A stable, crusting buttercream frosting that doesn't melt at room temperature or lose its form with time.

We are going to take the classic vanilla buttercream recipe and simply substitute vegetable shortening for the butter. This is perfect for any icing that you need that needs to keep its shape at room temperature (or out in the sun!) for many hours, and/or icing that is pure white.

Vegetable shortening maintains its shape at warmer temperatures much better than butter. Any vegetable shortening-only buttercreams will maintain its form over hours (or even days). Vegetable shortening is also whiter than butter, so if you are aiming for a pure white icing shortening is the way to go. With that being said, you may not get the flavour of butter, but some have resolved this by adding some butter flavouring to the shortening buttercreams.

There are also endless variations of this Buttercream you can create – Nutella, Chocolate, Strawberries, Bailey’s, Chai Butter, etc.

Scroll to the bottom if you’d like to jump straight to the recipe!

Back when I just started baking, I recall bringing in cupcakes but I had no time to create my own buttercream from scratch. So, I opted to purchase one of those “Betty Crocker” pre-made frostings. I chose a “whipped” version in hopes that the frosting would hold its form. Within 1 hour of sitting at room temperature, the frosting started to melt. The beautiful piping I had done with a 1 M Wilton tip didn’t take its and looked unappetizing unfortunately as the icing dripped onto the display table.

The recipe here calls for 1 cup shortening, 3 (or up to 5) cups icing sugar, 1/2 cup whipping cream and vanilla extract, this is also known as “American Buttercream Frosting”.  The amount of icing sugar you add can vary depending on what type of texture you want with the icing (soft, to sift and crusting), and how much sweetness you can tolerate in the icing.

Here I experimented with either 3 cups of icing sugar, or 5 cups of icing sugar in the recipe to see if there was a difference in taste, texture or stability (how long it keeps its shape with time).


Buttercream frosting recipe with 3 cups of icing sugar:

Recommended for: icing cakes, or small cupcakes. For those who prefer not-too-sweet buttercream frosting.

Here is a cake I iced with the exact recipe below using only 3 cups of icing sugar. I created a beautiful buttercream ruffle cake, and the texture was not too sweet it was actually quite edible. With 3 cups of icing sugar (instead of 5 cups, which I cover below), the texture was easy to spread.  The buttercream had been resting at room temperature for quite a few hours before everyone had an opportunity to eat it. I confirmed with my guests that it was not too overly sweet.

With only 3 cups of icing sugar the buttercream is still solid, yet appears “moist”. I observed it over 4 hours and it did not change it’s shape.

Here is my buttercream ruffle cake I created with 3 cups of icing sugar in the buttercream recipe:

Buttercream frosting recipe with 5 cups of icing sugar:

This is a VERY sweet buttercream, which may be overwhelming in large quantities like a cake. Recommended for: icing cupcakes, or decorum on cakes (e.g. flowers, cake borders, etc.). 

I found this frosting to be difficult to push out of a piping tip as well as to spread over a cake without having to add extra tablespoons of milk to thin it out. Its a super “pure white” color, and crusts quite well, maintaining a very firm shape over many hours (and even overnight!). In fact, it has quite a palpable “crust” to touch in comparison the frosting recipe with 3 cups of icing sugar.

You’ll notice the buttercream is much whiter, however 5 cups of icing sugar seemed to cause the buttercream to edges to be non-smooth. 5 cups of icing sugar also produced a “crusting” effect and the icing appeared more dry than the 3 cups of icing sugar recipe.

Here is the multi-layer rainbow cake and chocolate cupcakes that I iced with the recipe using 5 cups of icing sugar:

Print Recipe
Vanilla Buttercream
cups icing
cups icing
  1. Beat shortening until light and fluffy.
  2. Add icing sugar and whipping cream in two parts, alternating between the two.
  3. Beat in vanilla. Result should be icing with stiff peaks.
  4. If applicable, add in your food coloring of choice
  5. Optional: Add 1 tbsp (at a time) of milk to make a thinner consistency of icing.
Recipe Notes
  • Double the recipe if you are icing a layered cake
  • 5 cups of icing gives you a crusting buttercream, which is great in small quantities such as when you are icing cupcakes, small details on cake as it holds it shape for longer.
  • However, 5 cups of icing may be too sweet for a cake (especially for your guests!), I recommend reducing it down to 3 cups if you prefer less sweet Buttercream.


February 7, 2017
March 6, 2017