Traditional Buttercreme Icing Recipe


  • 8 cups powdered sugar (aka confectioner's sugar)
  • 2 cups real, unsalted butter (softened)
  • 4 Tablespoons whole or 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Icing color paste or powder (DO NOT substitute liquid food coloring)

Step 1

*** You will need a very large bowl. You may want to break this recipe into two batches to make the mixing process easier***

Cream the butter and vanilla together. Use an electric hand mixer on low-to-medium speed.

For the Dirt-Broke, Penny Pinchers or Old-Fashioned folk, you can cream using the tines of a fork. At the end of the 88 years it will take you to make your homemade, true-to-roots icing, your forearms will be screaming for Icy-Hot and Advil. Pro Tip: Buy a hand mixer and get over it.

Step 2

Mix in the powdered sugar ONE CUP AT A TIME making sure the sugar is well blended before adding the next.

Pro Tip: Place your mixing bowl inside the kitchen sink, preferably on a rubber mat . Sugar washes down the sink when you make a mess rather than coating the sponge-stenciled vine accents on the kitchen cabinets that you're so proud of.

Step 3

Beat in the milk. I prefer whole milk in my icings. We fell off the diet wagon when we became elbows deep in confectioner's sugar, yes? In reality, when we googled "butter cream recipe". Truth!

Keep beating until it's light and fluffy! (Or until you pass out from exhaustion because you couldn't find electric hand mixers on sale)

You Did It!

You should have a massive amount of white buttercreme icing.

Pro Tip: Use Tupperware or any plastic container with a properly fitted lid for storage. (Multiple small containers if you are coloring) Keep refrigerated and date-code for 7 days. (The written date will be the last day to use it)

To the Naysayers who are yelling at the computer screen "Buttercreme does NOT need to be kept under refrigeration, Dummy!" I say to you... read the ingredients list again. I understand the confusion, however. A lot of buttercream manufacturers use shortening which does not need to be kept under 40 degrees farenheit (i.e... in your fridge) In this traditional recipe, we use perishable butter and milk.

Now, to make your icing colorful.....


  • With your store-bought icing pastes or powders, (Again, NO liquid food coloring) dip a toothpick into the color.
  • Then,swirl the toothpick around in a small container of buttercream.
  • If you would like to add more color, get a NEW toothpick to dip into the color jar. Buttercreme in the icing jar is like rain on a great hair day...ruins it.
  • Cover each container as soon as possible when you are not immediately using it so it does not dry out or lose color. Put in refrigerator asap.

Pro Tip: Buy each specific color in its own jar. It is difficult to mix colors in the correct portions, especially for beginners. For example, iff you want "Christmas Red" AND "Brick Red"... buy a jar of each.


Butter-creme versus Butter-cream---tomato; tomahtoe

(Image credit to

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