American Buttercream Frosting Recipe (EASY!)

Want an easy recipe for American Buttercream Frosting? Look no further! You can flavor or color this buttercream frosting recipe to your heart’s content, and it’s the perfect fluffy frosting for cookies, cakes, and bars!

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Did you know there are lots of different types of buttercream frosting? Oh yes, there’s not just American Buttercream Frosting. There’s French Buttercream, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Italian Meringue Buttercream and more!

American Buttercream Frosting Ingredients

  • Unsalted Butter
  • Vanilla Extract (or flavor of choice)
  • Powdered Sugar (aka Confectioners Sugar)
  • Milk (or Heavy Cream)
  • Salt

I’m partial to the classic American buttercream, however, and I’m so excited to share this easy frosting recipe with you.

You’ve likely seen variations of this same versatile frosting recipe on my site if you’re a longtime reader. You see, this American buttercream frosting is PERFECT for flavoring with extracts or emulsions as well as coloring for cakes, bars, cookies, etc. It reminds of grocery store birthday cake frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and simple to make!



  • Birthday Cakes
  • Layer Cakes
  • Wedding Cakes
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Bars & Brownies
  • Trifles
  • Baby Smash Cakes

I used a similar recipe in all of these delicious recipes below! Check them out for ideas on how to flavor or customize your classic American buttercream! This is truly the easiest recipe and so perfect for so many uses.

This is a great basic buttercream frosting that you can tailor and color to your heart’s content. Use food gel colors, flavor extracts, add-ins (like lemon zest or chocolate chips) to make your own variations!

American Buttercream Frosting

Flavor Ideas for American Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: American Buttercream Frosting recipe + 1 tablespoons vanilla extract (recipe as written in this post). NOTE: For a pure white vanilla frosting, use clear vanilla extract.

Almond Buttercream Frosting: American Buttercream Frosting recipe + 2 teaspoons almond extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
American Buttercream Frosting recipe + 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder + 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped & melted

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting: American Buttercream Frosting recipe + 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

What is American Buttercream Frosting?

American buttercream frosting is a classic frosting recipe that’s popular in America for frosting cakes, cookies and more. It’s made of creaming together butter with powdered sugar and adding in flavoring (extracts) and often a small amount of milk or heavy cream. It’s perfect for coloring or flavoring to fit your tastes!

How long does homemade frosting last?

You can store homemade buttercream frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. To use, bring to room temperature on a counter rather than heating. You can beat frostings for a couple of minutes to bring frosting back to a fluffy texture. For outdoor events, be mindful of frostings and remove them from direct sunlight.

How do you Store Buttercream Frosting?

Simply store buttercream frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

How to thicken Buttercream Frosting?

To thicken buttercream frosting, simply add additional powdered sugar, start by adding 1/4 cup powdered sugar and go from there. A rule of thumb is that a knife sliced through the frosting should hold its indention shape for a frosting that is perfect for piping. If it molds back together, it is too loose for piping, and you need to add more confectioner’s sugar.

My Buttercream Frosting is too sweet?

If you have a very sweet frosting, a pinch of salt should do the trick to cut the super sweet taste. This recipe includes that salt touch, but feel free to add more.

If you want another versatile icing recipe, this royal icing recipe is what we use for gingerbread houses each Christmas. It’s fantastic!

American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

American Buttercream Frosting

A versatile, sweet buttercream frosting made with just 5 ingredients! This is the perfect frosting for birthday cakes, wedding cakes, cookies and more! Yields: 4 1/2 cups frosting
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 electric mixer


  • 1 cup unsalted butter - softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar - aka confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk - (or heavy cream)


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter for 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  • Adjust speed to low and add powdered sugar to butter, 1 cup at a time, until well incorporated. Return to medium speed and beat for addition 2 minutes.
  • Add salt, vanilla extract and milk (can substitute heavy cream). Beat on medium speed for 3 additional minutes.
  • If you want to thicken your buttercream frosting (if you plan to pipe flowers, for example), you can add additional powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness is reached).
    If you want a looser frosting (if you plan to spread it on cookies, for example), then add more milk or cream, 1 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached.


  • This vanilla American buttercream frosting recipe yields 4 1/2 cups frosting. This is perfect for frosting a two-layer 8 or 9″ cake or 12 cupcakes if you swirl on frosting with a piping tip or 24 cupcakes if you use less frosting and simply spread it on top of the cupcakes. 
  • Be sure your butter is at room temperature. You want your finger to a leaven an indent when pressed against the butter. 


Calories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 1gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 63mgPotassium: 14mgSugar: 36gVitamin A: 575IUCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

There are so many fabulous frostings, but this easy American buttercream is my favorite. I LOVE IT! I actually wrote a book on Frostings years ago (Photography by Kyle Dreier). You can also find lots of delicious dessert recipes in my latest book here!

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  1. I used this buttercream recipe today for some Valentine’s desserts and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you!

  2. Audra Fox says:

    I just made some cupcakes for our Super Bowl party and this frosting was perfect! I could eat it with a spoon it’s that good!

  3. So easy and so wonderfully delicious! YUM!! This frosting is free to top all my cupcakes! Or maybe I’ll just eat it with a spoon… lol! ;)

  4. So simple and so easy! YUM!! The frosting on all of my cupcakes is free! ;) Alternatively, I might just eat it with a spoon.

5 from 4 votes (1 rating without comment)

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