Pinterest Follow Button
Family Favorite Recipes Family Favorites
Mr Espresso
like us on Facebook

Basic Buttercream Frosting with Variations

No recipe image available.If you're looking for a good basic buttercream frosting with easy variations on flavor, look no further.

Recipe Ingredients:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
About 2 tablespoons milk

Cooking Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer at low speed, mix the powdered sugar and butter together. Once combined, add vanilla and milk. Increase speed of mixer to medium and beat for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and of spreading consistency.
  2. To frost a cake, first brush away any loose crumbs from cooled cake. If frosting layers, place the bottom layer rounded side down on a plate. Spread about 1/3 cup of frosting to with 1/2-inch of cake's edge. Place the top layer rounded side up. Coat the side of the cake first with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs, then frost the side making a rim about 1/4-inch high around the top. Finally, spread remaining frosting on top, just to the frosting-made rim.

Frosts a 13x9x2-inch cake or fills and frosts two 8 or 9-inch cake layers.


  • Browned Butter Frosting: Heat butter (not margarine) over medium heat until delicate brown; cool. Mix melted butter with the powdered sugar.
  • Cherry Buttercream Frosting: Stir in 2 tablespoons drained, chopped maraschino cherries and 2 drops red food coloring (optional).
  • Citrus Buttercream Frosting: Omit vanilla. Substitute lemon or orange juice for the milk. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel or 2 teaspoons grated orange peel.
  • Cocoa Buttercream Frosting: Stir in 2/3 cup baking cocoa into powdered sugar, and increase the butter to 1/2 cup and milk to 5 to 6 tablespoons.
  • Maple-Nut Buttercream Frosting: Substitute 1/2 cup maple-flavored syrup for the vanilla and milk. Stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (toasted, if desired).
  • Peanut Butter Frosting: Substitute peanut butter for the butter. Increase milk to 1/4 to 1/3 cup.


  • A good frosting has a smooth consistency that holds swirls, but is still soft enough to spread on a cake without running down the sides.
  • Buttercream frostings, when too thick, can pull and tear the cake's surface.
  • Thin a frosting that's too thick with a few drops of water or milk.