The Perfect Buttercream Frosting
Feb 15, 2014, Updated May 07, 2023
Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
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I have been looking out for a perfect buttercream recipe ever since I started baking. I have tried so many recipes, added something, deleted something but still the result was never what I was looking for. Sometimes it was too buttery, sometimes too sugary, sometimes the icing won’t crust and the list goes on. I wanted a nice and fluffy icing in which one ingredients alone shouldn’t stand out, like I shouldn’t feel I’m eating a stick of butter or a jar of sugar. So anyway after lots of trials and errors, I was finally able to make a buttercream frosting which taste just perfect, for me at least.
Before I write down the recipe,e let me tell you what all I tried, what mistakes I made and what the final outcome was.
Buttercream using 100% shortening: For a cake class that I attended, I was asked to make buttercream frosting using only 100% vegetable shortening, no butter. The reason was that frosting made from shortening holds well and it’s easier to understand the various consistencies [stiff, medium, thin] with that.
Yes the frosting holds up well and is easy to work but I didn’t like it’s taste. Me and my husband threw the entire cake in the dustbin. So this frosting lost out on taste!
Buttercream using 100% butter (softened, almost melted): Buttercream recipes ask for butter at room temperature. Now I made a mistake of leaving my butter sit out for too long, for like hours. The result? The frosting had a very buttery taste to it and no matter what extract I added, it still tasted the same. So the point here is, butter should be at room temperature but not nearly melted. Cut the butter into small cubes, and let it sit for 30-45 minutes and not more than that.
Buttercream using 100% butter (solid but room temperature): So now I got the butter at right temperature but still the taste wasn’t what I was looking for. The taste wasn’t similar to the one we get at bakeries.
But this time I was not going to give up. I made buttercream frosting for 3 days continuously till I found the right one : D which is :
Buttercream using 50% butter and 50% shortening: This was it. I found exactly the frosting I was looking for when I used 50% butter and 50% shortening in the recipe. It was perfect, not too buttery, not too sugary, fluffy, smooth, tasted great. In short the perfect buttercream!
And if I have bored you enough with all my crazy experiment stories, here’s the recipe for the perfect buttercream frosting.
Yield: around 1.25 cups
Butter, unsalted: 1/4 cup, at room temperature
Vegetable shortening: 1/4 cup
Confectioners sugar: 2 cups
Heavy cream: 1.25 tbsp
Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
Almond extract: 1/2 tsp
Salt: a pinch
1. Take room temperature butter and shortening in the steel bowl of your stand mixer.
2. Using your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using your hand mixer, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed till they are pale, light and fluffy, around 5-6 minutes. This step is very important so take time to beat the butter and shortening really well.
3. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners sugar. Add 1/2 cup at a time, increase the speed of the mixer so that it gets fully incorporated with the butter and then add more sugar. Scrape the bowl from sides as required.
4. Add vanilla and pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
5. Add heavy cream and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (around 2-3 minutes).
6. Adjust the consistency according to your requirement. Add more heavy cream for a thinner frosting, add more confectioners sugar for stiff frosting.
You can store unused buttercream frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you need to use it, just take it out, let it come down to room temperature and then give it a quick whip. The frosting is then ready to use!
* Beat the butter and shortening well before you start adding the sugar. The step is very important.
* If you want your frosting to look totally white, use all shortening and clear vanilla extract.
* Using almond extract is optional, use pure vanilla for classic buttercream frosting.
* For thin consistency, which is needed for spreading on cakes, add more milk. For making flowers, shapes etc. you need stiff consistency and so for that add more confectioners sugar to the frosting.
The Perfect Buttercream Frosting
- ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening
- 2 cups confectioners sugar sifted
- 1.25 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- Using your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using your hand mixer, beat the room temperature butter and shortening together on medium speed till they are pale, light and fluffy, around 5-6 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners sugar. Add 1/2 cup at a time, increase the speed of the mixer so that it gets fully incorporated with the butter and then add more sugar. Scrape the bowl from sides as required.
- Add vanilla and pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
- Add heavy cream and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (around 2-3 minutes).
- Adjust the consistency according to your requirement. Add more heavy cream for a thinner frosting, add more confectioners sugar for stiff frosting.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.