German Buttercream · GF (about 10 cups)

Swiss meringue buttercream has become the gold standard of professional baking, but it’s not the only fabulous European style buttercream out there. Of course there are French buttercreams (made with egg yolks) and Italian buttercreams (made from pouring boiled sugar syrup over meringue) too, but lesser known is German.

German buttercream

German buttercream is perfect for those wanting to graduate from powdered sugar based frosting, but not ready to jump on the Swiss bandwagon. When making or eating Swiss buttercream for the first time, “it tastes like pure butter” is a common complaint. Though kind of ironic (um, yes, it is called a buttercream…), it’s a valid observation. With only sugar, egg whites, and butter it’s no surprise that butter dominates the Swiss flavor profile; especially in less involved flavors like vanilla or almond.

At any rate, German buttercream does not suffer from this problem. It’s made from whole eggs, yolks, and milk, in addition to butter. So even in its simplest form it has all the rich flavor of an old fashioned vanilla ice cream, but the silken texture of a Swiss buttercream.

No powdered sugar, no meringue, no boiled sugar syrup.

a dish of German buttercream

German buttercream makes an awesome filling and finish for cakes and cupcakes alike. You can use it to pipe boarders and write inscriptions, but it won’t hold up quite as nicely as other buttercreams when it comes to more intricate piping techniques like roses.

German Buttercream
16 ounces whole milk
2 vanilla bean pods, split and scraped, seeds reserved for another use
10 ounces sugar
1½ ounces cornstarch
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
32 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

In a medium pot, bring the milk to a simmer along with the vanilla bean pods. Turn off the heat and set aside to steep for at least one hour, or as long as time allows.

After steeping, remove the vanilla bean pods and use a rubber spatula to extract the thick vanilla goo from inside each. Return the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, reserved vanilla bean scrapings, cornstarch, eggs and yolks in a medium bowl.

Whisk about a half cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture—it will be thick at first but will loosen as the milk incorporates. Continue whisking in hot milk until the egg mixture is fluid and warm. Now, return the tempered egg/milk mixture back into the pot of hot milk, whisking all the while. Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble sluggishly. From that point, continue whisking and cooking for a full minute more; use a timer or you run the risk of not fully cooking out the cornstarch. When the minute is up, pour the custard into a large mixing bowl.

The custard may be cooled quickly by mixing it continuously in a stand mixer. If time isn’t an issue, you can press a layer of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate until cool. You can wait even so long as overnight or a few days.

Either way, once the custard has cooled completely, use a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to beat it on medium to medium high speed until creamy. (If you did not refrigerate the custard, please do take caution to make sure you’re not rushing things; if the custard has not been mixed long enough to cool to perfect room temperature, the butter will melt in the next step and you’ll have a very soupy mess on your hands.)

Once the cooled custard has been whipped until creamy, begin adding in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add the salt and continue to whip until the mixture is creamy and homogenous.

If you’d like to flavor the buttercream with any extracts, melted chocolate or other flavorings, now is the time. The flavor variations listed at the end of my Swiss meringue buttercream recipe will all work with this recipe too, so click through for specific instructions on making different flavors not mentioned here.

Use immediately or refrigerate until needed. When ready to use, whip until creamy before proceeding.

Caramel Variation

Before making the buttercream, you’ll need to make one batch of caramel, about 16 ounces. You can actually add quite a bit more more, up to 25 ounces so double the recipe if you like. After making the caramel, don’t wash the pot. Just add the milk for the pastry cream and put that caramel-y residue to good use.

Meanwhile, cool the caramel to room temperature. Make the German buttercream as instructed above. After whipping in the butter, turn the speed of the mixer down to low and drizzle in all of the caramel. Turn the speed up a little and whip until homogenous; adjust salt and vanilla to taste.

Cream Cheese Variation

To make the perfect cream cheese buttercream, use only 16 ounces of unsalted butter and add to that 16 ounces of cream cheese that has come to room temperature too. During the final minute of whipping, add in the juice of 1 lemon. This won’t give it a particularly lemony flavor, but rather a little bit of tartness that heightens the tangy flavor of the cream cheese.

The cream cheese buttercream benefits from at least 45 minutes of refrigeration before being used to decorate a cake. Cream cheese buttercreams are notoriously loose, and while this one has substantially more body than other cream cheese buttercreams (thanks to the power of cornstarch), it improves even more post-refrigeration. After chilling, simply whip until creamy before decorating.


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Any questions?

Oct 09, 2011 ·  2:48 PM

a whole cup of creamy goodness…..beautiful images

 · a spoonful of yumm ·

Oct 09, 2011 ·  3:58 PM

This looks good.

 · Christine ·

Oct 09, 2011 ·  4:57 PM

Both sets of my Grandparents were Bakers with brick & mortar bakeries in Germany. Hence, both of my German born parents baked regularly, and my Mother’s favorite cake for special occasions was called Frankfurter Kranz. A cake in round form with German buttercream filling and frosting, sprinkled with crushed brittle. Many good recipes on the internet for this well known German cake.

 · GermanGirl · 

Oct 09, 2011 · 10:09 PM

Dear God! I want to dive into that and eat my way out.

 · amabilis · 

Oct 09, 2011 · 11:28 PM

@Spoonful of yumm, thanks so much! I think Sarah Jane did such a lovely job with these too.

@Christine, thank you!

@GermanGirl, oh my goodness, that sounds awesome! I’ll be sure to look it up asap, thanks for the tip.

@amabilis, hahaha. The scary part is, you could. Unlike Swiss buttercream, which is kinda hard to eat by itself, this stuff is totally snackable. Grab a spoon and watch out!


Oct 11, 2011 ·  2:57 AM

Oh my, this looks good! I have been wanting to try something beyond the plain old powdered sugar frosting but just hadn’t done it yet. I think I will try this as opposed to French or Swiss. Thanks so much for sharing this!

 · Janet@FCTC ·

Oct 11, 2011 · 11:18 AM

@Janet, I love this recipe cos if you can make puddin’, you can make German b-cream. No fussy meringues or boiling syrup, but sooo much better than the powdered sugar stuff. Hope you whip some up!


Oct 29, 2011 ·  3:26 PM

I want to add liquor to the frosting… will it upset the balance? I notice most of your variations are dry or creamy additions, not fully liquid.

 · Tashva · 

Oct 29, 2011 ·  5:30 PM

@Tashva, you can by all means add liquor. Just drizzle it in a little at a time while mixing and wait for each addition to fully incorporate before adding more. Have fun!


Nov 18, 2011 ·  4:02 AM

When cooling the custard in the stand mixer, at what speed and how long would you mix before reaching room temp?

 · jmanjenks · 

Nov 18, 2011 ·  9:51 AM

@jmanjenks, I haven’t timed it out specifically, I usually have so many other kitchen chores that I just forget about it for a while and come back when I remember… But I set it to medium low. Probably twenty minutes? I’ll try and set a timer next batch.


Nov 21, 2011 ·  2:13 PM

Can this buttercream be frozen?

 · BriB · 

Nov 21, 2011 ·  7:57 PM

@BriB, absolutely! It holds up for about 6 months in the freezer.


Nov 27, 2011 ·  2:39 PM

This was the lightest, creamiest, fluffiest frosting… so fluffy some of the people I fed it to thought it was whipped cream! I made the cream cheese version. Not to be low brow or anything but what it most reminded me of was those cake toppings made of instant pudding, cream cheese, and cool whip… only way tastier due to the real dairy and eggs. But I couldn’t imagine using it for a layer cake cuz it would just smoosh right out the sides… but maybe I didn’t make it exactly right. Anyway, it was absolutely delicious and perfect for whipped cream fans (which I am!).

 · Katie · 

Nov 27, 2011 ·  3:14 PM

@Katie, I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoyed it! Sometimes, depending on how cool the pastry cream is and how soft the butter is, a batch can be especially soft especially when you’ve just freshly made it. To use this for a layer cake, just refrigerate the buttercream until it’s firmed up (or even become completely solid), and then rewhip it until fluffy. It will be much thicker than when you started.


Dec 01, 2011 ·  2:35 PM

You are right, it thickened up nicely when refrigerated. (I ate the first one before that, hence my doubt! It was pumpkin whoopie pies). I like this frosting so much I am already thinking of variations. Chocolate? Coconut? dulce de leche?

