Call me crazy, but I’ve never been much of a fan of frosting. More often than not, I scrape as much of it off my slice of cake as possible — kids LOVE to sit next to me at parties!
But this buttercream frosting? Oh, this buttercream frosting… I personally think it is the best buttercream frosting recipe. EVER.
Now I realize that there are really only so many ways to make buttercream frosting, but a truly delicious buttercream frosting is as much about the technique as it is about the ingredients. Obviously you do want to start with fresh, quality ingredients: softened salted butter, heavy whipping cream, pure vanilla extract, and confectioner’s sugar.
And yes, I did specify salted butter — I prefer to use salted butter in my buttercream. However, the salt content can vary by brand of butter. I like the Horizon Organic brand, but feel free to experiment to find your favorite. As an alternative, you can also use unsalted butter and add about 1/8 teaspoon of table salt to the recipe.
Also, I stay away from adding shortening. Sure, it’s useful for helping the buttercream frosting hold its shape better in warm weather, but I find it creates an oily textures and dilutes the flavor — NOT what we want in a dreamy, fluffy buttercream!
How To Make the Best Buttercream Frosting Recipe
They key to what I consider the best buttercream frosting recipe ever starts with softened butter, not necessarily room temperature, but you should be able to leave an impression in it fairly easily. Allow plenty of time for it to reach this consistency, especially in cooler weather. And whatever you do, please do not use the microwave to soften it — 99.9% of the time it will get too soft, and it’s impossible to recover it at that point.
Follow these four simple steps to produce a delicious buttercream:
1. Add your softened butter to a stand mixer and beat it with a flat paddle for about three minutes on medium.
2. Turn the mixer off and add the confectioner’s sugar. Mix on low until thoroughly incorporated.
3. When the butter and confectioner’s sugar start to create a dough-like ball, you can add the vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Whip on medium-high for about three minutes.
4. Continue to add more heavy cream by the tablespoon until the frosting reaches your desired consistency — less cream equals thicker frosting and more cream creates a thinner frosting.
For a batch of frosting that’s the consistency of what’s shown in these photos, I used a total of 4 tablespoons of cream. It was super creamy and fluffy, the perfect consistency for piping with a large tip onto my cupcakes.
Update: I’ve had a number of requests for variations on this recipe, so I thought I’d start listing them here for easy access as I publish them. If you have a request, please contact me or leave a comment below!
How To Frost Cupcakes
I have to say that frosting cupcakes has never been my forte, but I’m slowly learning how to make use of a large open star tip to pipe a prettier cupcake. Specifically, I used a Wilton 1M extra large open star tip for this batch of cupcakes.
You can pick up a 3-pack of Wilton extra large tips in the cake decorating aisle at Walmart, along with a package of reusable decorating bags, for just a few bucks. Place the tip inside one of the bags, fill with frosting and you’re ready to start piping.
Two Easy Cupcake Piping Techniques
There are two cupcake piping techniques that I recommend for beginners, and they’re especially easy to achieve with the consistency of this yummy buttercream recipe.
Easy Cupcake Piping Techniques:
Creating spirals — Piping a spiral on top of a cupcake is simple. Just hold your piping bag vertically, tip down, and start at the outside of your cupcake, squeezing with firm pressure as you go around and around, working your way into the center. Once you reach the middle, ease up on the pressure and lift the tip straight up off the cupcake.
Creating rosettes — I was intimidated by the roses myself until I discovered that they’re really just a reverse spiral. Using the same technique as above, simply start in the center of the cupcake and spiral your way to the outside. It’s almost like magic!
Above all, have fun with this recipe! Try adding different flavor extracts, tinting your frosting fun colors or even adding fresh fruit or homemade caramel sauce. Note that I used regular pure vanilla extract in this batch, but if you prefer a truer white color, you’ll want to look for clear extracts.