Frost it: Buttercream

Time to come clean…I’m more of a frosting person than a cake person. Whew! Glad to get that off of my chest.

In a lot of posts on here, I’ve mentioned buttercream frosting (or icing, depending on what you want to say). Buttercream is the basic frosting that’s most popular for cakes and cupcakes alike.  I figure I better give you a recipe so you can properly frost your cakes.  I don’t want to leave you with naked desserts.

This buttercream is a variation of what I make (sans a special ingredient I can’t divulge) and is quite stiff so you can smooth it using unquilted paper towels (I use Viva brand or blue shop towels). This is an all-white buttercream so you can frost white cakes or color the frosting as needed.

Basic All-White Buttercream

Makes ~6 cups frosting, more than enough to frost and decorate an 8-10 inch cake.


2 lb confectioner’s sugar (aka powdered sugar)

2 cups all-vegetable shortening

2-3 tsp clear vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice or almond extract (depending on your preference)



  1. Cream shortening on medium speed with hand mixer or stand mixer. (Ihighly recommend a stand mixer if you have one)
  2. Slowly add 1 lb powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated.  Scrape sides of bowl often to ensure all sugar is incorporated.
  3. Mix in 2 Tbsp water, the vanilla extract and the lemon juice OR almond extract. Beat until combined.
  4. Slowly add remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping sides of bowl often. Beat until combined.
  5. If the frosting is too thick to spread (or the mixer cannot cut through the buttercream), slowly add more water 1 Tbsp at a time, until desired consistency.

Here are a few Tips/Tricks for you:

  • If you want more of a traditional buttercream, use 1 cup softened butter and 1 cup all-vegetable shortening instead of the 2 cups shortening in this recipe.
  • It is very important to scrape the sides of the bowl often.  This yields a fluffy and smooth buttercream.
  • If at any point the buttercream seems way too thick and your mixer won’t mix it (yes, this happens), just add a little water to thin it out.
  • The lemon juice and/or almond extract are included to cut the sweetness of the recipe.
  • For tips on smoothing buttercream, click here.

2 thoughts on “Frost it: Buttercream

  1. Hi there, I have a vegan friend and i plan on surprising with some vegan cupcakes, would this buttercream comply with her dietary requirements? Thanks. xx

    • Yes! As long as you make it as stated in the original recipe, with all shortening rather than using any butter. 🙂 Vegans do not eat butter, milk, eggs, and other animal products, so this recipe works great since it’s free of those things!

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