 · Katie · 

Dec 01, 2011 ·  5:30 PM

@Katie, so glad to hear it! You can incorporate about 12 ounces of dark chocolate into the buttercream, drizzle caramel right in, or make the custard with coconut milk. It’s really adaptable. Also check out the variations for my Swiss Meringue buttercream, you can apply almost any of those to this recipe as well.


Jan 04, 2012 ·  1:55 AM

Looks so yummy! How much do you think this makes? How large of a cake? Thanks!

 · Justine ·

Jan 04, 2012 ·  6:52 PM

@Justine, it makes 10 cups, enough to generously frost a 3 layer 8” cake with some leftover, which you can freeze. I make such a big batch because everyone has a different plan for decorating and it never hurts to have a little extra in case of emergencies.


Feb 08, 2012 ·  8:22 PM

I’m broke – can I use vanilla extract?

 · Kathryn · 

Mar 03, 2012 ·  7:55 AM

Looks a lot easier than the swiss… how well will it hold up in high humidity?

 · josy ·

Mar 03, 2012 · 10:26 AM

@josy, I wouldn’t say it’s easier than Swiss. With Swiss, all you have to do is whisk whites and sugar over a water bath, whip and add butter. But it does taste very different, a little more like ice cream. I don’t have any experience with it in humidity higher than what we go through during a Kentucky summer, but I haven’t had any trouble with it.


Mar 15, 2012 ·  3:37 AM

omg that sounds so delicious!!! I just got a bottle of stonewall kitchen Butter pecan syrup. wanted to incorporate it in a buttercream and now im thinking cream cheese butter pecan german buttercream… GULP. do u think that d work? or would it be hyper sweet? or too gloopy with the addition of syrup? wnted to use it in a layer cake hence.. =) Oh yes also i used your strawberry reduction in a strawberry ganache and it was TO DIE FOR. =) tHANK YOU ever so much. PS – voted for ya. so glad you won. =)

 · elni · 

Mar 15, 2012 · 11:50 AM

@elni, so glad you enjoyed the strawberry reductions! I think you could drizzle the butter pecan syrup into the regular German buttercream, it’s really amenable to additions like that. The cream cheese version, on the other hand, can be a little loose/fussy to work with and would probably suffer from the addition. (Though it sounds amazing!) You might get away with adding just a little cream cheese, maybe not doing half-and-half, but say 1 1/2 pounds of butter and a half pound of cream cheese, plus the syrup. In either case, you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!


Mar 15, 2012 ·  4:12 PM

I made this and it turned out fine, but I used 2 tbs. of vanilla in place of vanilla bean. Also, I did the caramel version, but only got 13 ounces out of your recipe, not the stated 20. That said, it still turned out well, but you really do have to beat it a long time. I froze it and am hoping for the best when I need it in a few weeks….

 · Kathryn · 

Mar 15, 2012 ·  6:04 PM

@Kathryn, Glad you liked it, even if it came up a little short! I made a batch of caramel today to double check the yield and got 16 ounces, definitely shy of the 20 ounces originally stated. Apologies for the discrepancy. That said, I wonder what happened to the missing 3 ounces between us?

At any rate, it does take quite a while to cool the pastry cream. When you need it again, just bring it to room temperature overnight and then beat it until fluffy. You can use the microwave to thaw it to, but it takes a careful eye, the buttercream can liquify in the center but seem a-okay on the outside. Slow and steady wins the race!


Mar 22, 2012 ·  7:34 PM

Sorry to pester you, but I actually froze the completed frosting, not the pastry cream. Do I still need to thaw it overnight? I cooled the pastry cream too when I first made it, which helped a lot.

 · Kathryn · 

Mar 23, 2012 · 11:04 AM

@Kathryn, I’m on the same page. I was describing what to do with the finished product too. I thought you meant you had to beat the pastry cream for a long time to get it cool before proceeding. My directions stand as is. Good luck!


Mar 30, 2012 · 11:27 AM

Last one – promise. Defrosted it, it was fine. Made the cakes last night. Frosted it this morning. All is well. Party isn’t till Sunday! Every instinct is screaming “REFRIGERATE” it, but I read your online tips about cakes and I can leave it out? It won’t fit in my microwave (great tip), so I put it on my large cake plate and covered with my hugest steel mixing bowl and saran. On the counter. It won’t melt? My friends all say my cakes are dry because I fridge them. But…this frosting seems…wet. It’ll be okay till Sunday night? Thanks Stella! Your new unwanted penpal, Kathryn xx

 · Kathryn · 

Mar 30, 2012 ·  1:16 PM

@Kathryn, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as you need. It’s fine sitting out, but whenever I know there’s a long wait and no one will eat it in the intervening time, I tend to side with refrigeration. So long as the buttercream thoroughly covers the cake, it won’t dry out. And so long as the plastic wrap thoroughly covers the buttercream, it won’t pick up funky odors.

Here’s my advice, refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes until the buttercream is no longer sticky. Wrap in plastic and store refrigerated until Saturday night. Then, remove it from the fridge, unwrap and store in your microwave until the party. Just be careful, if your microwave is over your oven, that it doesn’t get hot in there while you’re cooking dinner, etc.


Apr 05, 2012 ·  5:12 PM

So I made the pastry cream last night and refrigerated it until this afternoon so it’s definitely cool. I whipped it in my stand mixer, but how “whipped” does it need to be? I’ve been slowly adding room temp butter chunks but it isn’t mixing in very well. If I refrigerate the whole thing until it’s the same temp and then whip it will that help? Any other ideas?

 · molly ·

Apr 05, 2012 ·  7:31 PM

@molly, I just realized I didn’t specify the mixer speed in the recipe; I’ll go change that to make it more clear. Beat the butter into the pastry cream at a medium to medium high speed. If you’re just mixing it in (at low speed) then it will have a hard time coming together. Between the speed and the shape of the whisk attachment, it will homogenize after a few minutes. Just crank up the speed and let it go until it smooths out.


Apr 06, 2012 ·  9:00 PM

Well that made a difference, thanks! One last question…what did I do wrong if I added 8 oz of melted white chocolate (and I let it cool a little bit before adding) but it got kind of curdled looking again and a little liquidy…

 · molly ·

Apr 06, 2012 ·  9:46 PM

Stella, have you tried a chocolate version? Like Molly, but I’m thinking 8 oz. of a bittersweet, maybe an 85%?

 · Judy ·

Apr 07, 2012 ·  1:50 PM

@molly, hmmm, that is weird! I’ve made a white chocolate version before, no problem. My only guess is that despite cooling it a bit, it was still warm enough to melt out some of the butter. Generally speaking, with a buttercream as stable as German, a lot of high speed whipping can save it. Usually buttercreams break over temperature imbalances.

I am working on a tutorial on how to save a broken buttercream. I don’t know how long it will be before I can post, but stay tuned!

@Judy, you can definitely make a chocolate version! I’d actually recommend something not quite so dark. This buttercream is only barely sweetened (10 ounces of sugar to 48 ounces of milk/butter) so I think using an 85% would result in a pretty flat taste because there wouldn’t be enough sugar to carry the chocolate flavor. I’d aim for something in the low to mid 70s. But that’s just my best guess, it depends on what you want to do with the buttercream ultimately.

For adding chocolate to the buttercream it’s important to remember two things. 1) if the chocolate it too hot, it can melt the butter and negatively change the texture of the buttercream. 2) if the chocolate is too cold, or if the buttercream itself is too cold, it will “chip up” in the buttercream. Melted, room temperature chocolate is ideal. Once the chocolate is added, crank up the mixer speed as fast as you can and beat it on medium to medium high. If the chocolate just sits idly in the bowl, you run the risk of it setting up into chips against the beaters/bowl.


Apr 16, 2012 ·  5:19 PM

guess what? i saved my german buttercream! i scooped out about 1/3 of the stuff and microwaved it for 20 seconds to make it just a little warm. then, with the mixer on medium-low, i beat in the warmed buttercream and it whipped together perfectly! and oh, my goodness. i think i’m now in love!

 · molly ·

Apr 16, 2012 ·  6:07 PM

@molly, I am soooo glad after all of that you were able to salvage it!! And even better that you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know it all worked out in the end.


