This is my standard crusting buttercream recipe and I have never had it fail me. You can add any flavoring you want. To make chocolate just add 1/2 to 3/4 C cocoa to it. For maple substitute real maple syrup for milk. For orange substitute orange juice for milk… get the picture. Also, for an exceptionally good chocolate/orange make the chocolate buttercream using orange juice for the milk and add orange zest. Yummy!


  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1/2 C Shortening (make sure it has trans fats!)
  • 8 C Confectioners Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Milk
  • 2 Tsp Meringue Powder


    Cream butter and shortening. Add the meringue powder and continue to cream. Add the sugar and milk alternating. Beat until light and fluffy. If icing is too thick add a little more milk, if too loose add more sugar.


IMustBeMad Says... 4 Jun 2010 , 10:41am

How much does this yeild?

IMustBeMad Says... 4 Jun 2010 , 10:42am

yield* I before E except after C :p

GlacierBlue Says... 6 Jun 2010 , 11:21pm

A good "guestimate" would be probably around 4 cups.

sarascakecreations Says... 8 Jun 2010 , 8:31pm

how about for lemon buttercream? just substitue lemon juice for milk? i guess i'm worried about it being sour?

sillychef Says... 9 Jun 2010 , 12:48am

For lemon- I know I have used a product called True Lemon. I usually find it in the section where the sugar is/ artificial sweeteners etc. (It comes in a box- there is a bunch of little packets inside- it isn't just a full box. And there is lime and orange versions too) It is a natural product derived from dehydrated lemon juice and zest etc. I have also, in a pinch used natural lemon extract, but that can be awful strong, and if you put too much it can taste a little funky. Depending on the tartness/strength, you can add more fresh zest, but no, I wouldn't use lemon juice because it can change the consistency, and doesn't have as much potency as the True Lemon. Good luck!

Cake123_123Cake Says... 15 Jun 2010 , 8:47pm

i have problems when i make any frosting. it always turns out like a glaze! any pointers?

wildgal2073 Says... 18 Jun 2010 , 6:09pm

I just made this recipe today and it was awesome. I don't think I will ever go back to using any other type of buttercream frosting. It was a total hit I had 3 orders of 2 dozen each of cupcakes today and everyone wanted more. Thank you so much for posting the recipe.

cookingdiva Says... 19 Jun 2010 , 6:07pm

Can you use this recipe for decorating or is it more of a frosting?

carmycakes Says... 22 Jun 2010 , 5:16pm

is it ok to add color to this frosting?

CupQuequito Says... 26 Jun 2010 , 11:28pm

Do you have to use the Meringue Powder?

sweetesttreatsbylea Says... 2 Jul 2010 , 10:04am

just made the buttercream! and it has the perfect amount of sweetness to it! so yummy! going to put it on cupcakes today for an order!making some chocolate buttercream too now! thanks!

shelleytc10 Says... 2 Jul 2010 , 6:59pm

SO glad ya'll have liked it! It has always been a great icing for me. I use the meringue powder to help it to crust but no, you don't have to use it. Makes between 4 and 6 cups. I've never really measured the finished amount. **Also I forgot to add 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of almond extract.

shelleytc10 Says... 2 Jul 2010 , 7:02pm

Oh! It takes color very well too!

HarrietBakes Says... 3 Jul 2010 , 3:24am

Hello! I really need a good buttercream recipe, and this one has definitely been well-reviewed! However I am a bit confused. I am in the UK so some of these terms are foreign to me. I searched for a definition of 'shortening' and got: 'fat such as butter or lard used in baked goods'. So can you just use 1 cup butter? What is the benefit of using half and half? Also, mentioned in previous comments is that the meringue powder is optional - do you recommend just omitting it, or what would you sub it with? I'm gonna try it one way or another! Thanks for the recipe and if you could answer my Qs I'd be so grateful!

shelleytc10 Says... 3 Jul 2010 , 12:31pm

Hey there VaNellaCakes! I'm not sure if you have anything that is a substitute for vegetable shortening in the UK. You might want to look for Crisco, which is one of the more popular major brands in the US. The main reason to use half and half is because butter has a much lower melting point than shortening and the shortening helps the frosting keep it's shape and consistency. You can of course use all butter, but I can't guarantee the outcome as far as consistency goes. Meringue powder is totally optional. The reason I use it is because it makes the frosting crust nicely. Hope this helps! I'll keep looking for something you could use in place of the shortening.

