Classic Buttercream Frosting

24 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Classic Buttercream Frosting is rich and creamy, made with ONLY 4 ingredients that you already have in your pantry, and ready in 10 minutes!

Frosting is the perfect addition to your favorite cakes and cupcakes, and if you like this buttercream you’ll also love this Sugar Cookie Frosting, Easy Mint Frosting, Cream Cheese Frosting, and Rich Chocolate Frosting!

Classic Buttercream Frosting cake with slice cut

Classic Buttercream Frosting is the PERFECT creamy 4 ingredient topping for any dessert, made with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. This is a great go-to frosting recipe because it’s perfect for piping onto cupcakes, and also works great for making layer cakes or even cookies. You can also use this buttercream frosting for a crumb layer before using fondant!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will Classic Buttercream Frosting melt at room temperature?

Buttercream should have a slightly stiff but creamy texture, and shouldn’t melt at room temperature unless it’s more hot or humid than normal. Try to store the finished cake in a cool, dry place while you’re serving it, then refrigerate.

How do you store a cake with Buttercream Frosting?

If you have a cake frosted with buttercream, you can refrigerate it for about a week. You can also make the cake ahead of time and freeze it, already frosted with the buttercream. Just put the cake in the freezer until it’s frozen, about an hour, then wrap it in plastic wrap (so the buttercream stays in place).

Then you can just defrost in the refrigerator, and finally bring the cake back to room temperature before serving. When a cake is cold, it might be mistaken for stale, so make sure you take it out of the refrigerator for about an hour to let it warm up before slicing into it.

What if my Buttercream Frosting is too runny?

If your buttercream didn’t stiffen up like it was supposed to, you can add powdered sugar one tablespoon or two at a time. Don’t add this too fast, because you can go in the opposite direction if you add too much powdered sugar. You can also add a tablespoon of cornstarch to help thicken it.

If it’s not runny and it’s just too soft, refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes to an hour to see if it helps the texture, because the butter might have melted too much from over-mixing or if the temperature in the kitchen is too warm.

How do you thin out Buttercream Frosting?

If your frosting turned out too thick, you can thin it out by adding a tablespoon of cream at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Be careful not to add too much, or the frosting might get too thin.

Classic Buttercream Frosting Collage of mixing steps

Cakes you can Frost with Classic Buttercream

Classic Buttercream

Tips for Making Classic Buttercream Frosting

  • You can use salted or unsalted butter to make this buttercream recipe, but it’s best to use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt going into the recipe.
  • If you’re frosting a cake or cupcakes, make sure that the buttercream frosting is the same temperature, or it will pull crumbs off of your cupcakes and look messy.
  • If your frosting turns out too sweet, add a pinch of salt or a teaspoon of lemon juice to balance out the flavor.
  • Add a teaspoon of peppermint extract to this buttercream frosting recipe and to this Fudge Iced Brownies recipe, then top with crushed peppermint candies to make a holiday brownies!
  • This frosting recipe uses vanilla extract, but if you don’t want to make Vanilla Buttercream frosting you can use almond extract or peppermint for holidays.
  •  It’s easy to make this buttercream frosting recipe in the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but you can use an electric hand mixer if that’s what you have.
  • Make sure you set the stand mixer for low speed while you’re adding the powdered sugar, or the sugar will fly out of the top when you’re trying to mix it.
  • Try using this Vanilla Buttercream Frosting on Sugar Cookies or in a Swiss Roll, or make a layer cake with Classic Yellow Cake.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to your Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and top with sprinkles for birthday cakes or cupcakes.
  • You can substitute the heavy cream with half and half or whole milk in this Buttercream Frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
  • This Vanilla Buttercream Frosting also goes perfectly with my Red Velvet Cupcakes!
  • It’s very important to cream the butter before adding the powdered sugar, or you might end up with lumpy frosting. Once the frosting is lumpy, it’s really hard to get it smooth again.
  • You can make a chocolate version by replacing ¼ cup of the powdered sugar with cocoa powder.
Classic Buttercream Frosting slice of vanilla cake on plate with fork

