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The best buttercream frosting recipe is all thanks to sweet and salty mixing together! This recipe is one of the oldest and most popular on my website, it even made it into my first cookbook! When I first wrote this recipe 9 years ago, no one was using salted butter in their frostings – or at least there weren’t any posted online that I could find. This is THE original salted buttercream frosting recipe that went viral and has been shared by hundreds of thousands of people – and this recipe has been read tens of millions of times! This was my very first viral recipe here on The Kitchen Magpie! **Updated February 2018**

Buttercream Frosting
Buttercream Frosting

Millions Have Read This Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe!

This buttercream frosting recipe made it in to my cookbook, that’s how amazing it is! This recipe was one of the first on my website and has been viewed by tens of millions of people over the years! Isn’t that crazy? So I knew when I was writing my cookbook that I had to share it with everyone that bought my cookbook. This buttercream frosting recipe is the best and I have literally not changed a thing since I first published it back in 2010!

This buttercream frosting is still is amazing, melt in your mouth, whippy, ultimate swirly cupcake worthy. It was fantastic on the homemade chocolate cake I made to go with it the very first time I whipped it up. The cake was dense and moist, and paired with a light as air buttercream icing… heaven. Angels dancing on your taste buds. I’ve tried it on every cupcake that you can imagine and it’s even amazing on vanilla. Salty vanilla icing on a vanilla cupcake is heaven for vanilla lovers!

Please go and have a read of my Buttercream Icing FAQ which answers a lot of the questions about this recipe asked in the hundreds of comments on this post below!


How do you make buttercream frosting?

There are four basic ingredients for this buttercream frosting and I have kept it simple and straightforward for years now:

  1. One cup of salted butter
  2. Three teaspoons of vanilla
  3. Four cups of icing sugar
  4. Four to five tablespoons of  coffee cream (18% and up)

Commonly Asked Buttercream Frosting Questions and Answers

Do I have to refrigerate a cake with buttercream frosting?

This buttercream has butter and it has whipping cream in it. I personally leave it out all day and it’s fine ( butter is always fine at room temperature) but the whipping cream? That’s a personal call for you. I have left it out overnight, but I honestly have to tell you to refrigerate it instead of leaving it out. But it’s really a personal decision. Apparently because of all the sugar you can leave a cake with buttercream frosting out for 2-3 days.

How long can you leave a cake with buttercream frosting out?

I leave mine out for a day, not in the hot sun at all and it’s fine. According to the US food and inspection agency, you can leave a cake with buttercream frosting out for 2-3 days.

What is the best butter to use for buttercream frosting?

Salted and organic butter is literally the best butter that you an use in a buttercream frosting. It is the salt that really makes this the best buttercream frosting ever. It’s actually a myth that salted butter is an inferior quality – it’s not. It’s the same quality.

How do I make buttercream frosting stiffer?

You will want to use less cream in order to make the frosting stiffer. Start out with only a small amount of cream and add it until you get the consistency that you want.

How do you thicken up buttercream frosting?

This buttercream frosting is thick to start without adding in the cream! To start, beat in the icing sugar and see what the thickness of the frosting is. Then you can add a little bit of cream, a little at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. IF you go too far, you then can add more icing sugar/powdered sugar to thicken it back up.

How do you soften buttercream icing?

This one is easy, leave it out on the counter at room temperature for 45-60 minutes and it will be soft! If that doesn’t work and your frosting is too thick, then you might have to beat it again and add some more cream.

Can you store buttercream frosting in the refrigerator?

You bet! Buttercream frosting/icing can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two, as long as the whipping cream that you use wasn’t going to expire soon.

Can you freeze buttercream frosting?

I freeze it all the time! Simply defrost, mix and use as normal.

 best buttercream frosting on a cupcake

Tips and Tricks for the Best Buttercream Frosting

  • Always use salted butter. When I first wrote this recipe in 2010 there weren’t many people that were food blogging compared to today, so I literally couldn’t find a SINGLE buttercream frosting recipe on the internet that used salted butter! Now I am sure that if I looked there would be tons of recipes similar to this one.  Oh, how times have changed! So I had discovered that salt and sweet are a match made in heaven for icing and I never looked back. You can also read about the difference between salted and unsalted butter.
  • Whip that butter, with a paddle beater if you have it, if not, don’t worry. You can also use the beaters on your handheld mixer just fine to beat the buttercream frosting! You want the butter to be smooth and creamy before you add the icing sugar.
  • Fresh icing sugar makes all the difference. Icing sugar/powdered sugar/confectioners sugar goes stale, and you can sure taste it when it does! Crack open a fresh bag for icings, you won’t be sorry! Over the years many people have agreed that this is another trick to making great buttercream frosting.
  • You can make this frosting as light or as heavy as you want by adjusting the amount of heavy cream that you use.
  • Read this if you are looking for piping techniques.

