The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe. Ever.

The absolute best buttercream frosting recipe you'll find with a secret ingredient I have been using for over a decade! This recipe was in my cookbook and has been featured everywhere! This will frost one 8 inch cake, if you need to frost a large cake make sure to double it! 

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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! 

tied cinnamon sticks and chocolate chips beside chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting Millions Have Enjoyed this Recipe

This was my very first viral recipe here on The Kitchen Magpie! If you like this, you should try my Lemon Buttercream Frosting recipe. This recipe is the best thanks to sweet and salty mixing together!

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 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?

This buttercream icing 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!

The most important is How to Fix Broken Buttercream, that’s a whole post in itself!

buttercream frosting ingredients on a wood background with brown polka dots tablecloth on side

Frosting Ingredients

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

  • Salted butter – a good quality, tastes-good-off-the-spoon butter is important!
  • Vanilla – You need that classic vanilla taste
  • Icing sugar – This is also known as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar
  • Coffee cream – This is literally called coffee cream here in Canada but what it is is a cream that is 18% milk fat and up

Commonly Asked Frosting/Icing Questions and Answers

Do I have to refrigerate a cake with buttercream?

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 icing 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?

Salted and organic butter is literally the best butter that you can use. 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 the 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.

close up of buttercream icing swirl on a chocolate cupcake

How do you thicken up 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?

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 butter based frostings 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 butter based icings?

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

chocolate cupcakes topped with a swirl of buttercream frosting

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 Frosting Recipes:

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

Happy baking everyone!



The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe

The absolute best buttercream frosting recipe you'll find with a secret ingredient I have been using for over a decade! This recipe was in my cookbook and has been featured everywhere! This will frost one 8 inch cake, if you need to frost a large cake make sure to double it! 
4.97 from 373 votes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Total Time
5 minutes
16 servings
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


  • Get out the salted butter! Trust me and use salted butter, it’s the secret ingredient!
  • 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.
  • Add in the icing sugar. Again, if you are like me and can taste stale icing sugar, you will need a fresh bag.
  • Add in the cream.. I used 4 tablespoons for my preference, you adjust to what you want.
  • 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.
  • Add the vanilla then keep mixing it until fluffy and thoroughly combined.

Recipe Video

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 9×13 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 Information

Calories: 223kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 101mg, Potassium: 3mg, Sugar: 29g, Vitamin A: 355IU, Calcium: 3mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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The absolute best buttercream frosting recipe you'll find with a secret ingredient I have been using for over a decade! This recipe was in my cookbook and has been featured everywhere! This will frost one 8 inch cake, if The absolute best buttercream frosting recipe you'll find with a secret ingredient I have been using for over a decade! This recipe was in my cookbook and has been featured everywhere! This will frost one 8 inch cake, if you need to frost a large cake make sure to double it! need to frost a large cake make sure to double it! 

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

Site Index Buttercream frostings Frosting Icings and frostings

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. PBressette says

    This is now the only buttercream recipe I use. Everyone that has tried it loves it! Thank you for sharing it. 😊5 stars

    • Elissa says

      Today this recipe was my saving grace. I tried making Swiss meringue buttercream for the first time ever and it didn’t turn out to say the least. I had used all of my unsalted butter and thought I was doomed since most buttercream recipes of any sort that I’ve seen call for unsalted. I checked my fridge and all I could find was 1 cup worth of salted butter. I goggled what I could do with it and I found this recipe. Not only did I have all the ingredients but it was actually the best buttercream I have tasted!5 stars

  2. Veritas says

    100% agree. Salted butter just gives the buttercream a better depth of flavor.5 stars

    • Justin VanderSchaaff says

      Only frosting I use to frost out old fashioned Ed buttermilk sugar cookies!!! They pair so good together

  3. Janice says

    Omgoodness the salted butter which was so hard for me to use because I have always been told unsalted butter is a must… NOPE!! This recipe is delicious and I will never again use unsalted butter. Thank you for an amazing buttercream icing recipe that is perfect match with sweet and salty. Love love love it. My new and only recipe 😊5 stars