How to Store Classic Buttercream Frosting

  • Serve: It’s not recommended to leave Buttercream out for longer than 2 hours for food safety. This is especially true for any Buttercream Frosting recipes that contain egg whites, too.
  • Store: Buttercream can last in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.
  • Freeze: You can freeze buttercream for later or to save leftovers for another dessert, for up to 3 months. Seal it in a plastic bag, then wrap tightly with tinfoil. Defrost in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature before using.
Classic Buttercream Frosting slice of vanilla cake on plate with fork

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Classic Buttercream Frosting

Classic Buttercream Frosting is rich and creamy, made with ONLY 4 ingredients that you already have in your pantry, and ready in 10 minutes!
Yield 24 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 cups powdered sugar , about 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream


  • To your stand mixer on low speed cream the butter then start adding in the powdered sugar in ½ cup increments until fully combined, then raise the speed to medium-high for 2 additional minutes.
  • Add in the vanilla and heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy for an additional minute.



Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.


Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 2mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Calcium: 3mg
Classic Buttercream Frosting Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Buttercream Frosting
Vanilla Cake with Buttercream
Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Made per recipe with 5 tablespoons of heavy cream a couple days before my son’s bday and set it in the fridge. It was very thick and sweet. The following day, I let it come to room temperature, added another teaspoon of vanilla, and another stick of butter. It
    was perfect after that! Made this to go on a boxed yellow cake prepared using your box cake mix hack. My son loved his bday cake and it was gone the next day. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re right Jess, it is not the ideal substitute and will affect the Creamy factor in the frosting BUT it will work when heavy cream is not available. Let us know how it turns out for you.

  2. Correction: 2 lb bag is 7.5 cups, sorry. Typo.

    Original comment:

    This recipe says 6 cups (about 2 Ibs), but a 2 lb bag of powdered sugar is 8.6 cups. Do I go with 6 cups or the entire bag?

  3. Once again a recipe of yours has become a new family favorite
    Thank you Sabrina- I can finally make frosting ? yay

  4. Hey there! Could I use a table spoon of brewed coffee to my butter cream frosting? Will the consistency of the frosting differ if I do so ?

    1. You could definitely add it to make Coffee Buttercream. You might need to add additional powdered sugar to thicken it back up a little. Enjoy!

  5. Hi! I have tried to make traditional buttercream frosting for years. Years. It either turns out too buttery, or too sugary – you know that cool sensation that confectioner sugar has? It’s that. I find this to be frustrating and like I am missing something. Any ideas?

  6. You say you like to make this frosting with a stand mixer and paddle but it shows a whisk in the pictures. Do you use a paddle or whisk? I am usually confused as to whether to use paddle or whisk. thank you

  7. Hi…can you please tell what would cause my cakes to fall when they were so big and fluffy in the oven? I followed the recipe to a “T”

    1. It can be hard to pinpoint at times what exactly could have caused this but over-mixing the batter causes air pockets that eventually fall. When you beat the eggs and butter together, do so on a more moderate speed vs high. I hope this helps for next time.

  8. Once again I made this cake, I enjoyed making it. I made This cake today for tomorrow’s desert after dinner with friends on St. Patrick’s Day. I wanted to cut a piece for myself and try but it would not be the right thing to do ? .

    I also made the buttermilk frosting I did try after frosting the entire ? cake very good.

    Thank you for another great desert recipe.

    Laurna C.

    1. It’s truly a test in restraint to hold off having a piece, haha! So glad you enjoy the recipe so much.

  9. This was my first time making my own icing for my cupcakes and it was the the best decision ever! I love how easy and flavorful this icing was and it piped beautifully on my cupcakes. I did add a pinch of salt to balance the sweetness and added food color to make mine pink. Everyone in my family loves them! Thanks!

    1. Hi Dana, I want to be helpful here, but I’m unsure of how you want to make the frosting without sugar. Can you tell me more about what you hope to substitute?

  10. Love this! Could coffee be added to it? Im making chocolate cake and think itd make it way better 🙂 Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. You can cut back on the sugar but you might need to cut back a bit on the liquid too. Hold back on adding the liquid to test the consistency. Hope this helps!

      1. Absolutely. If you hover over the servings amount, a slider appears and you can adjust it and it will reduce or increase the ingredients.