Homemade Buttercream Frosting

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Quit buying canned frosting. It’s so easy to make your own homemade buttercream frosting.

Homemade Buttercream Frosting on top of a cupcake

In my efforts to healthify our family’s diet, I have switched from buying canned frosting to making my own. I know, frosting is frosting. It’s still butter and sugar. But, at least butter + sugar is better than partially-hydrogenated-I-don’t-know-what’s-its. I’m amazed at how much better my cakes taste with homemade buttercream. My husband and teenage son, who previously shunned white frosting because it tasted bad, now love it. However, if you’re looking for chocolate, this chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is the bomb.

I still use boxed cake mixes. But, baby steps, baby steps.

What ingredients do I need to make my own homemade buttercream frosting?

Making your own takes just a few simple ingredients. Here is the simple list below:

  • 1 cup butter – you want this softened so it can be easily mixed together with the other ingredients
  • powdered sugar
  • milk (or you can half and half for more richness)
  • vanilla extract

How to make your own homemade icing

Combine your ingredients together – In large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add three cups sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and vanilla extract.
Mix thoroughly – Then just beat until combined and fluffy. I told you this was easy. 
Adjust as needed. You can adjust with more sugar or milk, depending on what consistency you’re looking for.


Homemade Buttercream Frosting on a chocolate cupcake

Does buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated? 

Although this homemade icing does contain a bit of milk, it is still safe to stay out for a few days

I was also amazed to see how easy it is to make my own buttercream. I don’t really follow a recipe, I just dump stuff in until it looks good, but this last time, I took note of what I dumped. Sort of. Just for you.

How much frosting does this recipe make?

This buttercream icing makes the perfect amount for about 18 cupcakes – give or take depending on how much frosting you like to pile on your cupcakes.

This frosting is delicious on cupcakes as well as any birthday cake your kid might dream up. If you want to get all tricky, consider buying a cupcake decorating kit. I bought one and was soooo impressed with myself that my cupcakes looked a little more tricked out than normal. I also like using colorful baking cups. Of course, pretty cupcakes taste better.

Which do you prefer, canned or homemade frosting?

3 from 3 votes
Homemade Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Learn the easy way to make homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. This recipe is super simple, you’ll never buy the canned frosting again.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttercream, frosting
Servings: 18 cupcakes
Calories: 169 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add three cups sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and vanilla extract.
  2. Beat until combined and fluffy.
  3. Adjust with more sugar or milk, depending on what consistency you're looking for.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Buttercream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 169 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 27mg9%
Sodium 91mg4%
Potassium 3mg0%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Sugar 20g22%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 315IU6%
Calcium 4mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Jamie says

    This sounds great and I love the picture – next time will you show how to use the decorating kit?! I think that will be one of my summer projects – to learn basic cake decorating!

    • Jessica says

      Well, seeing as I have only used it once, I think that would be the blind leading the blind. But we’ll see… 😉

      • Julie says

        If you are wanting to learn how to use the tools, take the Wilton classes offered at most major craft stores. I am currently taking them as my summer project and I’m having a blast. The last two months they have been half price too as the class has recently been updated.

  2. Jennifer Dempsey says

    If you like the taste of creamsicles, King Arthur Flour Baking Company has an AMAZING extract called Fiori di Sicilia that is a combination of vanilla and orange extract. It turns regular buttercream frosting into an out-of-this world frosting on yellow cake. It’s wonderful in sugar cookies, too. I don’t sell for them or anything, I just found it and put it in EVERYTHING now!

    • Jessica says

      YUM! Thanks for the head’s up! I have a bread recipe that calls for that, but I’ve never made it the right way. Now, I have multiple reasons to go get this! TY!

  3. Anne says

    Good for you! I started doing the same thing a while back for the same reasons. I recently went a step further and eliminated powdered sugar from my pantry, so I’ve been experimenting with a variety of non-powdered sugar frosting recipes, which I blogged about back in May and June. Making your own frosting is really so much healthier and so much tastier, too!

