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How to Make Buttercream

If you’ve ever swooned over creamy, buttery frosting adorning cake or cupcakes, you’ve probably experienced the magnificence of buttercream. It’s delicious!

But what exactly is buttercream?

Spoiler alert: It’s a frosting that contains butter. And cream (or sometimes milk).

Pistachio Buttercream Photo

Its sweetness comes from powdered sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar). Its flavor comes from extract, such as vanilla, or perhaps almond.

Really, the possibilities are endless. Chocolate buttercream, anyone? How about pistachio buttercream?

And…it’s easy to make. Ditch the canned frosting and whip up your own buttercream!

Buttercream Truffles Picture

How to Make Buttercream

  1. Add 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) of softened butter to a mixing bowl. Beat until creamy.
  2. Beat in 3 to 4 cups of powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you like your frosting.
  3. Mix in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (or another flavor). Add a little food coloring, if desired.
  4. Beat in 2-3 tablespoons of cream or milk, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  5. Mix in a pinch of salt.
Pistachio Buttercream Picture

Storing Buttercream

Refrigerate buttercream frosting in a covered container for up to a week. When you’re ready to use it, let it sit out a bit to soften, then stir it.

Got leftover buttercream? You can make buttercream truffles!

You can freeze buttercream for several months. Bring the frosting to room temperature and whip it again before using it.

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies Photo

How to Make a Piping Bag

You don’t need to own special equipment to pipe your frosting! You can simply fill a resealable plastic bag with your buttercream, then snip off a small hole in a bottom corner with scissors.

To pipe your frosting, twist the top of the bag and gently squeeze out some buttercream through the slit in the bottom corner.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cupcakes Picture

Swiss Buttercream

Swiss buttercream is meringue-based and produces a silky, stable frosting that’s easy to pipe onto cakes, cookies, etc. It doesn’t crust over when it dries, like American buttercream does.

Make Swiss buttercream by whisking egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until cooked to a safe temperature, then whip them into a meringue. Beat in softened butter, a couple tablespoons at a time, then add a pinch of salt and any desired flavors.

Try Swiss buttercream in this delicious mimosa cake!

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Bars Picture

Italian Buttercream

Italian buttercream has a meringue base but is made by heating a simple syrup of sugar and water to 240 degrees F. Mix the syrup into beaten egg whites, bringing the meringue to a safe temperature.

Gradually beat in softened butter until the frosting is creamy. Then, mix in any flavoring or food coloring.