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Basic Buttercream

Easy to make, this sweet and delicious buttercream screams birthday cake.Also try: Ganache, Seven-Minute Frosting, and Chocolate Frosting

  • Yield: Makes 6 cups (enough to frost one 8-inch layer cake)
Basic Buttercream

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 2010


  • 6 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 9 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Beat butter and 3 cups sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low, and continue to beat, gradually adding remaining 6 cups sugar, 1 cup at a time. Raise speed to medium-high; add vanilla. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Reviews (10)

  • cg51515 24 Feb, 2014

    Was incredibly sweet, my children didnt even want to eat the frosting. Sets up pretty hard in the fridge too. Will try with a salted butter and less sugar see if can make it more palatable.

  • fishnlady 15 Oct, 2013

    This recipe does appear to be far too sweet and also an excessive amount. I have a recipe that is similar and it won a first place in the Oregon State Fair one year. Not my recipe.
    3 cups powdered sugar
    1/2 Cup (1 cube) Butter
    1 Teaspoon Vanilla
    1 egg but you can use Egg Replacement equivalent of 1 egg

    Beat all till fluffy.
    Makes plenty to frost one cake
    If you want chocolate frosting then add 3 ounces of bakers chocolate melted. Add while mixer is moving slowly.

  • salfaro2 7 Jul, 2013

    I tried this recipe for a 9x13 cake and it actually frosted the whole cake. It's overwhelmly sweet and it does get hard when you refrigerate.. Must be taken out at least 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.. Used on a yellow cake recipe and almond custard filling and all together great taste if we could avoid so much of the sugar. Lesson learn.. next time I will use a more less sugary flavor.

  • kalsjoy 7 Apr, 2013

    Can i leave this frosting outside? because i tried to refrigerate it in a bowl and it became hard , so i waited until its softened again to put it on a cake,
    thanks for your help i really appreciate it

  • Delilah Weeks 10 Feb, 2013

    I used 5 Cups of Confectioners Sugar instead of 9, and used 4 sticks of Butter instead of 6, and way more Vanilla, great recipe :)

  • PROART 24 Dec, 2011

    Good basic frosting, a big improvement over canned frosting for little effort. Cut the amounts in half because as written it makes enough for 2 cakes, not one. I mxed it with the chocolate frosting recipe in the same article and it was wonderful.

  • Moonechild 17 Dec, 2010

    When used for sugar cookies, this was the perfect frosting. Also, this is one of only two recipes Martha has done for buttercream that does not contain egg whites. Great for pregnant/nursing moms-and children.
    I've used this recipe on cakes, and often hear they are the best cakes the recipient ever tasted. I do know one thing, this is way better than the canned
    junk! Especially because there are no trans fats in butter(have you read those labels?Ew!) thanks Martha!

  • MCCC 15 Nov, 2010

    Waay to sweet. The cake was inedible once frosted. Even my kids didn't want to eat it. It mixed up nicely and frosted very smoothly, but even though I only used 1/2 of the recipe, the sweetness was overwhelming.

  • hajohnson 5 Nov, 2010

    I made this recipe to frost Martha's Marble Cake. I was able to frost a two-layer 9" cake AND a two-layer 6" cake and still had about a cup left over!

  • crystaldawnmiller 24 Oct, 2010

    I used this on Martha's recipe for white cake with lemon curd, and ti was an awesome cake for my daughter's first birthday. I received lots of compliments on it! Also, I used a butter/margarine/shortening combination instead of all butter.

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