The Best Buttercream Icing Recipe: FAQ

Simply the best buttercream icing ever! Use high quality salted butter and high fat cream to make this extra decadent!

cupcake with Buttercream Icing on top
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The Best Buttercream Icing on top of cupcake on dark background

My Best Buttercream Icing Recipe Ever is the single most popular recipe on my site, without a doubt. With almost 300 comments and over 68,000 people who pinned it on Pinterest (Seriously? What do you people DO all day? Just kidding. Kind of.) there have been a lot of people who have weighed in on this amazing icing and almost 100 percent are in love with it.

With that love and adoration however comes a lot of questions. People use my recipe for birthdays, weddings and more, which means that in the past two or three years since I have first published my recipe, there have been a lot of questions. These are important events and everyone wants to get it right.

(if you don’t want to read the FAQ, skip all the way to the bottom for a printable recipe!)

I have been meaning to write up a FAQ or A Buttercream Icing Recipe 101 and here it goes. I have read through all those comments and have compiled the most commonly asked questions about this icing.

What the heck is coffee cream?

Coffee cream here in Canada is a high fat cream, usually around 15-18%. I wanted to use a cream with a high fat content and coffee cream is right between half & half cream and whipping cream. I personally didn’t want to use whipping cream but commenters have let us all know that this icing is just as incredible using whipping cream.

It is NOT a fake creamer. No powders or fake tastes here.

Why Do I Have To Use Salted Butter? Why Not Just Add Salt?

Here’s the deal on why I am so adamant on using salted butter and not adding salt to the recipe.  The quality salted butters have had salt added to the point of tasting perfect. This means that when you use it in your buttercream icing, it’s not too salty and not lacking in salt. Buy a good quality salted butter ( I love PC brand Organic churned butter) that tastes amazing by itself.

When you start with a salty, creamy butter that has a fantastic taste off the spoon, so to say, then you are guaranteed to have a fantastic buttercream icing. We are not using precise salt measurements for baking purposes ,we are using it for taste. There is such a huge difference between the two. It is very hard to salt a buttercream to the exact point you will achieve with a perfectly salted, good quality butter.

If you start with a great tasting butter, dilute it with cream, vanilla and 4 cups of icing sugar it’s simply not possible for it to end up too salty. This is what makes this the Best Buttercream Icing recipe, after all, that sweet salty umami!

Icing Sugar is Powdered Sugar And is Also Confectioners Sugar.

All the same thing and make sure it’s fresh! This type of sugar will wick tastes and aromas from the air.

You Can Add Almost Anything And It Still Is Amazing

My talented, inspired readers have added Tenessee Honey Whisky, lemon, lime and I’ve added almond flavoring for a great cherry taste.

Check out my other favorite buttercream icing recipes that I use all the time,  Chocolate Buttercream Icing and Lemon Buttercream Icing recipes. Just as incredible as this one!

How Many Cupcakes/Cakes/Layers Will This Cover?

I simply cannot tell you this. I am a heavy-duty icer so this doesn’t cover 2 dozen cupcakes for me.  I can tell you that it yields around 3 cups of icing (now this depends on how whippy you make it as well! Can be closer to 4 if you whip larger amounts of air and add more cream). It will do a crumb layer of a double layered 8/9 inch cake perfectly. I always make extra and freeze the leftovers. Which takes us to our next question.

Do I Have To Refrigerate It? Can I Freeze It?

This icing can stay out as long as butter can and remember, will act like butter as well. This is not a lard icing which is why it tastes so much better but butter melts and softens up easily. I leave out cupcakes/cakes for hours at my parties and they are completely fine at room temperature, creamy and lovely, just like butter. I have frozen it as well and there is no problem when it defrosts. Indeed, I freeze it on cakes all the time.

top down shot of cupcake with Buttercream Icing on top

Can I Pipe Designs With It? Can I Color It?

Yes and yes! Check out my R2D2 birthday cake,  Rocket Birthday Cake, Canada Day Cake and Fourth of July Cake, all done with this exact recipe. The Wilton icing gels color this up beautifully. Have fun creating!

Here is a list of all the best Buttercream icing recipes on my website!

Classic Buttercream Icing

Lemon Buttercream Icing

Pistachio Pudding Buttercream Icing

Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Candy Bar Buttercream Icing

Vegan Buttercream Icing

And here is the recipe for classic buttercream icing.

The Best Buttercream Icing Recipe

Simply the best buttercream icing ever! Use high quality salted butter and high fat cream to make this extra decadent!
5 from 12 votes
cupcake with Buttercream Icing on top
Prep Time
5 minutes
Total Time
5 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • 1 cup of good quality salted butter
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 4 cups of icing sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons of coffee cream 18% and up


  • Using room temperature butter, place it in your mixer bowl.
  • Using a paddle attachment, whip the butter until it’s creamy and fluffy.
  • Add in the icing sugar, one cup at a time, beating in completely, until all 4 cups are combined.
  • Add in the vanilla and whip again to combine.
  • Add in your cream, less cream = stiffer icing. More cream – fluffier icing.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 3568kcal, Carbohydrates: 484g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 184g, Saturated Fat: 116g, Cholesterol: 488mg, Sodium: 1631mg, Potassium: 54mg, Sugar: 475g, Vitamin A: 5675IU, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 0.3mg

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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Enjoy everyone!

Best Buttercream Icing on top of cupcakes and muffins


The Icing Happy Magpie

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!

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Kathie says

    Found your buttercream recipe last Christmas. Our family makes dozens of cut out sugar cookies. We are all in love with this icing. Delicious and easy. We decorate our cookies with it. It sets up nicely but still stays creamy and delicious. Have tried many buttercream recipes and yours by far is the best! We did our first of two sugar cookie baking and decorating weekends, this past weekend with my daughters and granddaughters. Your buttercream icing recipe is a family favorite and will be for years. Merry Christmas to your house from ours! 🎄

  2. Anum says

    Whenever I make this type of icing it always turns out gritty. Why is that? I am using “redpath” brand icing sugar.

  3. Michelle says

    Sounds like a winning recipe! You mentioned that you often make more than you need. Do you just double recipe? Does this work ok? Thanks. I’m looking forward to making it.

  4. Christina says

    Hi- when freezing and then defrosting.. donyou leave in fridge overnight or counter overnight? How soon after u take it out of freezer can you use it? How do u freeze it? Ziploc tubberware?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Either, if you want it the next day then in the fridge, or sooner put it on the counter. I put it in a ziploc or even a plastic freezer bag!

  5. Linda Gibson says

    Just found your site and I am excited! Just reading the recipe lets me know this buttercream will be delicious. Most of the recipes (15 in all) are too sweet and the ratio of butter to XXXX sugar is wrong. Your ratio is correct and to my liking. Thank you so much and I will be back to comment again, once I try this one.

    Thank you again…I am a novice cake decorator and my fist assignment is a full, layered, sheet cake. It was driving me nuts, since the date is quickly approaching and I could not find one I liked.
    Thank you!5 stars

    • Safari says

      An able baker knows the importance of sifting, it’s a good habit to get into early on in your baking adventures. Sift everything even standard sugar. LoL obviously not chunky stuff that won’t go through it.

  6. CakeDoc says

    Absolutely love this recipe and it is my only go to for buttercream!! Do you have a recipe for royal icing?

5 from 12 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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