  4. Kayla says

    I lovee homemade frosting and hardly ever buy canned anymore! I will be saving this recipe for sure 🙂

  5. Jamie says

    I appreciate your tips and your encouragement to “live your wage” so I gave you an award: Blog with Substance. 🙂

  6. Glenda says

    Gerk! Aggh! Bleck! Canned frosting is vile. Evil…

    Erm, can you guess I was brought up on homemade frosting? 🙂 So glad you discovered how easy buttercream frosting is. It’s so good, I don’t even really need the cake (so that solves the box cake issue…).

    If you like marshmallow fluff, maybe you should try 7-minute frosting next. A little more labor intensive but slap it on a white layer cake and coat the iced cake with coconut. OMG!!!!!

    As far as homemake cakes go, keep in mind that the from scratch ones will generally be heavier/denser. They lack the ‘fluffiness’ of box cakes. But tasty nonetheless.

  7. Liz says

    You’ve made me droooool for cupcakes now! I’ve made my own frosting one time back at Christmas because I’m trying to get away from all the weird ingredients in packaged food, too. It was delicious. I’m printing yours out with the picture, just because it looks delish!

  8. Oh my gravy, why are adorable cupcakes suddenly EVERYWHERE!?!? I’ve never cared for them, and now my taste buds won’t stop drooling over them! Heehee. Especially the cute ones, because you’re right. Cute cupcakes taste much better. And yours are positively *adorable*.
    Way to go switching to homemade frosting! Butter and sugar have to be better than partially-hydrogenated anything.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Now I need to take some butter out of the freezer….

    • Jessica says

      Yes, I know! I’ve never wanted cupcakes, either. But I think the craze has finally taken me over!

  9. Tina says

    Traditionally real buttercream is made with part butter and part vegtable shortening. I have never liked canned frosting ever, I wont eat it. I have always made my own frosting, always. I store it in the fridge tightly sealed and it will last a long time. I do tend to use cake mix, homemade cakes seem to lack the moistness my family loves. I wish it was cool enough to bake cupcakes!

    • Jessica says

      How long do you think a straight butter batch will last?

      • From what I remember from my cake decorating class, the frosting will keep for 3 months in an air tight container in your pantry.

        • Jessica says

          Really? Oh my word. Who knew? In the pantry?!

        • Tina says

          I have kept mine 3 months or so in the back of the fridge. Never tried pantry.

  10. Lori says

    I’m gonna bookmark this one and try to substitue soy butter and rice milk and see how it comes out. DD can’t have dairy or gluten and I am going totry to make her cake this year. They have gluten free cake mixes now, but I was perplexed on the frosting. Hopefully it will come out good! Thanks

    • Jessica says

      Go girl! And tell us how it turns out!

    • Melissa says

      I use soy ingredients all the time (lactose intolerant Grandmother). You will have to adjust the ingredients a little to get the correct consistency and some brands taste better than others so if you don’t like the taste the first time try again. Also, if I have it in the house, I will use 1/2 c. soy cream cheese in place of half the butter. I have also used almond milk in the past with good results.

  11. Julie says

    If you want a super easy chocolate cake, I suggest the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe – http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipes/detail.asp?id=184. I was introduced to this a few years ago and now it is the only chocolate cake I will make.

    Thanks for the buttercream recipe – I love trying new icing recipes.

    • Jessica says

      That sounds yummy! I may have to try that out. Does it work in cupcakes?

  12. I come from a line of butter-lovin’ women so to me, canned frosting tastes like bug spray! Homemade chocolate cakes are very easy and come out tasty and moist. Here’s my easy-peasy standby:

    No Egg Devil’s Food Cake

    Mix together:
    3 cups flour
    2 cups sugar
    6 Tbsp. cocoa
    2 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. salt

    3/4 cup oil
    2 Tbsp. white vinegar
    2 tsp. vanilla
    2 cups cold water

    Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes.

