How to Make Firm Buttercream

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We all Scream for Buttercream!

We all love a delicious and moist cake with a smooth and buttery buttercream to top it off. It’s even better when you can combine that same taste with a more firm texture.

When I first started out making buttercream, I tried several recipes and after a little trial and error, I found several important key factors for making firm buttercream without the excessive sweet tase.

vanilla buttercream

That’s when I decided combine all of the good aspects of each recipe with my very own spin on Buttercream. The steps that I came up with for this buttercream recipe are very simple and can be made in just 15 minutes.

As a cake decorator, I believe that its best to dibble and dabble in different recipes because it helps you to find what works and what doesn’t. Its also best to know these important factors for making firm buttercream in order to help preserve the cake for a longer shelf life.

So let’s get started!

Supplies needed:

For the American Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks of Salted Butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup of Shortening
  • 1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 tablespoons of Heavy whipping cream
  • 1lb of powdered sugar

For the Swiss Buttercream:

  • 3 sticks of Salted Butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 ounces of Pasteurized liquid Egg Whites (in a carton)
  • 1 lb of Powdered Sugar

(One batch is enough to fill and ice a 10 inch cake)

Step 1: Making American Buttercream

First, you’re going to start with the American Buttercream, which consist of creaming together the 2 sticks of  salted butter, 1/4 cup of shortening. Throughout this process, you’d want to scrape the sides of the bowl in order to not have any clumps in your buttercream.

Continue mixing the butter and shortening together for at least 5 minutes until the mixture has turned white. Next you’ll want to add in the 1 tsp of vanilla extract and mix until it’s fully combined. Last but not least, you’re going to add 1 pound of  powdered sugar to the mixture.

american buttercream

I recommend adding a little at a time, very slowly, in order to prevent a sugar cloud. One tool that I absolutely have use when it comes to preventing the powdered sugar from exploding everywhere is the Pouring Shield for the KitchenAid.

adding powder sugar to buttercream

That thang is amazing! Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, it’s best to turn the mixer on high speed in order to fully combine the buttercream.

mixed buttercream

If the consistency is too stiff, you can always add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream, at a time, to lower the thickness of the buttercream. But on the flip side of that, I highly recommend retaining some of it’s thickness because you’ll be adding more to it.


Step 2: Mixing together the Swiss Buttercream

As for the second step, we’ll be making the Swiss Buttercream. I know this may sound very odd, but I can promise you that this will turn out great because it has worked for me several times.

egg whites for swiss buttercream

So what you’re going to do now, starting with a clean bowl, is add 4 ounces of egg whites and 1 pound of powdered sugar to the bowl and mix them together on low for 5 minutes.

adding powder sugar to egg whites

Please know that once the egg whites and powdered sugar have been mixed together, that it will have a thick texture. This is a great sign that you’re on the right track and on your way to making some awesome and firm buttercream!

mixing egg whites and powder sugar

After the mixture has mixed for at least 5 minutes, next you’ll add in 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract.

adding vanilla extract to swiss buttercream

Once the vanilla extract has completely mixed with the egg whites and powdered sugar, add the slices of butter in on low speed, one piece at a time making sure each stick is well blended before adding the next one.

adding butter to swiss buttercream

After adding all of the butter to the mixture, allow the mixture to mix on a high speed for at least 10 minutes.

butter fully added to swiss buttercream

Please know that the mixture will look runny after all of the Butter has been added, but once it’s been mixed on high for 10 minutes it will form a thick and creamy consistency of buttercream.

mixed swiss buttercream frosting


Step 3: Combining the two…..

This step in the process is my absolute favorite!  In this step we will combine both Buttercream’s together! I know this sounds a bit crazy, like why would you mix Swiss buttercream with American buttercream?

combine swiss and american

But here’s why, it gives you that buttery taste of Swiss Buttercream, while providing that firm texture of American Buttercream at the same time.

firm vanilla frosting

I’ve used this buttercream on several birthday cakes and as wedding cake frosting and I have had so much success with it. It’s also great for piping flowers and has held up pretty well in hot and humid temperatures.

wedding cupcakes

As proof, I used this recipe on a Wedding back in April 2018. It was an outdoor wedding and I set the cake up at the venue an hour before the ceremony, and it wasn’t eaten until 3 hours later at the reception. I was so excited because not only did everyone love the cake, but it held together very well the entire time.

wedding cake with buttercream
A Wedding Cake that I made using this Buttercream Recipe.

