Simple Buttercream Frosting

This is the frosting, or cake icing, that I grew up on. While it isn’t a true buttercream it is delicious in my book and what I think of when making a cake.

Simple Buttercream Frosting
Servings: 1 2-layer cake or 12 cupcakes with a bit leftover
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes


  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk or cream


  1. Add butter to the bowl of stand mixer. Beat, on medium-high, for 2-3 minutes until lightened in color.
  2. Reduce speed to lowest setting and add 1/3 of the sugar plus the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. Allow to combine before adding the next 1/3 of sugar and another tablespoon of milk.
  3. Add the remaining sugar and allow to combine. If it looks too dry then add a bit more milk.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, a bit at a time, and beat for 5 minutes. Frosting should increase in volume.

You can replace the milk/cream with another liquid. Orange juice makes a nicely flavored frosting. If you are using fresh squeezed OJ then zest the orange before squeezing and add the zest to the frosting before the final beating.

Want chocolate frosting?  Add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the first third of the sugar and follow the remainder of the recipe.

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