shelleytc10 Says... 3 Jul 2010 , 12:36pm

Ok I think I may have found something in your area VaNellaCakes - It's called White Flora and also called Trex in the UK....let me know if that helps! :)

HarrietBakes Says... 4 Jul 2010 , 8:28am

Ahhhh OK! Brilliant thanks for your help - I know what White Flora is. OK fab. I tried the recipe with 1 cup butter and yes, it was very runny! I can see how 'shortening' would help. Thanks so much I shall try it next time! =)

shelleytc10 Says... 5 Jul 2010 , 11:36am

Hey VaNellaCakes! Let me know how it works out next time with the White Flora....You've got me really curious now! :)

CarolDianne Says... 5 Jul 2010 , 7:00pm

I'm confused about the amount of butter and shortening. I used 1/2 cup of each, as you recipe says, but 4 cups of sugar made it very thick and your recipe call for 8 cups of sugar?

shelleytc10 Says... 5 Jul 2010 , 9:18pm

CarolDianne did you also add the milk?? The milk is what thins the mixture. It's very important though to add it in small increments at a time, and also the 1-2 tsp vanilla will help to thin it as well. Let me know how that works out!

jo3d33 Says... 6 Jul 2010 , 9:31am

How will this recipe hold up under fondant? :o) Im new to this and the recipe I have been using holds up well but doesn't taste as good as it could.

shelleytc10 Says... 6 Jul 2010 , 9:49am

It holds up GREAT!!! try it and let me know what you think!

sweetcakes2406 Says... 6 Jul 2010 , 11:44am

sounds like a great recipie and i will be trying this very soon. however with buttter in the recipie does the finished product stay pure white or does it have a slightly yellow tone? most recipies i have done containing butter turned out ivory?

shelleytc10 Says... 6 Jul 2010 , 12:37pm

Honestly mine has always stayed white. The shortening definitely keeps it white and the butter adds so much flavor. Let me know what you think!

sweetcakes2406 Says... 7 Jul 2010 , 7:41pm

thank you i will do so

sandra05 Says... 7 Jul 2010 , 8:43pm

Any ideas for chocolate butter cream? I've tried this recipe in the past , it always works for me. I have to make an all chocolate cake for next week.

sandra05 Says... 7 Jul 2010 , 8:49pm

Thanks, for the tip! I'll use 1/2 c of cocoa for chocolate butter cream.

CarolDianne Says... 8 Jul 2010 , 2:20pm

I did add in the milk, vanilla, and almond extract as well, but it still came out too thick. I made it with cocoa as well, to make it chocolate, so I even added a slight more milk. I'm not new to making icing so I really can't figure out what I did wrong! I guess I'll have to try again sometime. Thanks!

shelleytc10 Says... 8 Jul 2010 , 3:23pm

Hmmmmm this is a mystery! I always use this buttercream for icing wedding cakes and so forth and it is a pretty thick mixture so that the crumb coat is nice and thin but crusts well so crumbs don't come thru the final coat. I truly am not trying to insult you in any way because I respect you as a cook but you did level off your sugar when you measured right?? This is the only thing I can think of. If that's not the answer we'll figure it out. I love a mystery! :)

bigbird3 Says... 9 Jul 2010 , 7:43am

Is Meringue powder the same as cream of tartar?????

shelleytc10 Says... 9 Jul 2010 , 12:18pm

No but I can see where you'd think it was. Meringue powder is dehydrated egg whites, sugar and gum. Cream of Tartar is an acid salt. Egg whites are actually non-acidic. Cream of Tatar keeps the sugar from crystalizing and helps to make icings creamier. The meringue powder helps the icing to crust and crystalizing is what does this. Hope that helps.

