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13 Different Types of Buttercream

Best for children's birthdays, Buttercream is perfect for frosting. Try a new type of frosting for your cakes from the wide range of buttercream listed here.

Red Velvet butter cream cheese cake, with berry toppings.

For every one of my children’s birthdays, I baked a deep, dark chocolate cake, and decorated it with creamy vanilla buttercream frosting. I would add food coloring in every color of the rainbow, and buttercream never failed to keep its shape. Whether I made leaves, grass, swirls, or scalloped edges, buttercream frosting was perfect for piping.

As the years went on, I expanded my horizons into more than just the basic buttercream recipe. I never knew there were so many types of buttercream frosting before. Now, you can find out what took me years to learn.

Try a new type of buttercream frosting for your cakes and cupcakes from the wide range of buttercream listed here.

1. Basic Buttercream 

Mixing Buttercream using an automatic Mixer.

Basic buttercream is the most important element of all other types of buttercream frosting. It lets you create amazing cakes with a delicate, creamy texture. The important thing to remember is not to overbeat your buttercream.

If you mix it too long, the texture becomes grainy, which could make it difficult to pipe flowers and other decorations on your cake. You just want to make sure that you fold your buttercream mixture until all the ingredients are mixed well.

You might hear people talking about their light and fluffy buttercream. This is actually not a good thing. It means that overbeating caused air pockets in the frosting.

The ingredients you need for the basic buttercream frosting are:

  • Butter
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Vanilla or another flavor choice
  • Milk
  • Confectioners sugar
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With these ingredients and a handheld or stand mixer, you’re well on your way to the creamy, sweet goodness of buttercream frosting.

2. American Meringue Buttercream

Frosted buttercream with cherry fillings.

American Meringue Buttercream is a combination of Swiss Meringue buttercream and the basic buttercream recipe. It has the sweetness of basic buttercream with the buttery flavor of Swiss buttercream frosting.

One of the differences between this buttercream and basic buttercream is its texture. American Meringue buttercream is dense and not as fluffy. Also, basic buttercream forms a light crust on the surface, which makes it easier to decorate. This frosting stays soft.

American Meringue buttercream uses only three ingredients; egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and butter. A touch of salt is optional.

3. Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss Meringue buttercream is rich and luxurious. If you try making any buttercream frosting at all, this is the one to give a try. It has such a rich buttery flavor and texture that you need to add extra flavor extract to notice them.

This buttercream doesn’t form a crust but becomes very firm when chilled because of the butter in the recipe. When serving at room temperature, it becomes silky and smooth. Swiss Meringue buttercream is stable, making it a great choice for all types of layer cakes.

Like American buttercream, Swiss Meringue buttercream uses only three ingredients. These are egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter. You have to blend the eggs and sugar in a double boiler. This is an additional step from the basic American Meringue buttercream.

4. Italian Meringue Buttercream

The Italian Meringue buttercream frosting is similar to the Swiss version. The difference is that you have to use hot sugar syrup in the recipe. This has rich, buttery frosting that remains smooth and fluffy at room temperature. It becomes firm when refrigerated. This is a wonderful buttercream for decorating cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and anything else you like frosted.

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The ingredients for Italian Meringue buttercream include egg whites, granulated sugar, water, and butter. You have to cook the sugar and water in a saucepan for this recipe.

5. French Buttercream

Cup cakes with buttercream frosting in a white plate.

French buttercream has several variations. It has a lush texture because the recipe uses whole eggs or just egg yolks. If you decide to use only egg yolks, your buttercream will have a richer flavor and color than the meringue buttercreams.

Because of its yellow color, you might have trouble mixing the colors you want. If you’re planning a cake that incorporates a lot of colors, you might want to stick with the white buttercreams.

This buttercream is soft and silky, which presents a smooth finish to the cake. Be aware that it doesn’t hold up in high temperatures. If you’re going to be at room temperature, French buttercream is a decadent frosting for any type of cake; cupcakes, cookies, and bars.