  13. Yay! We have another cupcaker amongst us! You did a great job!
    I’m actually very surprised you had not been making your own frosting. Glad you gave it a go! 🙂
    I would love for you to link up to Cupcake Tuesday! That would be awesome!
    Thanks Jess!

  14. Nothing beats homemade frosting. Although, I still use canned from time to time in order to save…time.

  15. I’m a firm believer that the frosting makes the cake, or the cupcake as it were. I think Rose Levy Beranbaum (“The Cake Bible”) always said to focus on the frosting over the cake, though homemade cakes are just as good. Your recipe is very similar to one in Jean Anderson’s “American Century Cookbook.”

    On Fridays, I am sharing how my family is getting back into Real Food with my Real Food Basics series. So many of our extended family members are being diagnosed with allergies, diabetes, and celiacs that I feel passionately about getting my children as healthy as possible. I am looking forward to hearing about your family’s journey!

  16. Thanks for taking a minute and joining Cupcake Tuesday!

  17. Yum to homemade buttercream! Absolutely nothing like it. Worse than the canned stuff (to me) is that Crisco-tasting mess the supermarket bakeries often use… blech! My recipe is very similar to yours except I use heavy cream in mine, because, you know, a cup of butter isn’t enough fat for me. 😉

    • Jessica says

      That’s why I never liked Buttercream. That grocery store blech.

      PS. This was your first comment since the move. That’s why you were in moderation. 😉

  18. Val says

    I love buttercream!!!! I could eat it for lunch. Your cupcakes look adorable.

  19. I prefer homemade frosting and cakes…your recipe sounds great!

  20. Looks so yummy!

  21. Coby says

    Homemade all the way for me!!! I have made so many different kinds of frostings for different purposes. I love homemade buttercream, cream cheeese, 7 minute, whipped, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, lemon….you name it I like it! I am all for homemade cakes too. I don’t like the aftertaste you get in the boxed mixes.

  22. Rebekah says

    I can’t stand frosting from a can or wal-mart’s frosting yuck. Homemade cream cheese icing is my favorite!!!

  23. Oh, that is how I make mine and I want only half of the cupcake to go with it! Yummy

  24. YUM
    I love love LOVE
    but who doesn’t right???



  25. I’m so happy you posted this! My mom asked me to make her wedding type cake for their 50th anniv and I have been on a hunt for a good, easy buttercream recipe! The one I used the last time wasn’t right. I’ll let u know how it works out for me 😉
    And for those who are interested in trying some kind of decorating but no time for classes, I have a cookie press that also has attachments for using frosting…does a great job!

  26. Katie says

    I prefer the taste of homemade better than canned, but I’ll have to say canned frosting is MUCH better than it was 25 years ago, and since I shop sales with a coupon, it is usually cheaper than homemade, so I use it much more than I used to. I always have adequate powdered sugar and butter on hand to whip up a batch though. 🙂

  27. Becky says

    I have to second the above recipe for no-egg chocolate cake. My ventures into the world of from-scratch cakes have all ended in dry, tasteless disasters – except for that chocolate cake. It is a favorite in my family now. And it’s so easy! You have to try it! My conclusion is that chocolate cake from scratch is much easier than any other flavor. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had great success with chocolate. Good luck!

  28. Sara says

    Super late to this, but I’m wondering- can this buttercream recipe be frozen? How awesome would it be to just have icing ready in the freezer whenever you need it?

    • Jessica says

      I’m not sure – I haven’t tried yet. But, I will. 😉

  29. I have made buttercream frosting before, but it melted at room temp- does your recipe need to keep your cupcakes refrigerated?

    • Jessica says

      Mine would melt on a hot enough day. Room temp is technically 68 to 70. So, it shouldn’t melt under those temps. On a hot day, everything would need to be refrigerated.

  30. Jessica would this be the type of frsoting youhave to keep in fridge? I always wondered if you would have to put your uneaten frosted cake in fridge even withjsut the small amount of milk in it?

