Orange Buttercream Frosting

Orange frosting on butternut squash cupcakes

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
296 Calories
12g Fat
50g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 296
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This tasty orange frosting is considered an American buttercream and is very versatile. Try it on your basic vanilla or chocolate cake cupcakes. But its zippy citrus taste, which comes from both orange zest and extract, is also a nice complement to carrot or spiced cakes and cupcakes. It's delicious on butternut squash cupcakes, and its light orange color makes it ideal for Halloween and fall festivities.

Buttercream comes together quickly and is easy to make if you have a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Just make sure your butter has softened enough to easily whip. If you would like, you can add food coloring to make it look orange.

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of frosting (or 8 servings), enough for a 2-layer cake or about 24 cupcakes. 


  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice, fresh
  • Orange food coloring, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine the butter, 3 cups of confectioners' sugar, and vanilla and orange extracts until well blended.

  3. Add the orange zest and 3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice. Beat until smooth and creamy.

  4. Add more confectioners' sugar or orange juice, as needed, for spreading or piping consistency. Beat in a few drops of orange food coloring, if desired.

  5. Use to frost a cake or cupcakes. Refrigerate leftover frosting, covered, for up to one month.

What Are the 4 Types of Buttercream?

American buttercream—of which this recipe is a variation—is a combination of butter and confectioners' sugar. European buttercreams are typically made without confectioners' sugar and include egg whites or whole eggs. The most popular are Swiss, Italian, and French buttercreams.

  • Swiss: Made from an egg white base that's fully cooked over a water bath and then whipped into a fluffy meringue enriched with lots of butter. Granulated sugar is added and dissolves with the heat—no graininess remains.
  • Italian buttercream: A boiling hot sugar syrup is whisked into egg whites to form a meringue.
  • French buttercream: Similar to Italian buttercream but uses whole eggs and egg yolks instead of egg whites.


If you like to work with buttercream, here are some other options you might find delicious to experiment with: