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

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Renee Smith says

    In USA Half and Half is the same as your Canada’s coffee cream.

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      You can use half and half, our coffee cream here is 18% milk fat, a little higher than half and half. You can even use whipping cream!5 stars

  2. Em says

    I loved this recipe! I have tried others but it has never worked this well! It was so creamy and delicious! I would definitely make it again!!!5 stars

  3. Linda Winkler says

    I have always made this the same way as this recipe. But I use part milk and part heavy cream.(18 % at least). One thing for sure is not to add hardly any milk/cream as you start out. Many times, until I learned better, my icing ended up sloppy because I overdid the liquid. Honestly, icing takes very little liquid. If you do add too much you end up adding more and more icing sugar and the result is too sugary and bland.5 stars

  4. Dan K. says

    Mace this once and I got the best reviews. Just the right amount of sweetness. It’s my go to hands down.5 stars

  5. Julie says

    I didn’t have cream but I had buttermilk… I added that instead… :-0 YUMMY!!!5 stars

  6. Laura says

    Very easy to make and has never failed. I’ve tried other types of buttercream frosting but it always fails, so I end up coming back to this one. I do find salt and that much icing sugar too much for me personally, so I only add 1-2 cups and it still works fine for me.5 stars

  7. Nadia says

    Can I use 35% whipping cream instead of the coffee cream?

  8. says

    This is the first time making my own frosting. It turned out so delicious. I received so many compliments. Yum. Thank you. Will make again it was so easy.5 stars

  9. Tori says

    I tried this recipe for a huge batch of cupcakes and it turned out great!! I adjusted the proportions more to my liking because I did think it was a bit sweet, but that can be easily tweaked. However, overall I recommend this recipe to anybody who is in need of a sweet, rich butter cream frosting.
    *P.S. the frosting has a great texture so I suggest using a piping bag to apply the cream on whatever dessert because it will hold the shape and will turn out looking amazing. I had people asking me if they were from the bakery!!5 stars

  10. Pat M. says

    Great icing. In place of cream, I used raspberry puree, which gave a lovely pink colour and zing to the flavour. I used frozen unsweétened berries, pureed and passed through a sieve. Any fresh or frozen berries will do. I used the remaining berry purée as a topping for my iced vanilla layer cake.

  11. Christy Gilchrist says

    I found the original recipe, as is, to taste too much like butter. Adding some almond extract in place of one of the tsp of vanilla seemed to solve this problem. Delicious! I also found whipping it longer made it whiter and fluffier.4 stars

    • Preet says

      I just made this. It turned out suuuuper creamy and delicious! Thank you so much- I’ve never made icing before. I was intimidated- but this is so easy and I appreciate the extra notes!!! Once again thanks so much!!5 stars

  12. SHARLA says

    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!5 stars

  13. KD says

    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!5 stars

    • ayla says

      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. Thanks5 stars

      • Julie says

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

      • Lynne Forbes says

        You can use clear vanilla, it’s sold in bulk barn or baking supply stores.

      • Laura Johnson says

        If you want a true white icing, you need to use clear vanilla ?.

  14. Susan says

    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?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      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!5 stars

  15. Salvador Milella Sr says

    Hi there! Can I add malt powderand if so how much?

  16. Sarah says

    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!!5 stars

  17. Chrissy love says

    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!5 stars

  18. Kendra says

    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.1 star

    • April says

      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.5 stars

  19. Jess says

    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!!!!5 stars

  20. Erica says

    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!5 stars

  21. Miranda says

    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.

  22. Lynda says

    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.5 stars

  23. Diane says

    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

  24. Carrie B says

    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!5 stars

  25. Karlynn Johnston says

    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!5 stars

  26. Shannon says

    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.5 stars

  27. Daniel says

    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?5 stars

  28. April says

    This is the best buttercream frosting ever! Thank you! It was a hit with everyone!5 stars

    • Valerie L. says

      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!5 stars

      • Sara says

        Karlynn actually has a Chocolate Buttedcream on this website. it is delicious. I have used both the vanilla and chocolate!5 stars

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