How to Make the Best Buttercream - Handle the Heat

How to Make the Best Buttercream

By Tessa Arias
  |  
November 30th, 2021
4.97 from 26 votes
4.97 from 26 votes

How to Make the Best Buttercream Icing that's perfectly creamy, sweet, and can be made ahead of time. Plus tons of flavor customizations listed and a step-by-step video!  Download my free Buttercream guide here!

Yield: 3 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

There’s nothing worse than the sickeningly sweet and artificial-tasting frosting that comes prepacked or that’s loaded onto grocery store birthday cakes.

How to Make the Best Chocolate American Buttercream

I seriously despise that stuff and would rather eat nothing (which is saying something for this sweet toothed girl). That’s why making buttercream from scratch is the only way to go. It may seem complicated but it’s actually ridiculously easy and this post is all you’ll need to not just learn how make the best buttercream, but how to make it ahead of time and how to customize it with over a dozen flavor options.

Check out the step-by-step video below so you can actually see what every step looks like, which if you’re a visual learner like myself you’ll find super helpful. The flavor ideas and full printable recipe are just below, plus some more links to other posts you’ll love.

Flavor Ideas:

You may need to adjust the powdered sugar ratio depending on your flavor preferences and adjust the cream ratio depending on your texture preferences.

Chocolate

Add 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

Strawberry

Add 1/3 cup seedless strawberry preserves and a few drops of red food coloring

Raspberry

Add 1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves and a few drops of red food coloring

Mocha

Add 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Use 3/4 light brown sugar in place of all powdered sugar, add 1 1/4 cups flour*, and garnish with mini chocolate chips
*To make the raw flour safer, we need to kill bacteria. Treat the flour by baking it at 350°F for 10 minutes or microwaving in 30 second bursts until it reaches 165°F. Use an instant read thermometer to guarantee it hits the temperature at which bacteria dies. Heating the flour in the oven also toasts it slightly, giving it a nutty caramelized flavor that works beautifully in this recipe.

Chocolate Malt

Add 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup malted milk powder, and use 1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed

Peanut Butter

Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter and reduce the powdered sugar to 2 1/2 cups

Irish Cream Buttercream

Use Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of cream

Kahlua

Add in 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/2 cup Kahlua in place of the cream

Mint

Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract and a few drops of green food coloring

Nutella

Add in 2/3 cup Nutella and reduce powdered sugar to 2 cups

Lemon (or any other citrus)

Add in 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 3 tablespoons lemon juice and increase powdered sugar to 3 1/2 cups

Coconut

Add in 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Cinnamon

Add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Pumpkin

Add in 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, remove cream

Salted Caramel

Add in 1/3 cup caramel topping and increase salt to 1 teaspoon, remove cream

4.97 from 26 votes

How to make
the Best Buttercream

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
How to Make the Best Buttercream Icing that's perfectly creamy, sweet, and can be made ahead of time. Plus tons of flavor customizations listed and a step-by-step video!  Download my free Buttercream guide here!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (375 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla, and cream and beat on medium for 1 minute, adding more cream if needed.

STORAGE:

  1. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let come to room temperature and re-whip in the stand mixer until light and fluffy again. Add a tablespoon or 2 of powdered sugar if it needs to thicken.

Recipe Video

Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American

Photos by Constance Higley.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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  1. #
    Marc — December 30, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    read your directions; when do you add the cocoa?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — January 6, 2023 at 10:26 am

      Hi Marc! You can just add the cocoa powder to the powdered sugar 🙂

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