Vanilla buttercream icing in a bowl

Buttercream icing

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(13 ratings)

Prep: 10 mins


Makes enough to ice 12 cupcakes/fill and cover a 20cm cake

Foolproof cake frosting requires just butter and icing sugar - try out different flavourings and use our guide for quantities

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving (12)

  • kcal284
  • fat20.6g
  • saturates13g
  • carbs25g
  • sugars25g
  • fibre0g
  • protein0.1g
  • salt0.4g
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  • 600g icing sugar, sifted
  • 300g unsalted or salted butter, softened

Optional extras

  • finely grated lemon zest
  • finely grated orange zest
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • few drops food colouring
  • cocoa powder, to taste


  1. Beat 600g sifted icing sugar and 300g butter together, with your chosen flavouring and colouring if using, until smooth.

  2. Fill a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe onto cupcakes or smear in the middle and over the top of a 20cm cake using a palette knife.

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Comments, questions and tips

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goosegirl123's picture
29th Oct, 2017
i find double the amount of sugar to butter is much too sweet
cheesypeas's picture
29th Jul, 2017
This makes a massive amount of icing. If you just want to ice a 20 - 23cm cake you would need 250g icing sugar, 125g butter. Mix first then add about a tbsp milk to loosen the mixture. I don't add th orange etc.
kitchen kate
21st Feb, 2016
I think you need to pull this recipe and start again. Your "Tip" is still advising people to use equal quantities butter and icing sugar, and even the 2:1 ratio doesn't work properly - it's way too stiff and needs more butter. And these quantities are way to much for a 20cm cake. Disappointing.
katrinaridout's picture
10th Jul, 2016
Ive always found that equal butter and icing sugar is perfect. Some people like to add a dash of milk if it's a little stiff. Love this with vanilla essence!
15th Mar, 2015
I don't usually do butter cream but I tried this recipe on a 20cm cake (two sandwiched together) and the amount of buttercream made was far to much!! I could have completely covered, generously, two cakes of that size. The consistency was very firm too .. not what I had planned. I'll keep looking.
Julia M
1st Sep, 2014
Made this yesterday and found it was a little stiff at 2:1 sugar:butter. I knob more butter and a beat solved it but it wasn't piping easily (at all!) on quite a warm day.
25th Apr, 2014
very tasty,absolutely loved the version of 175g icing sugar and 75g butter -fabulous!
goodfoodteam's picture
7th Feb, 2014
Hi everyone. Following your comments, we reviewed this recipe and have now amended the quantities so the ratio is now one part butter to two parts sugar. There's more information about quantities in the tip section, below the ingredients list. We also recommend adding the icing sugar gradually. Thanks, BBC Good Food team
Julia M
1st Sep, 2014
Tip 1/3 in the boxes above still says equal quantities sugar:butter so this needs changing too!
Margaret Buckley
19th Oct, 2013
This buttercream recipe was incorrect. After I had made and used it I wondered why it was so runny, then I remembered using twice the weight of sugar to butter/margerine years previously. When I used the 300/300 ration using soft margarine, the buttercream poured onto the cakes which was not very useable. I then added as much sugar again to the mix and found it a much more useable consistency.


25th Jul, 2013
I need to ice a 30 cm 3 layer cake, and also cover it completely with butter icing before covering it with ready to roll fondant icing. How much butter icing do I need to make ? Thank you.
goodfoodteam's picture
7th Feb, 2014
Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. To be on the safe side, we'd recommend making three times the amount statedin the recipe, though you may not need to use it all. Hope it goes well! Thanks, BBC Good Food team
2nd Jun, 2014
Add a cap full of vanilla extract to make it more yummy