Buttercream Icing

My Famous Buttercream Icing

I’ve made this buttercream icing for years, but I wasn’t plant based until 2015.  Thankfully this recipe was easily adapted to non dairy and IMO tastes identical using plant based butter and milks.

I started developing this recipe after many heavy, sometimes bland, and overly sweet tasting batches. I was making wedding cakes at the time and needed a more consistent and stable icing to withstand travel, moderate heat and that tasted amazing.  This icing is a heavy icing and really needs a stand mixer if making the large batch to get the proper whip and air for maximum fluffiness.  This new plant based version of my recipe still holds true to those needs.

Fifteen or more years ago, I burned through five electric hand-mixers in one year.  To keep my sanity I no longer make wedding cakes, but after burning out my mixer mid wedding cake my husband ran out to pick up another.  He surprised me a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, WOW… what a difference.  I still have and use that mixer which sits on my counter.  I use it almost daily for some type of cooking assistance.  It saves much time and stress when making large batches of beautifully whipped icing.

This icing works fantastic for filling between layers of cakes, icing cakes, under layers for fondant icing, piping borders and art work on cakes and cupcakes.  It also works as a wonderful co partner to fillings, such a fruit curds, and ganaches

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Regular Batch Yield: 1 3/4 lbs of icing (approx 4.5 cups) ei:  Enough for 24-36 cupcakes

  • 1.5 sticks  (3/4 cups or 170 grams) unsalted plant based butter, room temperature (very soft)
  • 3/4 cup (153 gr) shortening, room temperature (very soft)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp butter flavouring *Optional
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract – try my home-made vanilla recipe
  • Vanilla bean seeds from 1 pod (1/8 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 500 gram bag, 1.13 lbs (17.5 oz) powdered/icing/confectioners sugar sifted
  • 1  1/2 Tbsp Aquafaba *(optional) can replace with milk *see tips
  • Stand Mixer – (a hand mixer is a little more work and you will need add a two minutes to each mixing step to get a fluffy creamy texture a stand mixer provides)
  • Optional * 1/2 tsp almond extract

Large Batch: Yields:   3 1/2 pounds of Butter-cream Icing. (approx 9 cups) example: Enough for small rosette cake and 18-24 cupcakes

Ingredients List:

  • 425 grams- 1 container Earth balance plant based butter, room temperature (very soft) (1  7/8 cups approximately)
  • 1 – 1/2 cups (307 gr)  shortening,  room temperature (very soft)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (If using Earth Balance omit the salt until the end and test to see if needed)
  • 1 tsp butter flavouring *optional
  • 2 tsp  pure vanilla extract – try my home-made vanilla recipe
  • 1 kg bag or 2.25 lbs (35.5 oz) powdered/icing/confectioners sugar sifted
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp aquafaba *important but you can use milk *See note in Tips
  • Stand mixer – (a hand mixer is a little more work and you will need add a two minutes to each mixing step to get a fluffy creamy texture a stand mixer provides)
  • Optional* 1 tsp almond extract


  1. Sift icing sugar and meringue powder together.
  2. In the stand mixer, combine butter, shortening, and salt (if using) mix on low medium speed until light and creamy texture about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add extracts, aquafaba, cream of tartar, and vanilla bean seeds.  Mix on low/medium-speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add half of the powdered sugar to the bowl and mix on low for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix on low for until combined
  6. Turn up the mixer to medium high and mix for 5-6 minutes
  7. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  If you refrigerate you need to let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours before rewhipping for use or the texture make be crumbly and break.
  8. Leave the icing as is or add the food colouring of choice.  I prefer to use Americolor gel food colours, I find that the high pigment content in them allows you to use less.  Which means you get more for your money.  Using a wooden pick to add a small drop at a time until I reach the desired color.




Wrap icing in plastic wrap for easier clean up.

  1. Lay out one or two sheets of plastic wrap, depending on the size of the icing/pastry bag you are using.
  2. Place a few cups of icing in the centre of the wrap.
  3. Roll in a log shape
  4. Twist the ends until tightly bound.20130827-222150.jpg
  5. Place the twist of one of the ends of the icing log in the icing/pastry bag until the tip of the wrap twist sticks out
  6. Pull the icing through until you see icing
  7. Cut off excess plastic wrap and place on the tip
  8. Clamp the open end of the icing bag
  9. Begin frosting
  10. When finished pull out empty wrap, discard and be happy clean up is much easier.


  • If you use a dark in color vanilla it could add beige hue. Clear Vanilla for white frosting
  • Butter-cream Icing will last for weeks in the refrigerator, as long as it is well sealed.  When ready to use again.  Leave the icing at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Add to a mixer or use a hand mixer to re-whip the icing to a smooth fluffy texture.
  • You can use this icing to make roses for drying but drying time is approximately 4 days depending on the humidity in your home/area.
  • I usually use aquafaba or make my own vegan merinque powder but you can now purchase vegan meringue powder online.
  • This recipe can still be made and will taste the same if you don’t have aquafaba or meringue powder.  However, aquafaba makes a fluffier icing and works as a stabilizer in this recipe.

Click here for my *Peanut Butter Buttercream Recipe

10 thoughts on “Buttercream Icing

  1. Greisey says:

    Hi! I’m doing a rosette cake and cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday. It starts at 3 pm and I’m planning to frost around 10am. After frosting, can I leave the cakes in the fridge first then bring it out just before 3? And if so, will the icing get ‘hard’ once I put it in the fridge? I’m afraid that once it get hard and brought to an air conditioned room (not as cold as fridge temp),it will get really soft at the end of the day and ruin the design. We will only be eating the cakes around 5pm, but I want to display it.


    • The Handy Homemaker says:

      No worries, that is fine. This frosting will only get really soft in hot situations like a hot sunny day outside by in direct sunlight, or if it was in a really super hot room you may have problems with the icing slumping or sliding off the cake. You will not have to worry about this in your situation. The icing does get hard when you put in the refrigerator because butter and shortening harden in cold temperatures. But just like when you leave a block of butter on the counter at normal room temperature for an hour or more it will soften back up, but not melt. Your design and rosettes should stay perfectly formed. I hope this answers your question.


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