Wondering what buttercream to use for filling, crumb-coating, piping and decorating? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve broken down all our popular buttercreams so you can get a better idea of what kind of frosting you need for your project.

Most buttercreams, whether homemade or store-bought, contain similar ingredients: butter, sugar, vanilla extract and milk. You can use buttercream for icing, filling, piping and crumb-coating your cakes, but some buttercreams are better suited for various tasks.

In this chart, we’ll break down all our popular buttercreams to give you a better idea of how they work, how they taste and how they’re best used.

Store-Bought Buttercream

If you don’t have time to make your buttercream from scratch (or you only need a small amount for your project), these store-bought options are a great solution!

White Decorator Icing – 1 lb. Can

When you want to pipe sturdy borders, flowers and other decorations, this White Decorator Icing is the frosting for you! Sweet and delicious, this buttercream is stiff consistency, great for getting detailed stars, shells, roses and dots. You can also thin it out with water or milk for medium or soft consistency. This buttercream is easy to tint or flavor to suit your needs. Add Color Right food coloring to tint your icing or punch up the flavor with peppermint or almond extract. One 16 oz. can will cover one 8 or 9-inch round cake or one 13 x 9-inch sheet cake.
  • Flavor: Vanilla
  • Colors: White
  • Best for: Piping

Creamy White Decorator Icing – 4 lb. Tub

There’s nothing this Creamy White Decorator Icing can’t do! Great for crumb-coating, icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers and piping borders and decorations, this is versatile buttercream will help you tackle all your decorating needs!

As is, this creamy icing is medium consistency, making it perfect for icing cakes and piping borders. However, you can also thin it with water or milk to crumb-coat your cake or stiffen it with confectioners’ sugar to pipe detailed decorations and flowers.

This frosting is also super easy to customize with your favorite food colorings or flavor extracts.

 One 4 lb. tub yields 8 cups of frosting, which is enough to cover two 8-inch round cakes (2 layers each); three 9 x 13-inch sheet cakes; or 64 cupcakes.

  • Flavor: Vanilla
  • Colors: White
  • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers, piping decorations and piping borders

Decorating Icing Pouch

No need to prep a decorating bag, just attach a tip to these Decorating Icing Pouches and you’re good to go! These convenient pouched icings are great for decorating cakes and cupcakes. They even come with two tips (a round and star tip) for added convenience.

Available in 9 fun colors, these pouch icings are great for the kids, as they involve little to no clean-up. Need to use a different tip? No problem! These icing pouches work with standard Wilton couplers and any standard Wilton piping tip.

  • Flavor: Vanilla
  • Colors: Red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black and white
  • Best for: Piping decorations on cakes and cupcakes

Ready-to-Use Icing Tube

If you only need a little buttercream for your decorating project, these Ready-to-Use Icing Tubes are the perfect solution. Available in popular colors, these tubes work with standard Wilton couplers and piping tips so you can add colorful details to your cakes and cupcakes.

  • Flavor: Vanilla
  • Colors: Red, orange, green, purple, black and white
  • Best for: Piping fine details on cakes and cupcakes, lettering

Homemade Buttercream Recipes

If you’re ready to treat friends and family to something truly special, try one of our delicious homemade buttercream recipes! Though these recipes all use similar ingredients, they’re each unique in how they’re used and how they taste.

vanilla buttercream cake sliced

Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Well-loved for its flavor and versatility, this traditional American buttercream frosting is a universal favorite! It’s smooth and spreadable, making it perfect for frosting cupcakes, cakes and cookies. It can also be stiffened or thinned and is easy to customize with food coloring or flavor extracts.

This frosting combines butter and shortening for flavor and stability. The butter adds a creamy rich flavor while the shortening helps this frosting keep its shape when piped. You can even replace the butter with equal parts shortening for a pure white frosting, great for wedding cakes.

