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American Buttercream Frosting (Vanilla & Chocolate)

This easy American Buttercream Frosting is made with just a few simple ingredients and it is not cloyingly sweet! No more wiping off that frosting on your cupcakes with a napkin, you can enjoy it with your cake like it was meant to be.

Vanilla buttercream frosting on top a cupcake

I’m not typically a huge fan of American style buttercream because it’s always too sweet for my taste. The greasiness of low-quality store-bought buttercream almost made me a permanent skeptic, until today. 

This, not too sweet buttercream frosting has changed my mind! Making it at home means you can control the quality of the ingredients going into your frosting, real butter is a must. If you can splurge, go for the best quality butter you can buy. And you won’t be using a whole pound of sugar in this recipe.

How to make Buttercream Frosting

This buttercream recipe is so easy, you might say “it’s too good to be true.” But trust me on this one. I thought the same thing so I proceeded to make it 4 times just to be sure. It’s perfect on cakes, cupcakes, or even straight from the bowl (I won’t judge!)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Making American buttercream in a stand mixer

  1. Add butter, cream, vanilla extract and salt to your mixing bowl.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into the mixing bowl.
  3. Turn the mixer to “stir” to incorporate all of the ingredients. 
  4. Increase the mixer speed gradually to “high” and beat until white and airy like a cloud. 

This recipe will make about 3 ¼ cups of vanilla buttercream. 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The steps are exactly the same for the chocolate buttercream with an additional ingredient, cocoa powder. You can use either natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder for this recipe, or a mix of both.

Chocolate buttercream frosting in a stand mixer

  1. Add butter, cream, vanilla extract and salt to your mixing bowl.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into the mixing bowl.
  3. Turn the mixer to “stir” to incorporate all of the ingredients. 
  4. Increase the mixer speed gradually to “high” and beat until light in color and fluffy.

This recipe will make about 3 ¾ cups of chocolate buttercream.

About 3 cups of either flavor American buttercream will be enough to generously frost a batch of a dozen chocolate cupcakes, a 6” two-layer vanilla cake or a mini chocolate cake. It is also enough to lightly cover an 8” two-layer cake with a thin layer of frosting on the side. 

If you want to frost a full-size cake completely, from 8” up to 10”, you’ll need about 4 – 5 cups of buttercream. This recipe can be easily scaled up to make more. I give the modifications in the note section of the recipe card.

Adding chocolate buttercream on chocolate cake

Baker’s Tips for perfect and not too sweet buttercream 

  • Let the butter come to room temperature before making buttercream. But don’t let it become too soft and runny. About 30 minutes to an hour will soften it enough.
  • Cutting up the butter into smaller cubes will help it soften quicker and more evenly. This will also help it incorporate faster when beating.
  • You don’t need to beat the butter first in this recipe but once all the ingredients are mixed together, you will need to beat it until it’s light and fluffy.
  • Don’t skip the salt, the recipe doesn’t call for much but it’s an important ingredient. It helps cut through the sweetness and the taste of cornstarch in the powdered sugar as well as give the buttercream another flavor dimension.
  • Always use real vanilla extract, none of that fake imitation vanilla stuff.

There is not a lot of powdered sugar in this recipe, is it structurally sound?

Yes, this buttercream is not runny at all, but you have to make sure you start out with softened and not melted butter. I used the vanilla buttercream on these vanilla cupcakes and took them to the zoo for a little one’s birthday party. They held up nicely all day in the California sun. 

However, I don’t recommend leaving frosted cupcakes and cakes out all day in the sun. It is always preferable to refrigerate them and take them out just half an hour before serving, or at least store them in a cool area of the house.

Storing and making ahead

This buttercream frosting can be stored in the refrigerator if made ahead for up to a week. Allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour and re-whip until fluffy before using it.

If you have leftovers, don’t throw it out, freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. You can thaw it at room temperature and re-whip until fluffy before using it. You can use it on cookies to make cookie sandwiches, fill macarons, or spread it over brownies.

Assembling chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate frosting

More frosting recipes you’ll want to try

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

Vanilla buttercream frosting on top a cupcake

American Buttercream Frosting

This easy American Buttercream Frosting is made with just a few simple ingredients and it is not cloyingly sweet! No more wiping off that frosting on your cupcakes with a napkin, you can enjoy it with your cake like it was meant to be.
Print Rate
Course: Dessert, Frosting
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 279kcal
Author: Trang

Equipment

Ingredients

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 12 oz unsalted butter (3 sticks, 340 g, room temperature)
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar (150 g, sifted)
  • 6 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • A big pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 12 oz unsalted butter (3 sticks, 340 g, room temperature)
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar (150 g, sifted)
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder (135 g, sifted)
  • 6 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • A big pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Add butter, cream, vanilla extract and salt to the stand mixer bowl.
  • Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder (if making chocolate buttercream) into the bowl.
  • Stir to incorporate all of the ingredients, then increase the mixer speed gradually to high and beat until the frosting is white (for vanilla buttercream) or lighter in color (for chocolate buttercream) and fluffy, about 5 - 15 minutes.

Notes

  • Let the butter come to room temperature before making buttercream. About 30 minutes to an hour will soften it enough without being too soft.
  • Buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator. Thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour and re-whip until fluffy before using.
  • This recipe makes about 3 ¼ to 3 ¾ cups of buttercream, enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes or a 2-layer 6” cake, and also lightly cover a 2-layer 8” cake with a thin layer of frosting on the side.
  • To fully frost a regular size (8” and up) 2-layer cake, you’ll want about 4 - 5 cups of frosting. You’ll want to modify the recipe to:
    • 16 oz unsalted butter (452 g)
    • 2 cup powdered sugar (200 g)
    • 1 cup cocoa powder (180 g, skip this for vanilla buttercream)
    • 8 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (½ cup)
    • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • A big pinch of salt

Nutrition

Serving: 49g | Calories: 279kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @WildWildWhisk or tag #WildWildWhisk!

American buttercream pin collage

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4 Comments

  1. Clareen Leach
    June 14, 2020 /

    Good day

    This recipe looks great as I am not a fan of traditional american buttercream. One thing I am concerned abt is the use of double cream when the cake will be left out of the fridge for a long period after decorating. We are always told to keep anything with cream in refrigerated. Can you please advise?

    • Trang
      Author
      June 15, 2020 /

      Hi Clareen, typical American buttercream always has either milk or cream so it should be kept refrigerated for the most part. Especially this version, with a whole lot less sugar, if left out all day the cream will be very soft. I do recommend keeping it refrigerated and take out just a few hours before serving instead of leaving it out all day long. If you’re making a wedding cake that has many tries and needs to be out, this may not be the best option.

  2. Aneesa
    March 27, 2020 /

    Hmmm, it looks nice but I’m a little apprehensive to try since there’s so little sugar in it. I dislike very sweet american buttercream too, but this seems like it would be too buttery tasting, which isn’t great either. I think I will wait and see what the reviews say when others have made it before giving it a try. I hope it’s good, as I’m still after the best buttercream recipe.

    • Trang
      Author
      March 27, 2020 /

      I totally understand your apprehension, I would suggest you go with Swiss buttercream instead cuz it’s still my favorite kind of buttercream. However, if you ever decide to try, just note that the longer you beat the buttercream to incorporate more air into it, the fluffier and creamier it becomes, and I think that makes a difference in it being “too buttery”.

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