How to Make the Best Buttercream Frosting

In today’s Tip Tuesday, I’m sharing with you all my tips and tricks on how to make the best buttercream frosting!

The goal for your buttercream should be a smooth, silky, easily spreadable consistency. It’s this amazing consistency that makes smoothing out your buttercream while decorating so much easier.

For this post, I’m using my Classic Vanilla Buttercream. However, these tips apply to all of my buttercream recipes.

Step 1: Sift Your Powdered Sugar

First thing’s first – sift your powdered sugar! I know it adds a little time to the process, but it’s worth every extra second. It really is so crucial to making sure your buttercream is silky smooth.

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You’ll first measure your powdered sugar and then whisk it through a mesh strainer to get a super fine granule. I think this is the fastest, easiest way to sift powdered sugar.

Promise me you won’t skip this step!

Step 2: Use Semi-Cold Butter

I wish I could shout this one out to the world! Using semi-cold butter is key to ensuring your buttercream actually holds well and doesn’t fall from your spatula or off your cake. I recommend taking the butter out of your fridge about 30 minutes prior to making your buttercream. The butter should still be cold to the touch, but you’ll be able to make a slight imprint with your finger.

If the butter still feels too cold, just cut it into cubes and add to your mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.

We’re going to let the mixer soften the butter for us, without the butter getting too warm. It’s when the butter is too warm that it creates major problems for our buttercream.

Run the mixer at medium speed for about two minutes to beat the butter. You’ll notice it gets lighter in color and looks fluffy and smooth. This is perfect. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl and mix again for another 30 to 60 seconds.

Step 3: Add the Powdered Sugar

You’ll now want to turn your mixer to low speed. We’re going to gradually add our powdered sugar, about a half cup at a time. This tip just helps you make less of a mess 😉

Step 4: Add Heavy Whipping

Now that your powdered sugar is added, you’ll want to add your vanilla, a pinch of salt and your heavy whipping cream. The heavy whipping cream is the star of the show here! I use it in all of my buttercream recipes and it’s such a game changer. A few tablespoons will do, unless otherwise stated in my recipes.

Step 5: Beat the Buttercream for Five Minutes

With your heavy whipping cream added, it’s time for another critical step to making the best buttercream. Turn your mixer to medium-high speed and beat the buttercream for five minutes.

After five minutes is up, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for another minute or so.

Watch closely! You’ll notice the color and the texture of your buttercream will totally lighten up. It’s like magic!

Step 6: Mix the Buttercream by Hand

Isn’t it so neat to see how the color and texture lighten up so much? Your buttercream should look like a fluffy cloud at this point. But it’s not quite ready to add to your cake yet.

The final step to making the best buttercream is actually mixing your frosting by hand. Grab a spatula or big wooden spoon and stir the frosting for a few minutes. You’re trying to push out the air that the electric mixer created. Doing this will help so that you don’t have all the air pockets (holes) in your frosting while you smooth the sides with your scraper.

And there you have it! The best buttercream frosting!

Can’t wait for you to try out these tips and see how your buttercream game totally changes. Follow me on Instagram @cakebycourtney for more tips and recipes on all things cake.



Other Tips You’ll Love

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Leave a Comment


  1. Excelentes consejos! Gracias por todos tus secretos de reposteria, un gran abrazo y admiracion un beso bien grande desde Venezuela

    1. Excelentes consejos! Gracias por todos tus secretos de repostería, un gran abrazo y admiración un beso bien grande desde Venezuela

  2. Hi Courtney, I absolutely love your cakes and making them!
    On your buttercream on this step by step you have whipping cream, but on your lemon poppy seed cake recipe you have some cream cheese and no whipping cream. Would you suggest I add it to make it even better texture? Mine turns out pretty good but I was just curious since you said whipping cream is key on all your buttercream recipes. Thanks!

    1. You can totally add a little bit. I wouldn’t do more than a couple tablespoons as the frosting is already pretty soft because of the cream cheese.

  3. Hi Courtney,
    My daughter is having a descendants party. I saw some cute cupcakes with different colored frostings. What food coloring do you recommend for purple, teal and magenta?

  4. I watched your segment on Instagram on the butter cream frosting. You did 6 butters but how much powder sugar. I also saw 5 tbsp heavy whipping cream and 1 tsp vanilla

  5. I am so excited to try the last step of mixing by hand. I have been in a losing battle against air bubbles!

  6. Thanks for all the tips!! Do you ever make your frosting a day or two ahead of time? If so, do you leave it out or refrigerate it? I’m wondering how much more I should mix/play with the frosting if I pull it out of the fridge a day or two later.