Apr 19, 2012 · 11:49 AM

I’ve got a question about room temperature. I’m usually cooking in a room that’s 70-75 degrees and if I let the butter get there then I have trouble with buttercreams and things breaking. Should I aim for something more like 65 degrees on the butter and try and keep the temperatures a little lower or is the answer to turn the mixer up and move faster?

 · cindy · 

Apr 19, 2012 ·  2:09 PM

@cindy, generally, buttercreams only break when they’re too cold. It’s about 85-90 in my kitchen and when I make buttercream with room temp butter, whether Swiss or German, it comes together a bit soupy, but it definitely comes together. Usually it’s not a problem cos I’m making it to store and use later anyway.

If you’ve got experience with butter, you can absolutely play around with the temperatures. I just don’t recommend it for people still getting to know buttercream. I often use cold butter straight from the fridge, but just add it when the mixture is still a bit warm. It takes a decent amount of experience to learn how to strike a balance with cold butter and hot pasty cream (or hot meringue)…

At any rate, moral of the story: if you’re comfortable making buttercream, you’ve got a lot of latitude to experiment with your butter temperature. Let me know if you run into any problems.


Apr 20, 2012 ·  2:08 PM

Tried the cream cheese variation last night and it came out great! I do have another question though. How fast do you add the tablespoons of butter (or cream cheese)? I’ve seen admonishments about waiting for each piece to disappear completely before adding the next on some recipes and I think that might take over an hour of babysitting at that point. I dropped a piece in every 20 seconds or so but I was curious about how fast can the butter be added without causing trouble.

 · cindy · 

Apr 22, 2012 · 12:12 PM

@cindy, sweet! I’m glad to hear of your success! Most people use butter that’s too cold and then add it too fast, causing the buttercream to break, so recipes try and combat the most common problem by slowing everyone down. I chuck it in pretty fast, maybe 5-10 seconds between additions. It’s always super soft butter, so risk of breaking is low. The biggest point is to keep an eye on the overall texture of the mix and to slow down if you see it looking a little curdled.

If you ever do find that you’ve gone too fast and the buttercream looks broken, just set the bowl over a waterbath until the buttercream gets melty around the edges, then whip it for a few minutes. It should smooth out straight away.


May 01, 2012 · 11:34 PM

I’ve been totally inspired by your brown butter carrot cake, german buttercream, and sage caramel sauce recipes! In school we were always told german buttercream was made with fondant. This version sounds 100x better. Since the custard makes up such a large portion of the icing I assume the icing has to be refrigerated – do you know if it freezes well like Swiss? Thank you Stella!

 · Jason S ·

May 02, 2012 · 10:14 AM

@Jason, really, someone should write a book about the details of cooked dairy and storage. My assumption is that because it’s cooked, the custard poses no more danger at room temp than the egg whites pose to Swiss. At work, everything is served the day it’s prepared, but at home I routinely leave cakes frosted with German (or Swiss) buttercream at room temperature for 3 or 4 days. So far so good!


May 02, 2012 ·  4:50 PM

Thank you Stella! Yes I agree – there needs to be a guide or something. I recently sent in a package to the Dept of Agriculture to get approved for home baking and they require a list of sell-by/use-by dates and how the products are stored. Not easy. Thank you for the quick reply! I will post on your fanpage if it all goes well this weekend!!

 · Jason S ·

May 03, 2012 ·  9:39 AM

@Jason, awesome, please do! Yeah, it seems most food safety courses strictly cover savory things. :p


May 03, 2012 ·  4:52 PM

Hi Stella. Juuuuust bumped into ur blog via foodbuzz via foodwishes. Your beautifully swirled frosting and the carrot rose drewwww me in. Knowing its a carrot cake, i thought that frosting has to be cream cheese and if it is, how in the world is it so beautifully stiff?!? So i just had to know and here I am …..
As a matter of fact, recently ive been going mad searching for ways to make a pipeable cc frosting.
The butter, cc & powdered sugar version will never be stiff enough unless u put HEAPS of that sugar in, which is an absolute no no for me.
Then I tried to make a cc version of the flour frosting which also didnt work AT ALL…it curdled somehow ….
Then I tried the one with whipping cream…which also turned into creamy soup after some 20-30 mins even after being refrigerated.
I should write a script for a CC horror flick!!!
Is your cc frosting in this picture, your german one or swiss? ….cuz after looking at this, i feel like there is still little hope…

 · Saima · 

May 04, 2012 ·  9:49 AM

@Saima, the one in the photo is the cream cheese version of Swiss buttercream. The German is the most stable, though. Both the Swiss & German cream cheese recipes are softer than the if made with 100% butter, but still considerably more firm than the powdered sugar versions, and infinitely more enjoyable.


May 08, 2012 ·  9:51 AM

Thank you so much for ur reply Stella…reeeally appreciate it! I shall give both a try and so what works for me as where I live currently, it peaks up to 50C during summer :/

 · Saima · 

May 09, 2012 · 10:06 AM

@Saima, oh my gosh, you poor dear! And I thought I had it bad when it got up to 32° C in my kitchen! Good luck!


May 11, 2012 ·  3:00 PM

Hey. This looks so good. Just one question. After simmering and steeping the milk the first time, is the vanilla bean goo going back into the milk or with the vanilla bean seeds. Thanks for sharing

 · tjbakes · 

May 12, 2012 · 12:38 PM

@tjbakes, it goes back in with the milk. I always add that step because I’ve seen people just pluck their vanilla bean out of the milk and throw it away, and it’s so sad! All the best flavor’s still inside.


May 19, 2012 ·  6:07 PM

I’m a cake making virgin. I used a buttercream recipie I found online (pretty much, butter, icing sugar, vanilla and cream. It is WAY to sweet for my liking (should have known), someone told me that adding vanilla pudding will make it taste better. Can I make a batch and add it to my already made buttercream? (your recipe calls for adding butter etc TO the custard).


 · christinem · 

May 20, 2012 · 12:39 AM

@christinem, not knowing the recipe that you used, I’m hard pressed to say how that would work out. I wouldn’t recommend it for a Swiss buttercream… But don’t be afraid to get some salt in there to fix your too-sweet buttercream. Most recipes are severely under salted and benefit from a hefty dose.


May 21, 2012 · 11:25 AM

I am so so so anxious to make this. It seems my search for the perfect buttercream may finally be over. The only problem is I do not have a scale. Could you translate the measurements into cups and teaspoons for me. I know liquid measures differently than dry and I’d hate to mess this up.

10oz sugar
1 1/2 oz cornstarch
30 oz butter

Thanks !

 · bella · 

May 21, 2012 · 11:06 PM

Hi Bella! You are quite right that ounces don’t always translate accurately to cups. Unfortunately, as you do not have a scale, I do not have cups! So I am pretty ill equipped to make that translation for you. I will ask around on twitter and see if anyone knows a reliable website for making conversions, but so far I haven’t found one I can trust. Sorry to not be any help!


Jun 11, 2012 ·  8:20 PM

You come up first in Google for German Buttercream. Just thought you’d like to know This is very similar to the Anglaise buttercream I told you about earlier today. I think I shall have to try it since there’s less futzing about than for the Anglaise version. Love it, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Where have I been?!

 · Jenni ·

Aug 07, 2012 ·  3:07 PM

My goodness! I LOVE this buttercream. I couldn’t do American style and Swiss was a bit too buttery for me, but this was heavenly! Made the caramel version and they were universally praised. I get lost in a time warp on your site. So many wonderful things

 · Niki · 

Aug 07, 2012 ·  5:34 PM

@Niki, I am so thrilled to hear it!! This buttercream also has much less sugar than either Swiss or American, which is another major bonus too. Congrats on sweeping up applause from your tasters. Happy baking!


Aug 10, 2012 ·  9:44 AM

Hi, I was wondering if extracts/flavorings can be added later (i.e. after freezing and thawing). I would like to get a jumpstart on the buttercream, but have not decided on the flavorings yet. Thanks!

 · Dana · 

Aug 10, 2012 ·  5:47 PM

Hi Dana, absolutely. Just whip them in at the end after thawing. Happy baking!


Aug 11, 2012 ·  3:28 PM

If I want to stir a batch of reduced berries will it affect the texture or sweetness?

 · D0 · 

Aug 11, 2012 ·  6:44 PM

HI D0. Yup, it definitely will, but whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you. If you want to keep the texture creamy, strain the reduction before adding it. You can adjust the sweetness with a little bit of salt, I’d say 1/4 teaspoon for every 4 ounces of berry reduction that you add (but let your own tongue be your guide!). Hope that helps!