Some More Buttercream Frosting Recipes:

  1.  Lemon Buttercream Frosting
  2. Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
  3. Chocolate Buttercream Icing
  4. Pistachio Pudding Buttercream Icing
  5. Vegan Buttercream Icing
  6. Candy Bar Buttercream Icing

Happy baking everyone!



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Famous Buttercream Frosting! Sweet and salty mix together to make this the best buttercream frosting recipe! #frosting #recipe #dessert #cakes #icing

4.86 from 117 votes
The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins

The absolute best buttercream frosting recipe you'll find! The secret is salted butter! This recipe was in my cookbook and has been featured everywhere! It's famous! This will frost one 8 inch cake, if you need to frost a large cake make sure to double it! 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: icing
Keyword: best buttercream frosting, best buttercream icing, buttercream frosting, buttercream icing
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 223 kcal
Author: Karlynn Johnston
  • 1 cup of salted butter
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 4 cups of icing sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons of coffee cream 18% and up
  1. Get out the salted butter! Trust me and use salted butter, it's the secret ingredient!

  2. Beat the butter until it is light and creamy. This is important as you are adding the icing sugar next. If the butter isn't creamy you can get lumps in the icing.

  3. Add in the icing sugar. Again, if you are like me and can taste stale icing sugar, you will need a fresh bag.

  4. Add in the cream.. I used 4 tablespoons for my preference, you adjust to what you want.

  5. Stiffer icing = less cream. Lighter icing = more cream. Adjust the amount to your liking by adding one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

  6. Add the vanilla then keep mixing it until fluffy and thoroughly combined.

Recipe Notes

Using salted butter instead of adding a dash of salt ensures that you have salt added throughout the frosting.

If you want low sodium, take out the salted butter and use unsalted.

This frosting freezes very well! You can ice a cake and freeze it, or simply freeze your leftovers to use another day.

If you are making a 9x13 cake, double the recipe.

I find I can cover 16 cupcakes with one batch. How many you can ice depends on how thick you slather the icing on!

Nutrition Facts
The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 223 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 30mg 10%
Sodium 101mg 4%
Potassium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 30g 10%
Sugars 29g
Vitamin A 7.1%
Calcium 0.3%
Iron 0.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



Hey guys, I'm Karlynn! Welcome to The Kitchen Magpie, my website full of family friendly recipes, cocktails & homesteading tales of chickens & cows from the family farm! Make sure to check out my bestselling cookbook, Flapper Pie & a Blue Prairie Sky ,stay tuned for info on my second cookbook!


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  5. I got this recipe from a friend almost 3 years ago. I don’t use any other recipe.
    For the cream, I use the flavored coffee creamers to add more flavor, the french vanilla and hazelnut are yummy!

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  7. Hey there!
    Great recipe! 😊
    Can I use this to crumb coat my cake before covering it with fondant? I have had problems with buttercream. It melts and the fondant becomes meh. 😐
    Thank you!

    • Hi. I love this frosting but it comes out a very off white when i make it. Am i doing something wrong? I am trying to get it white. I know the yellow butter makes it hard but is it possible for it to be white? Great recipe. Thanks

      • Try clear vanilla found in the cake decorating section at Walmart. I learned this in a cake decorating class I took. Hope this helps.

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  9. Hi,
    I am looking to ombré ice a 3 layer round cake but only the outside. I have a filling for the layers and crumb coat. Do you think I need to double this recipe or will it be sufficient as written?

    • I would double it, if you have leftovers it freezes really well! Once you mix the colour you won’t ever get a new batch of icing to match it, so I always make more than I need to be sure!

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  14. This recipe is as fantastic as advertised! I made several batches to ice the cake and cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday, and even the first batch (when I forgot to add the vanilla) was tasty. It was even better with the vanilla in the subsequent batches. I found when piping it for the cupcakes, that it went really far, and I was able to do 24 cupcakes with one batch and even had a little frosting left over. I needed about 2.5 batches to do a two-layer 13×9 inch cake. The frosting had a great texture, and was decadent and buttery without being overly sweet. I received lots of compliments and requests for seconds at the party! This will be my go-to frosting recipe from now on. Thanks so much!!