Let’s Try It!

I hope you all will try this recipe because you will not be disappointed. You’re practically getting the best or both worlds with this delicious and firm buttercream. You can also add gel food coloring and different flavorings such as lemon, strawberry, and etc to it or unsweetened cocoa to make Chocolate Buttercream.

I love how it is very versatile and delicious at the same time. So the next time you make a cake or cupcakes, try this recipe. I can guarantee that this will turn out to be a success for you.


Buttercream FAQs:

How long can this buttercream be stored in the refrigerator?

Buttercream frosting/icing can be stored in the refrigerator for a up to 10 days.

How to soften buttercream?

There’s two things that you can do to soften this buttercream. You can either leave it out on the counter for 30-45 minutes, or re-beat the buttercream on high in order to fluff it up. Usually, I will beat the buttercream once again just to avoid any curdling from the Swiss being mixed it.

How long can you leave a cake covered in buttercream out?

You can leave a cake covered in this buttercream out for up to 3-5 hours.

Should I refrigerate a cake covered in buttercream?

In regards to this recipe, I recommend refrigerating a cake after 3-5 hours. As I mentioned earlier, that wedding cake sat out for up to 4 hours and tasted fantastic. 

How does it hold up under fondant?

This buttercream is perfect for fondant. I recommend letting your cake sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes after its been crumb coated because it will create a firm surface for the fondant.

Can this buttercream be frozen?

Yes, however I suggest freezing it in an air tight container or bag to prevent any changes in the taste. When it comes to using it, I also suggest letting it thaw out for 2 hours in the refrigerator and then beat it once again so that it is thick and fluffy as the first time you made it. Please note that this must be used 2-3 days after its been thawed out.

Is it Safe to eat raw eggs and do I have to use egg whites in a carton?

In this recipe I used pasteurized eggs for food safety purposes. Pasteurized eggs are safe to use because they have already been heated to kill off any bad bacteria, making it safe to consume raw egg whites. If pasteurized egg whites in a carton are hard to find, you can also purchase pasteurized whole eggs and just take out the egg yolks yourself.

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45 thoughts on “How to Make Firm Buttercream

  1. WOW! this sounds absolutely awesome will defo try it, and makes complete sense too. thanks so much for sharing your recipe and love your site x

    1. Thank you so much for the comment and the compliments on my website! This recipe literally was something that I experimented with and surprisingly it came out pretty well. I use it all the time, whenever anyone asks to have buttercream as their frosting. I hope to hear how it comes out for you! Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Hey! It makes enough to fill and ice a 10 inch cake. So sorry for leaving that out of the post. I will update that information in there. Thanks for asking this question!

    1. To make a larger amount, you can double the ingredients. Since the recipe says 4 ounces of egg whites use 8 ounces instead to make a larger amount and as for the American style buttercream you can add 4 sticks of butter instead of two and just continue to double each ingredient. I hope this makes sense for you, I know some times I when I’m explaining things they may sound a little crazy but please feel free to ask me anything you want. Thanks for the comment as well!

      1. I’m from Italy and I’m not sure about what ‘shortening’ is. Cannot find a proper translation so I don’t know what to look for in stores! Can you please try to explain to me what it is, or eventually find a substitution? Sorry if this sounds odd to you, but I would definitely love to try this recipe!!

        1. Hey Laura! The type of shortening that I use is the All Vegetable Shortening, it is basically vegetable oil in a solid state or form. If you have any other questions, please feel free to comment again. Thanks for the comment as well!

    1. So sorry for that typo, its definitely 1 lb of powdered sugar lol. I hope that it comes out well for you. Thanks for the comment as well!

      1. Yes, I beat both of them together using a mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment. Please feel free to reach out to me again if you have any other questions. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s safe to use pasteurized egg whites in your buttercream. They’ve actually been pre-cooked to kill off any bad bacteria so that it would be safe to eat raw.