Aug 21, 2012 · 12:39 PM

Can’t you please write temperature in C and units of measurnment like ml/grams, too? that would be easier for me, cause i don’t live in USA and i don’t know all these terms at all! Stupid me!

 · tomatoe · 

Aug 21, 2012 ·  5:30 PM

Hi Tomatoe! Well, vice versa is true here too, haha. As an American baker, I don’t cross paths with a gram scale very often or have a Celsius thermometer for my oven. With Google, you can easily (and safely) convert ounces and degrees Fahrenheit to grams and Celsius just by typing it in to the search bar. No actual math required!


Aug 24, 2012 · 11:41 AM

Just wanted to tell you about a silly variation I made on this recipe. Instead of milk I used pureed bananas! It made a super banana-y frosting! The only downside was the ever-so-slight gray color and slightly less smooth texture. But it was just as fluffy and creamy. Plus it was fun to do

 · Katie H · 

Aug 25, 2012 ·  6:24 PM

Holy crap, Katie, that’s ingenious!! I would never have thought of that, what a brilliant experiment. Thanks for sharing! I bet with a squeeze of lemon, the color might be preserved just a bit better… I’ll have to give it a shot too!


Sep 03, 2012 ·  3:08 PM

how do I print a recipee
ie German buttercream

 · Joaquin · 

Sep 14, 2012 ·  1:07 PM

Hi, I was just wondering…which version of buttercream would you use to make a creme brulee buttercream? I’ve been looking everywhere for a good creme brulee buttercream recipe, but I can’t find one. I want to make creme brulee cupcakes without actually having to make creme brulee. So I think the best bet would be to just find a custard-y buttercream and add lots of vanilla?

 · Steph · 

Sep 14, 2012 ·  5:12 PM

Hi Step! I think your best bet would be to make the French buttercream (lots of egg yolks and custard flavor!). If you wanted to get some crunchy business in there to remind people of the brulee part, I’d say to make a batch of brittle with no nuts, then chop up the brittle (or grind it to a powder) and stir it in. You’ll need to let me know how it turns out, I’m so curious!


Sep 19, 2012 ·  4:58 PM

Wow. ‘m a prize idiot. I used salted butter. A kilo of salted butter. Which in my defence was an accident but I really, really should’ve known better. People, do not make that mishtak. It will make you cry. I cried.. And then I drank tea and tried to figure out how to salvage a giant sized bowlful of salty German Buttercream. Still thinking…

 · Lou · 

Sep 19, 2012 · 10:29 PM

Ohhhh no, Lou! I have done that exact thing, believe it or not. I was making buttercream for a photoshoot and was out of town; grabbed a thing of salted butter because they had different brands at that store and I wasn’t paying attention. It was so, so awful.

Your best bet for salvation is to make a batch of UNSALTED caramel and whip it in after it’s cooled to room temperature. It will add loads of sugar without turning the buttercream into a liquid and then you can just call it salted caramel! Paired with a sweet spice cake, or the like, it will come close to balancing back out.

I’ve tried white chocolate and honey in that circumstance but it turns out being weirdly too sweet and too salty at the same time. I hope you can find a work around!


Sep 21, 2012 · 11:05 AM

How would you go about this without any sort of electric mixer? I’m currently living in my boyfriend’s parents’ house while waiting for my house sale to be approved and both my hand mixer and stand mixer are in storage. D: Would one of the other euro buttercreams be more practical?
I have whipped cream by hand before and though my arm was about to fall off I’m not opposed to putting in a little extra work.

 · Amy W · 

Sep 21, 2012 ·  6:07 PM

Hi Amy! Omg, you’ll get a workout making this one for sure! I think you could do it by hand, I mean, the old timey chefs did right? Instead of whipping it with a whisk, I think you might try beating the pastry cream with spatula and then working the butter cream in like that. I don’t think there’s anyway you can get it aerated quite as much without a machine, and it’s so thick I don’t think you can whip it by hand. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the other buttercreams will be any easier. Afterward, eat a double slice of cake cos you’ll have earned it.


Sep 22, 2012 ·  5:36 PM

Hi! Haven’t tried this yet, but was running into the same problem as Bella (no scale, only cups, and didn’t want to use “volume” for weight!). I found a site that said the following:
-One US cup of regular granulated sugar weighs 7 ounces or 200 grams.
-One US cup of powdered or confectioner’s sugar, lightly spooned, weighs 4 ounces or 115 grams.
-One US cup of light brown sugar, packed, weighs 7.66 ounces or 217 grams.
-One US cup of dark brown sugar, packed, weighs 8.4 ounces or 239 grams.

So, the 10 ounces of granulated sugar called for here is 1.43c or 1c + 3/8c + 1tsp, slightly over the 1 and 1/4 cup expected from a direct volume conversion

Hope this helps other rookies out there that might not have a scale!

 · Kerri · 

Sep 22, 2012 ·  5:49 PM

PS: the 1.5 ounces of cornstarch is about 7tsp, and the 32 ounces of unsalted butter is 4 cups :O)

 · Kerri · 

Sep 23, 2012 · 12:14 PM

Hi, when refrigerating the custard, do you cover the bowl in plastic wrap or do you have to press it against the surface of the custard?

 · sarah · 

Sep 23, 2012 ·  1:31 PM

Hi Kerri! Thanks for coming to the rescue of the scale-less folks out there, I’m sure many people will appreciate it. Those conversions look pretty spot on!

Sarah, yeah, press the plastic wrap against the surface of the custard. Otherwise, it will form a skin which isn’t always fully broken up during later mixing and can cause little chunky bits…


Sep 23, 2012 · 11:02 PM

Made this butter cream today, with the addition of a milk chocolate/dark chocolate mix…so good!! Thanks, Stella! The colour is a little light for what I want it for (the outside of a pirate ship, of course!) so I’m going to add a bit of coulour when I go to use it. One quick question…after refrigerating or freezing, do I need to bring it to room temperature before I re-whip it, or do I do it when it’s still cold? Thanks again!

 · Kerri · 

Sep 23, 2012 · 11:13 PM

Almost forgot…can I use as-is for my crumb-coat, or what would you recommend?

 · Kerri · 

Sep 23, 2012 · 11:33 PM

Hi Kerri! Let it come to room temperature before whipping, it will get much fluffier that way, which makes it easier to handle. And you can definitely use it for a crumb coat! Snap a pic of that pirate ship for me!!! xoxo


Sep 26, 2012 ·  4:14 PM

You are utterly amazing Stella! Such beautiful recipe secrets, plus all these glitch-busting replies – however do you find the time!?
I’ve been looking for good buttercream recipes for ages and yours are awesome.
A query re macarons: do you bake more than one tray of yours at a time in the convection oven? Many recipe say never do more than one or they’ll be ruined, I did risk it today though and they took longer but seem fine.

 · Jem · 

Sep 26, 2012 ·  7:37 PM

Hi Jem! I love getting comments, so it’s never a bother to reply. I’m always happy to see someone is actually reading! When it comes to those macaron recipes, I can only imagine that they’re trying to address the fact that most home ovens are pretty crappy. I’ve got a nice pro convection oven, so I can bake multiple trays at once, no sweat. But some home ovens tend to be hotter at the top or bottom, so one tray or the other winds up burned. But if your oven is newer, or just reliable, there’s no reason not to bake off two at a time.


Sep 26, 2012 ·  7:39 PM

Can this buttercream be made in a plastic bowl, or should plastic be avoided? Thank you!

 · Talia · 

Sep 26, 2012 ·  7:53 PM

Also,would the full recipe be enough to ice a double layer sheet cake?

 · Talia · 

Sep 27, 2012 ·  9:06 AM

Hi Talia! I don’t think the plastic would be a problem, per se, but the pastry cream is so thick I do wonder if it would make whipping it more difficult (if the plastic isn’t rigid). But it would definitely be enough for a double layer sheet cake, no problem. Happy baking!


Sep 28, 2012 ·  8:38 AM

Thanks, Stella! Just wondering: Is there any way to scale this recipe down to make a tiny test batch?

