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American Buttercream Frosting

American Buttercream is a simple yet delicious frosting. A hint of milk and a drizzle of corn syrup make this buttercream frosting especially luscious and smooth.

A frosted cake on a cake stand

What is American Buttercream frosting and how is it different than other buttercreams?

In all honesty I will tell you that this is not my favorite buttercream icing. My favorite is marshmallowy Italian Meringue Buttercream, with creamy Ermine Frosting coming in a close second.

But I will also tell you what I learned after 10 years owning a specialty cake business – many folks find meringue buttercream too buttery and not sweet enough. When they say “buttercream”, they mean American Buttercream.

If you’re making a cake for a child’s birthday party, this is probably the icing you want to make. Not only is it a kiddy favorite, it is pretty much the easiest icing to make.

Most recipes for American Buttercream use twice the weight of sugar to fat. I use a slightly lower ratio to tame the sweetness a bit. I also use a whopping 2 tablespoons of vanilla in the recipe to balance out the sweetness.

Another slightly unusual ingredient in this recipe is the corn syrup. Along with the milk, the corn syrup adds moisture to help dissolve the sugar. Corn syrup also makes the icing more glossy and luscious. You can leave the corn syrup out if you don’t have it on hand.

You can increase the sugar by up to a cup if you want a sweeter flavor or if you are looking for a “crusting” buttercream.

Tips for making light and fluffy American Buttercream Frosting:

  • Always start your buttercream with room temperature butter. Cold butter won’t incorporate enough air and warm butter will become greasy.
  • Add a little milk for moisture. The water in the milk will help dissolve the sugar without diluting the flavor.
  • Add a generous 2 tablespoons of vanilla for a bold vanilla flavor.
  • Scrape the beater and bowl to eliminate any lumps of butter.
  • Once the butter and sugar are well-combined, switch to the whisk to get a super-fluffy buttercream
  • A little corn syrup adds a beautiful sheen and luscious texture to the frosting.
  • Add a little salt to tame sweetness and balance the flavor.
  • American Buttercream can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days.
  • Shortening can replace some or all of the butter in the frosting. For a shelf stable and heat resistant buttercream, use all shortening.
  • American Buttercream can be frozen. Wrap it two layers of plastic so the buttercream doesn’t pick up any off flavors.
  • Previously refrigerated or frozen buttercream should be brought back to room temperature and whipped again before using.

Scroll through the step by step process photos to see exactly how to make American Buttercream Frosting:

a mixer bowl full of butter
Start with room temperature butter (65° -70°F). Soften the butter with the paddle or beater attachment.
a mixer bowl filled with butter and sugar
Add the powdered sugar with the beater attachment until combined. Mix for a few minutes to begin aerating.
a mixer bowl with unwhipped american buttercream frosting
Scrape down the bowl and switch to the whisk.
a closeup shot of a bowl full of american buttercream
Whip the buttercream until light and fluffy. Use right away to fill and frost your favorite layer cake.

This is the perfect finish for any of your favorite cake recipes. It’s a classic filling and frosting for old-fashioned Vanilla Buttermilk Cake or Vanilla Butter Cake. It’s also great with Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake or Chocolate Butter Cake.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a vanilla cake with a scoop of vanilla buttercream

American Buttercream

Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Simple yet delicious buttercream. A hint of milk and corn syrup gives this buttercream a lusciousness and eliminates any gritty texture.


  • 3 sticks (12 oz, 336g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (20 oz, 560g) confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (3 oz, 84g) light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp table salt


  1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, Use the paddle or beater to beat the butter on medium speed until it is softened and smooth.
  2. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the sugar and mix until completely combined. Run the mixer on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Switch to the whisk attachment. On low speed, whisk in the vanilla, milk, corn syrup and salt.
  4. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Use right away. Can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Did you make this recipe?

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Friday 17th of February 2023

Thank you for this recipe. I have been wondering how to make American Buttercream have a sheen. If I add more sugar to make the buttercream crust, will it still have a sheen? Also, does the corn syrup make it less stable? Thanks.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 18th of February 2023

I think if the buttercream crusts it will have a more matte finish. The corn syrup does not make it less stable.


Thursday 22nd of December 2022

Does the corn syrup help it to harden? I'm searching for the flavour or buttercream, but something that will harden a bit for gingerbread cookies. Thanks!

Eileen Gray

Thursday 22nd of December 2022

No, it makes it softer.


Friday 11th of December 2020

Can you just double or triple this recipe for larger quantities?

Eileen Gray

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Yes. You can make as much as your mixer can hold.

joanna walker

Sunday 6th of December 2020

If I ice a cake with American buttercream will I need to refrigerate it? Can I add other flavours or some melted chocolate?

Eileen Gray

Sunday 6th of December 2020

American Buttercream can be left at room temperature. Yes, you can add melted chocolate or cocoa as I do in this recipe for Old Fashioned Chocolate frosting.


Tuesday 29th of September 2020

Hello. I followed exactly the instructions, I measured everything but the buttercream is grainy and soupy. I don't know what went wrong. I let it in fridge now and I will try to beat it again in a few minutes. Could you please help me?


Sunday 8th of November 2020

Great recipe! I will definitely use again , I didnt have corn syrup but used a mixture of sugar and warm water instead! I filled and iced my nephews cake with this and it went down a treat! How best to store this and how long does this buttercream keep

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 29th of September 2020

I can't say what happened for sure. If you followed the instructions exactly and used the same ingredients as listed the recipe should work.

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