Basic Buttercream Frosting

How to make frosting
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Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Whipping: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 2 Tablespoons
Yields: 6 Cups

To get the best of both worlds, this frosting recipe uses both butter and an emulsified vegetable shortening like Crisco. By combining two parts butter and one part shortening, you get the classic mouthfeel and flavor of butter, with a more temperature-stable frosting, thanks to the shortening.

This simple buttercream recipe is made by creaming the fat and sugar together and then adding egg whites for a bit of lightness. Your best bet is to use liquid pasteurized egg whites that you buy at the store, in the dairy case. 

The recipe will make about 6 cups of frosting, which is enough to frost one round 10-inch or 12-inch two-layer cake. If you're frosting cupcakes, this recipe is enough for about 48 cupcakes, assuming about two tablespoons of frosting per cupcake. If you'll be piping the frosting on in a tall swirl, you should probably figure 24 cupcakes instead.


  • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound vegetable shortening
  • 2 pounds confectioner's sugar
  • 2 ounces egg white (or the whites of two large eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine the butter, shortening, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on slow speed, cream the ingredients together until they are fully mixed.

  3. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and lemon juice (if using) while beating at slow speed until the frosting is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula. Use frosting immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe Variations

  • You can add a few drops of food coloring during the final step if you want a colored frosting. Less is more with food coloring. Start with just a drop or two and then add a drop at a time until you achieve the desired color.

  • To make chocolate buttercream frosting, melt ½ lb. unsweetened chocolate and let it cool. Then, during step 2 of this recipe, slowly pour the melted chocolate into the frosting. If needed, you can thin the frosting out with a little bit of milk or cream to achieve the right consistency.