    1. You can refrigerate it and then take it out a couple hours before you want to use it. You might need to re-mix it for a couple minutes.

  7. Fantastic recipe! Easy to make- consistent results every time! It’s my go-to recipe. Works wonderfully for piping and flowers, and tastes good too! And not super sugary sweet tasting as some other recipes. Love it! Thank you Courtney!

  8. I feel like I do all these steps but I feel like my buttercream never stays smooth. It stiffens up. Any suggestions?

    1. If you’re leaving it out for a while as you frost, maybe cover it with plastic wrap. You could also add a little more heavy cream.

  9. Hi Courtney! Any other tips to getting the bubbles out of the buttercream? We always hand mi with a spoon after the kitchen aid mixer but doesn’t get them all. Thanks!

  10. Hi lovely lady,
    Is it ok to add food colour gel to the butter cream at the end of the process, I am making my Granddaughter a 4 sponge cake tomorrow and want to try your beautiful buttercream.
    So I will crumb coat it with vanilla then want to colour the rest pink, of course.

    Thank you and I love watching you do all your cakes.

    Kind regards

    Julie xx

  11. Do you have any substitution recommendations for someone who wants to make this but without the heavy whipping cream??

  12. I have done several “fancy” cakes in the past but haven’t in a few years, it was too hard with a full time job. But I had a friend request a wedding cake for her aunt & I decided since it was not an elaborate design to do it. But I wanted to do a true butter cream (butter) not the Wilton (shortening)which I usually did so I didn’t have to worry about it melting. I made yours and my goodness, this is amazing!!!
    I was a little worried when I started but the texture is amazing, the taste is incredible, and it was so easy to work with. Thank you, thank you!

  13. Hello. I’m Kübra from Turkey. I made your Buttercream recipe, but it had a lumpy consistency. the powdered sugar did not melt 🙁 what is your oppinion about this cituation. Can I use the number 0 powdered sugar we use in macarons?

    Best regards

    1. Did you sift the powdered sugar? It’s not going to melt. It will just mix with the butter.

  14. I just tried making this buttercream and it’s so so lovely.
    This is my first time of adding whipping cream in my buttercream
    I want to know if the whipping cream is compulsory
    What’s the importance?

  15. I noticed you do not use the whip attachment, using the paddle instead. I have always used the whip to make frosting so just curious why you use the paddle and if it’s important to use the paddle over the whip

  16. I used butter exactly the way you described it. Maybe I mixed the whole recipe too long, but it wouldn’t stiff up. It was like the butter was melting, which made it harder to frost the cake. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. I live in a warm humid climate and my buttercream came out floppy, and rather melted. To save it, I found tips online that suggested refrigerating my frosting for a couple of hours and then whipping again. This did the trick!! Try it – don’t throw your icing away!

  17. Hi Courtney, thanks for sharing your tips. I’m wondering if I make the frosting today to then decorate my cakes tomorrow, can I leave it on the bench overnight? Or am I better of making the frosting tomorrow? Thanks 🙂

      1. Hi Courtney!

        I was wondering, Could I add less powdered sugar if I want it less sweet? or would this mess up the smoothness of the buttercream?

  18. Hi Courtney,

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cakes you do on your IG!!!
    Was wondering if you could share the brands of your powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and whip cream that you use. For some reason, when I use the name brands (C&H, McCormick,etc) the frosting doesn’t taste that good to me.
    Thanks so much!
    <3 Maia

    1. Powdered sugar is C&H. Butter is unsalted from Costco. Vanilla is from Costco. And so is my heavy whipping cream! We love Costco haha

      1. We don’t have a Costco for over 100 miles. C and H is available anywhere. Our heavy cream is from Mayfield Dairies. The best in the world. I make my own vanilla using Drambuie. Oh, my!!!!!!!

  19. I’m wanting to get a new KitchenAid but I am debating between the 5qt and 6qt? There’s a significant price difference so I’m just wondering if the 5qt is big enough to handle a double batch of frosting?

  20. Thanks for the tips and I am gonna try it soon. I just love to bake and decorate for my own pleasure. I am so gonna try it


  21. Hello, I noticed you use all purpose or cake flour for certain recipes. I’ve heard cake flour makes a more dense cake and i would prefer a not so dense cake. What is the difference between the two?