was definitely not something I wanted to make again…for anyone.  I guess I had just landed on the wrong recipe.  Then I discovered Lindsay Ann Bake’s Classic Vanilla American Buttercream recipe.  This truly is the best buttercream frosting recipe out there, at least in my opinion, and it has gotten many great compliments whenever I have used it for clients.

Lindsay Ann Bakes

You may have seen Lindsay Ann on season 1 of Food Networks Cupcake Wars in 2010 where she won the battle.  Then she came back for a “Battle of the Champions” showdown in 2011 and made it to the final round.  So, this girl knows what she is doing!  Here, I have what is one of my favorite, and my personal go-to, buttercream frosting.


Classic American Buttercream Frosting

Many people don’t know that buttercream has many different versions.  There is Swiss Buttercream, Italian Buttercream, French Buttercream, German Buttercream, and Bavarian Buttercream, to name the most common, but today I am going to show you how to make the perfect American Buttercream.  Some might ask, “what is the difference?” and the answer is, there is no cooking involved.  American Buttercream, or simple buttercream, is basically just a mixture of butter, shortening, and powdered sugar and so it is simple and quick to make, leaving fewer chances of messing it up.


What You Will Need

Classic American Buttercream

For this recipe, you will need (printable recipe below)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 8 Tbs. Heavy Whipping Cream (This is usually measured out in tablespoons so you can go a tablespoon at a time.  You might use more or less than amount given, depending on your desired consistency.)
  • 2 lbs. Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Any other flavoring options (see full recipe below)
  • 1 Tbs. Meringue Powder (optional) – not pictured


Preparing Your Mise en Place

One thing I am beginning to learn, and realize is extremely important when it comes to baking, is a little French term called Mise en place {mi zã ‘plas}, or “putting in place.”  This basically means to gather all of your ingredients, and have them measured out and ready before you start making your recipe.


Classic American Buttercream

Here is my mise en place.

This ensures that you have all of your ingredients ready to go so there will be no mistakes in measuring or realizing too late that you don’t have all your ingredients on hand.  I have found myself in this situation more times than I care to admit, so preparing your mise en place is a good practice to get in the habit of.


How To Make Your Frosting

Step 1:

Add your softened butter and shortening into your stand mixer and mix on slow-medium speed until smooth.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Tip: To quickly soften butter, cut into thin slices and lay them out on a plate, to get to room temperature, for about half an hour to an hour.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Make sure there are NO lumps in the the mixture. You want this smooth.










Step 2:

Add in your salt, vanilla, and other flavor add-ins, into the butter and shortening mixture.  Scrape the sides, bottom, and beater down.


Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Extra flavor add-ins are optional, but it opens a world of possibilities with this icing. Try something new each time you make this frosting. BE FEARLESS!

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Make sure to scrape the bowl and beater after adding these ingredients. It will make the next step go a lot smoother.










Step 3:

Alternately add your powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream into the butter mixture and mix on the slowest speed until it is all incorporated.  This is also where you would add your meringue powder.  Scrap sides, bottom, and beater several times while incorporating the powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream.


Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Tip: Turn the mixer off when adding the powdered sugar to the bowl. This will help prevent a sugary cloud from bursting out of the bowl.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

The mixer can be left on while adding the heavy cream, but once incorporated some, stop the mixer and scrape it down. Then continue adding the powdered sugar and cream again.










Step 4:

Mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Tip: This step is where you would add any icing coloring to the frosting. But remember that the color will lighten as it mixes and will darken a bit the longer the frosting sits, either in the bowl or on the cake.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

This frosting is an off-white color due to the butter and vanilla. To make it pure white, use all shortening, instead of butter, and a clear vanilla extract.










Classic Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Tip: Look closely and you will notice the mixture is bumpy. That means the butter was not quite soft enough. To fix this, continue to mix until is is smooth.

*If your butter mixture has lumps and is having trouble smoothing out.

Cause:  Butter was not soft enough.

Solution:  Continue mixing until smooth.  This may take a few minutes but the butter will smooth out as the whipping helps it reach room temperature.

Prevention:  Butter needs time to get to room temperature and that can take several hours of it sitting on the counter to get as soft as you need it.  One way to speed that process up is by cutting the butter into little slices and laying them out on a plate for about half an hour to an hour.  You should be able to easily stick your finger in the butter when it is ready.

