Quick and Almost-Professional Buttercream Icing


After failing to find the perfect recipe for buttercream frosting, I found one that worked for me and then added my own two cents.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins
2 1/2 cups

Your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies deserve the very best buttercream. That's why you should skip the store-bought stuff and make your own buttercream at home. This top-rated recipe, which has more than 1,500 rave reviews from the Allrecipes community, is as good as it gets. Here's everything you need to know about making, storing, freezing, and perfecting the best buttercream of your life:

What Is Buttercream?

Buttercream is a sweet and fluffy frosting made by creaming butter and sugar. Other common ingredients include milk (to create the perfect texture) and vanilla (for simple, crowd-pleasing flavor).

Though vanilla is the most popular buttercream flavor, it's also commonly found in chocolate or fruit-flavored varieties. Food coloring is also added for aesthetic purposes.

Use buttercream as a frosting, decoration, or filling. Spread buttercream over cake layers, dollop it onto cupcakes, or create decorative patterns with a piping bag.

Does Buttercream Need to Be Refrigerated?

You can keep buttercream frosting on the counter for about three days. Though it contains perishable ingredients, the high sugar content keeps it from going bad immediately. After about 72 hours, you'll need to refrigerate it.

How to Store Buttercream

Store buttercream in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days – just make sure to keep it in a cool, dark place. Keep the airtight container in the fridge if you don't plan to use the buttercream within three days. In the refrigerator, it will last for about a week.

The buttercream will likely harden in the fridge, so you might need to whip it with a whisk or hand mixer to return it to its original fluffy glory.

Can You Freeze Buttercream?

Yes! You can freeze buttercream frosting in a freezer bag or another airtight container for about three months. The day before you plan to use it, transfer it to the fridge. It should thaw overnight.

Why Is My Buttercream Grainy?

If your buttercream frosting is grainy, it's likely because you're using the wrong type of confectioners' sugar. Make sure to choose a variety that's made from cane sugar, as it melts faster than beet sugar. You also might have forgotten to sift the sugar before mixing it with the butter.

How to Fix Grainy Buttercream

To fix grainy buttercream, try mixing it for a bit longer to smooth things out a bit. If that doesn't work, add a little more liquid or let the buttercream sit overnight (if time permits) to give the sugar crystals time to melt.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"This is so much better than store-bought icing," according to SizzleCakes. "Just be sure to use real butter; it makes all the difference."

"I wish I could give this 10 stars," raves GCJMMOM. "Like some other reviewers, I have always used canned icing, just because making it myself intimidated me. This was quick and easy, and so delicious!!

"One thing I did that pushed this icing over the edge was I added a splash of cold French vanilla coffee from this morning," says love2cook. "Wow!! SO delicious!"

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 3 drops food coloring, or as needed (Optional)


  1. Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy.

    a high angle view of butter being creamed with a hand mixer

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  2. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until fully incorporated.

    powdered sugar fully incorporated into butter mixtured

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  3. Beat in vanilla extract.

    Vanilla being added to creamed butter and sugar

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  4. Add milk and beat for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

    Milk being added to creamed butter, sugar, and vanilla

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  5. Add food coloring, if using, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until desired color is reached.

    quick and almost professional buttercream icing mixed until perfectly smooth

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  6. Use immediately or store buttercream in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

    a high angle close up view of buttercream frosting topping several cupcakes.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios


Use our guide to the best hand mixers to upgrade your old hand mixer and make cooking your favorite recipes easy.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

228 Calories
12g Fat
32g Carbs
0g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 228
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 11%
Protein 0g
Calcium 8mg 1%
Potassium 11mg 0%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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