 · Talia · 

Sep 28, 2012 ·  9:14 AM

Hi Talia! I suppose you could make a 1/4 sized batch, using just one whole egg. I like making larger batches because it isn’t any more work, but you can freeze the leftovers, which makes life so much easier the next time you make a cake. Just multiply everything in the recipe by .25 to get the new measurements. Good luck!


Oct 06, 2012 ·  5:19 PM

The Captain of the shiny ship Bravetart said “make it so” and so I did…
Took your advice and whipped a batch of caramel into my salty (ugh!) buttercream. I was sort of feeling all experimental, y’know? So I dug up a recipe for peanut butter cake with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and a topping of dark chocolate ganache. It worked! Seriously: such a scrummy workaround! I must say that the ganache made the flavours work so, so well. I’ve also got a batch of salted caramel buttercream (without the cream cheese) waiting for some cupcakes to adorn. Very, very happy I didn’t have to throw it all away! Thank you to the power of 100!

 · Lou · 

Oct 07, 2012 · 12:13 PM

OMG, Lou, thanks for promoting me to Captain!!! Yay!!! But seriously, I am so happy you could save that batch of buttercream from a tragic fate in the trash bin. Your peanut butter & chocolate concoction sound wonderful, too. High five!


Oct 24, 2012 · 11:32 AM

I am very excited to make this recipe. How much pastry cream does this make? (before adding the butter for the final product)

 · Kelly · 

Oct 24, 2012 · 11:08 PM

Hi Kelly. Would you believe I have no idea? I always just turn it straight into buttercream, I’ve never bothered to check the pre-butter volume. I’d guesstimate about 4 cups, though.


Oct 30, 2012 ·  3:45 AM

Hi! I have been following you for quite some time now, and really appreciate your recipes and photos and stories. Thank you so much.

Just one question, would adding espresso powder into the milk before I make the custard work? I want to try an espresso german buttercream.

Thanks for your help,


 · Anjo Angela Lim · 

Oct 30, 2012 · 10:27 AM

Hi Anjo Angela! You can absolutely add in some espresso powder to the milk; but you might try waiting to add some (dissolved in a little vanilla, perhaps) to the finished pastry cream while it’s still hot, that way you can see how it will taste with sugar, etc, right away. What may taste perfect in plain, hot milk may not get the job done in the end. Alternately, you can steep whole coffee beans in with the milk too, then strain them out.


Nov 08, 2012 ·  4:17 AM

Your posts are great. But your replies to readers’ problems? Fantastic! So friendly, and so helpful, not just for them but for anyone else reading the comments! OK, I feel armed to try making buttercream once more…

 · Astrid ·

Nov 08, 2012 ·  9:55 AM

Hi Astrid! I’m so glad the extra info in the comments has been helpful to you. If you ever need to hear from me faster than my comment-replies, hit me up on twitter @thebravetart. I’m addicted, so my response time is usually within the hour.


Nov 09, 2012 · 11:37 PM

Hi Stella, You amazing woman

Are you referring to US fluid ounces in your German Buttercream recipe when writing “16 ounces whole milk”?

I assume that the other ounces are weight ounces?

Thanks in advance^-^


Your Danish Fan

 · MacaronThief · 

Nov 10, 2012 ·  9:51 AM

Hi MacaronThief! Thanks for the kind words. I don’t use volume in any of my recipes (aside from teaspoons, etc), so all references to ounces are weight measurements, even with liquids. Happy baking!


Nov 14, 2012 ·  9:34 PM

I made my first batch of chocolate german buttercream frosted cupcakes. Tasted good, but looked strange, like it was grainy. Is this what ‘broken’ means? Because of the appearance, I frosted my cupcakes lightly, then froze the rest of the buttercream. Is there something I can do to improve the appearance of my remaining batch? I’ve really enjoyed reading all of the posts! Thank you for your patience!

 · DJ · 

Nov 15, 2012 · 12:00 AM

Hi DJ! Yes, indeed, it sounds broken, which is just a fancy way of saying the ingredients are so cold they have goosebumps. This generally happens when the butter and cream cheese haven’t warmed up enough after being pulled from the fridge.

But saving it is easy! When you thaw the buttercream back out, let it come to room temperature and whip it. If it’s still grainy, take out about 2 cups of the buttercream (if you made a full batch) and melt it in the microwave. Then add it back to the mixture and mix on low to combine, then whip to restore the texture. The warm melty buttercream will warm up the rest of the buttercream too and the texture should smooth out for you. If not, you can repeat the melting/whipping process.

Alternately, you can do the same thing by warming the buttercream over a waterbath on the stove. When you see the buttercream start to get melty around the edges, remove it from the heat and start whipping.


Nov 20, 2012 ·  4:35 AM

It worked! I added some of the melted buttercream to the whipped mixture and got rid of the goosebumps. Is it okay to keep refreezing? I made 1/2 recipe of chocolate buttercream for my first attempt. The next time I make it, I will freeze in smaller batches.

Now I need to practice my piping skills.

Next, I will try that caramel sauce. Just working up the nerve

Thank you!

 · DJ · 

Nov 20, 2012 ·  8:56 AM

Hi DJ! I’m sooooo glad to hear it worked out, yay! Yes, you can keep refreezing, pretty much as much as you want. The buttercream’s a real trooper to hold up over time. Don’t sweat the caramel sauce, even if it gets grainy, once you add the cream and cook, it’ll all smooth out. Good luck!


Nov 20, 2012 ·  1:25 PM

Help! I’ve started on a full recipe of the buttercream. The custard is foamy. I’m not sure what I did differently. It tastes okay. Will this be a problem when I add the butter?

 · DJ · 

Nov 20, 2012 ·  3:33 PM

Let me rephrase… My custard isn’t foamy, it’s curdled. I tried again, and it’s fine. Should I just throw the curdled stuff away? Thanks.

 · DJ · 

Nov 20, 2012 ·  4:49 PM

Hi DJ. Oh no! Well, I’m glad the second batch came out! Here’s something you might do to save the curdled batch. First press it through a mesh sieve. Kinda a pain, but you want to make sure you don’t have any chunks of coagulated egg in there. Then put it in a food processor and pulse for about a minute. If it still looks curdled and weird, try drizzling in some milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it smooths out That’s what I’d do if I needed to save a batch, anyway!


Nov 20, 2012 ·  8:03 PM

I think I’ll trash the curdled stuff this time. Too tired. If it happens again, though, I’ll attempt to rescue it before making another batch.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a carrot cake and use the cream cheese version to frost. Probably won’t try piping yet, since I want it to look good for Thanksgiving

I’ve read all of the questions and comments several times. There is so much good information here.

 · DJ · 

Nov 21, 2012 ·  9:06 AM

Hi Dj! I totally understand, sometimes it’s just not worth saving. The biggest tip I can give you is to make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature and spreadably soft, even if that means a zap in the microwave for the cream cheese (which takes longer than butter to soften). Happy Thanksgiving!!


Nov 21, 2012 ·  6:51 PM

I made my very first layer cake (3 layers). I frosted it with the cream cheese version. Woohoo. As I was combining the custard and butter, I noticed it was broken. I just smiled, zapped some of the mixture, and continued whipping away.

Thank you for this blog. It (you) gives me the confidence to ‘go for it’.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 · DJ · 

Nov 22, 2012 · 12:49 PM

Ahhhhhhhh!!! Congrats on your first layer cake, DJ!! I am so happy you conquered layer cake and knew just what to do when the buttercream acted fussy for you. High five and Happy Thanksgiving!! I wish you much baking success in the future.


Nov 25, 2012 ·  1:30 AM

So, this might sound silly, but would I be tempting the laws of buttercream if I added both booze AND caramel to this? I’m thinking a rum caramel version. I know I can add booze to my caramel American buttercream … but I’m trying to flex my baking muscles a little …

 · christina · 

Nov 25, 2012 · 10:01 AM

Hi Christina! I think you should totally go for it. If you add too much booze, it won’t break the buttercream per-se, but the booze will wind up kinda floating out on its own, unable to incorporate into the buttercream. So just add it in a Tablespoon at a time on low speed; once it begins to mix in, increase to medium and let it fully incorporate before adding the next dose. Generally, you can get two or three ounces of liquid in before the buttercream will start to protest. Hope it works out just how you’d like!


