Traditional American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

If you are like us, you know that a cupcake is only as good as the frosting chosen to decorate it. It's always a good time for cupcakes with buttercream frosting. You don't need a celebratory occasion to enjoy the most festive treat there is. 

Recipe developer, Catherine Brookes, brings us this recipe for traditional American buttercream frosting. With just 4 ingredients and only 15 minutes, this recipe couldn't be any easier. Unlike Swiss meringue buttercream, which is made with egg whites, this buttercream is made without eggs.

Brookes says "This buttercream can be used to top cupcakes or layer cakes. It's great on vanilla, chocolate, lemon, or raspberry-flavored cakes." If you want to branch out a bit, and take this recipe even further, Brookes adds "you can certainly make the frosting pop by adding a little of your favorite food coloring. Flavoring-wise, almond, rosewater, or orange extract would all work great too."

Gather your ingredients for American buttercream frosting

To make this traditional American buttercream frosting, you can start by gathering your ingredients. For this recipe, you will need room temperature unsalted butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and milk.

Beat the butter and vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened butter and the vanilla extract. Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture until it is smooth and creamy. Brookes notes "If you don't have a stand mixer, an electric hand whisk will work well here too."

It's very important to use softened butter at this stage, instead of cold butter. You will not be able to attain the soft creaminess if the butter is cold. Brookes mentions that "If the butter is still a little too firm to beat, slice it up into chunks, and microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds until softened, but not melted."

Add in powdered sugar and milk gradually

Then, add in about 1 cup of the sifted powdered sugar and a splash of the milk. Beat this mixture until combined. Be careful, since the powdered sugar has a tendency to fly everywhere if you turn on your stand mixer too high, too quickly. Then, once the sugar has been incorporated, repeat this process of adding another cup of powdered sugar and a splash of milk, until all the powdered sugar and milk has been mixed in.

Beat the frosting

Lastly, beat the frosting for 5 full minutes to achieve the perfect texture. Brookes notes "the frosting should be smooth and spreadable, but still holding its shape when scooped up on a spoon. If it needs loosening up, add a little more milk. If it's too runny, sift in a little more powdered sugar." After 5 minutes, this American buttercream icing is ready to use however you like, whether it's on cupcakes, or enjoyed by the spoonful. 

Traditional American Buttercream Frosting Recipe
4.9 from 14 ratings
This American buttercream frosting recipe is so good, you'll want to put it on everything from cupcakes to layered cakes.
Prep Time
Cook Time
buttercream frosting in glass bowl
Total time: 15 minutes
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup milk
  1. Add the butter and vanilla extract to the bowl of an electric stand mixer, and beat until smooth and creamy.
  2. Sift in about 1 cup of the powdered sugar, and add a splash of milk. Mix until combined.
  3. Repeat 2 more times, until all of the powdered sugar and milk has been incorporated. If it needs loosening up, add more milk. If it's too runny, sift in more powdered sugar.
  4. Finally, beat the frosting on a medium speed for 5 minutes, and use as desired.
Calories per Serving 237
Total Fat 15.5 g
Saturated Fat 9.8 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 41.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.2 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Total Sugars 24.8 g
Sodium 4.8 mg
Protein 0.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe