Baker Bettie

Simply the Best Buttercream Frosting

This recipe makes simply the best buttercream frosting! Even if you don’t think you like buttercream, this frosting will win you over! This is the best buttercream because it is not sickeningly sweet or overly rich like many buttercream frostings, it works well for cupcakes or cakes, pipes out easily, is silky smooth and fluffy, and holds its shape well!

3 cupcakes topped with the best buttercream frosting

I have to be honest here, I have never liked frosting. Even as a child, I have always been the person who scrapes it all off and just eats the cake. But in my adult life, I have been on a mission to find frosting that I don’t hate. I’m here to tell you, this frosting is it. This is the buttercream for buttercream haters and lovers alike!

My reservations with every buttercream I have ever eaten is that it is always sickeningly sweet and too rich in butter flavor. I just said that. “Too rich in butter flavor.” Who am I? But as much as I LOVE butter, and I do really love butter, there truly is such a thing as too much butter flavor.

So I am here to present to you the buttercream for people who don’t like buttercream. This is also a buttercream for people who love buttercream, because if you like frosting in general you are going to love this!

This truly is the best buttercream for several reasons: it is insanely silky smooth and fluffy, has just the right amount of sweetness, can be piped and hold its shape, and has a good balance of butter flavor without being overwhelming. I may be well on my way to becoming a frosting person with this one! And I want to show you how to make it perfectly!

Sticks of butter

Use Real Butter

The idea that you should use real butter when you want to make really good buttercream may sound like a no-brainer. But I am a child of the 80’s/90’s who honestly didn’t know until I was in college that the big tub of spreadable “butter” in our refrigerator growing up wasn’t really butter, it was margarine. Please don’t use margarine in this recipe!

Buttercream is one of those recipes with very few ingredients. Whenever you are making something that only requires a couple of ingredients, the quality of those ingredients becomes much more important. Use real, unsalted butter for the best buttercream. Though not absolutely necessary, this is also a very acceptable time to use high quality European style butter. I used some unsalted Kerry Gold for this frosting and it was a great decision!

Use Mascarpone (Optional, but HIGHLY Recommended)

If you are already a buttercream lover, using mascarpone in this recipe is totally optional. I think you should try it once and see how you feel about it, because it is so dang good! But that is your call, you could use all butter if you prefer.

If you are like me, and are on the hunt for a buttercream frosting that doesn’t make your stomach churn, then this is not optional! The mascarpone in this recipe is key and is the ingredient that really helps to balance the flavors of this frosting. It ends up tasting rich and luxurious, but not overly sweet or buttery. I first learned about using mascarpone in buttercream from an interview with the owners of the famed Robicelli’s Bakery in Brooklyn. They are definitely onto something!

For this buttercream, the fat is split between butter and mascarpone cheese 60% to 40% respectively. I find that this ratio truly does give the perfect balance of buttery richness that you are looking for in a frosting without overwhelming your taste buds. I keep thinking that this frosting tastes almost like a hybrid of buttercream frosting and whipped cream frosting. And that actually makes a lot of sense since mascarpone is essentially a solid version of heavy cream.

Butter and mascarpone whipped and soft

Make Sure Ingredients Really Are at Room Temperature

The key to making any buttercream frosting successfully is to start with truly room temperature ingredients. You don’t want ingredients that are almost room temperature but still have a little chill on them. You also don’t want ingredients that you nuked in the microwave a little too long and are warm or even hot. All of this is a recipe for disaster with buttercream!

The very best way to ensure you have perfectly room temperature ingredients for your buttercream is to leave them out on the counter overnight. I’m fully aware that it requires planning, but if at all possible, do this! Ideally, you will let your butter, mascarpone (if using), and cream sit out for 2 hours at the very least before making your beautiful fluffy buttercream. It is the best way to ensure your buttercream success.

However, if you absolutely have to, you can use your microwave to get your ingredient temperatures down. To bring your ingredients to room temperature in the microwave, set it to 30% power and heat each ingredient separately in 10 second bursts, checking the progress after each 10 seconds.

Baking Science Tip: Butter is an emulsion, meaning it is a stable mixture of two ingredients that will not mix (fat and water). If the butter is too cold or too warm when you begin whipping it, it will cause the emulsion to break and the fat and the water will separate.

Do Not Rush the Creaming Process

Before you start the process of adding the sugar into your buttercream, you really want to cream the fats together for a good amount of time, about 5 minutes. The process of creaming the butter, and mascarpone in this case, serves a couple of purposes. This process whips air into the fat and creates a much lighter and silkier texture for your buttercream. This process is also what helps make your buttercream appear more white. You will notice as you whip your butter that the yellow color becomes more and more pale.

Soft fluffy frosting on the end of a spatula

Sift the Powdered Sugar

One of the things that I am so impressed with when I make this buttercream is just how silky it is. The texture feels quite luxurious! The process of creaming the butter and mascarpone is a key part of that, but sifting your powdered sugar is also an important part of this! Measure out your sugar first, and then sift it. If you do not have a sifter, you can also use a whisk to break up any clumps. It isn’t quite as effective as sifting, but it will do the job!

A decorated cupcake with soft buttercream

Slowly Add the Sugar & Adjust to Taste

Once your butter, mascarpone, and cream are fully whipped, then you can start adding in your sugar. I suggest doing this slowly with the mixer running. This will help ensure that you don’t end up with a gritty texture to your buttercream and also ensures that your powdered sugar won’t go flying everywhere!

You will notice that this recipe lists a sugar range for how much to use. This really depends on your preference for sweetness and what you want to do with the buttercream. Once you get to the minimum amount of sugar, 2 cups, stop, taste, and add more sugar as desired.

More sugar will give you a more stiff buttercream that might be more suitable for piping intricate designs. However, I used the minimum amount of sugar and it still worked well to successfully pipe a buttercream rose! It is quite a soft and airy texture though, which I love! And even at the full amount of sugar I didn’t find this buttercream to be as sickeningly sweet as many other recipes out there.

Cupcake topped with buttercream and colorful sprinkles

Add Flavorings if Desired

Once your buttercream is whipped up and sweetened to your preference, you can flavor it as you like! Vanilla is an obvious choice, but you could use this recipe as a base to make many other flavor options. Almond extract, coconut extract, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or any other extract or spice would all be great addition. See the notes section of the recipe for a few variation ideas!

The best buttercream frosting topped cupcakes

Simply the Best Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Frosting for ~24 Cupcakes or a 9" Cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

This recipe makes simply the best buttercream frosting! Even if you don't think you like buttercream, this frosting will win you over! This is the best buttercream because it is not sickeningly sweet or overly rich like many buttercream frostings, it works well for cupcakes or cakes, pipes out easily, is silky smooth and fluffy, and holds its shape well!


  • 3 sticks (12 oz, 336 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz (224 gr) mascarpone cheese, room temperature (*see note for substitution)
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl oz, 59 ml) heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-4 cups (9 oz-18 oz, 252 gr-5o4 gr) powdered sugar (also known as icing sugar or confectioners sugar)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, mascarpone cheese, salt, and heavy cream together on medium speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl at the halfway mark. It is extremely important that your ingredients are at room temperature before staring this process or your butter will break.
  2. Meanwhile, sift your powdered sugar.
  3. With the mixer running on medium speed, add your powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until you have incorporated 2 cups of it. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl, and taste your buttercream. Continue adding sugar slowly until it is at the sweetness you prefer. More sugar will create a more stiff buttercream, but it will still hold its shape well with only 2 cups of sugar.
  4. Use immediately, or you can also put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you refrigerate your buttercream, let it come to room temperature and whip it again at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy!

Note: Because this buttercream does use mascarpone in it, it does need to be refrigerated. It can stay out for a few hours when serving your cake or cupcakes, but then the baked good does need to be refrigerated.


Notes: : *If you do not want to use mascarpone cheese you can leave it out and increase the amount of butter by 8 oz.

Flavor Variations: Vanilla Buttercream Add 2 tsp vanilla extract after you have added your sugar and beat until incorporated.

Chocolate Buttercream Measure out 1 cup of cocoa powder (you can use natural or dutch-processed cocoa powder) and sift it. After all of your sugar has been incorporated, slowly add the cocoa powder while the mixer is running on medium speed until all incorporated.

Almond Buttercream (perfect for wedding cakes) Add 1/4 tsp almond extract after you have added your sugar and beat until incorporated.

Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Add 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice after you have added your sugar and beat until incorporated.

Espresso Buttercream Stir 1 TBSP instant espresso powder into your heavy cream until it is dissolved. Continue onto step 1 of the recipe.

Mocha Buttercream Stir 1 TBSP instant espresso powder into your heavy cream until it is dissolved. Continue onto step 1 of the recipe. While your butter, mascarpone, & heavy cream are whipping, measure out 1 cup of cocoa powder (you can use natural or dutch-processed cocoa powder) and sift it. After all of your sugar has been incorporated, slowly add the cocoa powder while the mixer is running on medium speed until all incorporated. 

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0

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133 comments on “Simply the Best Buttercream Frosting”

  1. thank you, I am going to try this, the last couple of frostings that I did make did have mascarpone cheese in them, I love the flavor!

  2. I have ruined this frosting 9/10 times in my life!  Thanks for this method.

  3. Great recipe! Definitely I’m going to try it! But I have a question.. is it suitable to cover a cake and then cover with sugarpaste? Doesn’t need to be in the fridge?(cause of the mascarpone)

    • Hello there Aphrodite! I have to be honest here, I do not have a lot of (or really any) experience covering cakes with sugar paste. So I don’t want to lead you astray here. What I will say is that because of the mascarpone in this frosting, it stays soft and fluffy. It doesn’t really harden like other buttercream frosting sometimes do. I would imagine that you would want to use the higher end of the sugar on this if you do want to try using it for a cake covered in sugarpaste. If you do try it, let me know how it goes!

      If the cake is not going to be eaten within a day, then yes, it should be refrigerated.

  4. OhhHhMaGOSH! I cannot wait to try this! I accidentally found out about using mascarpone in using. BUT it was in my cream cheese frosting. I totally thought I had enough cream cheese to make my recipe. NOPE. I did have 8 oz of mascarpone. Used it. LAWDY!
    So so good. not as sweet, more creamy and had a texture to DIE. My DIL, a self proclaimed lover of cream cheese BUT hater of cream cheese frosting, was gaagaa googoo over my rendition with the mascarpone.
    So. I cannot wait to try the buttercream with mascarpone. may have to bake something this afternoon. BTW I made your cream puff recipe. I used bavarian pastry cream filling instead of whipped cream though. Point is the recipe was on target. Totally appreciate your science lesson about changing the oven temps. Worked like a charm. Thanks Baker Betty

  5. ok this frosting looks fantastic, I love the texture and I never would have thought about the marscapone! Must try!

  6. thank you for the recipe, love the one about the Butter icing, my family doesn’t like sweet icing

  7. Hey! I found your recipe and i want to try it tomorrow to fill and frost a 3 tier cake. I just have a question. The amount of mascarpone in grams is 96. Is it a mistake? It seems too little! Thanks in advance!

    • Oh my goodness! Yes, that is a HUGE mistake! I just updated it. It is 224 grams. Not sure what happened there. Thank you for bringing it to my attention! You may decided you want to add slightly more sugar if you are going to use it to fill the cake. You might want it slightly more stiff. Let me know how it goes!

  8. Hi!! I’m really excited to try this recipe but I was wondering do I need to use all 3 sticks of butter or can I just use 2?

  9. I just made this frosting and it worked pretty well, but still too buttery for my liking! (I’m in the UK and we don’t really go in for super buttery icing so it’s kind of odd for me!)
    Do you think this would still work if I upped the mascarpone content and reduced the butter? Say stuck to two sticks of butter and added another 100g mascarpone?

  10. Hi. I want to make some cupcakes for a baby shower. Can I make this frosting, pipe it, then refrigerate the cupcakes until the shower which takes place at least 5-6 hours later that same day? Do I need to let the cupcakes return to room temperature before serving? Will the frosting collapse? 

    • Yes you can do this Annie! I would take them out of the fridge a little bit before the shower because if the frosting is really cold it will have a thick mouthfeel. It won’t collapse, but it doesn’t harden with a crust the way other american buttercreams do 🙂

  11. AWESOME!!
    I loved it . I have a question, I need to to make red roses so can one color this frosting?
    Will it break the consistency of it?

    • Hi Monica! You can definitely color it! I would use a gel food coloring for the best results. Just note that this is not a crusting buttercream and it will remain soft at room temperature. If you want it to crust over, you will want to use a traditional American buttercream.

  12. Hi, can you color this buttercream? 

  13. Hi there,
    Quick question: is this amount enough to both fill and cover a cake? 
    Best regards,

  14. I can’t wait to make this, I’m going to use it for my niece’s wedding cake. It looks absolutely luscious!!

  15. Yes I made it, am not a cheese lover plus it tasted a little bit strong in the buttercream frosting, but overall I really liked because it was something new that I did.

  16. Does this recepee need to be refridgerated?

  17. Hi, on the added flavors below. You have for the almond, to added 1 tsp of vanilla extract???
    Also can you use the whip attachment instead of the paddle?

