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American Buttercream Frosting

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Fluffy, sweet and perfect for piping, this classic American buttercream is right at home on cupcakes, cake, cookies or sandwiched between two graham crackers!

swirl of white classic American buttercream on plate.

Homemade frosting is super simple to make and tastes so much better than those tubs.  If you are looking for an easy recipe with very few steps and only a handful of ingredients, American buttercream is for you.

This frosting is perfect for piping shapes and borders, it spreads over cakes well too.  It is versatile and delicious too!

There are few things simpler to make than American buttercream.  It makes you wonder why you ever bought one of those tubs of frosting.

This buttercream is made from only 4 ingredients, most of which you probably have anyway.  It is light and fluffy and oh so good!

Plus it is really adaptable.  You can change the extract to match your mood.

Paddle attachement from stand mixer filled with fluffy white american buttercream frosting.

Make it a little thinner for spreading or thicker for piping.  Or you can just dip in a graham cracker and call it a day!

Why American Buttercream is the Best Buttercream Frosting

By now I am sure you know I love my frosting.  I love experimenting with different flavors and textures too.   

But there is just something about a basic buttercream that makes it a necessary part of your arsenal no matter how many other frosting recipes you try (and love!)   

classic american buttercream frosting being piped onto cupcakes to make lamb cupcake cake.

Once you master this classic American buttercream frosting recipe, you can do anything your heart desires! There are no limits to how many variations you can make.  

Unlike Swiss meringue buttercream or Italian meringue buttercream, you don’t have to fuss with egg whites. And there are no egg yolks like they use in French buttercream.

You get a nice fluffy frosting with just a few simple ingredients. It is the perfect buttercream for piping decorations as it holds its shape well.

If you like buttercream but want to switch it up a bit, you may like my sweetened condensed milk buttercream.  Or there is the white chocolate buttercream that is amazing too.    

Of course there is chocolate buttercream and marshmallow buttercream as well.  You better start baking a bunch of cakes so you can try them all!  

Storing Buttercream:

American buttercream can be stored at room temperature for up to two days.  Just make sure to keep it covered so it doesn’t form a crust.  

For longer storage, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze for up to two months. Just bring the frosting to room temperature and whip before using.  

layer cake with 3D frosting sunflowers on top.

Tips for Making the Best Frosting

Make sure you have room temperature butter when you start. It should be soft enough to dent with your finger, but not so soft that it’s greasy and wimpy. 

The temperature, humidity and your desired consistency will affect how much milk or cream you will need to use. Just add it a bit at a time until you get to where you want it to be. 

When you get close, really start adding just a tiny splash at a time. It takes a lot of sugar to undo it if you go too far.

If your frosting tastes too sweet, add a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. It’s not enough to taste, just enough to bring back the sugar a bit.

Feel free to play with flavors and textures and find your best mix. Sometimes its fun to play with your food!

cake frosted in white buttercream with frosting sunflowers piped on top.

Watch me use this frosting to decorate a sunflower cake

Click this link to see me take a simple white layer cake and this buttercream and turn it into a super simple sunflower cake. It is fun and easy!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is American frosting made of?

American style buttercream is a combination of butter, confectioners sugar, and a little bit of milk or cream. Usually it is flavored with vanilla, but can flavored an endless variety of ways.

Does American buttercream melt?

American buttercream forms a light crust as it sits, which makes it really good for holding its shape. It does not melt at room temperature. It does reasonably well in warm temperatures, but will get soft if it is hot enough for the butter to melt. To help it stand up a little butter to heat, substitute vegetable shortening for some of the butter.

Check Out These Fun Twists on American Buttercream

White chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is one of my all time favorites and I LOVE frosting, so I don’t say that lightly.  It is so creamy, fluffy and fun and the white chocolate flavor really carries through!

Sweetened condensed milk buttercream is super simple and adds that little bit of something extra you can’t quite put your finger on. It is rich, creamy and oh so good.

Creamy peanut butter buttercream with a hint of brown sugar is perfectly fluffy and delicious. Pipe it on your favorite cake or cupcakes for an extra special treat.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

swirl of white classic American buttercream on plate.

American Buttercream Frosting

Servings: 24 Servings (about 3 cups)
Author: Carlee
This vanilla buttercream frosting is the easiest recipe to make. It is perfect for frosting cakes, decorating sugar cookies and more. It has a fluffy consistency but holds its shape well for decorating so it is perfect for wedding cakes and birthday cakes too!
4.86 from 48 ratings
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 pinch salt


  • In your mixer, lightly cream the softened butter using the paddle attachment.
    1 cup unsalted butter
  • Add the powdered sugar and salt and mix on low speed. Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue to mix on low until incorporated.
    3 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Turn mixer to medium-high speed and beat for about 3 minutes. While mixing, add vanilla and milk.
    1 Tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk, 1 pinch salt
  • Add more milk or powdered sugar if necessary to achieve the consistency you'd like.
  • Mix frosting with a spatula to knock out any big air bubbles. Then use the frosting to decorate your baked goods.


This is enough frosting for about 24 cupcakes if you don't pile it too high, or one 9×13-inch cake. For layer cakes, double the recipe.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 123kcalCarbohydrates: 14gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 67mgSugar: 14g

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.

Loved this recipe?Pin this recipe for later & follow @cookingwcarlee for more

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4.86 from 48 votes (47 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Saturday 3rd of December 2022

I liked that the recipe made just enough for a double layer 8" cake. But I found it to be really sweet, which coukd be due to cutting down on sugar and sweets.


Saturday 13th of August 2022

I made this recipe and my family loves it. I appreciate you. Thanks for your recipe.


Saturday 13th of August 2022

I am so glad to hear that, thank you for letting me know!

Andrea Nine

Monday 23rd of November 2020

You are absolutely the frosting queen and buttercream is my all time favorite. How I’d love to dip my finger in the bowl, no, a spoon!!


Tuesday 24th of November 2020

I'd happily share with you!


Thursday 28th of May 2015

Perfect and just what I needed! Thank you, Carlee :)

I think I pinned so many recipes from your site today that Pinterest might ban me LOL



Thursday 28th of May 2015

Thanks, Rue!


Wednesday 27th of May 2015

I drove myself nuts trying to find this recipe last weekend! Lol....I clicked a link under another recipe,; no go. Searched; nothing found. SOOO glad it's here today!! Pinned and thank you!! By the way, I'm a new subscriber, because I absolutely LOVE your recipes! I've been seeing them on linky parties and all...have pinned so many of them.


Wednesday 27th of May 2015

Thank you so much! Sounds like I should have posted this one a little sooner ;-)