Crusting Buttercream Icing (VIVA Method)

I stumbled across this recipe online and I love it. Very creamy and makes decorations beautifully. Got best results with the VIVA paper towel method!

Crusting Buttercream Icing (VIVA Method)


  • 2 lbs. sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick butter, softened.
  • 1-1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 tbsp. clear vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup water for icing cake -OR- 1/4 cup for stiff consistency.
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract


    Cream butter, shortening, and extracts until creamy and smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and water. Mix thoroughly on medium speed for hand mixers, low speed for stand mixers, until smooth and creamy. Do not overmix or mix on high speed.

  1. For whiter icing, use butter without dye (health food stores)
  2. For stiffer icing, use 1/4 cup of water instead of 1/3 cup.
  3. If you live where it is humid, you can add 1-2 tbsp. meringue powder.
  4. Let set for 15 minutes before smoothing with a VIVA paper towel.
  5. Icing can be refrigerated for 2 weeks in an airtight container. Iced cake can sit at room temp. for 2-3 days.
  6. *Any flowers made with this recipe remain soft enough to be cut with a knife.*

80 Responses to “Crusting Buttercream Icing (VIVA Method)”

  1. It was mentioned that someone used the WalMart brand Great Value Shortening. Please be careful of the one that just says SHORTENING, it may contain animal fats. You may want to make sure it says VEGETABLE SHORTENING.

  2. OK I just made this recipe. I have to say I didn’t like the taste; however, looking through all the recipes out there this is pretty much a norm. I’m thinking this and want to know your opinions.
    My husband bought an off-brand powdered sugar instead of my norm C&H. Do you think that is why it just doesn’t taste as good? I mean isn’t powdered sugar powdered sugar. What are your thoughts?

  3. I havent tried this recipe yet, and am pretty new to cake decorating, but i have tried quite a few recipies and have found that it DOES make a difference on the brand of PS used. I will now only us C&H ps for buttercream. Hope this helps

  4. LOVE this recipe! I used it for the first time to cover up my first wedding cake this weekend and everyone kept talking about how amazing the icing was and it also went perfectly with a cake recipe I got from Heartsfire-
    I had to make 4x the amount to cover a 16″, 14″ and 12″ and that’s not including the filling. I will definitely use this recipe for any of my future buttercream cakes. Thank you!

  5. This is similar to the buttercream I make (only I use heavy cream, salted butter and add a little salt otherwise I find it is too sweet).
    I just wanted to comment that to combat the greasy mouth feel that you can get with regular shortening, I use high-ratio shortening (such as Alpine). The texture and mouth feel is much nicer and you retain some of the stability that the shortening part gives.

  6. It’s frosting, people. It’s supposed to be sweet. This is the only buttercream recipe I use. I use different flavored creamers instead of water and it makes the frosting a bit creamier with added flavor. I get raves for hazelnut. : )

  7. Love this recipe but it was a tad on the greasy side so I swapped the amounts of butter and shortening (I live in a remote area and couldn’t get high ratio shortening) and put in heavy cream instead of water and I like much better. It also crusted just fine, but I live in Idaho were we have zero humidity, so if you live somewhere humid not sure if that would work the best.

  8. Does anyone knows how much I need to make of this BC frosting to use only for crumb-coat a 14″, 10″ and 6″x 2 double stacked 3 tier cake and two 12X18x2 double stacked sheet cakes? Thanks!

  9. I tried this, and it was way to greasy/waxy for my liking. I really wanted to try the Viva method, but not at the expense of taste or texture when it come to buttercream.

  10. To the previous comment, this is definitely a decorator buttercream. Better tasting buttercreams don’t crust like this and don’t withstand all the piping when the bag gets warm from holding it with your hand. In my opinion, this is the best tasting decorator buttercream recipe I’ve tried. Definitely my go to for decorating.

    For all those asking, I just measured my batch–5 cups of frosting. For me this is enough to frost and decorate a 9″ cake.

  11. If I am using this recipe to make a 3 tier wedding cake with filling, is it best to put the cake all together first (all 3 tiers) and then frost them? I’m concerned about it cracking on me if I frost the bottom tier, then place the next layer of cake on top of that and frost it, and so on. Thoughts?

  12. Tried this today and it is great. I used salted butter and heavy cream versus water. Has the same consistency as my other recipe, but a little better flavor. I am hopeful it crusts as stated because I always use viva and fondant smoother for my specialty cakes. Note to those whose icing slid…did you use Crsco? I never use it for this reason…not enough fat for stability. Oh, And Once the ingredients were incorporated, I beat it on med low for 7 minutes and it became nice and whipped and stiff.

  13. Can anyone say exactly how much meringue powder they used when making this for high humidity? And was the cake in the sun?

    To those who say that this is greasy, did you use high ratio shortening? I would love to know.

  14. I just made this recipe today to try on some cupcakes for an upcoming wedding.. I LOVE it!!!! It is very sturdy, but has a nice creamy consistency at the same time.. I also loved that the buttercream hardened but not enough to effect the taste or texture. When you bite into it the frosting just melts in your mouth!! Amazing recipe, now my new favorite! =)

  15. i had to take all the liquid for the humidity where i live. it crusted too much for me and cracked. now i just use everything but water. it is perfect and still crusts but not so much it cracks up. -

  16. I didn’t like the taste of the regular vanilla since I normally use Mexican Vanilla. I used 1 Tbsp of mexican vanilla and an extra dash. It was delicious. It did effect the color, but since I was coloring it anyway it didn’t really matter!

  17. This recipe is awesome! I’ve been on the hunt for a new one and I tried this one. I used salted butter though. It’s really tasty though! Thanks for sharing.

  18. I just made this tonight. I haven’t put it on a cake yet but I am confident that it’s going to work out wonderfully. It made about 7-8 cups worth. I omitted the almond extract because I didn’t have any, and I used Irish Cream coffee creamer in place of the 1/3 cup water. It’s very light and fluffy, not dense like some other icings I have tried. It whips up beautifully with little effort. It tastes light too. Yes, its a little on the waxy side, but like someone else said, it’s decorator icing. They’re all a little waxy, in order to retain shape and hold up against heat. Mine is off white, but I don’t care because I’m coloring it anyway. I like the flexibility of being able to sub different flavorings in place of the water. This is my new favorite buttercream. Thanks for sharing!!

  19. Soonergil31, or anyone else with answer please respond. Just made the icing and roses slid off side of cake, soonergirl31, you indicated its the crisco shortening, which is what I used . What do you use?

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