Tip:  Microwaving a stick of butter is a tricky practice and shouldn’t be used when making frosting.  There is a good chance you will melt the butter and you DO NOT want melted butter.  If you choose to use a microwave to soften the butter quickly, leave the paper on and take it 5 seconds at a time, flipping the butter each time.  10-15 seconds should be plenty, so be careful not to melt it.


*If your frosting is thin and a bit runny.

Cause:  Added too much heavy whipping cream, half & half, or milk.

Solution:  If your frosting is too thin, try adding more powdered sugar, starting with a 1/4 cup at a time.

Prevention:  Adding too much liquid will cause the frosting to get too thin, making it harder to work with.  Milk, especially skim milk, will thin out the frosting quicker than the other options, even if you added less.  So you have to be careful and go one tablespoon, maybe even one teaspoon, at a time, at a certain point.  Start by adding about half of the milk, half & half, or heavy whipping cream, then go a tablespoon at a time until it is at the consistency you want.


*If your frosting is too thick.

Cause:  Not enough liquid was added to the frosting mixture, or too much powdered sugar was added.

Solution:  Add more heavy whipping cream, half & half, or milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you have the consistency that you want.

Prevention:  Make sure you have your Mise en Place prepared before you start mixing the frosting together.  Not measuring out your liquid can cause you to forget how much you have actually added and you may miscount and not add enough.  This will also make the frosting too grainy if there isn’t enough liquid to help smooth it out.



Classic American Buttercream Frosting

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: About 8 Cups

Classic American Buttercream Frosting

Classic American Buttercream Frosting is smooth and delicious. Perfect for all occasions and is easy to spread on cakes and used for piping and decorations. Recipe adapted from Lindsay Ann Bakes.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup Vegetable Shortening (You may use all butter if you prefer.)
  • 2 Tbs Pure Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt (table salt or popcorn salt work best)
  • 8 cups (2 lbs) Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 8 Tbs. Heavy Whipping Cream (Half & Half or milk will also work but at a smaller amount, going one tablespoon at a time.)
  • 1 Tbs Meringue Powder (optional)
  • Flavor Options:
  • Flavor Emulsion: Add 1/2 tsp - 1tsp of any Flavor Emulsion (Butter, Cream Cheese, Raspberry, etc.)
  • Flavor Extract: Add 1/2 tsp - 1tsp of any Flavor Extract (Butter, Almond, Mint, Coconut, etc.)
  • Cappuccino: Add 2-4 Tbs Espresso powdered/instant coffee
  • Cookies & Cream: Add 1-2 cups crushed Oreos (about 12-24 Oreos, make sure to remove the frosting middle first)
  • Marshmallow: Add a large jar of Marshmallow Fluff, about 14oz
  • Peanut Butter: Add about 1 1/2 cups of Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Berry/Fruity: Add 2/3 cup Seedless fruit puree or preserves of your choice (strawberry, apricot, raspberry, grape, etc.)
  • Lemon/Citrus Fruit: Add zest amd juice from 1/2 - 1 whole lemon, lime, orange, etc.
  • Cinnamon: Add 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • Peppermint: 1 Tbs finely crushed peppermint candies


  1. Beat butter and shortening, until smooth, on medium speed in electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla, salt, and any other flavor options into the butter/shortening mixture.
  3. Alternating between powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream, slowly cream together with the butter/shortening mixture, on low speed, until fully combined.
  4. Beat on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes to make it light and creamy.


Tips: Be sure to scrape the bowl periodically as you are adding in the powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream.

Also, it is best to stop the mixer when adding the powdered sugar in so there won't be a big cloud of sugar coming out of the bowl.

The meringue powder is optional because it is not needed in this recipe. Meringue powder helps to form a slight "crust" on the icing as it sits out. This crust helps hold in the moisture of the cake. It is also good to use in high humidity areas and in the summer as it helps prevent the icing from melting too quickly. The meringue powder makes your icing easier to smooth and helps your decorations to hold their shape.


*This frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

*After being stored in refrigerator, allow icing to come to room temperature on the counter, then beat in the mixer again to fluff it back up.

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I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I would love to get your feedback.  Do you have a favorite, go-to, icing or frosting recipe that you would like to share?  Please feel free to leave me a comment below and like, share, or pin this recipe for all of your friends and family to see.

God Bless,

Amanda 🙂

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