I’ve tried many, many, many buttercreams over the years and this seems to be the best basic, all-purpose buttercream frosting. Not too greasy tasting, not too heavy, versatile, easy to work with, holds up good and tastes great. It’s not gourmet – but it’s good. I can’t think of anything more that I need from a simple buttercream frosting for a batch of cupcakes.
So first we’ll get technical. Yes, this isn’t “true” buttercream. Technically buttercream is just butter, sugar, vanilla and cream/milk. This version adds shortening. People always seem confused or offended by that. There’s a major reason for the addition of shortening – not only is it a fluffier frosting, it’s far more temperature stable. How’s this for stable – I can pipe this buttercream on top of a batch of cupcakes, throw them in my trunk for an hour drive and let the cupcakes sit during my kiddos softball game. When it’s time to serve them, the cupcakes look and taste as perfectly as they were when they were just made. That just happened and it was an 85°F day. Point of all this being – although the “true” buttercream certainly has it’s uses and is indeed creamier and richer – it needs to be stored at a more ideal temperature or could melt and lose shape. I kid you not – I saw a wedding cake at a reception slowly melt and fall apart due to “true” buttercream (and some miscalculations of indoor temp during a party of 100+). Eek.
Not only is this buttercream a great all-purpose frosting, it’s also super simple to make. Perfect for bakers at all different levels and a great introduction to frostings.
This recipe calls for clear vanilla extract which I have never used. I always use my normal vanilla extract and the color is plenty white for all my purposes. It takes color great – gel color works best. You can also get creative with flavors and add-ins. Try adding lemon extract or other flavorings, or try adding some fresh pureed fruit or jam after your buttercream is mixed. I’ve heard of people using Kool-Aid or powder jello mix for color and flavor, I haven’t tried it – yet. I have fun experimenting with different flavors and colors and usually divide the buttercream into fourths for a batch of unique cupcakes.
This batch makes about 2 1/4 cups of buttercream. That’s plenty to pipe 2 dozen cupcakes for me. Buttercream is super sweet so I don’t go overboard with it. This is my go to white frosting for cupcakes. Hope you give it a try!
Thanks for reading and Happy Baking!
Basic Buttercream Frosting / Icing
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract regular works fine
- 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar approximately 1 lb.
- 2 tablespoons milk
- In large mixing bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer until very light and fluffy.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Gradually mix in sugar, one cup at a time. Beat well on medium speed, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.
- Icing will be dry when all sugar has been mixed in.
- Add in milk, beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Mix in any colors or add-ins if desired.
- Enjoy : )