 One recipe makes about 2 cups of icing, enough to ice an 8 or 9-inch round cake; a 13 x 9-inch sheet cake; or about 24 cupcakes.

  • Flavor: Sweet vanilla – if your frosting is too sweet for your liking, add a pinch of salt
  • Customize: Can be customized with flavor extracts or food coloring; for added flavor, try our Chocolate or Strawberry versions!
  • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, piping decorations and borders, lettering, filling cake layers

Tips and Tricks:

  • This is a great recipe if you’re planning on coloring your buttercream, as it holds color very well (especially black and red)
  • It’s one of the best buttercreams for piping decorations
  • This buttercream is also a great base for adding flavor – try flavor extracts, jams and jellies or fresh fruit!

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Smooth and silky, Swiss meringue buttercream is great for frosting cakes or filling cake layers. It’s made by cooking egg whites and sugar in a double boiler, then whisking with butter for a light and spreadable frosting.

Because of its soft consistency, this buttercream isn’t great for piping decorations and borders. However, it’s easy to customize the flavor and color if you’re planning to use this buttercream to frost cakes or cupcakes.

    Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe

     One recipe makes about 3¼ cups of icing, enough to ice an 8 or 9-ich round cake; a 13 x 9-inch sheet cake; or 24 to 36 cupcakes.

    • Flavor: Semi-sweet vanilla – a great option for those who prefer a less sugary frosting
    • Customize: Can be customized with flavor extracts or food coloring (we suggest using gel-based food colorings to avoid adding additional liquid to this already thin frosting); we also have a chocolate version, too!
    • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers

    Tips and Tricks:

    • This buttercream is great for icing cakes, but not stiff enough for piping borders and other decorations
    • If your frosting is too thin, place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to thicken
    • Make sure your mixture is cool before adding your butter, otherwise the butter will melt
    cake frosted with italian buttercream

    Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

    A little extra work goes a long way with this Italian meringue buttercream frosting. Less sweet than traditional American buttercream and not quite as buttery as its French counterpart, this frosting is light and airy, a great combination for almost any rich cake.

    Unlike Swiss meringue, which involves cooking eggs in a double boiler, this recipe involves making a sugar syrup, then whipping it into the eggs in order to cook them. Butter is added at the end for richness and stability.

     One recipe makes about 5 cups of icing, enough to ice a 9 or 10-inch round cake; two 13 x 9-inch sheet cakes; or 48 to 60 cupcakes.

    • Flavor: Semi-sweet vanilla – another great option for those who prefer a less sweet icing
    • Customize: Can be customized with flavor extracts or food coloring; to make a chocolate Italian meringue, add 8 oz. melted (but cooled) semi-sweet or dark chocolate after all the butter has been added
    • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers

    Tips and Tricks:

    • Like its Swiss counterpart, this buttercream is great for icing cakes, but not recommended for piping
    • If possible, use unpasteurized eggs for this recipe
    • Italian meringue does not keep well, so it’s best to use it the day it’s made

    German Buttercream Frosting

    Light and decadent, this German buttercream is made by combining pastry cream and butter for a topping similar to whipped cream frosting. It’s a great pairing for richer cakes, like chocolate or butter cake, and is yet another option for those who prefer a less sugary frosting.

    This buttercream does require a few extra steps, but the work will be well worth it in the end!

    german buttercream partially covering a chocolate cake

     One recipe makes about 6 cups of icing, enough to ice a 9 or 10-inch round cake; two 13 x 9-inch sheet cakes; or 48 to 60 cupcakes.

    • Flavor: Semi-sweet vanilla – less sweet than other popular buttercreams
    • Customize: Can be customized with flavor extracts or food coloring
    • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers

    Tips and Tricks:

    • The smooth and creamy texture of this buttercream does not make it a good option for piping
    • Anything iced with this buttercream should be stored in the refrigerator before serving
    • This buttercream works best with a flavorful base, like a rich chocolate cake
    french buttercream on a round cake

    Creamy French Buttercream Frosting

    If you love creamy, rich frosting, this French buttercream is for you! Made using pasteurized egg yolks and sugar, this buttercream is close in taste to pastry cream or Swiss buttercream, but is stable enough for piping, thanks to the added butter!

