Easy Buttercream Frosting Recipe

I have one of the most popular vanilla cupcake recipes on the Internet and because of that, I’m often asked about the best buttercream frosting recipe. Friends, this is it.

This buttercream recipe is easy (my number one requirement), not overly sweet, and takes almost no time to put together. If this sounds good to you, let’s dive in.

Horizontal image of round piped vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting with piping bag, wood cutting board, and measuring spoons.
This easy buttercream frosting recipe is perfect for cupcakes, cakes, and other desserts.

RELATED READING: Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe for the Lazy Baker

The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Here at Ruffles and Rain Boots, I take cupcakes pretty seriously. If you were to scroll up and click on that cupcakes recipe menu, you will be scrolling a good, long while. I just love the mini cakes and think they’re one of the most perfect desserts.

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That said, I’ve never shared the best frosting recipe for cupcakes because I thought everyone learned it the same way. Until I baked with a best friend to prep for her husband’s birthday…

Easy buttercream frosting recipe piped into a mini mason jar next to piping bag with star tip and kitchen towel.
No matter how it is piped, this American buttercream frosting recipe is easy and comes together quickly.

I’m Not a Sweets Snob, I Promise, But…

My friend added milk to the frosting per the recipe she was following. Now, I’m not a frosting foodie or anything, but heard myself say, “No cream?” I had always learned to use cream over milk.

It was a fun afternoon and the cupcakes were tasty, but I do think the cream makes a difference. The best part was showing her how to get the smooth buttercream frosting and the technique to get all the air bubbles out. We don’t want it to flatten into a sad, little lump 20 minutes after piping!

The best frosting for cupcakes and cakes is American buttercream frosting because it holds its shape, tastes great and takes flavor very well. Additionally, it doesn’t taste like eggs and it’s so much easier than some other frosting recipes.

No Time to Make This American Buttercream Frosting Now? Save or Share

If you do not obsess about frosting but want to try this for your next batch of cupcakes, use the sharing buttons. Save this to a yummy dessert recipes pin board or share it on Facebook. Either will make it easy to find when you’re ready to begin.

Vertical image of frosted vanilla cupcake, piping bag, and decorated background with text which reads the best and easiest cupcake frosting recipe.
Make this delicious cupcake frosting the go to in your recipe box.

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RELATED READING: Easy Marshmallow Frosting Recipe for Cupcakes

Ingredients for the Best Cupcake Frosting

I make it sound all fancy, but honestly, it’s probably 90% of the same ingredients as you’ve been using. My recommendation for Irish butter is science: it has a higher fat content and fat equals flavor, my friends. Because the “flavor” of this frosting is primarily made up of BUTTER, this small change affects the finished product quite a bit.

Additionally, pure vanilla extract makes a significant flavor enhancement over the imitation version. Below you’ll see my process is a bit different, but the ingredients are as you might suspect:

  • 1 cup of unsalted, butter (or sweet cream butter; my choice is Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Vertical image of ingredients for American buttercream frosting on wood board on striped dishtowel.
You will need butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and heavy whipping cream for this delicious and easy cupcake frosting recipe.

You’ll also need:

  • a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (not a whisk attachment)
  • a flexible (ish) spatula

If you only have a hand mixer, use it! It will affect the outcome because it will add more air, but that is easily fixed. You will want to do the last step with the spatula a bit longer to really push out all the air bubbles.

RELATED READING: The Internet Went CRAZY for These Popcorn Cupcakes

Step by Step: How to Make an Easy Buttercream Frosting

If you want to wow everyone, follow the detailed steps below. Leave this page open and check the consistency with the images. For a print version of this recipe without pictures, scroll to the bottom.

Psst: though I do recommend the easiest cupcake recipe EVER, this frosting is just as tasty on store bought cupcakes.

First, leave the butter to soften at room temperature (equal to about 70 degrees). Never melt it in the microwave for an American buttercream frosting recipe… it doesn’t end well.