  15. Chrissy love Reply

    Great recipe. I made in a bind when the store bought frosting was a total fail. Will never buy that again!!!! Usually my kiddos don’t like homemade icing but they loved the cupcakes. I disagree with those that say the salt is too strong. I think the salted butter is what perfectly balances this recipe. I didn’t taste the salt at all but the frosting was so well balanced because of it. I didn’t add quite as much vanilla as called for because I wanted the butter to really stand out. It’s a great recipe and my new go to. Five stars all the way!

  16. Instead of using my grandmas secret recipe for buttercream icing, I decided to try this one.

    Now, I have had tasted several amazing buttercream icing before, and I don’t know if it was the ingredients I chose or rather how I did it, but this is not one of them. The salted butter was too much for me- I could taste it’s unpleasantness through the icing sugar and vanilla- and It was so thick… Even after 5 tablespoons of cream and less icing sugar (like what it was suggested) it still was a struggle to thin it down.

    It’s obvious other people didn’t have a problem with it, but I for sure will be just sticking to my grandmas recipe.

    • If you could taste the “unpleasantness” of the salted butter in the recipe, your butter was BAD, not the recipe! A good salted butter can taste like heaven, so I’m pretty sure you used a poor quality butter or rancid even.

  17. YOUR BUTTERCREAM SEARCH IS OVER! This stuff is amazing!!!!!! For once I used a good butter and not my cheap store brand! I only had unsalted so I added a pinch or 2 to my butter. I used 2T of almond extract and 1T vanilla extract. I also used 4T of half and half and eventually a few splashed of whole milk to thin it out. My only good to buttercream from ow on! Thank you!!!!

  18. I just made this recipe and I can’t get enough! Usually American buttercream is too sweet for my taste, but wow this is just perfect. I only used 2 Tbsp of heavy cream (instead of coffee creamer), which kept it thick enough to pipe decorations. After an hour on the counter, the piped frosting has kept it’s shape beautifully and has lightly crusted over the top. I am just so pleased with this recipe. It’s a keeper. Thank you for sharing!

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  20. I was wondering is this a crusting buttercream? After three days on the counter on a cupcake will the icing be super hard? I’m looking for just a Slightly crusting buttercream recipe.

  21. I just made this recipe to ice mini cupcakes for an office event and got rave reviews. People were asking what is in it and how I made it. They kept saying how delicious it was. As we have some dairy free people in our office (allergies) I used coconut milk instead of cream and it turned out perfectly.

  22. Hello
    I am making a two tiered
    2 9 inch cakes 3 layers
    and a 6 inch 3 layers white wedding cake
    how much frosting do I need to make?

    thank you

  23. I love this icing recipe! I’ve been using it for a couple years and just started experimenting using flavored coffee creamers for the cream. I’ve used peppermint and Christmas and just made it with strawberry cheesecake creamer for chocolate cupcakes. It adds just enough flavor to the icing and isn’t over powering. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

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  25. This is the WORST buttercream icing recipe, EVER. I just reviewed your grape pop cupcakes – which were terrible and the worst cake I’ve ever made – and I frosted them with this icing. Doubly terrible. I LOVE buttercream icing and have tried just about every variation out there, but this one is the worst. Why? Because the salted butter completely overwhelms the flavor. I really like salty desserts with chocolate and caramel, but I do not like this frosting, nor did my entire family with 6 kids who tried it with me tonight. I had to throw it out and I never do that. The frosting is too salty, too thick – even with extra cream – and I used only the best, organic, and freshest ingredients. What a waste!

    • I’ve used this very same icing recipe for my little cousins since beginning to make their birthday cakes at the beginning of their lives and never had an issue with it as others have indicated here as well.. Could it have been the milk/cream you used or the “organic butter” that imparted a different taste than you and family are accustomed to?

    • Expressing your opinion is one thing, but trying to slander the recipe simply because its not your favorite? Come on. I’ve made this recipe countless times using the exact ingredients and it has always been a hit. I have people constantly asking for this recipe. BUT.. I would never go so far as to say this is the only good buttercream recipe ever, simply because its my opinion. I also wouldnt use different ingredients, therefore changing the recipe and then start attacking it because I chose to NOT follow it exactly. “Only the best organic and freshest ingredients”…. Organic doesn’t mean better. Get off your pedestal.

    • Sorry it didn’t work out for you, but really you are the first person to every say this is the worst recipe ever LOL! This gets rave reviews, so maybe it was your ingredients!

  26. This is the best buttercream frosting ever! Thank you! It was a hit with everyone!

    • Valerie L. Reply

      I’ve only made the recipe for this amazing buttercream frosting once since I found it on your website. However, if I wanted to make it a “Chocolate” Buttercream Frosting, what would you suggest adding to it? Melted semi-sweet chocolate or cocoa? Please advise. Thanks so much!