jtallen4 Says... 10 Jul 2010 , 9:16am

Is this icing for decorating too or just for icing? Also, does it crust? Does the cake need to be kept refidgerated? Thanks

shelleytc10 Says... 10 Jul 2010 , 10:10am

I use it for decorating and for icing both. Yep crusts great and no it doesn't need refrigerated :)

sheilascakes Says... 12 Jul 2010 , 6:17pm

What does "crust" mean? In the last reply you said it crusts great? Thanks

shelleytc10 Says... 12 Jul 2010 , 8:47pm

Crusting is when you apply your buttercream and let it sit a few minutes and it becomes slightly hardened to the touch. Not rock hard but it doesn't wipe off or come off on your finger if you touch it gently. This is necessary when applying a crumb coat to your cakes. A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that is applied to the cake to seal in the crumbs and allowed to set (crust). Then after it crusts you can apply a thicker and final layer of icing with no crumb problems. Also, when this final layer crusts, you can use a Viva paper towel to lay on the cake and a fondant smoother to smooth the cake all over. This will make your cake appear flawless and quite frankly give it the look of fondant. *The use of Viva paper towels is because Viva has no pattern whatsoever to imprint on the cake. I hope this answers your question :)

sheilascakes Says... 13 Jul 2010 , 12:29pm

Thank you so much for your reply. One more thing I cannot find Meringue Powder anywhere. Do I need to go to a specialty store. Thanks for your help - baker in training LOL

shelleytc10 Says... 13 Jul 2010 , 3:23pm

they have it at Walmart, Kitchen Collection........

sandra05 Says... 14 Jul 2010 , 11:19am

Just made this butter cream added 1 tsp of vanilla for flavoring, made regular white and chocolate frosting's. Followed the recipe, but it came out too thick. Due to kitchen temperature and weather . So i added 7 tbs of milk to the white frosting and about 10 tbs to the chocolate. i added each tablespoon at a time until i reached the right consistency.conclusion awesome!!!!

glutenfreebuffalobaker Says... 14 Jul 2010 , 11:49am

I have two cakes to make in this heat in the nedt two weeks and was looking for a frosting that I did not have to use fondant ... Does this hold up well in the heat-humidity?

shelleytc10 Says... 14 Jul 2010 , 6:30pm

It's worked for me in the heat and humidity as long as you let it set and crust first. Also it definitely helps to refrigerate the cake overnight and take it out at the last minute.

goddess19 Says... 14 Jul 2010 , 8:28pm

does it come out very sweet? all the other buttercream recipes i've seen have called for 4 cups sugar. if i use less, will it affect the frosting's crusting ability?? thanks!

shelleytc10 Says... 14 Jul 2010 , 9:27pm

actually this particular recipe isn't nearly as sweet as some of the other ones I've tried. That's why I like this one so much. The others seem to make my teeth hurt! LOL Try it and let me know what you think!

Bunnyhugger Says... 17 Jul 2010 , 3:49pm

Just read through this thread as I'm going to try a cake what seems to be the US standard way, with the BC as frosting. We don't do that so much in the UK, it's generally fondant, Anyway, what I actually wanted to say is that this is possibly the friendliest and most helpful site I've ever come across! Everyone is so willing to try and help solve each others cakey problems and I think it's wonderful! :)

Making1stCake Says... 20 Jul 2010 , 6:27am

I made this recipe this weekend for my son's Birthday cake. This recipe crusts BEAUTIFULLY. This recipe melted hugely for me, though. It had started to melt in the air conditioned house before we left. I tried to fix it the best I could. By the time we got to the party spot, in an air conditioned vehicle, it had started to slide down off the cake and off the edge of the cake board, leaving a puddle of icing on the cake board with the fondant decorations that had started at the top of the cake sitting on the cake board. Thankfully I had also made cupcakes for the kids that were adorable, and we all just laughed about the cake. The Super Mario Bros stars looked like they were struggling to hold back the flood of icing at the bottom of the cake. LOL! I don't know if it was the icing recipe or some trick I don't know about as I'm an inexperienced baker that made the icing melt so quickly.

athomebaker Says... 20 Jul 2010 , 5:43pm

hi! i'll be making a cake with fondant icing nxt week for my nephew, i really want to try your recipe,the problem is, we dnt have meringue powder here in our place. can i use fresh eggwhites instead and how much will i substitute for your said recipe? thanks!!! it would be a great help:)

jtallen4 Says... 21 Jul 2010 , 1:47pm

Can this be made a few days in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use?