  4. Terry Robb says

    I have fought with creating a perfect buttercream for years ! This recipe ending the search. Creamy delicious and so spreadable!! Thank you! Will link your page to my FB post and photo!5 stars


    This frosting was way too sweet for me. If I were to do it again, I would add only 3 cups of confectionary sugar, then increase the amount of heavy cream by about 7 to 8 tablespoons to get a lighter, more whipped cream consistency into the icing. The vanilla was good, but I would try it again using almond extract instead. You don’t want the icing to overpower the cake. I made a Hershey’s Cocoa chocolate cake from the recipe on the back of the can to go with this buttercream frosting recipe. Even in the chocolate cake recipe, I reduce the amount of sugar by 1/2 cup. A cake should be sweet, but not sickening sweet.3 stars

    • RedMtl says

      It is extremely important to remember that people are severely allergic to nuts, and almond extract IS a nut. Often people who use extracts (almond, walnut, etc.) do not realise that this is the same danger for nut allergic people as using a physical nut would be.

      Making this sort of switch on a recipe that almost everyone understands to be nut free is dangerous. If you are going to do this, then you need to make absolutely sure that everyone is fully aware of the nut content when you serve it — and moreover, that anyone who is nut allergic doesn’t come into cross-contamination contact as well.

    • Sharm01 says

      That’s your opinion, not sure why you chose to ride in on your horse, definitely could have been worded differently, or perhaps not at all.

    • Amy T. says

      Way too sweet, but great texture, so I am using it as a base to customize. Going to cut the sweetness with more cream or whipped heavy cream, and then flavor it for my macarons.4 stars

  6. Lisa Brown says

    This is my favorite butter cream icing I have used for over a year and I absolutely love it.
    I have a personal preference of almond extract so I use 1/2 vanilla extract and half almond extract .
    And I get a standing ovation every time! I pair it with a white cake recipe that I do the same thing with
    the ,extract spilt it between the two flavors. And I’m told that this reminds people of an old time Bakery Birthday Cake . I Personally love the creamy way the icing has this taste almost like vanilla custard ice cream !!!5 stars

    • Teresa A. Mullins says

      I love this recipe! I used heavy whipping cream. So easy, quick & delicious!5 stars

  7. Hope Crystle says

    Can I use whole milk instead of coffee cream? I really want to try this recipe, but don’t have any coffee cream at home.

  8. Sylvia Empey says

    That is the best buttercream I’ve ever had. I’ve never made it before… wow! Followed your recipe to the T…. thank you5 stars

  9. Beckie says

    Omg, scrolled thru so much looking for the recipe!!!!!!!

  10. ayla says

    This is my go to buttercream and it is the best. I started making wedding cakes and this does not give me that really bright white. Is there anything you could suggest to make it really white? Maybe that isnt possible with this recipe so I will keep using it regardless. Thanks for the great recipes!!5 stars

    • Chara says

      A drop of purple food coloring balances out the yellow color, and makes the frosting appear white.

    • Marie says

      Hi there, just add small amount using toothpick purple gel color .and add until you can see the white color you desire.

    • Jess says

      This is the best and its super easy to make. I find that 4 cups of powdered sugar is perfect! Thank you.5 stars

    • Michelle says

      Are you by chance using a dark vanilla extract? If you can get your hands on clear vanilla extract your icing won’t be muddied by the dark colour

    • Edith says

      I know that purple is the opposite in the color palette against yellow. I have heard that putting just a tiny bit of purple coloring might make it more white! 🙂

    • Gail says

      I have used white margarine for over 30 years to make it white. I use half butter and white margerine. Have not talked to anyone who does not love it.

