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Frosting Recipes: Buttercream, Peanut Butter, and More!

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Frosting Recipes

How to Make Frosting / Icing

Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the cake that we forget about frosting or icing it. In a panic, we run to our cupboards and laptops, trying to find something. Learning how to make frosting and finding the right recipe are challenging tasks for the inexperienced baker. In truth, frosting recipes are a dime a dozen and most perform poorly on the cake due to lack of proper recipe testing. This article, however, contains simple, tried and true recipes for the most popular frosting flavors. They've passed muster in my own kitchen and they'll pass muster in yours.

Frosting Best Practices...

Frosting / Icing Tips

  • Start with room temperature butter. Always.
  • If you have extra frosting, freeze it and use within two months.
  • Don't try to ice baked goods until they've completely cooled.
  • A pinch of baking soda keeps frosting from drying and cracking.
  • Use real, full-fat butter. Don't cheat with margarine. It will affect the quality.
  • Use the exact type of sugar recommended for the recipe.
  • Don't stint on the quality of the vanilla extract. As any baker will tell you, it matters!


The sour acidity of lemon pairs perfectly with sugar.

The sour acidity of lemon pairs perfectly with sugar.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Frosting / Icing Yield: 900ml

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered or confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter—room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice of a lemon

Directions

Cream the butter at high speed until light and fluffy. If mixing by hand, whisk as if whisking an egg.

Add the lemon zest, vanilla, salt, and milk to the butter. Mix well.

Working 1/2 cup at a time, add the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Then mix on high speed for two minutes, pausing occasionally to scrap the bowl.

Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate until ready to use.


A plain vanilla buttercream frosting is the perfect choice for cakes with a lot of flavor.

A plain vanilla buttercream frosting is the perfect choice for cakes with a lot of flavor.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Frosting Yield: about 700ml

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered or confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter—room temperature
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS heavy cream or whole milk
  • dash of salt

Directions

Cream butter until light and fluffy.

Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Cream sugar and butter at high speed for two minutes.

Add vanilla, cream or milk, and salt. Mix on medium speed for one minute, adding additional cream or milk as needed to produce your desired consistency.


Brown sugar, light or dark, is the rich base for the very best caramel treats, and caramel frosting is no exception.

Brown sugar, light or dark, is the rich base for the very best caramel treats, and caramel frosting is no exception.

Caramel Frosting

Frosting Yield: about 750ml

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter—room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar—packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 TBS whole milk
  • 3 cups powdered or confectioners sugar
  • dash of salt

Directions

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Bring to a boil for about three minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add the milk, one TBS at a time, stirring constantly.

Return to medium-high heat and boil for 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and cool until frosting is room temperature.

Transfer to a bowl and add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until frosting has a smooth, light consistency. Add additional milk if frosting is too stiff, or extra powdered sugar if too soft.


The better the chocolate, the better the buttercream frosting!

The better the chocolate, the better the buttercream frosting!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Frosting Yield: about 800ml

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter—room temperature
  • 2 2/3 cup powdered or confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of salt

Directions

Cream butter until fluffy.

Add cocoa, vanilla, then sugar - 1/3 cup at a time until well-incorporated. Mix on high speed for two minutes.

Add milk a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition, until frosting is desired consistency.


The salty, substantial flavor of peanut butter pairs ideally with sugar.

The salty, substantial flavor of peanut butter pairs ideally with sugar.

Peanut Butter Frosting

Frosting Yield: about 650ml

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter—room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 TBS creamy peanut butter—room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of salt

Directions

Beat butter and peanut butter on high speed for two minutes, or until the butter fully incorporates into the peanut butter.

Add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time on medium speed until mixed thoroughly.

Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix on high speed for three minutes, or until frosting has a light and fluffy texture.


Comments

Thelma Alberts from Germany on April 28, 2012:

Wow! I have to try the peanut butter frosting. Thanks for sharing this. Have a lovely weekend!

Liz Rayen from California on February 03, 2012:

That peanut butter frosting looks soooo yummy. Bookmarking this one for sure. I've added your link to my Hub How to Make Mouth Watering Peanut Butter Pie! Have a great day! Lisa

https://hubpages.com/food/How-to-Make-Mouth-Wateri...

smartandfit from Colorado on January 20, 2012:

my frosting never turns out, so I'm definitely going to try your recipes =) Thanks for sharing!

