Crusting Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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Crusting Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe Pin

I realized when I posted the Perfect Sugar Cookies a couple of weeks ago that I’ve never posted how I make buttercream.  Actually, my recipe is pretty common and similar to other buttercream recipes, but nevertheless, I’ll show you how I do it because I’m often asked.

A couple of notes.  I make a huge quantity of frosting because I usually make large cakes and I need lots of frosting.

Plus, by mixing this large quantity at once, the mixer blade is completely hidden in the frosting, therefore not mixing in a lot of air.  This keeps the frosting especially creamy and smooth for decorating.

This large quantity recipe will make enough to frost and fill a 2 tiered cake.  If you need less, the recipe will easily cut in half, but you may not get the extra smooth and creamy texture if you whip air into the frosting.

Green Apple Mixer

I make my frosting in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer because I make such a huge quantity and for the reasons above, it keeps the frosting super creamy and not airy.

Besides, it would be really hard and take quite awhile to mix this much frosting with my little hand mixer (yep, mine is red!)… and I’m not sure it’s up to the job!

I’d also like to note that I use these Sideswipe paddle blades with myKitchenaid.  It allows me to skip the “scrape down the bowl” steps and they really are a wonderful addition to my kitchen tools!

If you’re looking for other frosting recipes, please check out these popular recipes:

Here’s the printable recipe:

Crusting Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
  • 2 cups real salted butter (4 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups vegetable shortening (14 ounces)
  • 4 pounds of confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter flavoring
  • 6-8 tablespoons of milk or cream, or as much needed to get the consistency you want (not pictured)
  1. First, add the butter and shortening to the mixing bowl and cream together. Scrape down the sides to be sure that it’s completely mixed together.
  2. NOTE: I put my bowl on the scale, zero it, then add the shortening and weigh it. I do this for 2 reasons – it’s more accurate than trying to measure messy shortening in a measuring cup AND it’s one less greasy cup to wash!
  3. Add the vanilla and butter flavors and mix again.
  4. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar, a little at a time until completely incorporated. This will take time and might make a mess. I like to drape a damp towel completely over the top of my mixer to "catch" the powdered sugar dust. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
  5. When all of the sugar has been added, start adding tablespoons of milk or cream to “thin” the frosting to the desired texture. I usually use milk unless I happen to have cream in the frig, but either works just fine. I make a fairly thick icing to cover and fill cakes and make it slightly thinner to decorate.
  6. You can use this immediately or keep in the frig in an airtight bowl for up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen for several weeks. If you’re using it out of the frig, make sure its completely thawed and rewhip, adding milk as needed to get the desired texture again.




  1. ziba says

    Dear Rose,
    I have a recipe for butter cream that tastes fabulous but its color is a bit yellowish (the ingredients are: flour,butter, milk and sugar), I need a white cream for icing so I decided to use your recipe, my only problem is finding vegetable shortening (I live in Australia), can I use butter instead of shortening?

    • Rose says

      Hi Ziba! You can make my recipe with all butter, but it’s still going to have a slightly yellow tint because of the butter. I am not aware of a recipe that is pure white without shortening – I’m sorry!

    • Amanda Quinn says

      To make the icing white squeeze a tiny amount of lemon juice into it. This effectively bleaches the yellow out of it and you cannot taste the lemon, hope it helped?…,

      A white icing you can make which doesn’t crust however is Italian meringue butter cream, it is a little difficult but if your in a cooler climate shouldn’t be too hard.

      From an Aspiring Patissiere.

    • Terri says

      I make white butter cream using only butter, the trick is to beat the butter for about 5 or so minutes before adding other ingredients. The butter will turn white.

    • chris says

      Hi.. I live in Australia and you can purchase Solite from cake decorating supply stores which is a substitute for shortening used in the buttercream recipes… can be used with half butter if desired…and the more solite to butter ratio makes the buttercream white.

  2. Tiffany says

    This is amazing! Thanks for posting this. Ive been trying to find the perfect frosting to work with and no luck until now. Thanks again.

  3. Arlette says

    Hi Rose, thanks for sharing your vanilla buttercream recipe. I’ve always only used butter and never shortening – I should give it a try. A question please: I’m always skeptical on using milk or cream into icing as (i) it can go bad hence storing leftover is not an option even if frozen (ii) having the milk included in the buttercream can make it go bad whilst the cake is being decorated in fondant at room temperature.

    Am I crazy to think so!?? I’ve seen others use it as well but am always worried about these things. Appreciate your feedback.


    • Rose says

      I can only speak from personal experience, but I have had cakes sit out for days with buttercream and it does not spoil. I think the sugar in the frosting acts as a preservative for the milk just as it does for the butter. I have also frozen buttercream, thawed it in the frig and used it weeks later and it’s been wonderful! I just use my mixer to fluff it up again and it’s great!