  11. Katie says

    I use this recipe every time I bake! It always turns out 100%! And I’m never cut short! I don’t get the bad reviews because I find this the perfect buttercream! Maybe they aren’t using salted butter. Love it!!5 stars

    • Antonieta Bautista Rogers says

      I’m going to try this recipe thanks

      • Alina says

        I did everything exactly to the T. Consistency was beautiful. But taste, was very buttery. I know yes, it’s buttercreme. I tried adding more vanilla and even more powdered sugar. But it tastes so much like butter. Any suggestions?4 stars

        • Rhonda says

          Maybe substitute some of the butter with vegetable shortening? Personally, I love the recipe… but you can always tweak recipes to your taste 🙂

  12. Terrie Allred says

    This is the same recipe my grandmother always used.

  13. Nicole says

    Hi Karlynn love your recipes, I would like you cheese cake recipe.

  14. Laventrence R Underwood says

    Need to know how can I make it stiffer for piping need to make roses

    • Terrie L Allred says

      Check out Edna De La Cruz on youtube. She has the best icing recipes ever.

    • Randi says

      More powdered sugar= perfect piping icing, add powdered sugar until you get it to the consistency you need it 🙂

  15. Savannah says

    I made the frosting and the flavor was really tasty and delicious but I found that the frosting was a bit grainy so I’m not sure what I did wrong? Is there something you recommend I try different next time? Thanks!

  16. Linda Hensens says

    Will this buttercream frosting work with Cream Cheese and keep my carrot cake from sliding off to the right? The cake itself is cold. The frosting is supposed to be thick but I suspect it isn’t thick enough. I put one 8-ounce brick of cream cheese, 1-1/2 sticks of salted butter, 6 cups of XXX sugar, and a splash of vanilla. Oh, I do put some cinnamon in it too. The taste is divine, but I hate the way my cake slides. Can you help me?4 stars

  17. Laurie says

    I was confused because I only used 2 cups of powdered sugar and it was still WAY too sweet! I advise people trying this recipe to NOT use the full 4 cups5 stars

  18. KidsBaker says

    I loved all the helpful information on this page concerning how to make the frosting and why, for example, salted butter is preferred over unsalted. I followed the recipe to a tee but the resulting frosting was so cloyingly over-sweet that it was inedible. I tried correcting it (went to various sites to find ways to do so in order to salvage the recipe) and added salt and while it helped somewhat, the frosting then had an unappetizing aftertaste. I would suggest you compare this recipe with others online so that you can see what amount of confectioner’s sugar they call for. This recipe says to use 2x what some other recipes use. Even if you like sweets, the sweetness of this frosting is simply say, way too much. Sorry. 🙁1 star

    • Liz Baldwin says

      Could I use butter with sea salt for making the buttercream or would it make it too gritty?

  19. Geneviève says

    Any tips on how to keep icing sugar fresh or as fresh as possible if you don’t have a new or unopened bag?

    • Ilene O'Malley says

      You may be overbeating the cream cheese. It starts to get runny fairly quickly as it is beaten to smooth the frosting.

  20. Sarah Iori says

    DO NOT USE WATER as a subsititute.
    IT made the icing too grainy

  21. Alana Robillard says

    Made this last year and everyone RAVED about it. I didn’t have coffee cream and I can’t remember what I substituted it for. Right now, I only have 1%, almond and buttermilk in my house and because of social distancing, don’t want to run out for one item.
    What do you think would work?5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I’d use the 1% so it doesn’t change the taste!5 stars

  22. Anna says

    This buttercream has the most amazing texture. I used heavy whipping cream because thats what I had lying around, and it made the frosting so airy and lovely! I found it a bit too sweet for my liking even though I used a little less powdered sugar than the recipe called for. But I’ll just use a little less next time. Wonderful results!5 stars

    • Eva Avelino says

      If you found it too sweet I would recommend using salted butter if you’re not doing so already:)

      • daph says

        Is “icing sugar” a Canadian term? I’ve never heard of it referred to or read a label that stated it as anything other than confectioner’s sugar (as it is used for most confections, like candy) or 10x sugar.

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