American Buttercream

March 1, 2016

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

The easiest frosting ever, it's very rich and dense. I like to use it for cupcakes or to top simple, single layer cakes.

Erin McDowell

Makes: about 3 cups


  • 8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) milk or heavy cream, at room temperature
In This Recipe


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat room temperature butter until light and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar (to prevent it exploding upward when you turn on the mixer), and mix on medium-low speed to combine. Once all the sugar is added, raise speed to medium-high and cream until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla extract or other flavoring and mix to combine. If using milk or cream, pour it in and mix just until incorporated. The buttercream can be used immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container.

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Reviews (4) Questions (0)

4 Reviews

Sarah O. December 21, 2017
What are the benefits of adding milk or cream? (Aka, why is it optional?) Looking forward to trying this out!
Julia C. December 23, 2016
To get rid of the taste of raw cornstarch added to confectioners sugar, I've found heating and stirring the sugar over low heat for up to a minute or two works. It completely takes away that raw or burning taste some people experience with this type frosting.
Jolie January 15, 2018
I'm confused...Why would there be a taste of raw cornstarch? Does commercial confectioner's sugar have cornstarch?<br />So much I don't know...
Julia M. March 8, 2016
in the last couple of years, I've started using French buttercream as my go to frosting, but I still have a little nostalgia for the American version that my mother put on our birthday cakes growing up. Her tips for a rich taste are to use the best butter you can find, like kerrygold or from a local dairy, and to beat in an egg yolk.