    Thank you

  18. I made this recipe and it turned out great then I put it in the fridge over night and was going to frost in the morning I left frosting out for 3 hours then whipped it and it’s not fluffy anymore and gritty. If I leavr it out all nightmare and whip again in the morning will it come back? Or did I ruin it

  19. I am just learni g about high ratio shortening. Could I substitute for butter?

  20. I am so anxious to make this. Question…can I incorporate Hi-Ratio Shortening for perhaps one stick of butter?

  21. I wanted a lemon buttercream, so I substituted lemon juice for the cream and added zest from 1 lemon. I needed to add a little more sugar to make it thicker using the lemon juice, but it turned out AMAZING! So fluffy and the flavor was great. I can’t wait to try the original vanilla recipe.

  22. Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter? It’s what I have on hand. Also what difference would it make on the outcome of my frosting? Thanks.

    • Hi Leslie, I wouldn’t recommend salted butter for this frosting. It will likely taste too salty. You technically can and it won’t affect the texture but it will affect the flavor.

  23. 1. Can I use this as Macaron cookie filling?

    2. Can it be frozen for later?

  24. I had trouble. I had my butter and Marscspone cheese at room temperature 4 hours. When I creamed them, they really didn’t want to come together. I added the sugar and that didn’t help. It looks like cottage cheese. I don’t think it’s safe to use in a cake.

  25. Hello. If i was to frost an 11 inch cake with this recipe how much buttercream do you think I would need to cover just the top and sides of the cake. Could you tell me when using buttercream how thick should the layer be on top and sides. Many thanks

    • Hi there! Typically you want about 1/4″ thick on the sides and a 1/2″ thick on the top. If you are only doing 1 layer I think you could halve this recipe.

  26. Loved this frosting!!!  Best frosting ever. I frosted the night before the party, chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. Coated the cake and piped the border. In the morning all  held very well. I saved frosting to finish decorating for the next morning. Noted for my future use… I would finish decorating the whole cake the night before I need it. The extra frosting I saved for embellishing the cake once it came to room temperature had a curdled texture. I whipped and whipped (way more than I expected) it again and all was well, however the unexpected time factor set me way back.  I be adding this to my favorite list. Thank you. 

  27. I came across this frosting of yours by accident on Pinterest and cannot  wait to try this buttercream although having trouble locating the mascarpone! But I’m on the hunt and won’t give up til I find it.
    My question for you is I’m going to make a sponge lemon filled Jellyroll cake for Easter and would like to frost it lightly ( like a crumb coat) then use a lemon ganache over top just enough to slightly dribble down sides. Do you think if I used the higher end of sugar that the ganache would cause your frosting to slide down? I would put on ganache as cooled as possible to still get the effect. Then pipe around bottom of cake and possibly on top of ganache after cooled for decoration. Although haven’t really gotten that far yet in planning.
    I really want to use this frosting but just wanting to get your thoughts on this???
    Thank you, 

    • Hi Irene! Usually you can find mascarpone in the “Fancy cheese” section of the super market! While I haven’t tried what you are suggesting, yes I do think it would work. I would use the higher end of the sugar as you suggested! That sounds delicious!

  28. Thanks so much for your reply and yes I did find the mascarpone in the deli cheese section at a different market! I’m crossing my fingers on this ganache and I will definitely let you know how it goes! Have a Happy Easter.

  29. Hi Bettie! I don’t have a stand mixer. Can I make this frosting with a hand mixer?

    • Hi Jessica, you can but be prepared to get in an arm workout! You want to beat it for a long time until it is really creamy! Just take breaks if needed!

  30. Hi. I would like to make liquor infused frosting for cupcakes. Do I sub the vanilla extract with the same amount of liquor?  Also will the liquor cause the frosting to separate since it has a cheese ingredient?

    • Hi Mel! I haven’t tried making this frosting with liquor so its hard to say. If you do try it and it starts to separate, rewhip it for a long time and it should come back together. And yes, I would substitute the vanilla extract with the liquor!

  31. Hi— Is the mascarpone flavor noticeable, or will the frosting still taste like a buttercream? I am looking for a recipe that highlights the mascarpone flavor.

    • Hi Alaina! I don’t find mascarpone to be a strong flavor in general so I wouldn’t say that you can really taste it in this recipe. To me this recipe tastes like a whipped cream buttercream hybrid. Hope that helps!

  32. You list 3 sticks of butter (12oz), there are 8oz in a stick of butter in the US. Is it 12oz or 24oz total? I’d like to make this frosting today.


