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Russian Buttercream {Sweetened Condensed Milk Frosting Without Powdered Sugar}

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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.

cupcakes with swirls of sweetened condensed milk Russian buttercream frosting and colorful nonpareils

     This super smooth frosting is simple but oh so good. There are only three simple ingredients and it can be made in just a few minutes.

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 or egg whites to stay strong and maintain the holding power.

whipped butter in bowl ready for sweetened condensed milk to make Russian buttercream.

      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 American buttercream with butter and powdered sugar. The 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.

mixing bowl of fluffy Russian buttercream with mixer beaters.

      That is where this Russian buttercream 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.

       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!

swirl of creamy sweetened condensed milk frosting or Russian Buttercream with sprinkles

Things to keep in mind

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.

illustration of Russian buttercream ingredients

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.

cupcakes decorated with swirls of Russian buttercream, sprinkles and icing decorations

Tips, tricks and advice

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.

pile of buttercream filled krumkake horns.
Krumkake filled with Russian buttercream.

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 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.

piping bag filled with creamy vanilla russian buttercream next to cupcakes with swirls of frosting on top.

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 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.

Can I color this frosting?

Yes you can. Use gel food coloring for the best results. 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, Swiss, American and Russian buttercream in no time. Not to mention the cooked frostings, seven minute frosting and some glazes too.

Hopefully you’ll walk away inspired to try something new. After all, the frosting makes the cake!

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

Yield: 24 Servings

Russian Buttercream

cupcakes with piping bag and swirls of russian buttercream

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.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Beat the butter 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.
  2. Add a couple of Tablespoons of cold sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla. Beat until it is well incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining sweetened condensed milk, a little at a time and beat for at least two minutes.
  4. Spread or pipe on cake or cupcakes. If desired, chill to set. 

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

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.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

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.

More fabulously easy frosting recipes:

Share with your friends!

Carrie

Saturday 6th of November 2021

Would this work for decorating Christmas cookies with kids? Not a fan of royal icing and usually make American buttercream. But I like that I don’t have to use tons of powdered sugar!

Carlee

Saturday 6th of November 2021

You could, but it won't set like an American buttercream. You can refrigerate it to set it, but it won't form a crust like powdered sugar frosting. It depends on what kind of effect you are going for.

Anna

Saturday 28th of August 2021

This didn't work. Not even a little bit. I doubled the recipe and it was soup. Boo

Carlee

Sunday 29th of August 2021

Chill it and try whipping it again. The sweetened condensed milk needs to be really well chilled when you mix it in for the best results.

Debby

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

How would this hold up for cupcakes for a wedding..?..will it hold a shape when the weather is warm..?.or should I stay with American buttercream..

Carlee

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

I would be nervous if it was too warm. I have had it in semi-warm weather and it held up better than I expected, but with the added pressure of a wedding I would want to be extra certain. Italian meringue buttercream or a good sturdy American buttercream would probably be safer. I have a recipe for the buttercream I used for my brother's June wedding and it worked out pretty well.

EmilyK

Wednesday 21st of October 2020

Can you colour this frosting?

Carlee

Sunday 8th of November 2020

You can, but I would use gel instead of liquid coloring to keep it from getting too loose. I hope you enjoy it!

Trish

Saturday 16th of May 2020

I tried to make this and I dont know what I did wrong but it come out grainy like the butter started to separate. ��

Carlee

Sunday 17th of May 2020

Oh no! I am sorry that happened. If you try chilling it and then beating it again, it should come back together.

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