Making1stCake Says... 22 Jul 2010 , 6:00am

I figured it out. It WAS my inexperience as a baker that caused the problem. I have now learned the no butter use all shortening when it's hot basic rule of buttercream. I'm excited to try this again with all shortening. As I posted above, this recipe crusts beautifully!

goddess19 Says... 23 Jul 2010 , 6:40pm

Tried it, loved it, thank you thank you thank you!

tokazodo Says... 24 Jul 2010 , 10:36am

This is also my tried and true recipe for over 25 years. I couldn't help reading where some folks are having problems with the thickness of the butter cream. It can also be thinned by adding a tablespoon or two of Kero Corn Syrup. For making chocolate butter cream, I mix 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder mixed with one tablespoons of vegetable oil and stirred into the butter cream. This will yield enough icing to frost 2, 8" or 9" layers plus decorations. The only reason I can think of for this icing to be too runny is perhaps the butter was melted and not room temperature softened, or too much liquid was used. Lately I've been using this and it crusts nicely to use the Viva paper towel method for smoothing cakes. (It makes cake decorating much less stressful!) I hope this helps, and I would encourage all to try this recipe!

tokazodo Says... 24 Jul 2010 , 10:37am

P.S. I do not use the meringue powder in this recipe.

DSmo Says... 25 Jul 2010 , 7:48am

This is the same as Wilton's Buttercream Icing, but they include 1 teaspoon vanilla, no meringue and only 4 cups confectioner's sugar. I have been using the Wilton recipe and it's the perfect consistency. I don't know how you could possible double the amount of sugar and have anything that resembles buttercream. ???

paradisecakes1 Says... 26 Jul 2010 , 10:13am

I really use the frosting cause is the best frosting that you can use. thanks you too much for post the recipe.

jeayo Says... 27 Jul 2010 , 12:17pm

Made this today. So awesome. I make my own homemade buttercream. But it don't always come out so perfect like my moms did. So with the recipe it came out so nice and not overly sweet. Thanks

vitadun Says... 5 Aug 2010 , 10:41am

hi how long does this frosting last since u put milk in it i cant last too long can it?

grandy Says... 16 Aug 2010 , 5:09pm

Can you make the flavor banana? I need a recipe that has strawberry filling with banana frosting

Coribelly Says... 17 Aug 2010 , 9:32am

I am very new to cake decorating and am going to attempt to make a cake for my daughter's 1st birthday. I'm hoping to make everything from scratch, including fondant! I was wondering how much in advance can I make the frosting/icing? The party is this saturday so I was hoping to make the icing Wednesday while my kids are in daycare. Thanks! I'm both excited and nervous to do this so any suggestions would help.

fiverx2 Says... 20 Aug 2010 , 8:17pm

Just made this recipe for cupcakes and a small cake covered in fondant. I did half vanilla and half chocolate. I added a small amount of chocolate extract which gave it a richer flavor. This is so much better and easier than the Wilton recipe which I do not like to eat but it's easy for decorating. The Wilton people say you should sift the confectioner sugar. I did not in this recipe and it came out great. It made a great crumb coat and took the fondant beautifully. Thank you for sharing!

Sorsha342 Says... 21 Aug 2010 , 3:34pm

I just wanted to point out that there are several issues with confectioners /icing sugar which may help explain why one recipe doesn't always work for everyone. Some brands are made of cane sugar and some are made of beet sugar, whether or not this makes a difference is hugely contested, and I am NOT going there. I live in Canada where we only have beet sugar and have never had a problem with using it. Most brands of confectioners/icing sugar contain 3% corn starch to prevent caking, although this percentage may vary. Sugar is also very hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water. So if you live in a humid area you will have more moisture in your sugar, therefore it will need less moisture to produce a thinner icing. Sometimes the sugar sugar in your icing may continue to absorb moisture from the air, especially if it is warm and humid, resulting in "melting" even if it is kept cool. The emulsifiers in shortening actually help to counter act this which is one of the reasons it is used so often in icing recipes.

Sorsha342 Says... 21 Aug 2010 , 9:03pm

to help correct the effects of humidity on frosting you can also add 1/4 c cornstarch per pound of icing sugar.

jenny4wheel Says... 3 Sep 2010 , 9:06am

The comments on this thread are a great beginners FAQ for buttercream. Thanks ladies!! (and guys, if you're here too! LOL )

akissej15 Says... 8 Sep 2010 , 8:26pm

Where do you get shortening that has trans fat in it? They've taken it all out of the crisco brand....

