The Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe. Ever.

close up buttercream frosting on a chocolate cupcake

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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!



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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! 



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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! 
4.96 from 300 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 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 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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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. Jenny says

    I’m sure it has been said before and will be said again, but this recipe is amazing! Thank you!5 stars

  2. Valerie L. says

    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!5 stars

  3. Jackie says

    This recipe never lets me down! It actually is the BEST buttercream frosting ever! My family loves it!5 stars

  4. Michele says

    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!

  5. Antonia says

    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!5 stars

  6. Jane V Suchomski says

    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!5 stars

  7. Maxine says

    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!5 stars

  8. Chrissy says

    This is my go to icing recipe. Everyone always loves it!5 stars

  9. April says

    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!5 stars

  10. DW says

    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.5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I haven’t, but I know that many have and they loved the almond extract!5 stars

  11. Berrij says

    By coffee cream do you mean, heavy whipping cream??

  12. Karen says

    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!5 stars

  13. Emily Miller says

    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 says

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

  14. Little Music says

    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. 🙂5 stars

  15. Lupe says

    Can you use any cream? Like coffee creamer? Or half n half?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Any cream works, it just shouldn’t be milk!5 stars

  16. JJ Juice says

    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

    THANX MUCHO5 stars

  17. Kayy says

    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 party5 stars

  18. Lorna says

    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..??4 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Absolutely! It’s creamy yet holds its shape!5 stars

  19. Mona says

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

  20. Loretta Campbell says

    I’ve been using this recipe for years, it’s definitely one of the best! Thank you!5 stars

  21. Bec says

    Love this icing!! I’ve just made a batch and iced the cake ready for my son’s birthday party tomorrow, do you think it has to be refrigerated overnight or if it’d be ok to leave in a cool room overnight? Thanks!5 stars

    • Candace says

      You absolutely do not have to refrigerate this icing. I make this all the time and it’s always fine as long as it’s not directly in the sun.5 stars

  22. Angela Hammill says

    Absolutely love this recipe! It’s one of my all time favourite go-to’s.5 stars

  23. Kayla Marie Grissett says

    If you want to add food coloring you want to add a paste or gel. They sell these in the wilton aisle in stores.5 stars

    • Candace says

      I just add cocoa and everyone loves it! They say it reminds them of the Vachon cake icing!5 stars

  24. Danielle Jamieson says

    How much icing does this make? I need to ice a 2 layer 9″ round rosette cake and not sure if I need to double the recipe.

  25. maurtosay says

    I laughed out loud when you said “if there’s any left” and that “you had to smack your own hand” Hahahaha!!! THAT IS SO ME!!

    I too will ONLY use salted butter, IT Just makes everything taste so much better! Thanks for your recipe, I think you must be family bc it’s the exact same situation with the milk too! I’m off to frost a cake before the sun comes up, I’m late as usual!

    Sweet days!


    5 stars

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