Next, add all of the butter and the vanilla into the stand mixer’s bowl and beat on low with the paddle attachment until combined. Don’t worry if you can still see the vanilla a little.

Vertical image of Irish butter and vanilla extract in bowl of red stand mixer with paddle attachment.
Add the butter and vanilla only to the bowl and mix on low.

You will know it’s combined when you see the butter look like this.

Vertical image close up of red kitchen mixer and paddle attachment combining butter and vanilla for frosting.
The creamed butter and vanilla should look like this before adding sugar.

Once combined, add in half of the powdered sugar and beat on LOW speed until incorporated which will make it look like pebbles. I know, but trust the process…

Close up image of powdered sugar added to butter in pebble stage.
The powdered sugar mixture will resemble small pebbles – this is normal.

Mix in the remaining powdered sugar on LOW until incorporated. Now, some say to move to medium but I leave it right where it is: low and slow.

Adding Food Coloring and / or Flavoring

If you are using food coloring (I recommend this gel food coloring to not affect the flavor), please add it now. Additionally, if you would like to make bubblegum, peppermint, or another flavored frosting, add it in now.

Vertical image of red stand mixer and paddle combining cream into the buttercream frosting recipe.
Add heavy cream to the mixture and mix on low speed.

Add in the heavy cream slowly and mix on – you guessed it – low until the frosting is smooth. Note: you might not need all of the heavy cream if you have added a liquid flavoring.

The Best Buttercream Frosting Flavors

The recipe above gives you the most popular buttercream flavor, but don’t stop there. As mentioned, you can use this recipe as a base to create the most popular buttercream frosting flavors. Those are:

  1. vanilla buttercream frosting (this one)
  2. cookies and cream buttercream frosting (Oreo buttercream)
  3. peanut butter buttercream frosting recipe (or peanut butter coconut frosting recipe)
  4. easy lemon cupcake frosting (leave off the blackberries)
  5. Marscapone frosting recipe for cupcakes and cakes
  6. coffee cream cheese frosting recipe
  7. blueberry cream cheese frosting
  8. chocolate buttercream frosting
  9. cinnamon frosting recipe
  10. eggnog buttercream frosting recipe (leave off pumpkin pie spice)
  11. key lime frosting recipe

When selecting a flavoring oil to add to this cake and cupcake frosting recipe, remember quality matter. Tastebuds can definitely tell a high-quality peppermint from a low one.

Nielsen Massey is my preferred choice and I have this set of vanilla flavorings that is outstanding. McCormick flavorings, found in supermarkets, are quite decent and cost-effective.

Consistency of the Best Cupcake Frosting

Because we want our cupcakes to stay looking the way we intended, consistency is important. Whether you added flavoring or not, keep the frosting stiff enough to hold a small peak. This is tested by lifting a small amount from the mass on a spoon and tipping it sideways – if the peak slightly curves but stays in place, you are done.

How to Get Smooth Buttercream Frosting

Though we are done with the stand mixer (or hand mixer) now, we need to do one last step to get the smoothest frosting consistency. First, remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Use a spatula to press the frosting to the sides to remove the air bubbles.

I use a J-motion from the center of the bowl and run it up the sides, similar when making a macaron recipe. Turn the bowl a few times, repeating this motion. And remember: when placing the frosting into the piping bag, try to limit any space between layers.

Mixer paddle attachment creaming buttercream frosting recipe.
Continue mixing on low to reduce the air in the frosting. Hand mixing is next.

RELATED READING: The Perfect Large-Batch Cupcake Recipe

How to Decorate Cupcakes – Tips for American Buttercream Piping

I am asked about my ‘favorite tips’ when I share all of my cupcake recipes and cupcake designs, so I thought I would include a small bit about piping tips. I’ll also share a couple of techniques on how to frost cupcakes so they look like a bakery made them.

Remember, the TASTE is more important than the look of a piped cupcake. But let’s work on getting the best of both.

