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Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

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Brown sugar buttercream has tasty molasses undertones with a nice fluffy texture. It is the perfect way to finish your favorite cake, cupcakes and cookies.

Swirl of piped brown sugar buttercream with ruffles.

This wonderful frosting is made from simple ingredients. It only takes a few minutes to make and it goes perfectly with chocolate but would also be wonderful on spice cake or pumpkin cake as well.

By now you know I am crazy about frosting. So much so that I have collection of shirts and tote bags devoted to it!

Brown sugar buttercream ingredients.

There are endless combinations of flavors and types. No matter the situation, there is a perfect frosting.

While we recently fell in love with an easy mock swiss meringue buttercream recipe, American buttercream is still my first true love. It is just so easy to make and perfect for taking on different flavors.

Based on butter and powdered sugar, it is the easiest of all of the frosting types. It is such a great way to get a smooth and fluffy icing.

Butter and brown sugar mixed together.

The beauty of this brown sugar frosting recipe is you get caramel frosting vibes without needing a candy thermometer. As written, it has a mild brown sugar flavor but you could easily use dark brown sugar to accentuate the caramelly molasses flavor.

It would be the perfect topping for a carrot cake or just sandwiched between graham crackers. It holds up well to frost a layer cake and can be used to pipe ruffles and swirls.

So it is definitely super versatile and really delicious. I hope you give it a try to see for yourself.

Tips for Getting a Smooth Fluffy Frosting

Using brown sugar can make the frosting grainy, so there are a few simple tips to help ensure it is smooth. First, make sure you butter is room temperature.

Mixing bowl filled with fluffy brown sugar buttercream.

Then beat together the butter and brown sugar for a couple of minutes to give it plenty of time to dissolve. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times along the way to ensure there are no sugar crystals hiding out anywhere.

Go ahead and add the heavy cream or milk and vanilla extract next and beat it again. That will give you a little more insurance on getting everything dissolved.

Mixer paddle filled with brown sugar buttercream.

Then add your confectioners sugar a little bit at a time, Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, mix the frosting on medium speed for an extra couple of minutes to get it fluffy.

When making buttercream, you should use the paddle attachment on your electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment can actually add too many air bubbles and make it hard to get a smooth finish when piping or spreading the frosting.

Chocolate cupcakes topped with brown sugar buttercream rosettes.

If you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the mixture. If you are using salted butter, give the frosting a taste before you decide whether to add salt or not.

More Brown Sugar Frosting Recipes

If you want something you can smooth over your cake rather that a fluffy frosting, try making brown sugar icing instead. You use melted butter to dissolve the brown sugar. It ends up a little bit shiny and is great for using on a sheet cake, it is the perfect recipe for topping a banana cake.

Peanut butter brown sugar buttercream is another fun frosting recipe. It would be great on chocolate, banana or vanilla cakes.

Looking down on cupcakes with brown sugar frosting piped on top.

Or make cinnamon brown sugar cream cheese frosting. I used it on a German apple cake and the combination was amazing.

Brown sugar German buttercream is a super rich and creamy option. It is built on a custard base and doesn’t require any confectioners’ sugar.

If you tried this recipe, or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments. Hungry for more?  Be sure to stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for all of the latest updates.

Swirl of piped brown sugar buttercream with ruffles.

Brown Sugar Buttercream

Servings: 24 Servings (3 1/2-4 Cups)
Author: Carlee
Brown sugar buttercream has tasty molasses undertones with a nice fluffy texture. It is the perfect way to finish your favorite cake, cupcakes and cookies.
4.75 from 20 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar


  • Beat butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure all of the brown sugar has a chance to get dissolved.
    1 cup unsalted butter, ½ cup light brown sugar
  • Add the milk and vanilla, mix for 1 minute.
    1 Tablespoon milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Slowly stir in the powdered sugar and salt. Once it is incorporated, beat on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes.
    ⅛ teaspoon salt, 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Adjust the consistency with additional milk or powdered sugar as desired.
  • Use right away or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. Bring chilled or frozen buttercream to room temperature before using.


If you use salted butter, taste the frosting before adding additional salt.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 155kcalCarbohydrates: 22gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 13mgSugar: 22g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Sunday 17th of December 2023

I added this to a gingerbread cake. It tasted really good. I was unable to get the brown sugar to completely dissolve. I am wondering if it would make a difference if I were to add the milk and vanilla to the sugar first and then beat it together with the butter?


Sunday 17th of December 2023

That could help. I'm sorry it was still a little grainy, hopefully the taste made up for it!