American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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Classic, quick and easy American buttercream frosting recipe, requiring 4 ingredients. It holds its shape. Great for cake decorating and cupcake decorating!

This classic American buttercream frosting recipe is what most of us grew up eating, especially here in the Unites States and Canada. It’s made with just FOUR simple ingredients: butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk.

This is the best buttercream frosting recipe ever!

It’s FIRM and holds its shapes and is perfect for cake decorating (especially wedding cakes) and cupcake decorating. It’s also very soft and fluffy and really SWEET, which compliments rich chocolate cupcakes flawlessly. It’s also easy to PIPE, easy to color and very EASY to make.

Other frosting recipes

I have a huge collection of frostings that can suit all birthday parties, weddings and holidays.

Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe

How to make buttercream frosting?

  1. Cream butter until fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar (little at a time) along with some milk and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix until frosting is smooth and creamy.

What is American buttercream frosting?

Also known as “Buttercream” or “American buttercream” or “AMBC” or “American frosting” or “Crusting buttercream.”

Can I use shortening instead of butter in homemade buttercream frosting?

Traditionally, this frosting was made with powdered sugar and butter. But nowadays, there seem to be two types of frostings: 1)American buttercream with shortening (Crisco) and 2) American buttercream without shortening. Some people like to use just shortening and others like to use a combination of butter and shortening. This is mainly done because shortening adds stability to a frosting recipe and that’s great for using in places where temperatures are really hot and humid.

Easy American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Can you color American buttercream?

Yes, this frosting can easily be colored or tinted with food coloring. Gel colors are highly recommended since they are more concentrated and they also won’t affect the consistency of your icing.

Is American buttercream white? How/Why is American buttercream white?

If you are using shortening, this will be a pure white frosting. But, if you are  are using butter, the icing will have a very subtle yellow color (barely noticeable!) and you can easily add a few drops of white gel coloring to make it white.

Swiss meringue buttercream frosting vs. American buttercream frosting. Are they the same?

No, they are not the same at all. Swiss meringue is made in such a way that egg whites are sugar are cooked on a double boiler and then whipped into a stiff meringue and then butter is mixed into it. It’s more time consuming than American buttercream and it’s also less sweeter.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Why is my American buttercream gritty?

There can be 3 reasons: 1) It was not mixed properly and the powdered sugar hasn’t incorporated into the butter that well. 2) Your powdered sugar was not sifted and had little lumps, resulting in gritty frosting 3) You did not use enough liquid (milk or water).

How to store American buttercream icing?

This icing should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

How long does vanilla buttercream frosting recipe last?

Since milk is used in most recipes (although some people like to replace that with water), use this frosting within one week.

Does buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated?

Yes, because it has milk, which can go bad, if it sits at room temperature for too long.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Sugar cookie buttercream frosting

This frosting is perfect for icing cookies, especially sugar cookies as well as cakes, cupcakes, brownies and other desserts.

Tips for easy buttercream frosting

  • Use unsalted butter to prevent the frosting from becoming too salty.
  • Instead of using all butter, use a combination of butter and shortening to make the shortening more stable at warmer temperatures.
  • Use clear vanilla extract to prevent the frosting from becoming discolored.
  • Butter has a pale yellow color which can sometimes make your frosting look “off-white”. So, if you want a pure white frosting, replace butter with shortening and use a little white gel coloring.
  • Don’t use liquid food coloring because that will thin out the consistency of this frosting. Only use gel coloring because it’s in paste form and it is also more concentrated, leading to more vibrant colors.
  • If your frosting is too thin, mix in more powdered sugar to thicken it.
  • If your frosting is too thick, mix in some more milk to thin it out.
  • Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to make a bigger batch.
Classic Homemade Buttercream Frosting Recipe
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American Buttercream Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Quick and easy classic american buttercream frosting recipe, requiring 4 ingredients. It holds its shape. Great for cake decorating and cupcake decorating!
Yield: 2 Cups



  • In a mixing bowl, mix butter and vanilla extract together.
  • Add powdered sugar (1/2 cup at a time), while continuing to mix.
  • Add milk (1 tbsp at a time), while continuing to mix until you reach the desired consistency. 
  • Frost your cakes/cupcakes and enjoy!


  • Read all my tips above.
  • This icing is enough to frost 24 cupcakes and one 8x2 round cake.
  • Store leftover icing in the fridge in a sealed container and use within 1 week



Calories: 1779kcal, Carbohydrates: 241g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 92g, Saturated Fat: 58g, Cholesterol: 246mg, Sodium: 825mg, Potassium: 56mg, Sugar: 236g, Vitamin A: 2875IU, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 0.1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 1779
Author: Abeer Rizvi

Until next time, tata my lovelies!

25 comments on “American Buttercream Frosting Recipe”

  1. I used this recipe today to decorate a cake. It’s way too sweet for my family to stack and crumb coat. Since it’s faster than my favourite Swiss buttercream it’s great for whipping up piping work after the cake has set.

  2. Speaking as a 70 year old man who grew up in a bakery, “Traditionally” American butter cream frosting (wedding cake frosting) was made with Crisco shortening and was lightly flavored with almond extract.You’ll see those recipes in old Wilton cake decorating books from the 1950s. Butter was optionally added only in small amounts as flavoring, but was usually avoided because it made the frosting less white. Those were the days before a small-town bakery had access to huge tubs of commercial frosting. Instead it was made every few days, from scratch, in huge batches. As a kid, I loved to “clean the beater” from the frosting mixer.5 stars

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