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There is a lot of debate about a good buttercream and everyone has their tricks.  Mine is to dilute the butter with some plain vegetable shortening.

The health food people in my life right now are fainting dead away.  But MOST buttercreams are not just butter.  When it’s all butter it has a cloying taste that sticks to the roof of your mouth.  You need to add in some milk, vanilla extract and shortening.

I went to a wedding last night and now having become somewhat of an expert on frosting, I could tell that the one they used for our individual wedding cakes was about 90% shortening.  It was hard to eat.

In fact, most places you buy a cake are going to have closer to a 60/40 ratio of shortening to butter.

Don’t try to avoid it.  Just eat it in moderation and you will be fine.

I personally like how a piped frosting looks on things i’m going to sell or show off, but really you can easily take a knife or offset spatula and smear it on.

Vanilla Buttercream


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp (or pinch) table salt
  • Up to 1/4 cup whole milk or heavy whipping cream (whatever you have on hand)
  • Up to 8 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar


  1. Making a buttercream is about adding in EVERYTHING slowly and making it the right consistency and taste for your preferences.
  2. Put the butter, shortening and vanilla extract into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whir it on up.
  3. Add in the salt while it’s going.
  4. Stop and scrape down the sides.  You want the mixture smooth and well blended.
  5. Slowly add in powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.
  6. Add in a few tbsp milk.
  7. Slowly add in more powdered sugar.
  8. Get it to a consistency where it is light and fluffy and easily spreadable, but not runny or falling apart.
  9. Remember, you can always add but you can never subtract!
  10. Put finished frosting into a piping bag, or just use an offset spatula and put it on your cupcakes.
  11. Makes enough for 24 regular cupcakes or a 2 layer 9-inch round cake.