      • Karlynn actually has a Chocolate Buttedcream on this website. it is delicious. I have used both the vanilla and chocolate!

  27. I’m sure it has been said before and will be said again, but this recipe is amazing! Thank you!

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  29. Valerie L. Reply

    I just made this delicious Buttercream Icing this afternoon to frost a Chocolate Mayonnaise cake that I made to take to a party tonight. Besides it being Halloween, it is also one of our friend and neighbor’s birthday today, and although I would have preferred to frost this cake with Chocolate Buttercream, her preference is Chocolate Cake w/White Icing, so of course, I am obliging her 🙂 🙂

    First, let me say that this is hands-down, the absolutely best Buttercream icing that I have ever made. It’s very creamy, but it does have a substance to it, and it’s very flavorful, as well. For the cream, I used “Heavy Whipping Cream”, and I only had to use 2 tablespoons of it in order to get the right consistency. I did use salted butter, but then I have always used salted butter in all of my baking and cooking. I also used all 3 teaspoons of the vanilla extract, as well as the 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar. However, I was making this icing to frost a 13″ x 9″ cake, and I found that there was only enough to adequately cover 1/2 of the cake (I prefer a thick layer of icing on my cakes). So, naturally, I ended up making another batch of this recipe to cover the other half of the cake. So please bear in mind, if you are making icing for an oblong cake, that you will need to double the recipe to have enough icing to really cover your cake adequately.

    But if you are looking for a great Buttercream Icing, look no further, because you’d be hard pressed to find anything that is as easy to put together and is as flavorful as this one. It literally glides across the cake whenever you are frosting it. Thanks so much for passing this along to us, Karlynn!

  30. This recipe never lets me down! It actually is the BEST buttercream frosting ever! My family loves it!

  31. Hi! I am going to try this recipe tonight. I am baking a unicorn cake for my granddaughter’s birthday. I am an exact person. lol How long should I whip it? I would appreciate a time approximation. Thank you!

  32. This is definitely easier than the Swiss meringue buttercream frosting I used for my sister’s wedding cake which used 1 pound(!) of butter for each batch. God, it was good, though!

  33. Jane V Suchomski Reply

    Thank you so much for this recipe! This has become my signature icing and I get compliments on it EVERY time I make it. It really is the perfect buttercream – not overly sweet, which has been my husband’s complaint about every other buttercream I’ve tried. I look forward to trying the chocolate variation!

  34. I’ll Join the rest of the commenters and add – make this NOW! This is honestly the best buttercream icing recipe out there! I will never use another one ever!

  35. Hands down this is the BEST BUTTERCREAM ICING I have ever made! The salted butter – brilliant! I love you! Really, I love you for this recipe!

  36. Love this recipe! I’ve used it on several birthday cakes and cupcakes for various holidays. I too prefer a little salty with my sweet and not so overly sweet. I’ve noticed some here have inquired of what is coffee creamer. I’ve always understood that coffee creamer is canned cream.. like evaporated milk. Used it in my coffee for decades. It turns out great! Have you ever used almond extract in place of vanilla? Just curious.

  37. Oh my goodness! This is fabulous! I chose your recipe because we used to call our daughter our little magpie. This cake is for her 13th birthday. Best frosting ever!

  38. Emily Miller Reply

    I want to make a coloured butter cream to embellishe my daughter’s birthday cake. Can I add feed colouring to the same exact recipe?

    • Emily Miller Reply

      And I meant food coloring not feed colouring!! Thank you!

  39. Little Music Reply

    I just made this for my students and their year-end celebration, to top my homemade chocolate cupcakes. OMG it is a WONDERFUL buttercream recipe!!! The key is to whip whip whip (you weren’t kidding, and I took due note). This will elicit many smiles of delight. Thank you so much. 🙂

  40. A++ Buttercream
    Misread the recipe and added 4 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract – still came out great
    Only had unsalted butter so added a scant teaspoon of salt – again no problem
    Used a bit more heavy cream than called for to make spreading easier
    This will be my ‘go to’ Buttercream for regular and chocolate


  41. Omg I have not been able to master butter creme for years and this was instantly perfect!! And just in time for my son’s birthday party

  42. OK… I probably did some thing wrong… but is this icing suitable for using piping tips… like really fancy ones with large multiple passage tips..??

  43. Can you please confirm how many grams of butter on one cup? Is it 150grams?

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