Classic Buttercream Frosting Recipe + Basic Cake Decorating Tools

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Here’s a classic buttercream recipe that can be used to frost layer cakes and cupcakes. This recipe makes enough frosting for a two layer 8″ round cake. If you plan on doing any type of decorating using a piping bag (borders, designs, roses, etc — you should double the recipe).

If you’re just getting started in cake decorating there are a few tools I would recommend.

Icing Knife Set

I believe an icing knife is the most important tool you can have when it comes to frosting a cake. The offset handle allows you to decorate the cake without getting frosting all over your hands, it’s very difficult to do this with a standard knife. The flat blade also helps you achieve a smoother look for your frosting.

Revolving Cake Stand

A trick to easier frosting is rotating your cake as you move around the outside. Having a revolving cake stand makes this step easier because spin the base instead of having to manually turn your entire cake plate.

Pastry Bags & Decorating Kit

Once you have the basics of cake frosting down it’s fun to add additional borders, piping, and designs! A basic pastry bag can be used for this but will also come in handy for other culinary creations like filling deviled eggs and twice baked potatoes.


Classic Buttercream Frosting

  • Servings: Frosts a two layer 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1/2 cup of butter (softened at room temperature)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tbl milk or cream
1/8 tsp of salt
1 lb of powdered sugar, sifted


in a large mixing bowl add in butter, vanilla, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer with paddle attachment) mix these ingredients until well combined.

Gradually mix in the powdered sugar, about a half cup at a time, mixing with each addition. Once combined, add the remaining milk as needed until the frosting reaches a whipped and fluffy consistency about 3 – 5 minutes of total mixing time on a medium setting. You might not need to add in all the milk so add in sparingly.

If you add too much milk this can generally be fixed by adding more butter and powdered sugar.

Frosting can be used for decorated cakes or cupcakes.

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