three tiered cake frosted white with berries cascading down the side
A cake frosted with smooth, creamy-white simple buttercream.

Where Does This Simple Buttercream Recipe Come From?

This buttercream recipe is from The Whimsical Bakehouse by Kaye Hansen and Liv Hansen. It is not based on a sugar syrup, so is easier to make.

What Is So Great About This Buttercream?

In a nutshell, this is what makes this simple buttercream an excellent choice for cake frosting and decorating:
  • It holds up very well even on hot days.
  • It is easy to make.
  • It takes color really well.
  • It is neutral in flavor.
I will go on record as saying that I prefer “true” buttercreams (Italian buttercream, French buttercream, etc), but they won’t hold up on a hot day. Especially if you are frosting a wedding cake for an outdoor wedding, for example, I promise you’ll feel much less stress using simple buttercream than any of the European versions. While this recipe contains 10X sugar (powdered sugar or icing sugar), the boiling water mostly counteracts that sort of chalky-thing that can happen with this type of sugar. This buttercream recipe makes kind of a ton, so make sure you have a stand mixer with at least a 5 quart capacity. Or, you can halve the recipe.

Simple Buttercream

Jennifer Field
This recipe for simple buttercream is from The Whimsical Bakehouse. It makes a generous amount of frosting, and it takes color very well.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings
Calories 563 kcal


  • 6 cups sifted 10X sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup -1 cup of boiling water (depending on humidity)
  • 2 ¾ cups vegetable shortening (not oil--the solid white kind)
  • 6 oz . cool butter , cut into little pieces


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, stir together the sugar and salt.
  • Add the boiling water and whip on medium speed until smooth.
  • Add the vanilla, shortening and butter.
  • Increase speed to medium-high, and whip until light, fluffy and doubled in volume. This could take 10 or 20 minutes, so be patient.
  • Flavor with liqueur or extract. You can try adding chocolate, but I haven't so I'm not sure how good it would be. If you try it, let me know.

Did You Make Any Changes?


You can try adding chocolate, but I haven't so I'm not sure how good it would be. If you try it, let me know.


Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 44gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 151mgSugar: 44g
Keyword buttercream, frosting
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!
And there you have it friends. I know you’ll enjoy the neutral flavor of this recipe, and I encourage you to play with adding additional flavors such as citrus zest or extracts. Looking for a solid cake recipe to use your simple buttercream to frost? Try these:

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    1. For this recipe, you can just double all the ingredients and you should have no problem. It does make a lot, so make sure your mixer is large enough to handle a double batch. 🙂

  1. How does this buttercream stand up to heat? I love using the boiling water method as it makes the creamiest frosting but I can’t seem to make it crust or it starts melting halfway through decorating. I use 4 cups of powder sugar, 2 sticks of unsalted butter, 1 cup of palm shortening, and 1/2 cuo boiling water.

    1. It is a pretty stable buttercream, so it should stand up just fine. Crusting buttercream either has cornstarch from the powdered sugar or added meringue powder to allow it to crust. When you use the boiling water, the cornstarch in the sugar probably gelatinizes and won’t crust. If you frosting firms up nicely at refrigerator temps, probably a good chill once the cake is frosted followed by a warm spatula would help to smooth it out.

  2. Oh, and I use unsalted butter and I don’t add any salt. I think it tastes much better, but I have to wonder if the omission of salt is why it won’t hold up. though I can’t imagine that it would make a difference,

  3. I added cocoa powder and it was delicious. (I also used ganche-equally as delicious). Its very light and almost like mousse filling.
    I use 14 oz butter. I found this recipe on another site and the only difference is the amount of butter.
    One thing I would like to say however, I tried using the amount of water the recipe calls for and I use hi-ration shortening or store brand shortening (some store brands still have the trans fat, thats what I use) and I find that it comes out way too thinand does not hold up. For this recipe I use only 4 tablespoons or less. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Thanks for the info about the cocoa powder, and I think the ganache idea is amazing! I rarely work with this buttercream anymore. It is mainly up for reference for those who really like this style of buttercream. The few times I have made it, I don’t recall having an issue with consistency. Perhaps you aren’t beating the boiling water mixture until it is below the melting point of shortening/butter so when you add the fat it melts? Try beating it (and holding some ice packs against the bowl to speed things along, until it’s somewhere in the high 70s, temperature-wise. That should be cool enough to keep your fats from melting when you add them.

    1. Hi! Glad you like the site, Monica! 10x is just another way to say “powdered sugar.” You may also know it as icing sugar. It’s sometimes called 10x because it is processed 10 times to get it to that fine, powdery consistency. 🙂

      1. You can add one, the other, or a combination, and it’s all done to taste. So, the short answer is add as much chocolate as you like! My mom always added melted Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, either 2 or 3 “squares” (ounces) per batch of frosting. The liquid she used in the frosting was hot water or milk, but I bet using coffee as the liquid would be great, too.

        The whole point of this frosting is that it’s not really a recipe–it’s a technique that you can alter to suit your own tastes, Anabel. I hope you enjoy experimenting!

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