How to Make the Best-Ever American Buttercream – Plus Variations!

Buttercream is a simple mixture of a fat (butter, margarine, shortening etc.) and powdered sugar, mostly used to frost cakes or cupcakes. As uncomplicated as it might seem, many get it wrong. It should be light and fluffy, with the flavoring mixed through consistently. But sometimes, no matter how long you mix it, you end up with a gritty buttercream. Here’s how to fix it!

By Cookist

Even though it’s a simple frosting to make, it often ends up gritty. We have a few tips to get you started in making the best buttercream you’ve ever had!

Use butter at room temperature


If you start off with butter that is too cold, it will prevent the ingredients from mixing to a smooth consistency. You will likely end up with a buttercream that’s curdled or chunky. Make sure to take your butter out of the fridge ahead of time (give it at least 30 minutes). It should be soft, but not completely melted.

Use real butter


If you ever tasted buttercream with a greasy aftertaste, it’s likely that a butter substitute was used. By using butter, you get a smooth, rich buttercream with a good flavor. If you want to impress with your cakes, don’t use anything but butter. The higher the fat content, the better! It’s worth to splurge a little!

Use powdered sugar


If you use granulated sugar, it won’t dissolve properly and you’ll be left with grainy buttercream. Powdered sugar will dissolve more easily, leaving you with a silky-smooth buttercream!

Add extras carefully


When making a special buttercream, add your extracts or liquor very carefully. If you add too much, your buttercream will become too thin and you won’t be able to frost your cake.



Classic American Buttercream

Using a stand mixer with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat ¾ cups unsalted butter until smooth and creamy, approximately 2 minutes. Add 2 ¼ cups plus 1 tsp powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Mix on a low speed until well combined. Then turn up the speed to high, and mix until fluffy.

The simplest form of buttercream is butter and sugar. Because there are only a few ingredients, there is no place to hide if you use poor quality products. Now is not the time to be cheap. Make use of the best quality you can get. You will taste the difference! We have a few variations to get your started. To the finished buttercream, add any the following extras.

Dark chocolate

Add 200 grams melted and cooled dark chocolate.

Salted Caramel

Add 1 cup caramel sauce and a pinch of coarse salt.


Add ¼ to ½ tsp lemon juice.


Add ¼ cup of freshly brewed espresso.

Peanut butter

Add 1 ½ to 2 cups of smooth peanut butter.

Now you’re ready to frost that cake!

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