    • Jessica says

      Readers have told me that buttercream is safe unrefrigerated. But, I like it cold. 🙂 (And I’m crazy about food safety.)

  31. Stacy says

    Just made this frosting along with the chocolate cake recipe in Saralyn’s comment. They were both soooo yummy! I also feel so much better serving it to my family without all the added stuff! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  32. kristy says

    TIP**** Use applesauce in place of oil in your boxed recipe cake mix….whaa-laaa Much healthier and no one ever can tell the difference. I haven’t used oil in cake mix in years.

  33. Becca says

    I have never made homemade frosting before in my life and it turned out delicious!!! Thanks so much for this recipe!!! I decided to make a home made cake and frosting for my mom and I and this the easiest recipe I found, and it is sooo yummy!!! 🙂

  34. carrie says

    how much cake does one batch of this recipe

    • Jessica says

      You should have enough for a 9×13 or an 8-inch round. If you like really thick frosting, you’ll want to make more.

  35. Shannon says

    I don’t know what I did wrong when whipping up this frosting recipe. It started to separate and I wasn’t able to use it to decorate cupcakes. Bummer! I will try again.

    • Jessica says

      Was your butter too warm?

  36. Rain says

    How many cupcakes does this recipe cover? I need to have 300 cupcakes baked and decorated by thursday and would love to know how many cupcakes one recipe of this would cover. I will not be putting it on as thick as you did but just enough to make them pretty:)

    • Jessica says

      My land. 300? Ouch. I would say this batch does about 24.

      • Rain says

        @Jessica, Yeah, it’s a pretty insane order, but im having fun 🙂

  37. Jennise says

    Hey, I somehow messed up this recipe. I ended up with something more like icing than buttercream frosting… It had no light airy texture to it. It was a lot more heavy on my cake. Do you have any idea what I did wrong?

    • Jessica says

      Was your butter too warm?

      • Jennise says

        @Jessica, I’m really not too sure. That may be it. It was a bit creamy when I mixed it. I’ll try again.

  38. Cassie says

    Yummy I love cupcakes. Last night I made German chocolate cupcakes and my parents loved them. (I’m only 15). But they tasted so good. I think I’m gonna frost them with the butterflies recipe that you used

  39. Karla says

    Hi! I Googled “how much icing for 50 cupcakes” and found your recipe… looks good, I’m thinking of using it for my kid’ s birthday party… one question: can I add food coloring? Does it affect consistency? Or do I use somthing else? Need to make them pale purple and kiwi green… thanks!

    • Jessica says

      Yes, I tint it with paste food coloring. If you don’t have the paste type, you can use the liquid, just add more sugar if it gets too thin.

  40. Abigail says

    Homemade by far its got a better taste than any other frosting

  41. Jacquelyn says

    How many cupcakes will this cover? I am making about 60 cupcakes for a benefit we are having to raise money for a friend that was in a wreck and I would love to use homemade frosting rather than in a can. Thank you! This does look delicious!

    • Jessica says

      It does 12-18 with a fancy tip, more if you’re just spreading it with a knife.

  42. Alexa says

    Would you please tell me which butter brand did you used for this recipe?:)

    • Jessica says

      As long as it is real butter (not margarine, not spread), any brand should be fine.

  43. Elizabeth says

    I added a cup of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa to the three cups powdered sugar and WOW! YUM!

  44. kat says

    i love simple recipes like this one and it taste great i prefer a recipe that is made from scratch i find that they are easier to make them and you can experiment on them to create your own recipes!!!! 🙂 so thank you for making this fabulous recipe 🙂

  45. Ginny says

    This is the type of homemade frosting recipe I’ve been looking for. Can you tell me what kinda butter to use, unsalted or salted? Thanx for your response.


  1. […] of your choice (I made a buttercream and tinted it with a few Tablespoons of […]

Share Your Thoughts