Shortcut Buttercream Frosting


This easy buttercream is thick enough to spread on cookies, but thin enough to melt over warm cinnamon rolls. If you’re looking for a shortcut frosting, this will be your new go-to.

3 Ways With Classic Buttercream Icing
Photo: Antonis Achilleos
Hands On Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
1 cup

But if you want to kick it up a notch, try one of our three variations. The warm cardamom is fragrant, slightly citrusy and herbal. The pink peppercorn is fruity with a faint peppery bite. And the lemon is just the right side of tart, which helps balance the sugar. A pinch of salt in each helps accentuate the flavors. If you make the frosting ahead of time, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and store at room temperature.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • ½ teapoons pure vanilla extract

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk

  • Cardamom buttercream frosting: Stir in ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom after desired consistency is reached.

  • Pink peppercorn buttercream frosting: Stir in ½ teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns after desired consistency is reached.

  • Lemon buttercream frosting: Substitute 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of the milk, and stir in ½ teaspoon lemon zest after desired consistency is reached.


  1. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with 2 tablespoons of the milk, beating on low speed until blended after each addition. Add remaining 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

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