AlmostLola on October 25, 2011:

can't wait to try these frostings-especially the caramel one. thanks for sharing!

Shelly (author) on September 14, 2011:

@MetalLemon: Powdered Sugar is another name for Confectioner's Sugar, which has the consistency of baby powder. Castor Sugar (while completely awesome) is something different. I'll revise the article to include both names so no one mistakes one for the other!

Allan Rees from Brisbane, Australia on September 14, 2011:

Hi

Thanks for this Hub. When you refer to powdered sugar is that the same as castor sugar?

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 14, 2011:

Great hub! I will have to try peanut butter frosting sometime.

cardelean from Michigan on September 13, 2011:

I've made buttercream frosting but never caramel, that is one that I am going to have to try! I will be bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks for sharing these fantastic recipes and congrats on your nomination.

Shelly (author) on September 11, 2011:

Thanks for the support, all!

My favorite of these recipes is the caramel. If I knew I were going to die tomorrow, the first thing I'd do is whip up a batch of that stuff and eat it straight from the bowl!

FloraBreenRobison on September 10, 2011:

I've never had peanut butter frosting on a cake before. I find buttercream frosting too sweet for me. I love chocolate and caramel. Congratulations on your nomination

Brianna W from East Coast on September 10, 2011:

Yummy! I love to try out different frostings when baking a cake. These are getting bookmarked! Thank you for sharing and congrats on your nomination.

happypuppy on September 10, 2011:

Thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes! I like to make my own frosting for cakes so this is a good reference for me.

Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination!

Recipe Gal on September 09, 2011:

Congrats on your nomination :)

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on September 09, 2011:

Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination, seattlegirl!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on September 09, 2011:

Frostings, frostings, frostings! Yummmmy! Must be why the Hubnuggets team nominated it! Wooohooo! Check out your nomination right here: https://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/... Spread the hubnuggets love by reading and voting as we enjoy your frostings!

Becki M on September 09, 2011:

FYI, "buttercream" that you get on store bought cakes is rarely actually made with butter..its usually made with shortening mixed with powdered sugar and butter flavoring..gross!

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on August 31, 2011:

Cool. Now I have to bake cupcakes to try the frosting recipes. Do not try to talk me out of baking cupcakes.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on August 17, 2011:

I am such a sucker for peanut butter icing- but it is DANGEROUS!!! Thanks for sharing the recipes!

healthyaddictions from Pasadena, California on August 13, 2011:

I LOVE frosting, and these are some of my favorites. This made me so happy! Yum :)

Recipe Gal on August 12, 2011:

Oh wow! That is a lot of icing recipes! I like it. Making icing is something I've never really conquered, so I might just have to try a few of these out! Thanks for the ideas!

Shelly (author) on August 12, 2011:

@ jwhitman - You and me both! I just got some blueberries and muffins sound great. :)

@ homesteadbound - If I get the frosting on the cake without eating most of it first, it's a good day. Probably wise only to make it when company comes over. :)

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on August 12, 2011:

I bookmarked it too for future reference. Don't do sweets unless company's coming. Have to watch my girlish figure.

jwhitman from Albany, New York on August 12, 2011:

Great Hub! I am bookmarking so I'll easily have these recipes on hand! I can't wait to try to the lemon buttercream on homemade blueberry cupcakes =)

Voting up, useful and interesting.

Shelly (author) on August 12, 2011:

@ leann2800: That caramel frosting is dangerous, be warned! I have come close, indeed, to just eating it straight out of the bowl.

@ Reynold Jay: That sounds like my dream come true! Buttercreams are the best, and so easy even for a new cook to do (with a few tips in mind).

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on August 12, 2011:

I ran a confections retail store for 3 decades. The butter creams are my favorites.

Welcome to HUB writing. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. I must give this an “Up ONE and Useful.” I'm now your fan! RJ

leann2800 on August 12, 2011:

These look really good. I ecspecially like the caramel frosting. Thanks for sharing.

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