Classic American Butterccream

Today I’m going to get back to the basics and share a classic American Buttercream recipe with you.

Every cake decorator or even home baker needs a classic, reliable go-to recipe and this one fits the bill. The ingredients are staples in almost any baker’s kitchen and the recipe is surprisingly easy to make and easy to change up and adjust based on your needs and tastes.

You’ll only need butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk or cream. To change it up, you can swap the vanilla for lemon extract or orange extract or rum extract … whatever you love.

American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

And if you need it stiffer for piping, just add more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached. To pipe on cupcakes like these I’m sharing today, you will want it stiffened up a bit so that it’ll hold it’s shape when piling it up like fluffy clouds or in ribbons for ruffles!

Now let me warn  you… this frosting is super sweet (as frosting should be, in my humble opinion). But it’s very basic flavor pairs well with almost any flavor cake or cupcake – including vanilla, chocolate, lemon, and as seen above – red velvet.

If you’re looking for a less sweet frosting – you might want to try Italian Meringue buttercream or white meringue buttercream…. but if you’re looking for a really creamy, very American {super sweet} frosting – get busy making this!

Are you ready? Here’s the recipe for ya!

American Buttercream Frosting

Classic American Buttercream


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I use salted but unsalted will work!), softened to room temp
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or other extract or flavoring)
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk
  • Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)


With your butter at room temperature (soft, but not melted), beat it for a few minutes with a hand mixer or with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer on medium speed.

Gradually add the powdered sugar while mixing at the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter and you reach the desired consistency (at least 3 cups of sugar).

Increase mixer speed to medium and the vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream. Beat just until smooth or you will mix in too much air.

If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add more sugar, about a 1/4 of a cup at a time. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add more milk or cream, 1 tablespoons at a time.

If coloring your frosting, mix it in at the end until evenly colored.

Enjoy on your favorite cake or cupcakes 🙂

Happy Caking!