Quick Buttercream Frosting

in Cakes & Cupcakes

My favorite frosting is Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s velvety smooth and beautifully balanced – if you ever find yourself craving a frosting that’s not “too sweet,” that’s the one you want to make. Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be a tad fickle – I’ve had frosting that comes together in perfect time and then I’ve had frosting that I’ve had to beat for 25+ minutes before it “came back.” So when I don’t want to fuss with the egg whites, I reach for this recipe.

It’s your standard American-style buttercream: butter and powdered sugar, whipped together with flavorings. Simple, pretty standard, yet I get a ton of compliments and requests for the recipe all the time. I used it to frost the cupcakes for The Foodie Baby’s 1st birthday party. She’s a huge fan. And so were several of our guests.

Dress the frosting up with food coloring or leave it white. If I’m not coloring the frosting, I’ll add the scrapings of a vanilla bean pod. I’m a firm believer that those little flecks of vanilla bean make every vanilla dessert taste better – and even if it’s all in my head, it definitely looks like it should taste better!

Quick Buttercream Frosting

A deliciously creamy American-style buttercream frosting.


  • 2 stick of butter, at room temp
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp milk*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract*
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, optional
  • a few drops of food coloring, optional
  • Instead of milk and vanilla, a fresh fruit puree (like strawberries) works great.


  1. Place all ingredients in your mixer bowl. Beat on low just until you have no more dry streaks of powdered sugar. (Add a bit of food coloring/gel here, if using. If using a vanilla bean, split the pod in half, scrape with the edge of your knife, and add the scrapings to the mixer bowl.)
  2. Turn to high and whip for 3-4 minutes, until light, fluffy, and smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
  3. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (I use a Wilton 1M).
  4. Extra frosting can be stored in the fridge for quite a while. Bring to room temp and whip for a couple of minutes before using.


Yields: Enough frosting to frost 18-24 cupcakes

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Estimated time: 10 minutes

If you’re a fellow frosting fan, you also might like these recipes!

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting
Tequila Lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Easy Vanilla Buttercream (Annie’s Eats)
A Comparison of 4 Vanilla Frosting Recipes (The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

41 comments… add one
  • Pretty, pretty! I love the colors you chose! This is very similar to the simple buttercream recipe I use, except mine uses some shortening. I prefer Swiss meringue buttercream as well, but every now and then you want something quick, easy, and tasty 🙂

  • Gorgeous!;)

  • I like swiss meringue better as well…so long as I convince myself that it doesn’t actually have a pound of butter in it…that’s really it’s only downfall. This sounds like a great recipe to have in your arsenal!

  • I’ve never tried the swiss meringue butter cream, but will definitely have to now. These pictures are so colorful and pretty, I am feeling such a strong need to go make me some cupcakes right now!

  • Thanks for the recipe. I think I’m going to have to make cupcakes this weekend. Can’t wait to try it out.

  • I’m def trying this buttercream! I’ve had issues with other buttercream recipes before, but yours looks amazing!

  • Looks great!! I will have to save this recipe for when I make my baby’s 1st bday party cupcakes!

  • Those colours are gorgeous. I’m going to have to make this buttercream for the cake I’m making this weekend!

  • I’ve been trying to construct a cream soda-flavored icing for a cupcake I’ve been dreaming up, and haven’t been able to find one. I was wondering if you thought this buttercream could be adapted to incorporate cream soda? I was thinking something along the lines of letting the soda flatten out a little bit to have a more workable consistency, and using it to replace some of the milk and extracts.

    • Have you seen cream soda extract? They sell it at the beer & wine supply store where we get all our homebrew goodies and I bet you can get it online, too. Using the extract would get more of the cream soda flavor into the frosting than using actual cream soda.

      • Thank you! I haven’t seen that before but I’ll take a look online.

  • this was so yummy! the cake was easy, not too sweet and gorgeous. it had a subtle flavor, so the second time around, i added more strawberry (personal preference). it was a hit!!!

  • Valerie

    Does this icing crust? I am urgently in need of a good crusting icing recipe! =)

  • Haley

    Thank you for such an easy and reliable frosting recipe! After a different recipe failed with only hours until the party I was frosting a cake for, I turned to this recipe and it worked perfectly. Thanks also for the great blog!

  • My search for the PERFECT Buttercream is finally over! I made this to frost some vanilla cupcakes for my son’s 2nd birthday party and not only is this a cinch to throw together and makes plenty of frosting, but it’s fabulous to work with, the texture is great, and most importantly it tastes FANTASTIC! Just the perfect balance of butter and sugar and vanilla flavor! I’ve found most Buttercreams to be either too buttery or too sugary, but this one is spot on! Really fabulous, and everyone really enjoyed it. I will absolutely be making this recipe again and again. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  • Crystal

    Can you add fruit puree to this buttercream recipe or like crushed pinaapple to make a fruit buttercream?

    • Yep, fruit purée is fine. Without having tried it, I’d be worried about the moisture and texture of crushed pineapple in the frosting.

      • Crystal

        Is the puree just as wet as drained crushed pineapple? And if not how could i make stiff pineapple frosting?

        • Not the same, just make sure you drain the pineapple really really well. And don’t discard the liquid – i’d use that in place of half the milk to start to thin the buttercream a bit, if necessary.

          • Crystal

            THANK YOU SOOOOO much trying it now, Ill let you how it goes.

          • Crystal

            ok just finish it worked perfectly i drained the pineapple then put it in a chesse cloth and drain even more then added it to the fristing its a perfect topper for my new banana split cupcakes

          • That sound fantastic!

  • Crystal

    Could I make a pineapple puree?

  • lisa shipman

    What kind of butter? Salted or unsalted? Or margarine?

  • Tasha

    How many grams/ounzes does 2 sticks of butter weigh?

  • Christina

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes. I made your vanilla bean cake and this icing recipe for my son’s birthday and both were divine. This icing has the perfect texture!

  • Susan

    I’m going to be making your fresh strawberry cake with this frosting for my son’s birthday. Do I need to increase this recipe for a layer cake?

    • 2 layers w/little decoration – you should be fine. If you’re going any more than that, you’ll want to increase the recipe by 50% (leftovers will keep forever in the fridge).

  • Susan

    I love the sound of this frosting and your natural strawberry cake. I’m going to make both of them for my son’s birthday this week. Do I need to increase this at all or will this make enough for a layer cake?

  • Susan

    Thanks! That’s great to know. Sorry I posted it twice. I didn’t see the first one and thought that computer had “eaten” it!

  • michelle b.

    Bummer. Just came out of the oven with flat middles. No one jumping. No earthquake. Did use 4 regular eggs instead of 6 whites, and substituted 1/4 greek yogurt for 1/4 cup milk (and combined with 1/4 milk), which I do for many of my cake recipes without problem. Will be a wonky birthday cake! But hopefully will taste good.

  • michelle b.

    oh, that comment was for the strawberry cake…sorry for posting here 🙂

  • Rhonda K

    Thank you for this recipe, I am eager to try it since it was very hard to find a no-jello, no-cake mix, recipe!!!!

  • Christie

    I tried to make rosettes on a cake with this icing. I followed recipe perfectly, so trying to figure out where I went wrong. My roses were falling down :/ It still looks pretty though. I’m thinking I made the roses too small for the tip that I used, so I only should have done one layer of roses, and then roses on top. I did two layers. Not sure if that would have made a difference. The consistency was not thick enough ..I don’t think.

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