celebrating 130 years 1884-2014

Basic Buttercream Icing

By Chelsea Sugar
Basic Buttercream Icing
12 servings
  • 115 reviews

  • Difficulty Easy
  • Prep time 15 mins
  • Cooking time 1 mins
  • Serves

    150g Tararua Butter (softened)
    2 cups Chelsea Icing Sugar (or Chelsea Vanilla Flavoured Icing Sugar)
    2-3 Tbsp hot water
    1/2 -1 tsp of vanilla essence (or flavour of your choice, optional)
    Food Colouring (optional)


    Beat the Tararua Butter until smooth, pale and fluffy. Gradually add the Chelsea Icing Sugar, half a cup at a time.  Add the vanilla essence (or other flavoured essence and/or colouring of your choice), with enough of the hot water to make a creamy mixture, beating between each addition until fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes or spread over a cooled cake.

    Note: When adding food colouring add it a few drops at a time and make sure you mix it in otherwise you might end up with a brighter result than you desire.

    Variation: Replace icing sugar with Chelsea Berry Flavoured Icing Sugar or Chelsea Chocolate Icing Sugar.

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Average Rating
(115 reviews)

Hi dear just wanted to check that this icing won't melt while decorating cakes. And can I use any butter or only tararua butter. And can I use 2 500g butter for icing Please do reply soon.

CHELSEA SUGAR: Hi there, as long as your cakes have cooled properly, the icing shouldn't melt. Any butter will work ok. You can scale the recipe up, but we recommend keeping the ratio of ingredients the same. Enjoy!

It was spectacular on my vanilla extract cupcakes absolutely divine. :) a bit hard piping though.


It is amazing!

Perfect and yummiest recipe, as always

please can I use normal sugar for tea ☕ instead of icing sugar?

CHELSEA SUGAR: Hi there, unfortunately standard white sugar won't work here, you will need to use icing sugar.

it worked very well thank you!

amazing with the vanilla cake!!

amazing great for parties or just something that you get out of a pantry I have used this more then once you need to try it is perfect!

Amazing! Super easy and it worked so well. I've used this recipe multiple times now. Highly recommend.

If I wanted a pink buttercream icing, do I just add food colouring to it?

CHELSEA SUGAR: Hi there, yes that would work well.

Thank you for this. How much do I need to make to cover a two level cake plus extra for decorating top with grass nozzle?

CHELSEA SUGAR: Hi there, we would recommend doubling the recipe. Enjoy!

Was never quite sure how to make buttercream icing correctly, this was very helpful


Can I use this butter cream icing for writing on the cake?

CHELSEA SUGAR: Hi there, yes you could. Just make sure you use a fairly small round piping nozzle. Royal icing also works well for this:

Hi how can u make it thicker

But great recipe

CHELSE SUGAR: Hi there, you can either add less hot water or a bit more icing sugar to make a thicker icing.



Omg i loved this. I would recommend this recipe to anyone!!! :)

Absolutely delicious!!!

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amazing tastes really good

super easy, very moist! super yum and easy. I didn't follow the icing recipe I used a butter cream recipe. *chef kiss*

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Amazing recipe! My sister usually hates icing but she really enjoyed this one so thanks!

How long does it take to cream the butter???
CHELSEA SUGAR: Hi there, about 1-2 minutes, until it is smooth, pale and fluffy.

Good icing a little buttery though

This was the best recipe ever although mine was a bit lumpy but oh well

Great went perfect thanks so much I will use this 4 ever

Omg it’s so good. I love it so much. Best recipe ever.

I love it! So smooth and creamy and it stays in place and just delicious. I highly recommend it!! 10/10!

Hello, I am baking a 2 layer 19th birthday cake. Is this recipe good to use for 2x layers of crumb coats and a watercolour effect on the 3rd apply wanting this cake to be perfect for my younger sister but trying to find just the right recipe, thank you.
Chelsea Sugar:
Yes, this recipe would be suitable to use as a crumb coat.

An easy and tasty recipe.

I think it was great!

Amazing love it sooooooooo much. Delicious on chocolate cake.


Great buttercream. I've used it many times and every time it has worked. It starts off grainy but soon enough comes out as wonderful buttercream!

It was great!! So easy and tasty!! Great for decorating cupcakes!!
Will definitely use this recipe again!

It was great!! So easy and tasty!! Great for decorating cupcakes!!
Will definitely use this recipe again!

So cool.

Worst recipe for buttercream icing ever, ended up having to add in milk because it was dry and crumbling, not enough wet ingredients.

Great recipe, definitely will use it again!

Very easy and is amazing on a cake.

Works very well and creates really good icing....especially for a quick crumb coat.

It's a really perfect recipe and I recommend it for those out there who want to cook cupcakes :)

I am a professional baker and I use this recipe for all my buttercream.

So good

Mmmm, so good.


I love this recipe of icing it's super easy to do and doesn't require any skill at all (which is handy for amateurs like me)!!!