    • Hi Leonor, I’m just now seeing this comment! A typical pound of butter in the US comes with 4 sticks to a box. So a stick of butter is 4 ounces, which means 3 sticks would be 12 oz. Hope that helps!

  33. Please disregard my previous comment/question–my mistake, US butter cubes are 4oz.

  34. You’re right, this is the best buttercream frosting! I’m planning to make it for my nephew’s wedding cake and am thinking of substituting 4 oz of high ratio shortening for a cube of butter. Only reason is because it’s going to be very hot at the venue. What do you think?

  35. Aloha. I’d like to ask if this frosting will go well under fondant. Thanks

  36. I rarely write comments, but in this case, I had to!

    Thank you Baker Bettie for this awesome tutorial and recipe! This turned out BEAUTIFULLY. I have struggled with mascarpone frosting (it always separates ) until now. The method is the key – any readers out there thinking about taking a shortcut, please take Baker Bettie’s advice and do not .I personally would like a little more mascarpone flavor, so next time I think I will increase the mascarpone and reduce the butter.

  37. there a lesson to piping, its whole mess for me, please consider the !t of piping. thanks

  38. Can this buttercream be put on a cake that is not going to be refrigerated? Is the sugar enough to preserve the cream?..

  39. i want to make a cake with russian tips will the buttercream be strong enough and make the flower without it messing up or falling apart

    • Hi Elizabeth. I think it will. I used it to pipe a rose and it worked well so I think it should hold in russian tips. I have not tried it though so I can’t be 100% sure.

      • I’m not a baker and this was my first time making frosting. I was nervous but it turned out perfectly! I used an electric hand mixer and followed the advice to whip the butter very well before adding the sugar. I set a timer so I wouldn’t cut it short. 

        I didn’t end up using all of the sugar and added a pinch of salt. I also used half and half because it was what I had on hand. 

        Thank you for the thorough instructions! 

  40. Heavy cream, in the can or whipping cream?

    • Hi Sonja, you want to use heavy cream (as called whipping cream) that comes in a carton and is in liquid form. Not the can of whipped cream that is already whipped. Hope that helps!

  41. How many cups of buttercream frosting will this recipe make. Thanks

  42. Hi, I was just wondering if this frosting would harden in the fridge so much that it is too hard to cut. Every buttercream I make hardens too much.
    Thank you!

  43. Can you put coloring in this frosting without hurting the texture?

  44. Hi there and THANK YOU ! I am so happy to have found someone else that does not like it too sweet and buttery! Do not get me wrong, I love sweet stuff, but have never like icings and super sweet cake toppings, so I am so excited to give this a go. I will admit that I am very new to cake decorating and I will never be fancy, but it would be so nice to be able to make it look pretty as well as tasting nice. I have so far tried 4 different “butter creams” and have failed at each one. Have not been able to pipe anything that kept its shape. Also, I need to find something that will hold a few days at a time, because my husband and I cannot eat a whole cake in a day, so it needs to be able to hold its shape for several days at least. But for now, I will try your recipe and hope it will taste yummy! Thanks so much !

  45. For the last 10 years or so, I buy a 3 layer coconut cake for the holidays but last year I thought it was a little dry. I announced to my family that next year I would bake one myself….what have I done! I called the bakery to ask about their icing and they said it was whipped cream but it’s not like any I have tasted before. I don’t think it’s a stabilized whipped cream either. Upon finding your recipe do you think this is what they used? Would it hold up as a filling? I could use coconut flavoring or almond. I know I don’t want cream cheese, 7-minute or anything heavy. Please give me your thoughts.

    • Hi Kay! I’m not sure without tasting it. This frosting does taste very whipped and yes, it will hold up as a filling. Do you have time to do a test run?

  46. Is this recipe enough to fill and cover a 9×13 cake?

  47. Thank you Bettie for this absolutely amazing frosting recipe!! I exclusively use this on all my cakes. I have friends hooked on to it too. Every time I make it I get rave reviews. Always more compliments for the frosting than the cake and this is the only frosting I’ve ever made that is at my desired level of sweetness. I’ve heard people say that Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the not too sweet alternative to American buttercream, but it was still too sweet for my taste. This is my perfect frosting!! Thank you once again! 

  48. Thank you for the recipe! I was wondering if this buttercream would be able to carry a layer of cake? I would like to make a two thin layered cake with the buttercream showing through in blobs on the bottom layer? Does that make sense?

  49. I want to make a 3 layer 9 inch cake would I triple this reciepe?

  50. Hi there!

    Can you use stencil on this kind of frosting? let’s say i coat a cake with this or is it too soft?

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