  4. nbm says

    I don’t have clear vallina extract. I have the regular vanilla extract which is the light brown color. Can I use it? And will that have any effect if I’m using gel colors to color my icing? Please help!!!!

    • Rose says

      The regular vanilla will just give it a very, very slight brown tint. Most people won’t even notice! It won’t affect the gel colors in any noticeable way!

  5. Erica says


    thank you for this recipe, i found you through YouTube. I know you said I could make the frosting thinner to decorate, but I am hoping to make roses out of this.

    1) Does it need to be thinner to make the roses?
    2) Can I freeze the roses ahead of time and attach them to the cake later?
    3) Do I need to thaw them first before attaching?
    4) What will the appearance be of the roses (in your opinion) after they have thawed? I am going to make many different shades of the roses (colors) and I am just worried about them running or looking a bit “off.”
    THANK YOU!!!


    • Rose says

      I have not made roses with it but I think it would need to be stiff to make roses. I do not know anything about freezing roses so I could not give you good advice on that. So sorry!

    • Mindy says

      My mom made cakes for years. She often made flowers in advance and let them air dry. Once they were dried she put would put them into a container until she was ready to use them.

  6. Amy Trent says

    Hi! I have made the messy ruffle buttercream cake in the past and had it slide off the side of the cake (not to be confused with melting – but actually seems like it is not sticking to cake). Just wondering if this has ever happened to you or what you may think is the cause. I usually use a buttercream recipe very similar to yours and a somewhat thick consistency. What is the consistency of your buttercream when you do the messy ruffle on your cakes?
    Thanks so much!

    • Rose says

      I don’t know how to describe it – I mean, it’s basically the same consistency I use for all piping. Not too soft – to the point of runny – but not so stiff that it’s hard to squeeze out of the bag. Have you watched the video I have on Youtube? You might can see there the stiffness. Two things come to mind that might help. First, be sure you have a fresh crumb coat under the ruffles… you need “wet” frosting to stick to “wet” frosting. If you pipe the ruffles onto frosting that’s already crusted – it will fall off. Second, be sure you’re pushing the back end of your tip into the frosting on the cake. Make sure it’s making good contact so that it sticks. I have had it fall off in small places and looking at it, I realized it wasn’t really making any contact. I hope that helps!

    • Rose says

      I don’t know how to describe it – I mean, it’s basically the same consistency I use for all piping. Not too soft – to the point of runny – but not so stiff that it’s hard to squeeze out of the bag. Have you watched the video I have on Youtube? You might can see there the stiffness. Two things come to mind that might help. First, be sure you have a fresh crumb coat under the ruffles… you need “wet” frosting to stick to “wet” frosting. If you pipe the ruffles onto frosting that’s already crusted – it will fall off. Second, be sure you’re pushing the back end of your tip into the frosting on the cake. Make sure it’s making good contact so that it sticks. I have had it fall off in small places and looking at it, I realized it wasn’t really making any contact. I hope that helps!

  7. ziba says

    Hi Rose,
    Finally I am going to bake a 1 layer 23cm round cake and decorate it with those beautiful roses that shared before, as this is my first time making a rose cake, I don’t have any idea about how much butter cream I need??, would you please help me??

    • Rose says

      I’ve never really measured how much frosting I use on a roses cake, but I’d think for that size, probably 5-6 cups?! I could be totally wrong… sorry!

  8. ziba says

    actually with how much I meant do I need the whole recipe? more? *2 or *3 or…..
    thanks Rose for answering my silly questions

    • Rose says

      Crusting will actually form a “crust” that allows you to smooth it with a paper towel or sheet of paper. You can actually touch it lightly and not damage it. Non-crusting buttercream stays sticky or wet – you can’t touch it without leaving a mark.

  9. Michelle says

    okay, So I am going to make a John Deere cake, and I don’t really want to make fondant. could I use this crusting buttercream instead or will it not look good??

    • Rose says

      It really depends on your skill level with buttercream and what type of cake you’re trying to do (3-D, flat, etc.) but personally I think it would look best with fondant.

  10. Sarah says

    I’ve tried this a few different times and I LOVE the taste and the look! But no matter what I do, it is gritty. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

    • Rose says

      My guess would be that you need to try a different brand of powdered sugar OR try sifting it first!? The only time mine was ever gritty is when I used powdered sugar from a different store and it did not turn out well. A friend of mine also says that different brands of shortening work differently for her, but Crisco is all I use and I don’t have any trouble with that.

  11. Leah says

    Can you please tell me how many cups of icing this recipe makes? I’m making a 3-tier wedding cake – 16 X 4 1/2, 12 x 4 1/2, and 8 x 6 1/4. I know how many cups of icing I need from a previous cake. I’m assuming I will need 2 batches of this icing…. Any thoughts would be MUCH appreciated!

