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Buttercream Frosting

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 7-1/2 to 8 cups enough to fill and frost a 9-inch four-layer cake.

This basic vanilla buttercream can be flavored in an almost endless variety of ways; see Variations below.


  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1 lb., 4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract


  • Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until foamy. Sprinkle in 6 Tbs. of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, and shiny, and the peaks should curl a little). Turn off the mixer.
  • Combine the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over mediumhigh heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.
  • Immediately remove the syrup from the heat, turn the mixer onto medium-high speed, and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk.

  • Reduce the speed to medium and continue whisking until the whites are barely warm, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the butter 1 Tbs. at a time. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

In place of vanilla, add one of the following flavorings at low speed to prevent splattering, then increase speed to medium to blend.

  • Lemon: 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest.
  • Orange:1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice, 1/4 cup finely grated orange zest (from about 3 large oranges).
  • Strawberry or Raspberry: 3/4 cup berry purée (purée the fruit in a blender and strain).
  • Liqueur: 2 Tbs. liqueur (such as Frangelico, Grand Marnier, Baileys, Kahlua, Chambord), more to taste.
  • Chocolate: 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted.
  • Coffee:  1-1/2 Tbs. instant espresso dissolved in 1 Tbs. boiling water.


Rate or Review


  • txcook13579 | 10/08/2017

    Great frosting! I made the chocolate version. This recipe makes a lot of frosting, too much for a 9 inch cake, in my opinion. I have about 1 1/2 cups left over. I LOVE butter, but this recipe was too buttery for me. I tasted after adding 1 lb, butter, and I felt that it was perfect, so I did not add the additional 4 ozs. The instructions say to melt the sugar, then bring it to a boil. The sugar does not melt until after it is boiling. Also, I forgot to bring the butter to room temperature, and so I cut it into smaller pieces. It worked fine and incorporated into the frosting without a problem. In fact, the finished frosting was very soft, and if the butter had been room temp, I'm afraid it may have slid off the sides of the cake. This may only be an issue if you live in the south, as I do.

  • Kashos | 04/24/2014

    I will forever and always use only this recipe for my cakes!! Never will I again use powdered sugar!!!! I add all sorts of flavorings like coffee, coconut, almond, chocolate!! Deliciously silky smooth and not one calorie!!

  • sir_nathaniel | 06/14/2013

    This is the perfect buttercream frosting and my new default recipe for it. I've made it 3 times in the past few weeks, twice with the lemon variation for the Triple-Lemon Layer Cake here on Fine Cooking, and a third time I added 5 TBS of bourbon for a chocolate cake and it was amazing.

  • B. Oliver | 12/30/2012

    My new go-to for a buttercream. I made the Grand Marnier variation for an Orange Marmalade layer cake. This recipe is easy to make, light and spreads nicely. I'm looking forward to trying the other flavor variations soon.

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