    The addition of egg yolks and butter gives this buttercream a natural yellow tint, so keep that in mind when decorating your treats. This buttercream is also best used the day it’s made, so only make what you need

     One recipe makes about 4 cups of icing, enough to ice an 8 or 9-ich round cake; a 13 x 9-inch sheet cake; or 24 to 36 cupcakes.

    • Flavor: Semi-sweet vanilla – similar in taste to pastry cream or Swiss buttercream
    • Customize: Color customization isn’t recommended for this buttercream; you can customize the flavor if desired, but vanilla is recommended
    • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers, piping decorations and borders

    Tips and Tricks:

    • This frosting is best used the day it’s made; if storing, buttercream will need to be rewarmed and rewhipped before using
    • A probe thermometer is recommended for this recipe
    • This buttercream will have a natural yellow tint (due to the egg yolks and butter)
    • The high butter content makes this buttercream good for piping, especially if you’re looking for decorations with sharp definition

    Ermine Frosting

    Similar in flavor to cream cheese frosting, Ermine frosting is a French-inspired buttercream that is smooth and rich. It’s made using boiled milk and flour and whips up beautifully for easy decorating and piping.

    This unique twist on vanilla buttercream is light, less sweet and egg-free, making it the perfect pairing to red velvet, chocolate or butter cakes.

    cake slices with ermine frosting

    One recipe makes about 2 cups of icing, enough to ice an 8 or 9-inch round cake; a 13 x 9-inch sheet cake; or about 24 cupcakes.

    • Flavor: Semi-sweet vanilla – similar in taste to cream cheese frosting (though it does not contain cream cheese)
    • Customize: Can be customized with flavor extracts or food coloring
    • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers, piping decorations and borders

    Tips and Tricks:

    • Take care to seal your buttercream before it cools to prevent a skin from forming
    • Make sure your mixture is completely cool before adding the butter
    • This buttercream is great for piping, especially if you are looking for detailed decorations, like stars or shells
    vegan buttercream on a layered cake

    Easy Vegan Buttercream Frosting

    For decorators who are wondering how to make an animal product-free frosting option, our vegan frosting is a great solution. It doesn’t require any butter or dairy, so you can have an easy non-lactose buttercream that still tastes great and holds a swirl!

    This recipe is also great for mixing and matching your favorite vegan butter spreads and non-dairy milks. Try flavored almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or oat milk for fun flavor options.

    One recipe makes about 2 ½ cups of icing, enough to ice an 8 or 9-inch round cake; a 13 x 9-inch sheet cake; or about 24 cupcakes.

    • Flavor: Sweet vanilla – if your frosting is too sweet for your liking, add a pinch of salt
    • Customize: Can be customized with flavor extracts or food coloring; try our Vegan Chocolate Frosting, too!
    • Best for: Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers, piping decorations and borders

    Tips and Tricks:

