Buttercream Icing

Buttercream Icing Frosting on my Niece's Wedding Cupcakes (photo copyright Kathy Tremblay 6/11/11)

About Buttercream Icing Frosting

When beginning to learn how to decorate a cake, one of the very first things you’ll need to whip up in your kitchen is good old-fashioned buttercream frosting!

Practice a little bit.

Once you’ve got making buttercream frosting down, you will find that it is VERY useful! You can use it as a filling for your cupcakes or layers… AND, you can make a wonderful variety of flavors – just by adding a “little of this” or a “little of that.”

For example, different variations might include a “Coffee Buttercream” or “Coconut Buttercream,” “Lemon Buttercream…” “Cream Cheese Buttercream…” you get the idea!

In addition – and which you can use in THIS recipe – you can experiment with different flavor extracts!

For example, instead of the Vanilla Extract, you can try Almond Extract (just be sure no one you are serving your cake to is allergic to nuts). Or try Lemon Extract – or anything you feel like dabbling with!

Ok. In this recipe – which I really like out of seeing all the different ones online – you will use the following ingredients (Make sure you use them in the order given)


  • 1/2 Cup Butter and 1/2 Cup Shortening (Crisco solid white or Spectrum brand if using a natural brand) OR 1 Cup Shortening only (Your choice – some people like that butter flavor, and others just prefer to use shortening).
  • 1 Teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (the reason for using clear is to avoid that brownish color – you’ll want to keep your icing white, and add your colors later. If you don’t find Clear Vanilla Extract on your grocer’s shelves, try a craft store in the cake decorating aisle, or use one of my Amazon links here )
  • 4 Cups Confectionary (aka “Powdered”) Sugar. Some people swear by different brands. Experiment and see which brand you like best.
  • 2 Tablespoons Water or Milk (it doesn’t much matter – some bakers prefer water since there’s no concern about spoilage). UPDATE! My friend CJ (who is an expert cake decorator) says that if you want to color your buttercream, be sure to use MILK. She says that milk will help hold the color better and will be less likely to fade in the light. Thank you CJ!


        => 1/2 Cup of Butter AND 1/2 Cup of Shortening. Be sure to use a pure white shortening like Crisco or Spectrum (if you’re using a natural shortening)
       => 1 Cup Shortening (no butter). Your preference! 🙂

Put the 1/2 and 1/2 butter/shortening mix (or the 1 cup shortening only) into your mixing bowl. Using your Paddle attachment, put mix on LOW – you’ll be mixing approx 7 – 10 minutes.
HINT: If you are using a hand mixer, you will need to mix the icing on high for about 10-12 minutes in order to get a nice smooth “sour cream” type of consistency.

2) Once you’ve started your mixing, add 1 teaspoon of CLEAR Vanilla Extract.

3) Add the 4 cups of Confectionary (aka “powdered”) sugar. Add this a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t rise a “cloud” of sugar from the bowl.

4) Stop and scrape the bowl a few times over the course of a few minutes.

5) Add the 2 Tablespoons of Milk or Water as it mixes.

6) Continue mixing, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl now and again. Once it’s well blended and smooth (like sour cream), you’re done!

You now have a yummy batch of classic Buttercream Icing (I still like to use the word “frosting” although I know a lot of the pros use the term “icing.”) 🙂

Now you have some of your basic tools (such as your basic cake decorating tips and bags, and now your frosting), you are ready to join the VERY active and fun group of people just like you at Yummy Arts where you will find a wonderful community of people learning and sharing new cake, cupcake, and cookie decorating ideas and techniques EVERY week.

I read one review where the baker swears by the Crisco brand of solid shortening. My good friend Wendy uses the natural Spectrum brand of vegetable shortening – works great in fillings!

So experiment and see what you like best!

So, anyway, I have watched LOTS of these videos – I’ve seen several from people who don’t use ANY butter, and those who use both. I found a short video that was made by the teacher who was leading a class at a craft store (A. C. Moore if you have those near you). What I liked about her technique was that it was EASY! AND she gave the proportions for people who prefer using butter as well as those who prefer just using the shortening.