American Buttercream (ABC)

Confident Level

2/27/20245 min read

person holding white ice cream cone with brown and white round cake
person holding white ice cream cone with brown and white round cake

Confident Levelled Recipe - Safely works with unpasteurized Ingredients such as eggs and flour!

Ah, yes! The famous American Buttercream, also known as ABC. This lovely buttercream that is arguably the most used buttercream due to it's simplicity to make and the sweet touch it brings to your bakes.

This recipe makes approximately 6 cups of buttercream which is enough for about 24 cupcakes and a 3 layer 6 inch cake (depending on the complexity of the design).


  • 2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 7 cups powdered sugar (a 2lb bag)

  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream


  • Use the whisk attachment on your mixer.

  • Whip the butter on medium speed of your mixer for 1 minute until smooth and fluffy.
    *You may note that the color may begin to lighten up the more it whips which is lovely*

  • Add in the vanilla extract and salt, continuing to mix for another minute.
    *Adding a bit of liquid will help mix things up in the next step!*

  • Incorporate your powdered sugar slowly, 1 cup at a time.
    * I add about 1 cup at a time - I stop the mixer to do so, then I gradually increase the speed of the mixer to avoid the powdered sugar to go over where!*

  • Once the powdered sugar has been incorporated and is now a homogeneous mixer, add one tablespoon at a time for the heavy whipping cream until you reach your desired consistency! Then continuously mix for 3 minutes.
    *Personally, I like to add all 4 tablespoons as that is the texture that facilitates the spreading, piping and scraping of the buttercream as I work*

  • To remove the excess air from your buttercream, put the paddle attachment on the mixer and on one of the lowest settings, keep mixing the buttercream for another 10-15 minutes. You can also do this by hand with a spatula by simply moving the spatula side to side through the buttercream.

  • Use on your bake!
    *TIP: If you are not using your buttercream in that moment or are only using one fraction of the buttercream because you split it, cover the container or bowl with a moist paper towel to help avoid the buttercream from crusting!*


  • Achieving White Buttercream - these are my top 3 ways to achieve white buttercream:
    1) Mixing - Most butters are of a yellow tint, depending on the brand some are more yellow than others. Thus, to lighten the color up naturally, when you begin making this buttercream, whip the butter with the whisk for additional time. As time progresses, you will note that the butter not only gets fluffier but also much lighter in color.
    2) Adding Purple - This one may blow your mind. Do this trick once you are done making your batch of buttercream - so at the end of the recipe. With a toothpick, add the slightest amount of purple food coloring (my personal favorite type of food coloring is Gel base). Mix this up and voila!
    Why does this work? No it's not that your eyes are tricking you, it's based on the color wheel and yellow and purple being opposite colors. Hence, almost cancelling each other out if that makes sense.
    *A little goes a long way!! Do not add too much as then you will get, well, purple food coloring!*
    3) Adding white - Specific brands sell white, opaque, food coloring to help you reach that pristine white color. Depending on your buttercream, add little by little until you get the white that you're looking for

  • Vibrant colors -
    1) As with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, one of my top ways to do so is to:
    remove about 1/4th cup of the total buttercream batch and add your coloring, mix and heat in 5 second intervals in the microwave to a maximum time of 15 seconds (if needed). It will liquify but you will notice the color is more vibrant! Add this bold colored buttercream liquid to the rest of your buttercream.
    *You NEED to remember that if you are splitting the whole batch of buttercream into smaller colors and use the above technique, you will need to heat less than the 1/4th described above. Think about it as a ratio - ONLY heat up at maximum 1/5th of the amount you plan on coloring to ensure that once you add that vibrant heated amount, it will not melt the rest of your buttercream!
    Ex. If I split my Buttercream in 4 colors, I would grab one of those quantities (1/4th of my batter) and heat up at most 1/5 of that 1/4th! Then repeat if need be*
    2) Use quality products - but don't also spend an arm and a leg as it's much easier to color compared to other buttercreams, such as SMBC. I have noted that gel food coloring and certain brands work better than others to reach these gorgeous colors! The good news is, at least American Buttercream is SO MUCH EASIER to color due to having more dry ingredients in it!


  • Play around with flavouring by replacing the 1 & 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract with another extract.

  • Powdered flavouring is an incredible option! Think of Freeze dried & powdered Fruits, chocolate powder, cookies blended and in a powder etc. The quantity depends on the boldness of flavour but be mindful of adding too much as it can change the consistency so start with 1/4th of a cup!

  • Thick pastes like Nutella, Cookie Butter, Nut Butter, ganaches etc. work well too as they do not introduce too much additional liquid. The quantity depends on the boldness of flavour but be mindful of adding too much as it can change the consistency so start with 1/4th of a cup!

  • Fresh Fruit, Jams, Curds are a bit tricky as they do contain more liquid than the previous suggestions. Remember, a little goes a long way. I would love to suggest quantities to start with but it all really depends on how runny these options are.
    *What Baci would do instead: Use these lovely textures and flavours as cake fillings! Carefully add buttercream lightly on the surfaces of your cake where the filling would be placed, and create a wall of butter cream on your bottom layer. This will prevent the cake from spilling these contents and make it impossible to coat the cake! It has occurred to me!*
    *When working with fresh fruit, I like to remove additional liquid by chopping them up into small pieces/cubes and taking a paper towel to squeeze them slightly!*


  • With any buttercream, it is important to keep refrigerated unless either using it or consuming it to ensure that it does not either spoil or melt (as it is butter based).
    *If you are ready to consume the cake, take it out of the fridge and allow the cake to come down to room temperature for 30-60minutes. This way, the texture of the cake will most resemble a fluffy, fresh one!*

  • To store the buttercream itself, in case you had extra, place the buttercream in an airtight container and place it into the fridge where it would last approximately 2 weeks. For a longer shelf life, place the buttercream in an airtight container and place into the freezer for up to 6 months!
    *To revive the buttercream after it's stay in the cold fridge/freezer, first bring the buttercream down to room temperature and mix it on low until smooth. The fridge nay have removed some of the moisture from the buttercream so do not be alarmed if you need to add a bit of cream*