The Best Buttercream Icing Recipe: FAQ

cupcake with Buttercream Icing on top

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The Best Buttercream Icing on top of cupcake on dark background
The Best Buttercream Icing Recipe: FAQ

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!

Best Buttercream Icing on top of cupcakes and muffins

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.

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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
Course
icing
Cuisine
American
Calories
3568
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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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Please rate this recipe in the comments below to help out your fellow cooks!

Enjoy everyone!

Love,

The Icing Happy Magpie

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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

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Ed says

    4 cups icing sugar,have you ever read Sugar Blues?can a healthier alternative be used ?

  2. EruDesu says

    I just have a question:

    Wouldn’t you want to use unsalted butter?  Or are you using salted butter to counter how sweet so it’s not “too” sweet?

    Thanks!

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      EruDesu It counters the sweetness for sure.

  3. Amber says

    What is coffee cream in Australia? Is it light thickened cream? And what brand of salted butter is good that is available in australia? Thanks xx

    • Jacqui says

      @Amber  I use regular thickened cream for this frosting, and it is perfect.

    • EruDesu says

      @Amber Coffee cream is 18%, people usually use whipping/heavy cream though…(35%)

  4. NadiadeJong says

    THE -best. I have tested at least 6 different recipes and all were either too sweet, too powdery.. This one- perfect. Thank you!!

  5. marina says

    never heard of coffee cream before but love to try this famous recipe (based on the comments here), may i know the brand of the coffee cream that you used? perhaps it can helps alot of people here in Asia who are not familiar with this coffee cream. If there is a specific brand, i can do a google to find and buy it online.

    Hoping the author can spend a little time to reply my so boring question! thanks \U0001f60a

    • BCollinge says

      The type of cream isn’t a huge deal, I have tried it with whole milk and it was still delicious!

    • JenniferxLam says

      @marina Actually, Coffee Cream is Whip cream. We use half & half cream 🙂 I hope that helps! xx.

  6. Lala and Lily says

    Wow! My 5 year old daughter and I just made this recipe and we are without words, mainly because our mouths are full of the yummy icing! We made a cake, then cupcakes and now cinnamon rolls! It is 8pm and we can’t get enough, thank you, thank you, thank you! This is my very 1st post EVER but it deserves the credit!

    We love sweets,

    Lily and LaLa

  7. Judi says

    Try it sometime with whipping cream. Talk about to die for…

  8. Mery042309 says

    What other brand of salted butter is considered good quality? I live in US and I have never seen the PC brand in any supermarket. Thanks.

    • JenniferxLam says

      Mery042309 It’s a Canadian Brand 🙂 You can also try Nelson’s Butter. Any butter is fine actually :) 

  9. Roza aljarml says

    how much is a cup of butter and a cup of sugar in this recipe?

  10. anonymous says

    Can I use this buttercream icing recipe to make buttercream roses? (Like Wilton roses)

    • EruDesu says

      @anonymous buttercream roses are made with buttercream icing

  11. amanda says

    Hi just wondering how long will this last on a cake. ?one week?? I am making my cousins 18th bday cake and i work so wanted to ice it on sunday for a friday party would this be ok? I know the cake will last this long just worried about the icing.

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      @amanda I wouldn’t leave it for the week, BUT I freeze my cakes whole. The icing might have teeny droplets of water when it defrosts, but they always evaporate by the time I serve the cake.

  12. Nejua07 says

    Is this buttercream stiff enough to be used under fondant?

    • EruDesu says

      Nejua07 Yep! People usually use buttercream icing to crumb coat the cakes because using fondant.  If you find the fondant too stiff, add a bit of egg white (like, just a little), and whip it in.  If it’s too runny, add more sifted icing sugar!

  13. lulu2224 says

    Oh and also can I replace the coffee creamer with single or double cream? Single cream has a fat content of  18% double cream has a fat content of 48%. Does the kind of cream matter? 

  14. lulu2224 says

    Hi, are the cups, UK cups or US cups? An can you please convert the ingredients (the butter and icing sugar mainly) into grams? As its more accurate

    • EruDesu says

      @lulu2224 Google is very good at converting 😉

    • EruDesu says

      Kake lady It does, usually people use the 35% cream for making whipped icing, so 40% is fine too.

  15. ClaudiaAcostaMay says

    Tried it,  loved it, making it again.  Although I am not a fan of buttercream, I gotta say this one is really good  The only issue I had was that the icing did not come out white,   it is more like a cream color,  I guess when you color it is better.  I used it just by it self, no coloring.  

    • EruDesu says

      ClaudiaAcostaMay Could’ve been a few things.  The colour of the butter, if you used the vanilla extract or artificial vanilla, or maybe the coffee cream? (I don’t drink coffee, but I don’t think it’s exactly white?)

  16. Angela says

    Well, I was going to Pin this but then you said this: ‘(Seriously? What do you people DO all day? Just kidding. Kind of.)’

    I’m not going to give you any more social media if you find it so repugnant.

    • Little Lamb says

      @Angela  Angela, I think perhaps you need a hug or possibly a heavily frosted cupcake!  Don’t take it all so seriously.

  17. Jasmine says

    I’m looking for a buttery sugar-reduced icing. Would this do?

  18. Jasmine says

    I’m looking for a buttery, non-sweet icing? Would this do?

  19. Btadler says

    How many batches of this recipe do I need in order to make the R2D2 cake?

  20. guest says

    I only hav whol milk in the house..will that work?ee

  21. CJ says

    This buttercream recipe is incredible and now I want to make a white chocolate version of it. Do you have a recipe or any suggestions on how to transform your recipe into a white chocolate buttercream?

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      @CJ Oooh. White chocolate is such another monster on it’s own….maybe, just maybe, a white chocolate pudding mix somehow? It would have to be dissolved in the cream or something….

    • Lea says

      @CJ I realize that this poster might not come back, but in case anyone else wanders along here with the same question (if thekitchenmagpie hasn’t already addressed it elsewhere)– you might want to forego buttercream in this instance and use ganache, instead! I’ve used white chocolate ganache both whipped and glossy on cakes to wonderful effect!

  22. cindi says

    I’m making this tonight. What kind of icing tip did you use for the pictured cupcake?

  23. Skye says

    Hi just made this icing and tastes yum, only problem I found is it turned out abit yellowish in colour what could that be from as I have just made a tester today in prep for a birthday cake I have to make next week

  24. Maggiechloe1017 says

    This was by far the best buttercream frosting recipe I have ever had. I was eating it like ice cream.

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      Maggiechloe1017 Yay! I am glad you liked it, thank you for letting me know!

  25. cocoa says

    I’m pretty sure someone has asked this question already but since I don’t have time going through 300 comments (good job on that!) I’m gonna ask anyway–can I use regular (table) cream rather than coffee cream? I live in Toronto but I cant seem to find coffee cream anywhere. Maybe adding drops of coffee to the cream will do..?

    • Heidi says

      Coffee cream has no coffee in it. It’s just what they call 18% cream (heavier than half and half) that people use in their coffee. She explains that in her FAQs above.

  26. lupita says

    hello i just came to this page and i can’t wait to try it this friday for halloween. 

    i would like to know if you have a mocha buttercream recipe or mint buttercream. Thanks

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      @lupita Just add a few drops of mint extract to taste for the mint flavor! I don’t have a mocha one yet….

  27. ARIANNE ARAIZA says

    THANK YOU FROM MÉXICO!, I LOVED THIS BUTTERCREAM RECIPE AND I’LL ALWAYS USE IT!

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      @ARIANNE ARAIZA I am so glad you like it!! Thanks for letting me know!

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