The ingredients for French buttercream are egg yolks, water, granulated sugar, and butter. French buttercream requires you to cook the sugar and water into a syrup.

6. German Buttercream

German buttercream is thicker than most buttercreams because it uses egg custard in the mixture. Coloring this frosting is easy and it holds up at most temperatures. German buttercream also colors nicely, so it’s great if you want a colorful cake. You need to cook the custard for this buttercream, so it’s a bit more complicated to make than other buttercream frostings.

You can frost cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and more with this buttercream. Ingredients for German buttercream include granulated sugar, cornstarch, eggs, milk, and butter.

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7. Ermine Buttercream

Ermine buttercream does not overpower your cake with sweetness. It’s mildly sweet, not too rich or buttery, and has a medium body. It’s a fluffy frosting, so it doesn’t hold the shape of piping very well. It also can’t withstand warm temperatures.

You have to cook some of the ingredients for Ermine buttercream. The ingredients are granulated sugar, flour, milk, and butter.

8. Russian Buttercream

Russian buttercream is easier to make than the basic buttercream recipe, and it only has two ingredients.  It doesn’t require you to cook any syrups or custards. The key to this Russian buttercream’s rich and creamy flavor is sweetened condensed milk. If you want a twist on the flavor, you can use caramelized sweetened condensed milk.

This frosting tastes the best if you serve it right after decorating your cake. Its luxurious, soft texture makes it simple to decorate all your bakery goodies.

The only two ingredients for Russian buttercream are butter and canned sweetened condensed milk.  All you have to do is mix it until it’s silky smooth.

9. Cream Cheese Buttercream

Cream cheese butter cream in a plate and bread crumbs.

Cream cheese buttercream offers the tang of cream cheese in a smooth, creamy frosting. It uses half the butter of basic buttercream frosting mixed with half of cream cheese. The texture of the cream cheese makes this a soft frosting.

Because it’s so soft, it’s not a good choice for piped decorating. You also need to refrigerate this frosting. The ingredients for cream cheese buttercream are butter, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar. This buttercream doesn’t require cooking.

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10. Vegan Buttercream

Vegan buttercream is almost the same as the basic buttercream recipe. The only difference is that you substitute real milk with almond milk. Once you mix it all together, you can’t tell the difference between the two buttercreams.

You can use this buttercream for piping decorations and for anything else you’d use the basic buttercream frosting.

The ingredients for vegan buttercream are confectioner sugar, vegetable shortening, almond milk, and vanilla.

11. Margarita Buttercream

Small cupcake with vanilla frosting, slime slices and mint.

Margarita buttercream is a specialty buttercream. You don’t have to go to Margaritaville to get a tasty margarita flavor in your buttercream. This frosting is sweet and tastes just like a margarita. It has a few more ingredients than most buttercream recipes, and you need to cook some of the ingredients.

The ingredients for Margarita buttercream are:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg whites
  • Vanilla
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Lemon zest
  • Lime zest
  • Tequila

This is a smooth buttercream frosting that has the refreshing, fruity zing of a margarita. It’s the perfect frosting for a party cake.

12. Cake Mix Buttercream

Cake mix buttercream is a one-of-a-kind frosting that kids love. It’s great for decorating birthday cakes. Just mix your favorite cake mix and sprinkles into the buttercream mixture and beat it together until it’s fluffy. If you’re planning on detailed piping for your cake, this isn’t the best choice because of its thick texture and sprinkles.

It’s usually just spread on the top and sides of the cake, as well as the middle. It holds up well for layer cakes and cupcakes.

The ingredients for cake mix buttercream are confectioner sugar, butter, cake mix, vanilla, milk, and sprinkles. This buttercream doesn’t require any cooking.

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13. Flavored Buttercream

Cupcake with almond frosting and yellow flowers.

Flavored buttercream frosting is easy to make with a few adjustments to any of the buttercream recipes. You can add chocolate, almond, cinnamon, peanut butter, molasses, lemon, and any other flavor you can think of to transform your buttercream frosting into something special.