How to make icing

After failing to find the perfect recipe for buttercream icing, I found one that worked for me and then added my own two cents.


Recipe Summary test


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 drops food coloring, or as needed (Optional)
  • Step 1

Cream room temperature butter with a hand mixer, the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract.

Pour in milk and beat for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add food coloring, if using, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until desired color is reached.

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Reviews ( 1531 )

Most helpful positive review

awesome frosting. easy to decorate with. the only changes i made was that i melted the butter and added 2/3 cup of cocoa to make the frosting a chocolate flavor.

Most helpful critical review

The consistancy was fine but it tasted too sugary and not creamy enough.

  • 5 star values:

awesome frosting. easy to decorate with. the only changes i made was that i melted the butter and added 2/3 cup of cocoa to make the frosting a chocolate flavor.

This is a great buttercream icing recipe. I followed it fairly closely, thought I did add extra vanilla, which then necessitated adding some extra 10X sugar to make up for the extra liquid. It does not make all that much, so I will prob double it when decorating a cake. It made enough for me to not-over-generously ice 18 cupcakes. Great taste and consistency. GO BULLDOGS! 😉 TY for a great recipe!

This icing recipe is my absolute favorite out of all that I’ve tried! I used it to pipe on decorations for my daughter’s horse birthday cake. I needed to add almost 2/3 cup more powdered sugar to make it stiff enough to pipe on. To decorate a 9×13″ cake, you will want to double the recipe. (Make sure you use clear vanilla if you want white icing.)

This recipe is for REAL frosting not the garbage that comes from the store. I followed the recipe without changes. This was served with SCOTTLEY’S BASIC YELLOW CAKE and the filling from ALMOND CREAM-PUFF RING. My brother ate two pieces and took half of the rest of the cake home with him. I will never buy frosting again ever.

This recipe was good. I didn’t love it, but I usually dont like any plain buttercreams. If you’re going to pipe the frosting, don’t add the milk. If you are going to add food coloring, add it before the milk (or else it might get too liquidy).

This icing was just what I was looking for as I didnt really want to take the time to do boiling icing. Not too too sweet but very creamy. I will use this again. Alot of flavorings can be added to this.

I was a little disappointed with this icing when I first made it. It was good and easy, but there was just a little lacking in terms of flavor. I made it again and this time used salted butter instead of unsalted (as a previous reviewer suggested), doubled the vanilla (previous reviewer again), and used evaporated milk (next time I might try cream, but I didn’t have that on hand) instead of regular milk. I used extra sugar to compensate for the extra vanilla and the thin texture it had the first time (don’t want to reduce the milk because I needed every drop of frosting) and it was perfect. I doubled the recipe and it was just enough to frost a 3-layer cake. I’m giving the original recipe 4 stars.

This was the lightest fluffiest frosting I have ever made at home. It was as good as the bakeries use for sure! I used this for soft sugar cookies and it made them over-the-top great, but truly this would fabulous on a cake. I will have to remember this one the next time I need birthday cake frosting, this is that special. This dried perfectly for stacking decorated cookies too! Thanks, this is awesome.

This is so much better than store-bought icing! Just be sure to use real butter; it makes all the difference.

The consistancy was fine but it tasted too sugary and not creamy enough.

this is a great recipe. i used it after i covered my cake with another recipe that really didnt work at all. this is the right consistency. you should put in the refrigerator before using so its hard.

Perfect! Only change was to use fat free half and half in place of the milk because I needed to use some up. Frosting came out sweet and satiny, and piped nicely onto my cupcakes. I didn’t bother with food coloring this time, as I wanted an ivory/white frosting. This recipe made enough to frost a dozen cupcakes generously.

This is the best buttercream I’ve ever tasted. My recipe is close, but the extra vanilla puts it well over the top. I used salted butter, and added a little pinch of salt which I think helps balance out the flavors a bit. Amazing texture, perfection.

The instructions don’t really give you much to go on. After a bit of research, I found that the icing comes out perfect if you do the following; 1) allow your butter to be room temperature (about 3 hours in my area did the trick. I am in Vancouver, BC). 2) Whip you butter for at least 5 minutes (more if you can) to allow enough air to form in the butter. Make sure to use the whipping extension on your mixer. 3) Switch to your mixing paddle on your stand mixer and add half of the icing sugar and whip for about 3 minutes before adding the other half of the icing sugar. Then whip again for 3 minutes. 4) Don’t add all of the milk at once. Add a tbsp. at a time until your buttercream is soft and fluffy but not falling off the paddle.

How to make icing

Today we’re covering how to make buttercream frosting. Actually, we’re covering just how EASY it is to make your own frosting right at home. If you’ve been buying store-bought, you’ll want to ditch it after seeing just how easy it is to make your own.

I originally published this recipe in January of 2017, but decided it was finally time to update it with better instructions and more information. In today’s post, I’m breaking down everything you need to know about how to make the best buttercream frosting.

This recipe also makes a great base for so many different flavor variations. The possibilities are really endless, but I’ve included four different variations for you to try!

How to make icing

Recipe Ingredients

This easy buttercream frosting uses just 5 ingredients – butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Here’s a simple overview of each ingredient:

  • Butter: I use unsalted butter in all of my recipes because the amount of salt in salted butter can vary quite a bit between different brands. By using unsalted butter, you control the amount of salt in your recipe. Make sure to use actual butter too and not a butter substitute like margarine.
  • Powdered Sugar: Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, this helps to thicken and sweeten the frosting. It’s best to sift the powdered sugar beforehand, but if I’m being honest I usually skip the extra step.
  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream work best in this recipe. You can replace it with milk, but keep in mind that the frosting won’t be quite as creamy.
  • Vanilla Extract: This adds a little bit of flavor to the frosting. I recommend using pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. You can even use different extracts like mint, almond, lemon, etc.
  • Salt: This helps to balance out the sweetness of the frosting. I stick with just a tiny pinch of table salt, you don’t need very much at all!

