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Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream
Alternative namesButter Icing
TypeIcing or filling
Main ingredientsFats (usually butter; sometimes lard or margarine), powdered sugar

Buttercream, also referred to as butter icing or butter frosting, is used for either filling, coating or decorating cakes. The main ingredients are butter and some type of sugar.

Buttercream is commonly flavored with vanilla. Other common flavors are chocolate, fruits, and other liquid extracts. Food coloring is commonly added if the buttercream is being used as decoration. Buttercream can be piped or spread in decorative patterns and shapes.


Mock cream or buttercream

Mock cream or buttercream is a simple buttercream made by creaming together butter and powdered sugar to the desired consistency and lightness. Some or all of the butter can be replaced with margarine, or shortening.[1][2] A small amount of milk or cream is added to adjust the texture. Usually twice as much sugar as butter by weight is used. Some recipes also call for powdered milk or meringue powder.

Compared to other types of buttercream, American buttercream has fewer ingredients, and is quicker and easier to make.[3] It is also sweeter because of the high amount of sugar.[3] Because it does not have an egg or cooked base, it is more stable and melts less easily in warm temperatures.[1]

Meringue-based buttercream

A layered pound cake with an outermost layer of uncolored buttercream.

Meringue buttercream is made by beating softened butter with either Italian or Swiss meringue until the mixture is emulsified and light.[1][4] The meringue must be cooled to room temperature in order not to melt the butter (which has a variable melting point below 35 °C (95 °F)[5] as it is subsequently beaten in.

The meringue gives buttercream a structure that is more stable in warm temperatures.[1]

Swiss meringue buttercream

Swiss meringue is made by heating granulated sugar and egg whites until the sugar dissolves, then whipping it until it forms a meringue. The meringue is then whipped with butter and flavorings.

Italian meringue buttercream

Italian meringue is made by drizzling a hot sugar syrup into already whipped egg whites while continuing to whip.[6] The meringue is then whipped with butter and flavorings.

Other varieties

Ermine frosting (flour buttercream)

Ermine frosting is also known as boiled milk frosting or cooked flour frosting. It is made by cooking flour and milk until it becomes a thick paste or roux.[7] The cooked milk mixture is then beaten with butter until light.

Ermine frosting is considered to be old-fashioned, and is less common than other types of buttercream. It is less sweet and has a texture similar to whipped cream.[7][8] Traditionally, ermine frosting was used to frost red velvet cake.[8]

French buttercream

French buttercream (also known as pâte à bombe-based buttercream or common buttercream) is made with whipped egg yolks.[9][10]

German buttercream

Custard-based buttercream, also known as German buttercream or crème mousseline,[11] is prepared by beating together pastry cream and softened butter, and may be additionally sweetened with extra confectioners' sugar.[1][12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Jones, Nila (2014-12-12). "The World of Buttercreams: 6 Varieties to Try at Home". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  2. ^ Jones, Nila (2014-12-12). "Classic American Buttercream Recipe". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  3. ^ a b "Rethinking American Buttercream: Still Quick and Easy, Just Better". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  4. ^ Geiger, Brian. "The Buttercream Nemesis". FineCooking. Archived from the original on 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  5. ^ Cheung, Jessica (2003). Elert, Glenn (ed.). "Melting point of butter". The Physics Factbook. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  6. ^ "What's the Difference Between French, Swiss, and Italian Meringues?". Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  7. ^ a b "Ermine Icing (Cooked Flour Frosting) | King Arthur Baking". Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  8. ^ a b "Flour Frosting: The Not-Too-Sweet Buttercream for Whipped-Cream Lovers". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  9. ^ Parks, Stella (2012-02-15). "French Buttercream Frosting Recipe". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  10. ^ Gordon, Megan (2010-09-29). "French Buttercream: What's the Difference?". Kitchn. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  11. ^ Razon, Kristina (2021-04-01). "Paris–Brest (Pâte à Choux With Praline Crème Mousseline) Recipe". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  12. ^ Jones, Nila (2014-12-12). "German Buttercream Recipe". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2018-04-18.