  12. Molls says

    Hi I make cupcakes more often than large cakes so if I halve this recipe should it be enough to cover say 20 cupcakes?
    I’ve always struggled with buttercream tasty tangy and melting so my swirls always look awful! I’m in the UK so weather is not exactly a problem. Will this buttercream hold its shape and not melt?
    Thanks for a simple recipe also! 😀
    (I follow you on Pinterest I think!)

  13. Lori says

    I’m going to make this icing today to decorate a Spider-Man 3d bust cake tomorrow. How long does this one take to crust? I’m using the Viva method to smooth it. I usually use a different crusting recipe, but I’ve never been really happy with it. Plus I need about 10 cups of icing for the cake. Thank you

  14. Whitney says

    I have tried several,I mean SEVERAL, buttercream recipes. This is HANDS DOWN the besssssst! It fluffs up beautifully and crusts perfectly as well! I use it EVERY SINGLE TIME. & everyone loves it. Thank you so so so much for the recipe!

  15. Alissa Daniel says

    I love this recipe! I am also in love with a champagne frosting that I use…do you think if I use the champagne instead of milk it would be okay?

  16. Sone says

    Just found your site, wow and a huge tremendous THANK YOU!! Everyone is so kind and helpful with their tips, hints and sharing. Just getting back into baking and all of you are making it such a joy, so thanks to Rose and the rest of the community it really does means so much to an older chick like me, LOL :)

  17. Monica says

    Rose your Vanilla Crusting Buttercream is AWESOME! My whole cake life has changed because of this and I want to say Thank You so much for sharing!

  18. Liz says

    Hi Rose, thanks for sharing this frosting recipe. I am trying to bake a wedding cake and am looking for a frosting recipe that can withstand the tropical weather here in Southeast Asia (I’m from Singapore). Do you think this recipe can withstand being out in the open for at least 4-5 hrs?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  19. Syazleena says

    Hi Rose, how do I keep my buttercream icing stiff? It tends to melt Everytime i frost my cake, within minutes.

  20. stephanie says

    I love this recipe and have used it a few times. Last time, I thought it tasted too “buttery”. Do you ever just leave the butter flavoring out or can you substitute another flavor and it turn out yummy?

  21. Ashley says

    Hi rose, I have tried so many buttercream recipes this one seems simple and promising, one quick question, I have tons and tons of unsalted butter how much salt would you add to it using unsalted or do I just need to run and get salted? Thank you!! :)

  22. Amy says

    I am making a 3 teir cake in a few weeks and am wondering how many batches of this frosting do you think i will need. The teirs will be 12 x 5, 10 x 5, and 8 x 5. This is the biggest cake I’ve made and am struggling to figure out how much I would need (thank goodness its for family!!!). Do you have an easy way to figure it out, or any tips you would be willing to share? Also how many cups of frosting does this make? Thank you so much!!!

    • Rose Atwater says

      I wish I could help but honestly, I can’t tell you. I make SO much frosting when I work on cakes that I don’t even keep up anymore. I make a big quadruple batch and start working… when that runs low, I make another, and another until I’m done with all of my cakes.

  23. Heather says

    HELP!!! The recipe and directions have DISAPPEARED from this page!!!! I have lost my printed copy and have a minion cake to do next weekend…I was going to make the frosting today! Please help, yours is the best recipe I’ve found and I don’t want to use any other! If you could even email it to me that would be fantastic!!!!

  24. Dorthe says

    Im Sorry to comment on some of the first comments. But I saw the question about getting a white buttercream and that is possible. I never use shortening only butter, confection sugar and vanilla. (2 sticks af butter can easily consume 2 large boxes of sugar) If you just leave it in the kitchen aid for about 10 minutes with the paddle going. it will be totally white. Living in Denmark we are not really big fans of shortening.

  25. Terry says

    Hi Rose,. I love your blog. I use your recipe for Crusting Vanilla Buttercream. Do you ever stiffen this buttercream when using it as a filling? Also, do you think it would still crust if only using 1 stick of butter? Living in the panhandle of Florida I’m having some issue with separation but I still need it to crust. I realize the more fat the better the crusting.
    Thank you.


  1. Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting topped with ganache & chocolate dipped strawberries! | The Geeky Archive says:

    […] Then I started making the frosting. I was very unfamiliar with using vegetable shortening in frosting so I was kind of excited to see how it would turn out! The amounts of confectioners sugar was also insanely high so I was kind of skeptical about the entire thing really. However it turned out to work out just fine! Though working with vegetable shorting can be a pain in the ass it all worked out smoothly in the end  here’s the link to the frosting: […]

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