Soosan Says... 11 Sep 2010 , 11:28am

Thank you, the frosting was perfect. I am testing with birthday cake for youngest daughter. The oldest is getting married, and likes my cakes. It did yield 4 cups, but I guess for a 4 layer, heart cake, I need 12 cups;) Thank you for the information. Now I have to figure out how much to make for a 4 tier wedding cake;)

abarcher99 Says... 15 Sep 2010 , 12:14am

I have found that my Wal-Mart has lard and that is the only "trans fat-full" stuff I can find. I know it adds on the calories and fat grams but I seem to find that if I use all or mostly shortening it's too runny no matter how much powdered sugar or how little milk I use. I plan on trying this recipe for the first time tomorrow. I am looking for a peanut butter buttercream if anyone has any ideas... thanks!

akissej15 Says... 15 Sep 2010 , 9:24pm

Let us know how the lard works out:)

shelleytc10 Says... 16 Sep 2010 , 5:47pm

I make this and add peanut butter all the time! Just add peanut butter to taste, I usually add about 1/2 to 3/4 C to this recipe.

majop Says... 30 Sep 2010 , 3:17am

for trans fat shortening check out the store brand

leannrr Says... 21 Oct 2010 , 8:18am

how would I make this raspberry or strawberry? Maybe with flavored jello or pudding? and how much to add?

sandra05 Says... 23 Oct 2010 , 7:58pm

try adding a cup of chopped strawberries in syrup. comes already made in the frozen dessert/fruit isle in the grocery store. let it thaw, and use.

Shana2006 Says... 7 Dec 2010 , 2:09pm

Great buttercream !!I Love it !!

beccas Says... 2 Feb 2011 , 11:34am

This recipe is very close to my own except I use more shortening. I wonder if some of the problems people are having with it not holding up is that they are using a "margarine" instead of true butter. I have noticed that the brand of butter I use makes a huge difference in consistency and taste. I like "land o lakes". Also, I usually use 1/2 tsp each of butter flavor and almond flavor.

deniseaz26 Says... 13 Mar 2011 , 8:54am

Im really excited to use this recipe today. I was wondering, however, if you can use it under fondant?? Thanks a million!

chardonay1234 Says... 9 May 2011 , 7:03pm

I am not a professional baker, but enjoying baking for my kids and family. I've learned a lot by reading all of the comments posted above! Thank you everyone :-) My daughter wants a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I do believe I have found the recipe for her cake!! I do have two questions. First..... Butter, do you usually use unsalted? They always say to use unsalted butter on TV but unsalted butter doesn't taste very good. I'm curious what everyone uses for butter. Second.... Sifting, do you shift before or after you measure your ingredients. I look forward to making this recipe!!

goodnightelizabeth Says... 1 Jun 2011 , 11:09pm

Totally love this recipe! Although I will say that it is way too thick for the "8 C Confectioners Sugar" to "2-3 Tbsp Milk" So I want to clarify is it 8 cups or 4 cups. Cause I ended up adding 1/2-3/4 cup milk to get it to the point it didn't tear my cake apart. Also is it Tablespoons(T) or teaspoons(t) for the meringue? Just curious about the amounts? (mine didn't hold well to the heat/but probably cause I had it thinned out) Thanks for the post. Best tasting recipe I've tried in years!!!

HauteCoutureCookies Says... 6 Jun 2011 , 5:31pm

I just tried this recipe. It crusts great! I was doubful at first but I am very satisfied.I wanted a recipe that would crust without the expense of Sweetex or Alpine shortening. I really like the results as do my clients.

SylvieB Says... 3 Aug 2011 , 3:38pm

I just LOVE this buttercream. It's easy to make and it tastes so GODD.

shelleytc10 Says... 9 Sep 2011 , 12:44am

Chardonnay - When baking it's always best to use unsalted butter, that way you control the amount of salt in your recipes. Also, sift before you measure :)

GoodnightElizabeth - The amount of milk to add really depends on the weather and preference. If it works better to add more than I said then by all means do it. It's definitely 8 cups of sugar and teaspoons meringue powder :)

Ang4Cakes Says... 4 Nov 2011 , 7:10am

Do you need to keep this icing refrigerated with the butter & milk in it?

shelleytc10 Says... 22 Nov 2011 , 1:33pm

Ang4Cakes - you may want to refrigerate your cake but honestly I've never had a problem not refrigerating mine.

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