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Baking 101: Types of Buttercream

Updated on January 14, 2018
Ralph Castro profile image

I love baking. I just learned baking through watching some YouTube videos. I recreate the recipes and add some twists on it.

What is Buttercream?

It is a type of icing or filling you put inside a cake, cupcake or between two cookies. It can be used as a coating or decoration in your pastries. In its simplest form, it is made by combining butter and cream until it became fluffy and pale in color. Colorings and flavorings are usually added to give variety in the frosting. It is also the most common topping for cupcakes, cakes and other desserts.

Types of Buttercream

There are so many types of buttercream. It is named base on what country it originated. So you can easily recall the naming and recipe.

American Buttercream

It is the simplest buttercream. It is made by creaming the butter or any fats (margarine or vegetable oil shortening) and powdered sugar until desired consistency and lightness is achieved. Flavorings may also be added such as extracts and oils. To make it more creamy, some recipes add non-fat milk or meringue powder.


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 to 2 tbsp milk(to make it creamier)

Italian Meringue Buttercream

It is one of the meringue based buttercream. Since it is made with Italian Meringue, it is a lot lighter in color than most butter creams. It is prepared by adding sugar syrup, sugar and water heated together to soft-ball stage(118 C/ 244 F), and whipped egg whites together. The egg whites are cooked by the heat of the sugar syrup. The syrup and egg mixture is whipped and cool until it reaches room temperature. After the meringue is prepared, butter and flavorings are added.


400g granulated sugar

½ cup water

8 large egg white

1 pound unsalted buttre, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

It is a creamy, velvety and delicious buttercream. Like the Italian Meringue Buttercream, it is a meringue based buttercream. In Swiss meringue, the egg whites and sugar are cooked while whisking until the temperature reaches 60 C or 140 F or until there are no granules when you feel the mixture. The mixture is then removed from heat and whipped at high speed until it forms stiff peaks. From here, after the mixture cooled down, the butter and the flavorings are added.


4 egg whites

1 ½ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into tablespoons

1 tsp vanilla extract

French Buttercream

It is similar to Italian meringue buttercream, but instead of egg whites, egg yolks are used. The sugar syrup and egg yolks are whipped until it became light and foamy. When cooled, butter and flavorings such as extracts and oils are added. The icing is rich, smooth and very light. It melts faster than other butter creams due to the fat contents of both egg yolk and butter. This is most suited as filling or icing but not for decorating.


½ cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp water

4 egg yolks

1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

German Buttercream

It is a custard based buttercream. It is prepared by beating a custard called pastry cream and softened butter. You can also add confectioners sugar to add sweetness. It is very rich and smooth also like French buttercream. It is best for filling and icing and not for decorating.


¾ cup whole milk

½ cup granulated sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 tbsp constarch

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed

Ermine or Butter Roux Buttercream

It is one of the traditional topping for red velvet. It is also an old fashioned icing called boiled milk icing. It is creamy and light icing. It is made by heating milk and flour together until it became paste. When cooled, the creamed sugar and butter is added. You can also add flavorings like extracts, oil or juices. This frosting is less sweeter than the rest of the buttercream. But I assure you it is not less delicious than other.


5 tbsps flour

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

Which is your most favorite buttercream?

See results

For Your Information!

Most of these butter creams can be left a room temperature without melting. Putting the buttercream in the refrigerator may make the buttercream to harden and may cause cracking. The frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. When frosting a cake, it is best to work when the buttercream is soft and spreadable. Also cool the cake first before frosting so that you can avoid crumbling.


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