Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Vanilla buttercream frosting is the traditional choice for bakers and decorators alike. Quick and easy to make, this delicious recipe is well-loved for its flavor and versatility. Our vanilla buttercream frosting is softer and more spreadable than most icings, making it perfect for icing cakes and cupcakes. You can also stiffen this icing if your goal is to decorate your cookies or cakes with pretty flowers or piped messages. Pair with a vanilla cake for consistency or a chocolate cake for a bit of contrast. If you're after a super white cake, this homemade buttercream can also be prepared with all shortening, resulting in a pure white icing.

Makes: 2 Cups
Skill Level: Beginner

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Step 1

In large bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Step 2

Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.

Step 3

Gradually add milk or water; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Step 4

Note: This recipe is for stiff consistency buttercream, which is excellent for piping decorations like flowers. However, it will need to be thinned for icing cakes and borders.

For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency): Omit butter; substitute an additional cup shortening for butter and add teaspoon Clear Butter Flavor. Substitute Clear Vanilla for Pure Vanilla Extract.


  • Keep bowl covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.
  • If using a hand mixer, beat shortening, butter (if used) and liquids first, then add sugar, as above. Make one batch at a time to prevent hand mixer from burning out.
  • Depending on the humidity and climate, it may be necessary to adjust the liquid and the sugar in your icing. If icing looks dry, add small amounts of liquid (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon at a time). If icing is too wet, add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time. The key for both adjustments is adding small amounts until you achieve the right consistency.
  • This recipe can be made with all butter by replacing 1/2 cup of shortening with 1/2 cup of butter. An all-butter recipe will make a noticeably softer buttercream and will also melt faster than a recipe made with shortening.
  • If you find that this recipe is too sweet, consider using a pinch of salt, which will help cut the sweetness. Let the pinch of salt dissolve in your liquid to avoid granules of salt in the buttercream. Try substituting some of the butter in the recipe with salted butter.

Adding Flavor: Wilton’s Buttercream Icing recipe is a great base for your favorite flavorings and extracts. Add flavoring to taste, but be mindful not to add so much liquid that it affects the consistency of your icing. If you like using a lot of flavor, try substituting some of your liquid with flavoring.

Try using the Treatology Flavor System, designed specifically for decorating. Because these flavors are concentrated, you’ll only need to use a few drops. You can also mix them to create new flavors. In addition, the Treatology Flavor System can be used to flavor cake batter and other baked goods without affecting the consistency of your batter.

Clear Flavors are also a great option for adding flavor to buttercream without adding color. These flavors are essential for making pure white icing and maintaining vibrant colors for decorating.

Storing Buttercream: Leftover buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Buttercream can also be frozen for up to six months. Before reusing, bring buttercream back to room temperature and rewhip using a paddle attachment until it’s back to the correct consistency.

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solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

butter or margarine

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine (softened)

sifted confectioners' sugar

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)


2 tablespoons milk

Whether you are frosting a cake or piping decorations, the consistency of the icing is key to getting the right results. Too soft and your decorations will droop. Too stiff and your icing will be difficult to spread.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting
Watch: How to Make Buttercream Frosting

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