    • Since this frosting omits butter, it is super easy to tint and holds color very well (especially black and red)
    • Vegan butter spread may be substituted for ½ cup of shortening
    • Different vegan spreads may change the consistency of your frosting, so have additional milk (to soften) or confectioners’ sugar (to stiffen) on hand, just in case
    Frosting Type General Info Storage Usage Flavors & Colors Size Other Notes
    Store-Bought Frostings
    White Decorator Icing - 1 lb. Can
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Stiff
    • Sweetness Level: Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    If unopened, store at room temperature; if opened, store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks Piping borders, flowers, lettering, stars and other decorations Available in white; vanilla-flavored 1 lb. (16 oz.) One can covers two 8 or 9-inch cake layers or one 13 x 9-inch cake
    Creamy White Decorator Icing - 4 lb. Tub
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    If unopened, store at room temperature; if opened, store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks Icing cakes and cupcakes, crumb-coating, filling cake layers and piping borders Available in white; vanilla-flavored 4 lbs. (64 oz.) One tub covers two 8-inch, 2-layer cakes; three 9 x 13-inch cakes; or 64 cupcakes
    Decorating Icing Pouch
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    If unopened, store at room temperature; if opened, store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks Piping decorations and borders Available in 9 colors: red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white; all are vanilla-flavored 8 oz. Also works with any standard Wilton piping tip and coupler
    Ready-to-Use Icing Tube
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    If unopened, store at room temperature; if opened, store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks Piping decorations, borders and lettering Available in 6 colors: red, orange, green, purple, black, white; all are vanilla-flavored 4.25 oz. Also works with any standard Wilton piping tip and coupler
    Homemade Frostings
    Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 weeks; defrost completely and rewhip before using Icing cakes and cupcakes, crumb-coating, filling cake layers, piping borders and other decorations Vanilla-flavored; can also be customized with any flavor extract or food coloring One recipe makes 2 cups icing Replace butter with equal parts solid vegetable shortening for a pure white frosting
    Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
    • Skill Level: Intermediate
    • Consistency*: Thin
    • Sweetness Level: Semi-Sweet
    • Good for Piping? No
    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months; bring frosting back to room temperature and rewhip before using Icing cakes and cupcakes and filling cake layers Vanilla-flavored; can also be customized with any flavor extract or food coloring One recipe makes 3 1/4 cups icing The light and fluffy texture of this frosting also makes it a great dip for fruits or other snacks
    Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting
    • Skill Level: Intermediate
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Semi-Sweet
    • Good for Piping? No
    Do not store; best used the day it's made Icing cakes and cupcakes and filling cake layers Vanilla-flavored; can also be customized with any flavor extract or food coloring One recipe makes 5 cups icing For best results, use unpasturized eggs; pasturized eggs may be used, but they do not whip up as well and will yield less frosting
    German Buttercream Frosting
    • Skill Level: Advanced
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Semi-Sweet
    • Good for Piping? No
    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; frosted treats should be stored in the refrigerator before serving Icing cakes and cupcakes and filling cake layers Vanilla-flavored; can also be customized with any flavor extract or food coloring One recipe makes 6 cups icing Similar in texture to whipped cream icing; great for those who prefer a less sugary frosting
    Creamy French Buttercream Frosting
    • Skill Level: Advanced
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Semi-Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    Best used day it's made, but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; rewarm frosting to 72 degrees F and rewhip before using Icing cakes and cupcakes, filling cake layers, piping decorations and piping borders Vanilla-flavored; can also be customized with any flavor extract; food coloring not recommended One recipe makes 4 cups icing This buttercream will have a yellow tint due to the addition of egg yolks and butter
    Easy Vegan Buttercream Frosting
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 weeks; defrost completely and rewhip before using Icing cakes and cupcakes, crumb-coating, filling cake layers, piping borders and other decorations Vanilla-flavored; can also be customized with any flavor extract or food coloring One recipe makes 2 1/2 cups icing Vegan buttery spread may be substituted for 1/2 cup of shortening; note that different brands may yield a softer frosting, so only add liquid as needed when using vegan butter substitutes
    Ermine Frosting
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Consistency*: Medium
    • Sweetness Level: Semi-Sweet
    • Good for Piping? Yes
    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; rewhip before using Icing cakes and cupcakes, crumb-coating, filling cake layers, piping borders and other decorations Vanilla-flavored One recipe makes 2 cups icing Similar in taste to cream cheese frosting, though it does not contain cream cheese
    *This denotes consistency of product or recipe without any alterations. Consistency can be changed by adding more confectioners' sugar (for stiffer icing) or more liquid (for thinner icing)

    Have you tried any of these other buttercream flavors? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!