My Favorite Tips for Frosting Cupcakes (and Piping Examples)

First, I don’t believe the major brands differ, so I’ll just tell you what I use most often. My favorite tips are the Wilton 2D (flower tip) and the 4B (star tip), and any brand of a large round tip. I have both the Wilton 1A and the Ateco 809 tip (the largest) round tips and use them interchangeably.

This is some frosting piped with the Wilton 2D flower tip. It’s perfect for an all-over cupcake frosting style like these 4th of July cupcakes.

Vertical image of Wilton 2D piping tip example for frosting cupcakes.
The Wilton 2D flower tip is a fun way to add texture to a simple cupcake’s frosting.

This is the Wilton 4B star tip piped and is perfect for a textured look without any fuss at all. You can see it demonstrated here (before the drizzle stage) in these chocolate peanut butter cupcakes or as a flat presentation in these easy reindeer cupcakes.

Vertical image of a Wilton 2B star tip and American buttercream frosting for cupcake icing.
The Wilton 4B star tip makes a wonderful, striped pattern in the cupcake frosting.

This is the large round piping tip with this buttercream icing. I LOVE this because you can make it look like an ice cream swirl. It’s also perfect for creating a layer of sprinkles as shown in this Halloween cupcake.

Vertical image of large round pipping tip and buttercream frosting for cupcakes.
One of my favorite ways to add that fun “ice cream swirl” look to a frosted cupcake, the large round tip is a must-have.

Cupcake Recipes You Might Like

  • How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes – Did you know that, while a box mix will do, there’s NOTHING better than a red velvet from scratch (it’s easy, I promise).
  • Heath Bar Cupcake Recipe – Listen, bring that classic candy to cupcake form with this surprisingly easy treat.
  • Tiramisu Cupcake Recipe – Putting together a tiramisu dessert is a lot of work; skip it and make these easy cupcakes instead.

Please Save or Share This Easy Cupcake Frosting Recipe

Thank you so much for reading this. I’d love to see a picture or hear your thoughts on this recipe. Please save or share this with friends on social media.

Yield: 3 cups

Easy Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Easy buttercream frosting recipe piped into a mini mason jar next to piping bag with star tip and kitchen towel.

My Internet-famous easy cupcake recipe is always topped with this delicious, easy buttercream frosting recipe. It only uses four ingredients and comes together SO quickly. In the recipe, I share how to remove air bubbles from the frosting to make it the perfect cupcake frosting recipe for ANY flavor. Learn how to make this easy cupcake and cake icing recipe for all desserts that call for American buttercream that isn't overly sweet.

Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 4 cups powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
  • 1 cup unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream


  1. Using a stand mixer with a flat beater, cream the butter and vanilla until combined on low for the smoothest frosting.
  2. Mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar on low speed until combined. The frosting will look like pebbles (don't worry).
  3. Mix in the remaining powdered sugar, you can increase speed to medium and beat a few seconds and then back to low, or just leave it on low the entire time.
  4. Add in the heavy cream and mix on low until the frosting is smooth. For the smoothest frosting, keep the mixer on low to remove air bubbles.

    NOTE: I recommend mixing by hand before adding to a piping bag for the smoothest frosting. To do this, use a flexible spatula and press the buttercream against the bowl sides and on top of itself quite a few times to press out air bubbles.

    Repeat the spatula process if the buttercream frosting sits at room temperature for 20 minutes or if frozen and defrosted.


A paddle attachment should be use for the smoothest frosting (do not use the whisk attachment, as it adds air bubbles).

For the SMOOTHEST frosting, remove air bubbles with a spatula by pressing it to the sides of the bowl before adding to a piping bag.

This frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month and be frozen for up to three. Thaw in the refrigerator and stir well before using.

A hand mixer can be used with beaters and do the spatula method at the end to remove air bubbles.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 256Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 106mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 0g

All nutrition information is estimated. For accuracy, please calculate your exact brands and ingredients if accuracy is desired.

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