Vanilla Russian buttercream only takes 3 ingredients to make and none of them is powdered sugar! This is a super smooth frosting with the rich flavor of sweetened condensed milk. It is creamy, not too sweet and really easy to make.
This 3 ingredient frosting has a silky smooth texture and rich creamy flavor. It really is a simple recipe, the only trick is to make sure the ingredients are the right temperature for the best results.
Follow these simple steps to get a creamy delicious sweetened condensed milk buttercream with no powdered sugar. It is perfect for swirling on cupcakes or spreading over a cake for a luscious and creamy finish.
It is amazing how many different ways there are to make frosting, isn’t it? I just live how easy it is to add personality to a cake by using different types of buttercream.
Each has its own unique flavor and texture. Some are great for piping, others for spreading.
Some form a crust to help it hold its shape. Others rely on the butter, egg whites or even egg yolks to stay strong and maintain the holding power.
Each variety has its own place where it shines. Once you get started exploring the different flavor and ingredient combinations, it’s hard to stop!
I posted a recipe for sweetened condensed milk buttercream several years ago. It was an attempt to recreate the buttercream used at a local bakery on their angel food cupcakes.
That recipe is a twist on a classic American buttercream recipe with butter and powdered sugar. The addition of sweetened condensed milk adds a rich flavor in the background.
The powdered sugar helps the frosting to hold its shape and form a crust once it sets. But I realized that a lot of people who are searching for sweetened condensed milk frosting recipes are looking to avoid using powdered sugar.
That is where this easy Russian buttercream recipe comes into play. It really puts the rich sweet dairy flavor or condensed milk in the foreground.
I have played with this kind of recipe in the past. I used it on lemon cupcakes, so I used lemonade powder to bring the lemon flavor through in lemonade Russian buttercream frosting.
But I thought it would be helpful to go back to the basics and share a vanilla Russian buttercream. There are a few tricks that help you to have a successful outcome.
Once you master that, you can use your imagination to layer flavors in the future. Then you can tell me all about what you did so I can try it too!
Things to Keep in Mind When Making This Buttercream
This frosting is super smooth and has a wonderful mouthfeel. All of the sugar is already dissolved in the milk, so there is nothing to feel gritty in the final product.
Because there is no powdered sugar in this recipe, it does not form a crust. You are relying on the butter to hold its shape.
Because of that, if you want to set the frosting for transport refrigeration is your friend. The chilled butter makes it set more solid, making it better for transporting.
However, like most frosting the texture for eating is better at room temperature. It is much more pleasing to bite into a soft pillow-y cloud of buttercream than a cold solid one, plus the flavors come through better as well.
Russian buttercream would not be my top choice for a hot day. I’ll be honest, it holds better than I would have thought. But I still wouldn’t trust it on a special occasion cake for an outdoor summer event.
The frosting will pipe well immediately if your sweetened condensed milk is well chilled. If it feels too soft, chill it for a bit then beat it and try again.
While it seems like Russian buttercream would be a perfect frosting to use with Russian piping tips, I would not recommend it. The piping tips perform better with a stiff buttercream and this is not that.
I would recommend a crusting buttercream or traditional American buttercream instead. You can pipe simple buttercream flowers with this recipe, but again I would recommend a stiffer frosting for more complicated designs.
Tips, Tricks and Advice for Making Russian Icing
You will have the best luck getting a piping or spreading consistency if your can of sweetened condensed milk is well chilled. Put it in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours before you make the frosting.
Overnight or longer is fine too, you want to make sure it is cold throughout.
You want the butter to be just soft enough to be beaten smooth. You don’t want it too soft or warm. Because of this, I wouldn’t rely on a microwave to soften it. Let it soften naturally.
If you don’t get all of the lumps out of the butter at the start, you will have a hard time getting them out later. Beat it well, scraping both the bowl and the beaters several times until you know it is completely smooth.
I like to start by adding a couple of Tablespoons of chilled sweetened condensed milk. Make sure that is fully mixed in before adding more.
Add the rest of the condensed milk and some vanilla and beat it for a minimum of two minutes. It should be light and creamy.
I used salted butter, so I didn’t use additional salt. If you use unsalted, add a pinch of salt and mix well. You should be able to use the frosting right away.
I transferred it right to a piping bag and put swirls and rosettes on 24 cupcakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make Russian buttercream in advance and store it?
It is best if you don’t. This buttercream works best if you use it right away. Plus it only takes a few minutes to make, so it doesn’t add much to your workload. If you do have extra, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use it, let it sit out for a bit to take the chill off and try to use it while it still has just a bit of chill left.
I’ve tried to make Russian buttercream before but it split. How do I avoid that?
The biggest key to this recipe is temperature. Make sure the butter is soft, but not too warm. It shouldn’t be wimpy or shiny. You just want it warm enough that it can be creamed. Then beat it well until it is fluffy and gets a shade or two lighter in color. Now add the chilled sweetened condensed milk just a little bit at a time until it is full incorporated. Don’t pour too much at once.
My Russian buttercream is soft, what do I do?
If you are like me and are used to American buttercream, it feels strange to pipe such a soft frosting. You can put the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for five to ten minutes to let it stiffen a bit and then put it in your piping bag.
My frosting split, what do I do?
Don’t despair! There is a good chance you can get it back. Likely things were just a little bit too warm or the sweetened condensed milk went it a little too fast. Try putting the mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and then beating it again. The good news is you can almost always save it with a little chilling and more mixing.
Can I color this frosting?
Yes you can. Use gel food colorings for the best results. Because there are no dry ingredients to absorb it, you don’t want to add a ton of extra liquid coloring to the mix.
More About Frosting
If you are curious about the different types of frosting, you have come to the right place. I have a frosting 101 post that walks you through the different kinds.
You’ll be able to tell the difference between Italian meringue buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, French buttercream, American frosting and Russian buttercream in no time. Not to mention the cooked frostings, German buttercream, seven minute frosting and some glazes too.
Hopefully you’ll walk away inspired to try something new. After all, the frosting makes the cake!
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- 1 cup butter, softened
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters a couple of times to ensure there are no lumps left in the butter. (Use a hand mixer or the paddle attachment on your stand mixer.)
- Add a couple of Tablespoons of cold sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla. Beat until it is well incorporated.
- Add the remaining sweetened condensed milk, a small amount at a time mixing well after each addition.
- Once all of the condensed milk is added, beat on medium-high speed for at least two minutes or until the frosting is smooth and airy.
- Spread or pipe on cake or cupcakes. If desired, chill to set.
Having your ingredients at the proper temperature is the key to getting this recipe right. The sweetened condensed milk should be in the refrigerator for several hours before proceeding and the butter should be soft enough to beat smooth but not too wimpy.
If you use unsalted butter, add a small pinch of salt to help balance the flavors.
If you run into any issues, please read all of the tips and tricks in the post. There is a good chance you can recover and still have delicious frosting!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 89mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 2g
All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.