    1. You can try adding 8 ounces of cream cheese to the American Buttercream and continue to out the recipe the same exact way and that should give you a cream cheese version of this. Let me know how this works for you. I’m definitely going to try this myself, I bet this would be good! Thanks for the idea!

  2. Have you tried this recipe using Russian tips? I’m having a terrible time with the shapes looking like blobs instead of flowers.

    1. Yes, i have actually tried the Russian tips with this buttercream recipe. It sounds like the frosting might have been a little too soft.You can try adding an additional cup of powdered sugar to your frosting to stiffen it up a little more. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I will definitely be making a post on how to use this buttercream with Russian Piping tips.

  3. Hi Sharon, I love this recipe. I’ve tried so many, since I live in Florida and it’s mostly humid and warm. How long can this buttercream be stored in the fridge? Thank you, and have a happy baking!. 🙂

  4. Hi Sharron, never mind my question. I just read the whole recipe with the notes, and at the end it says 10 days. thank you for this recipe. Definitely will try.

    1. Hey Coralin! That’s so awesome! I so happy that you love the recipe! If you have any other questions please feel free to reach out to me. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Are the sticks of butter the standard 1/2 cup measurement each? I sometimes see sticks in different sizes, so I wanted to be sure.

  6. This sounds perfect for a wedding cake I’m making. I did notice that the picture of ingredients shows margarine rather than butter…did you use butter or margarine?

    1. It’s actually Margarine so sorry for that. I updated the post with that so now you should set and ready to go. Thank you so much for your awesome feedback! 🙂

      1. Yes, you can use coloring with this buttercream. But do not use too much because it can alter the taste. If you are trying to get a very dark color, try using coloring powders. Thanks for the comment!

  7. I may try this on my Son,s two wedding cakes & 150 cupcakes!! I just tried a crusting Buttercream, it was soooo
    sickening sweet, could not make flowers, they fell!! But this sounds great!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  8. Your recipe looks delicious! I’m curious about why you use margarine and not butter. Is there a specific reason? I prefer butter to margarine and hope that I can use it instead, but want to make sure it will perform as well as the margarine. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the compliment and comment! I’m sure you can use butter for this recipe as well. I will post a update for this recipe using butter so that you can have some sort of guidance as well. 🙂

  9. Could you use Wilton merengue powder instead of the pasteurized egg whites? how much? This sounds like a really good frosting!

    1. I’m not sure, I will try using Meringue Powder next time and i will post a update with using it in the buttercream. Thank you so much for this feedback!

  10. Hello – I love the thought of this to lower the sweetness – however I did not like the strong buttery taste.. I think that I would try to lower the butter just a bit..

    1. Hey! So glad you loved the buttercream, you can actually lower the amount of butter to see if that would lower the buttery taste. Thank you for the comment!

  11. Wonderful. I made this cake for my son’s wedding. They had been dating 7 years, and I found a cake top that said, ‘FINALLY’ The bride loved it.

  12. Sharon, Have you tried icing your cake with this recipe then freezing? Please send me any recommendations or process for doing so.

  13. Good info and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is really the best place to ask but do you folks have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thx 🙂

  14. Sharron, I made this recipe for the first time today and will DEFINITELY be making it again! It is everything you said it was,including the extra work….but so worth it! Great texture and taste! I only used 3 sticks of butter for the Swiss Style and added butter flavoring along with vanilla. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us!

  15. LOVE this recipe. It is my new favorite! I used maple extract in place of the vanilla and it was amazing. However I have a question. I followed the recipe to a “T’ but it came out pretty soft and somewhat melted. I am hoping to use for a wedding cake I am doing soon. Any thoughts or tips on how to firm it up but also at the same time keep it’s sweetness down? DO you think the addition of gelatin might work.

    Thanks so much

  16. hello Sharron! I am doing a wedding cake this weekend. It will be a 3 tier, 10, 8 & 6″
    first….how much of the total recipe will I need? and second, I am making fondant/sugarpaste ruffle flowers for the bottom tier. will it stick to this kind of frosting?

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