How to make icing

How To Make Buttercream Frosting

To start, set your butter out ahead of time so that it can soften. This will ensure that the frosting is smooth and creamy. You will need two sticks of unsalted butter, which is equal to 1 cup or 230 grams.

Beat the butter with a mixer for about 1 minute, just until it’s nice and smooth. You can either use a handheld mixer or stand mixer for this recipe, either one works fine!

How to make icing

Next, you’ll mix in the powdered sugar. I typically only use 3 cups of powdered sugar for a batch of this frosting. Some recipes call for quite a bit more powdered sugar, but I’ve found that 3 cups is all you really need. Feel free to sift the powdered sugar, but as I mentioned earlier, I usually skip this step.

Note: When you first start mixing the powdered sugar with the butter, mix it on low speed so you don’t end up throwing it all over the place. You may also mix the powdered sugar in 1 cup at a time to make it easier.

Once the butter and powdered sugar are mixed together, mix in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. If needed, stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl and mix again to make sure everything is well combined.

Easy, right? At this point, you can go ahead and use this frosting to pipe onto cupcakes or decorate a cake. Or you can store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

How to make icing

Recipe Variations

The best thing about this recipe is that you can change it up to make different flavors of frosting. I’ve included 4 different variations below, but keep in mind that you can do so much more with this recipe.

  • Vanilla: If I’m just making plain vanilla buttercream frosting to pipe on cupcakes or frost a cake, I like to add an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract to amp up the vanilla flavor.
  • Chocolate: Sift 1/2 cup (40 grams) of unsweetened cocoa powder, then mix into the frosting base until well combined. Add 1 to 2 extra tablespoons of heavy cream if needed for a smoother, creamier frosting. If you prefer your frosting sweeter, mix in an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of powdered sugar.
  • Caramel: Mix in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of homemade or store-bought caramel sauce. For a salted caramel frosting, you can use salted caramel and omit the salt in the recipe.
  • Strawberry: Add a 1-ounce bag of freeze dried strawberries to a blender or food processor and process until the berries are crushed into a fine powder. Mix the freeze dried strawberry powder into the frosting until well combined.

Storage & Freezing Instructions

This frosting can be made 1 to 2 days in advance. While it’s not necessary to refrigerate it, I do recommend covering it tightly and storing it in the refrigerator so it stays fresh longer. When you are ready to use it, bring it to room temperature, and mix well before frosting cupcakes or a cake.

This will also freeze well for up to 3 months in a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and mix well before using it.

How to make icing

Baking Tips

  • You can add food coloring to this recipe if you prefer. If using liquid food coloring, I recommend using just a few drops as it can thin out the frosting. For a darker color, gel food coloring is a great option!
  • This recipe makes about 2 and 1/2 cups of frosting, which is enough to generously frost a batch of 12 to 14 cupcakes. If you prefer less frosting, you can cut the recipe in half. This recipe will also make enough to frost a 9×13 cake or lightly frost an 8 or 9-inch layer cake. If you prefer more frosting for decorating, then I recommend multiplying the recipe by 1.5.
  • You can find my full tutorial for how to prepare your piping bag and frost cupcakes here.

Different Ways To Use This Frosting

Here are a few of my favorite cupcake recipes that you can use with this frosting:

How to make icing

How to make glaze: In a medium bowl, stir milk into sugar until you reach the desired consistency. Finish by adding the vanilla extract to flavor. Drizzle on your favorite dessert.

To Flavor (Optional): Add a few drops of the desired flavoring, such as coconut extract or almond extract. To flavor with orange juice or lemon juice, replace all or part of the milk with juice.

To Color (Optional): Add gel food coloring, using a toothpick to avoid overcoloring.

  • For thicker or thinner consistency: May be thickened with additional powdered sugar or thinned with more milk or other flavored liquids.
  • Add to completely cooled treats: Heat makes this icing glaze runny, so make sure your treats have completely cooled before icing.
  • To store: Store powdered sugar icing in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before reusing.

How To

How to make icing

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How to make icing

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How to make icing

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Whip up your best-ever batch of buttercream icing using this step-by-step guide. With an irresistibly creamy texture, it’s a great addition to your standard bakes.

How to make buttercream icing

How to make make buttercream icing

Start by beating room temperature butter with an electric mixer until as white as possible, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Now add the icing sugar mixture a little at a time and keep on beating.

Once all the icing sugar is incorporated into the butter, you’ll have a nice smooth icing. Beat in a little milk to make the icing nice and spreadable. There you have it- beautiful, fluffy buttercream. Now you’re ready to spread the buttercream over a homemade or bought cake.

Spread the buttercream over the tops and sides of the cake. Now you know how to make buttercream, you too can give your cakes a professional finish.


Start by beating room temperature butter with an electric mixer until as white as possible, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.


Add the icing sugar mixture a little at a time and keep on beating. Once all the icing sugar is incorporated into the butter, you’ll have a nice smooth icing.


Beat in a little milk to make the icing nice and spreadable.


Now you’re ready to spread the buttercream over a homemade or store-bought cake. Spread the buttercream over the tops and sides of the cake.