It's so good I iced a cake with it and it was perfect!!!

great an sweet love it

really good


It was delicious and only took 10 minutes to make. It tastes great of sugar cookies too.

I LOVE this recipe!!! It’s so easy and delicious. We made lots of the icing - it was to decorate a cake. Everyone, I recommend that you try this recipe NOW!!! ^U^

I like it becouse it is basic it is cool



Lovely recipe! I used this for a cupcake decorating fair and won gold! The butter cream was described as soft and creamy!

what can i use instead of icing sugar?
Chelsea Sugar:
Icing sugar is an essential ingredient in this recipe. You could use Chelsea Icing Sugar or Chelsea Pure Decorating Icing Sugar.

It was amazing! I used Olivani Margarine instead of butter and added 1/4 cup of was still light and fluffy! Everyone commented on it!!

this butter cream is amazing and Delicious

I am thinking of using this recipe for a large birthday cake, will it apply well to the top and the sides?
Chelsea Sugar:
Yes, this icing recipe is a good choice for decorating cakes.

It is very easy and it is the best tasting icing ever. :)

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This easy and very yummy

my sister makes buttercream all the time she never told me what recipe she makes Im gonna make these this weekend for my birthday cupcakes .. wonder if you can also change vanilla essance with a lil cocoa powder for choc flavour ??

Chelsea Sugar:
Yes, you could do that.

It is AMAZING!!!

I absolutely love this recipe! Tastes great and is super easy to make! definitely recommend it.

This is a great recipe. I don't usually use butter in my icing recipes but this is just so yummy and now I can't stop making it!

it was okay

I've used this recipe so many times and it's never failed me, it's easy and delicious

How could I change this to be a mocha flavour, how much coffee and cocoa and would I take anything out?
CHELSEA: it would depend on your taste. Suggest you adjust to your taste and preferred consistency. Let us know how you get on!

So good and so easy!

Yum in my mouth!

Haven't made it yet but really confused about the method
Where do you put in the vanilla?
CHELSEA: oops! We've updated the recipe - add the vanilla along with the hot water.

So good

Hi Chelsea,
Would Margarine Work For This Recipe? (Instead Of Butter)
Chelsea Sugar:
Yes, you could use margarine as a substitute for butter.

It is amazing almost ate it before it was even put on the cake.

Yum!!! But needed less icing sugar.

Perfect for the wedding cake I am icing, easy to apply and able to put a pattern on to make a nice finish.

Hi Chelsea!
Could this recipe be used to create a grass look?
Yes, it can.

So good! Really was the icing of the cake! (Ha, get it?)

Dlish. Love it.

First time making icing, turned out so yummy. Love this recipe. Simple.

Tastes amazing and really easy to make

Sounds quite easy to make. I have some Lemon Flavoured Icing Sugar MFG 2012 10 06, and wondered if it was still ok to use, as i was going to try this recipe tonight. Thanks
Chelsea Sugar:
The best before date has passed. The flavouring and the colour may not be as originally intended.

It is a great recipe and I use it every time!

Hi, can butter be replaced with a dairy free olive spread in this recipe?
CHELSEA: we would't recommend it - not sure how it would turn out.

Sounds great! Am I able to make this ahead of time & pop in the fridge untill my cake is ready? Or is it best to put on cake straight away? Thanks!
CHELSEA: Hi there, yes you could make this ahead of time. It will harden a little in the fridge so it is best to bring it to room temperature before icing the cake.

Gonna eat it on its own :D


Love it

Hi Chelsea
Can this recipe be used under fondant?CHELSEA: Generally buttercream icing can be used under fondant, would be interesting to know the result.

I really liked this recipe, it was very easy for me to make. I tried a different frosting which was from the Buttercream Frosting recipe. And I also added my own addition to that, 1 tbsp of cocoa powder and it was amazing! I love Chelsea recipes!

Quick question:
How much cocoa powder needs to be added to make this a chocolate buttercream icing?
Thanks :)
CHELSEA: Hi there, 1/4 cup cocoa powder would work well.

Really rich but quite good, holds shape really well and good for decoration.

Love to read recipe and see different methods to baking and preparing food.

This is so easy and if you are a beginer with icing its so good because it holds it shape so well!!!!!!!

Very very very tastyyyy and yummmyy recipe...:) Not only tasty but so quick and easy

Bit to sweet but looks good.

It is really good but mine was a little runny

Gives that wow look n taste

Easy and delicious

Does it turn out firm?
CHELSEA: Hi there, yes reasonably firm. It's firm enough to pipe onto cupcakes but still light and fluffy.


This buttercream recipe is amazing :D I use it every time I make cup cakes and I always get so many compliments on the icing.

Wow amazing icing

Awesome buttercream icing, I tried it for the first time and it tastes fabulous!


Really good icing, people should try more of this.

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loved this icing

it makes your cakes look wonderful

It's really easy and is a real crowd pleaser.

I love this recipe it's easy to make and it tastes fabulous.

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Great recipe, very tasty!

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