Orange Buttercream Frosting

Orange Frosting on Butternut Squash Cupcakes
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 delicious on vanilla, chocolate, 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.

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of frosting (8 (2.5-ounce) 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)
  • Optional: orange food coloring

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 leftovers, covered, for up to one month.

American Buttercream vs. European Buttercream

Europeans turn up their noses at American buttercream frosting—a simple combination of butter (or shortening and imitation butter flavoring) and confectioners' sugar.

European buttercreams are typically made without confectioners' sugar and include egg whites or whole eggs. The most popular of these are Swiss, Italian, and French buttercreams.

The Swiss version has a granulated sugar and egg white base that is fully cooked over a water bath and then whipped into a fluffy meringue that is enriched with lots and lots of butter. The sugar dissolves with the heat and there is no graininess that is often found in some American buttercreams.

Italian buttercream uses egg whites and French buttercream use a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks that are cooked to the soft-ball stage, so pasteurized eggs are used.

In defense of American buttercreams, they are made without eggs, which is a boon for those with egg allergies, and are quick and easy to prepare.

More American Buttercreams You Might Like

There's a lot to be said in favor of American buttercreams. They take well to a myriad of flavors and, in their most basic form, can be prepared at the last minute. Try some of these combinations.

Fluffy caramel cream cheese frosting uses a combination of butter and cream cheese for the fat, and bottled caramel sauce and confectioners' sugar for sweetness.

Melted unsweetened chocolate and milk are what give this chocolate American buttercream frosting its flavor.

Fluffy cocoa frosting features a mixture of flour and milk that is cooked, cooled, and added to cocoa powder, butter, and sugar for thickness. 

Not a traditional American buttercream, this easy penuche frosting has a fudgy consistency and is cooked on the stovetop for just a few minutes. Brown sugar in conjunction with confectioners' sugar gives it a caramel color.