Nov 29, 2012 ·  1:32 AM

Hey Guys,
I am from germany and I have never made this Buttercream maybe I just dont know it… So I may try it
But the most popular German Buttercream here is only just made of Butter, Sugar and vanilla custard powder. And it is the most delicious Buttercream I know! I really have tried almost all Buttercreams and frostings but nothing tastes as good as this German Buttercream i can eat it just as it is soo yummy <3 I will just post you the exact recipe when I am at home! You may try it

 · Jacky ·

Nov 29, 2012 ·  9:05 AM

Hi Jacky! It sounds like the custard powder is a modern shortcut for the classic technique. And it may be one of those things like “creme anglaise” (English cream) that earned its name so long ago and subsequently fallen from fashion.


Dec 04, 2012 ·  1:14 AM

Hi Stella, is it possible to use less butter? I am going to do a test batch first of the G.B. I have tried the SMB and French recipes. People have complained about the “butter” taste. I am pulling my hair out trying to find something no so “buttery”. Thanks for your help

 · luv2cook · 

Dec 05, 2012 ·  9:21 AM

Hi luv2cook! The German recipe is my answer to those folks. Even people who don’t like SMBC tend to like it because of the custard adds in. Using less butter is tricky, the buttercream will take on a broken, oily look because the emulsion doesn’t hold well with less butter.


Dec 05, 2012 ·  8:19 PM

I decided if they don’t like it they can just have the cake. lol. Thanks for answering. This buttercream is delicious.

 · luv2cook · 

Dec 05, 2012 · 11:38 PM

I tried the GBC recipe today with my macarons and OMG, it is absolutely delicious. It has more substance than the SBC and so smooth. It seems easier to me than the SBC because I didn’t have to use hot sugar syrup. Thanks so much for the recipe.

 · Knottyewe · 

Dec 06, 2012 · 12:56 PM

Warning: don’t buy Challenge-brand unsalted butter! It calls itself butter, rather than butter-flavored spread or anything, but you realize when you open it that they put ‘flavorings’ in there. It smells like microwave butter-flavor popcorn. Awful. I want to try making this frosting, but it will take another trip to the store first. Grrr.

 · kate the pest · 

Dec 07, 2012 · 12:18 AM

Hi Stella, do you think fondant accent pieces will hold up on this buttercream?

 · luv2cook · 

Dec 09, 2012 ·  6:11 PM

@luv2cook, sorry for the delays, I just got my laptop back today! I think the fondant pieces will hold up okay, but it’s been a loooong time since I’ve played with fondant.

@Knottyewe, I’m sooo happy you like it! It’s one of my favorites, for sure. Sounds like you’ve been making an Italian meringue buttercream, Swiss should cook over a water batch. Either way, I’m with you: hot syrups are for the birds!

@kate, uuugh, oh no! What an unpleasant surprise. Hope you can find the good stuff!


Dec 11, 2012 ·  4:31 AM

Hi Stella, here I am at 4:20 a.m. thinking about buttercream! I’m going to make this in the next day or two for my red velvet cupcakes. Just wondering what kind of convection oven you have – I’m buying one for my cupcake shop and the choices are overwhelming. So many issues with what kind of fans work with cupcake baking. What’s your thought on cupcakes in convection ovens?

 · Staarr ·

Dec 11, 2012 ·  6:34 PM

Hi Staarr! Anyone who’s thinkin’ about buttercream at 4am is a friend of mine. I have a Moffat Turbofan; it’s a tabletop unit (no legs) with two racks. I like it okay, but it’s refurbished so all my gripes with it may just be a reflection of that rather than anything else. Once you get used to convection, it’s great, but I don’t particularly prefer it over conventional.

When I bake cupcakes at work, I generally bake them in cappuccino cups, so it’s a little different. But they bake fast! It takes some getting used to.


Dec 12, 2012 · 10:05 AM

Stella, thanks for the reply! The Moffat is one that I’m looking at among others. I like conventional better but want the speed of convection. Made the base for the frosting last night and it’s sitting in my fridge being just sweetly wonderful waiting for me to whip up the cream cheese version tonight. Thank you for sharing your recipes and the tips are really helpful!

 · Staarr ·

Dec 12, 2012 · 10:37 PM

Hi. I would like to cover the butter cream on the cake with fondant. Would the fondant be to heavy for the buttercream.

 · betty · 

Dec 13, 2012 · 10:18 AM

Hi betty! Not at all, you shouldn’t have any difficulties with a fondant covering.


Dec 13, 2012 · 10:20 AM

Oh, you’re so welcome! I have something of a love hate relationship with my oven, but it’s refurbished so my complaints may reflect that fact much more than the quality of the oven itself. Haha. Good luck with the cupcake business!


Dec 15, 2012 · 11:47 PM

Hi Stella, great website!
I have a potluck on Tuesday and I am thinking of bringing a cake. I have to transit for nearly an hour and a half though so I’ve opted to swap the usual whipped cream frosting (prefer the way lighter taste and feel) with a lighter buttercream that is stable at RT. I attempted the Swiss buttercream for the first time today and boy did it taste like butter! It was a shock coming from just sweetened whipped cream.
Now I’m looking into the German buttercream on your site and just have to ask before starting, will it be stable at RT and will I run into the trouble of too much butteryness again? It just seems like there’s quite a bit of butter in this recipe too!
Thanks in advance!

 · Jovo · 

Dec 16, 2012 · 10:48 AM

Hi Jovo! Yeah, Swiss can be really buttery when you’re not used to it. I think (fingers crossed) you’ll like the German, though. I’ve had a lot of Swiss-haters say they loved it; it has a much more custardy flavor. I know it seems like a lot of butter, but if you use less the buttercream will have a curdled, broken look. Despite all the butter, there’s really a lot of custard (and air) too, which mellow the flavor considerably. It’s super stable too, so you won’t have any troubles with transportation. Let me know what you think!


Dec 22, 2012 ·  2:50 PM

Hi Stella! Is it ok to add powdered sugar to the buttercream to sweeten it a little? I love the taste as is but some of my tasters would like it a tad bit sweeter.
Thank you so much =)

 · Mary · 

Dec 23, 2012 · 10:01 AM

Thanks for this wonderful blog! My idea to make macarons as Christmas gifts for the neighbours has, of course, meant hours of fun reading online and I have thoroughly been enjoying your recipes, writing, and comments. I think I am actually ready to head off on the adventure with your basic macaron recipe stuffed with German buttercream divided and flavoured with your caramel (looks incredible!), some lemon juice and rind, and finally Chocolate! I am heading out to pick up the missing ingredients: cream, whole milk and vanilla beans but am wondering if either the GBC or caramel could use blend (milk/cream) or 2% since it’s already in the fridge. Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

 · Amelia · 

Dec 23, 2012 · 11:31 AM

Hi Mary! My suggestion for future batches would be to cut back (or cut out) the salt next time to increase the sense of sweetness. For this one, of course you can beat in some powdered sugar, but this will make the buttercream slightly gritty (because of the undissolved/uncooked cornstarch in powdered sugar) and also much thicker. An option that might be better would be to beat in a little corn syrup, a 1/4 cup at a time, until the taste is more to your liking.

Hi Amelia! You could probably get away with using 2% in the German buttercream, but definitely not in the caramel. Caramel needs the fat content of cream to have the right consistency. Made with milk, it tends to break and curdle. Happy holiday baking!


Jan 12, 2013 ·  7:01 PM

How long does it keep in the fridge, i made some saturday evening and wanted to keeps some aside for tuesday, (they will be consumed tuesday) i’m getting a lot of conflicting info online! Thanks for your help!!!

 · Elan · 

Jan 13, 2013 · 11:57 AM

Hi Elan! You’ll be a-okay! German buttercream will hold up for about ten days in the fridge, presuming it’s in an airtight container (it’ll absorb odors better than a box of baking soda, so lock it down tight!). At room temperature, I’d give it two days before I’d stat getting worried.


Jan 19, 2013 · 10:25 AM

is there any way to make this without using so much butter? in the Texas-winter heat, my buttercream is still melting!

 · Jenna  · 

Jan 19, 2013 · 11:11 AM

I made a test batch this morning; it was not as white as yours, even after much whipping in the mixer. I can live with the color (I can tint it, after all), but my frosting had a sharp taste, very subtle, at the end. I’m quite certain it was my grocery-store brand butter. Do you have any recommendations for a butter brand to use? I’m making the frosting for my tyke’s birthday cake, so the super expensive butter probably won’t happen, but I just cannot bear another delicious cake smothered with sugar-bomb decorator frosting. Cake and frosting should be friends! Thanks, Stella.

 · Christy · 

Jan 20, 2013 ·  3:41 AM

Hey Stella! I can’t buy vanilla beans yet so is it okay to use vanilla extract instead?

 · Krysten · 

Jan 20, 2013 · 12:02 PM

@Jenna, Hmm, even with some serious heat the buttercream should hold up nicely. It’s usually 90&deg; in the restaurant kitchen, so I’m definitely speaking from experience with hot. It may simply be that due to the heat of your kitchen, the custard didn’t really get a chance to cool down. It may have felt relatively cool, but not 100%. In this case, just try refrigerating the buttercream for an hour, then rewhipping. That should solve the problem.

But there’s one more option: if the custard wasn’t cooked until it bubbled, and then cooked for that full minute more, the cornstarch may not be gelling properly causing the overall mixture to be soft and loose. It’s really important that the custard bubbles for a whole minute. If it didn’t, it won’t ever set up nicely, I’m afraid. But between those two points, I hope you’re able to figure out what’s going on!

@Christy, I’ve got no gripe with grocery store butter! So long as it’s pure, unsalted butter with no added anything, I don’t care if it’s Land o Lakes or Sam’s Club. The only thing to look out for is a butter that has “natural coloring” or something listed in the ingredients, some brands do this to make their pale butter seem more rich.

A “sharp” flavor tends to throw up a warning sign of spoilage to me, any chance your butter, milk or eggs were past their prime? Or if you used skim or low-fat milk, the buttercream would definitely have a lackluster flavor. Alternatively, if you grabbed a box of margarine or “whipped” butter by mistake, that could definitely have caused an issue with the flavor. Let me know what you think and we’ll figure it out!

Hi Krysten! Absolutely. I just use ‘em because I love the speckles. Use 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract instead, or more to taste.


Jan 20, 2013 ·  4:04 PM

Thanks, Stella. I’ll have to taste my butter on its own to see if it was the culprit or not. The milk, eggs and unsalted butter were fresh from the store, but I did use 2% milk since I only made a test batch and didn’t have a fuller-fat milk on hand. I also think the cornstarch may not have cooked all the way out. We just moved and I’m learning how to finesse an electric range; my test batch of custard went from no bubbles to gel in about 30 seconds.

My husband said he didn’t taste anything “sharp” at all, so I suspect that once I use whole milk and search for the purest butter in my price range, the flavor might go away.

 · Christy · 

Jan 24, 2013 ·  8:31 AM

Hi Christy! I do think the 2% could have made somewhat of a difference. Custards made with a lower fat content often have a thin, sort of tinny flavor. Hope the next batch turns out just how you like it!


Jan 25, 2013 · 10:53 AM

I just found your website and what a blessing!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t like the Swiss buttercream since it tastes too buttery, so I will be making a batch of the German buttercream since it sounds so delicious. I will be making a cake for my nephews engagement party that will have custard in between each layer and gumpaste/fondant accents. I will need to refrigerate the cake because of the custard, will the German buttercream be OK if I frost and decorate the night before and place it in a box in the fridge or will the buttercream separate? I will place the gumpaste decorations the morning of the party. Thanks for all your help.

 · Geena · 

Jan 26, 2013 ·  3:16 PM

HI Geena! I know what you mean, Swiss buttercream just isn’t for everyone. I think you’ll like the German much better! It will do just fine in the fridge, no need to worry. Good luck with the cake, I bet it will be gorgeous!


Jan 31, 2013 ·  1:17 AM

Dear Stella, I tried making this buttercream, it taste good but consistency wise…I failed! I made the creamcheese variation and its too loose. I did wait for about 3 hours for the custard to cool down, and yet it is still too loose. Any advice from you? Oh and I do live in a tropical country, I hope that’s not one of the reason why the buttercream doesn’t have the right consistency.

 · dinard · 

Feb 01, 2013 ·  9:51 AM

Hi Dinard! Oh, no, how frustrating! It may be that your “room temperature” is just much warmer than mine. I would recommend refrigerating the buttercream for a few hours (or overnight as you might have already done) and then try whipping it. This super-chill may be all it needs to whip into shape. Let me know how it turns out!


Feb 03, 2013 ·  4:58 PM

Thank you so much for the recipe! I’m making (and selling) mojito cupcakes for Mardi Gras, and I’ve been searching all over for a frosting recipe that will be not-too-sweet but still rich, and most importantly will let the rum and lime flavors shine through. I had pretty well settled on SMB (which I’ve never made, though I’m an old hand at meringues), but was nervous I wouldn’t be able to make it turn out without an electric mixer. BUT then I found this, and I know that I can make custard with only a whisk. Thanks again!

 · Ruth · 

Feb 04, 2013 ·  9:54 AM

Hi Ruth! You can definitely knock out the custard with just a whisk, but you’ll really need to power up your arm to beat the butter into the custard! Good luck!!


Feb 07, 2013 · 12:15 AM

Just finished reading through all these comments (as well as your responses) and all i have to say is:
Stella, you rock!!!

Thanks for your patience + thanks for being willing to share your wisdom. You truly are an amazing person.

God bless xoxo

 · Roxie · 

Feb 07, 2013 ·  9:33 AM

Aw, thanks, Roxie! I love that having a blog gives me a chance to connect with so many people who love to bake. Our society has a strong DIY streak, we like making all kinds of stuff from scratch and have all sorts of time consuming hobbies like scrap booking or crafting, yet baking is often perceived as something too difficult or time consuming and “semi homemade” still dominates the scene. Anything I can do to make jumping into the kitchen less intimidating for someone else is a total joy for me.


Feb 12, 2013 · 10:43 AM

I made this buttercream for my daughter’s 4th bday cake. I added rasberry jam and frosted a dark chocolate cake with it. It was awsome! I refrigerated it and whipped it before I frosted the cake, and had a little trouble with it breaking (maybe too much jam?), but I used your microwaveing a portion and re-whipping trick and it came back together like magic! I’m going to make the cream cheese var. for my youngest’s 1st birthday over carrot. Now that will be a smash cake!

 · czipp · 

Feb 12, 2013 ·  7:12 PM

Hi czipp! Oh, take pictures! I bet that smash cake is the cutest! I’m sure the jam was fine in the buttercream, when it stats to break like that, it’s usually a temperature-related issue (to cold). So glad to know the previous comments could guide you through the issue. With the cream cheese variation, I’ve found if you cream the cream cheese and butter together first, it softens them up and combines them really, really nicely and makes the buttercream easier to work with. Happy baking!


Mar 04, 2013 ·  6:15 AM

Hi Stella, Just came across your blog and it is awesome! Just wondering how you would describe “homogenous” to be like? Thanks

 · Chomper · 

Mar 04, 2013 ·  9:04 AM

Hi Chomper! Oh, just perfectly smooth and creamy, no streaks of butter or “curds” of frosting (which happen when the mixture is cold).


Mar 06, 2013 ·  7:29 AM

I made the pastry cream but it turned out gelatinous and translucent looking. Is that alright? Also, my family don’t like eating things that are too heavy. Can I beat in whipped cream or something to lighten it up a bit?

 · derpy · 

Mar 06, 2013 ·  9:05 AM

Hi derpy. Hmmm, that “translucent looking” business sounds odd! Did you use whole milk, or substitute something else? With two eggs and two yolks, it should definitely have some substance to it, rather than being translucent.

The custard in this recipe should not be eaten on its own; the sugar ratio and the way it’s formulated are to make it a good buttercream not a good pudding, so I don’t think you’d enjoy it on its own or with whipped cream folded in. Instead, I’d whip in the butter as per the recipe and use it as a frosting. It’s very light and creamy, and terrific on cake.


Mar 07, 2013 ·  8:25 AM

WOW Stella your GBC recipe is a revelation, “A lovely lady & a clever lady. your good you, your really good”. Wheres that Bill Gates I’m gonna shake his hand. Don’t mind me I’m English, trying to get over it

 · dad sharpe · 

Mar 07, 2013 ·  5:53 PM

Hi dad sharpe! So happy to hear you liked it, it’s one of my favorites. Good luck on your English recovery program, haha.


Mar 22, 2013 ·  6:07 PM

I wanted to make this for cupcakes and have a few questions. I would love to make and decorate them today and serve them tomorrow. Will the frosting hold up and taste the same? I’ve made the swiss meringue once and it tasted great the first day but way to buttery the second day, so I’m worried german buttercream will do the same.
On a side note, do you think I messed up the swiss meringue and that is why it was a different consistence on the second day? Since I’ve never made it before, I wasn’t sure if it was just a bad recipe that I used or user error.
I really enjoy your blog, can’t wait to try other recipes. Next time, I’ll try your SMB to see if I suck or the other recipe did

 · Believable Baker ·

Mar 23, 2013 · 11:37 AM

Hi Believable Baker! The German buttercream pretty much behaves just like the Swiss, but has a much less overtly “buttery” flavor. It should be find to make on one day and serve the next. My first thought, if you liked the taste of the Swiss on Day 1 but not Day 2, is that the buttercream got warm. It’s fine being out of the fridge and held at room temp for a day or two, but since everyone has a different “room temperature” it may be that it was just a little warm in your house, which softened the buttercream too much. This would make it seem butterier, because it may have lost some of its air volume in the heat. Let me know if that jives with your experience, and we’ll figure this out!


Mar 26, 2013 ·  3:19 PM

I think this is just the frosting I’ve ben looking for. I wondered though— How well does this buttercream do made ahead and frozen or at least refrigerated for a couple days? Also, what if I wanted to add strawberry puree, think it would become too loose, particularly if I went with the cream cheese version?

 · Mona · 

Mar 26, 2013 ·  5:21 PM

Hi Mona! This buttercream is a dream to make ahead, you can freeze it for months, or refrigerate it for a week or two.

I don’t ever recommend adding pure fruit purees to any sort of buttercream because of their high water content (raw fruit purees are literally more water than fruit). I’ve got a recipe here for a strawberry reduction, which will add the flavor you’re looking for, without watering down the buttercream.

Even so, I’d take care adding anything to the cream cheese variation. It’s much softer than the all butter version, and by the time you add enough reduction to get the flavor you want, it may wind up too loose for decorating. Since the strawberry flavor will overwhelm the cream cheese flavor anyway, I’d recommend doing the all butter version, and adding in a squeeze of lemon juice for a similar tartness.

Hope the info helps, happy baking!


Mar 31, 2013 ·  3:35 PM

HI Stella, like quite a few people I find swiss meringue butter cream like eating pure butter, however I do find it a dream to pipe. Which leads me on to my question. What does this pipe like? Could I pipe swirls onto a cupcake using the german buttercream? Thanks for your help and your amazing blog!!! Much love x x x

 · Corky · 

Apr 01, 2013 ·  9:35 AM

Hi Corky! This buttercream (especially when made with all butter, not the cream cheese variation) behaves exactly like Swiss, in terms of texture and piping.


Apr 02, 2013 ·  9:38 PM

This thread is so long, I’m not sure if this has been said before, but… I find it easier to make this using a different method. Beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixture until homogenous. Whisk the room-temperature custard and add about 1/4 to the butter/cream cheese mixture. Mix in the stand mixer till combined. Add the remainder of the custard in 3-4 more additions. It’s way faster than the “one tablespoon of butter at a time” method, and I don’t find any disadvantages as long as the butter/cream cheese mixture and the custard are within a few degrees temperature of each other. I’d have to do a side-by-side test, though, to be really sure that there is no difference, but I like it this way and easy is fine by me However, I’ve only tested this method with the butter/cream cheese version, not with the all butter version.

 · Katie · 

Apr 03, 2013 ·  9:09 AM

Hi Katie! Smart girl! I’m working on making this recipe even easier, for the version that will be included in my book. In the meantime, I hope everyone tries out your method, it sounds like a great way to achieve the same results!


Apr 10, 2013 ·  3:23 PM

I made your German buttercream this last weekend and although it was very good it also had a greasy after taste. I was wondering if that’s normal or was it the brand of butter I used.

 · Jennifer · 

Apr 10, 2013 ·  6:10 PM

Hi Jennifer! Oh no! That’s definitely not normal. What sort of butter did you use? Let's get to the bottom of this!


Apr 10, 2013 ·  6:59 PM

Thanks for replying so fast. I actually used raley’s brand unsalted butter. It did say, I noticed after I used it, that is has natural flavoring in it. So maybe that’s what it was.

 · Jennifer · 

Apr 11, 2013 · 10:03 AM

Hi Jennifer. I would definitely pin that as the problem. For baking, one-ingredient butters work best (the ingredient’s should say, “cream” or “pasteurized cream” or something to that effect). Shame on Raley’s for sneaking something extra in!


Apr 11, 2013 ·  4:19 PM

Ok. Thanks for responding. I will be sure to check the ingredients next time. I love your blog. You give so much good info and the fact that you respond to everyones questions is amazing.

 · Jennifer · 

Apr 11, 2013 · 11:13 PM

Thanks so much, Jennifer! I love how a blog lets me make connections with bakers all over the world. Happy baking!


Apr 14, 2013 ·  9:21 AM

This frosting turned out just as you described it, light fluffy and tasting very much like vanilla ice cream. DELICIOUS! I was nervous to try this recipe for the first time, so I halved the recipe and it turned out great. Your directions were awesome, describing very well the custard making phase which is what I was most anxious about. This will be my go to icing recipe now, especially since I can do all those additions. THANK YOU!!!

 · Lisa Ann · 

Apr 14, 2013 ·  9:37 AM

Ooops, I forgot to ask my question. Do you add the vanilla bean seeds that are scraped out and reserved?

 · Lisa Ann · 

Apr 14, 2013 · 10:02 PM

Hi Lisa Ann! Oh, I’m so happy it turned out for you and delivered on your expectations, hurray! Thanks for pointing out the vanilla bean issue, I’ll edit the recipe to be a little more accurate. This recipe was first published on the same page as my red velvet cake recipe, which is where the seeds are supposed to go. But now that they’re split up on two pages, it doesn’t make as much sense. I’ll go fix it now!


Apr 16, 2013 ·  4:27 PM

Hi Stella. Is there a way to make a lemon version of this? …maybe by adding lemon curd or will that still curdle? And if possible, can I make a lemon cream cheese version? Sorry if this question is a repeat in case I have missed something while going through all the comments to know the answer to these questions.
By the way, I followed your tutorial for carrot roses to decorate a carrot cake and it tuned out pretty good ‘I think’ haha…. I would love to send you a picture of it soon sometime.

 · Saima · 

Apr 17, 2013 ·  9:29 AM

Hi Saima! Oh, that’s an intriguing idea! I think you could whip some lemon curd into the finished buttercream, but I’m not sure how strongly the flavor will shine through. I am so intrigued, I’ll see if I can’t puzzle out a lemon option. It may take a bit of time, but I’ll let you know the results!


Apr 18, 2013 ·  9:45 AM

Hi Stella! This is Ike, I don’t know if you recall my name (From Swiss BC color mystery). So I’m thinking of making this German BC,i’ve always make Swiss BC,never try another,but this recipe sounds real delicious. I have 1 question though, I just made a whole batch of Swiss BC today and I still have my frozen old batch Swiss BC too, can I mix German and Swiss BC in a cake, I mean use German BC as the filling and Swiss BC as the frosting or vice versa, would it be okay? Thanks Stella!

 · Ike · 

Apr 18, 2013 · 10:21 AM

Hi Ike! There wouldn’t be any problem with mix-n-matching at all, but that said, there’d also be nothing wrong with just leaving the Swiss in the freezer. It’ll keep for like 6 months, so you could just leave it tucked away for an emergency while you give the German buttercream a shot. But if you wanted to use it (if it were the color you wanted, etc), that’d be fine. Happy baking!


Apr 19, 2013 ·  3:29 AM

Hi Stella! Thanks for the oh so fast reply. I have another question,this might sound silly but i just wonder if using a whisk or paddle attachment will give you any different result? In here you clearly state to use whisk attachment,so when you add the butter it will still be using the whisk attachment? Cause i usually use paddle attachment when making my Swiss bc. Thanks again Stella!

 · Ike · 

Apr 19, 2013 ·  9:50 AM

Hi Ike! Yup. I’m a whisk kinda girl. The whisk attachment helps aerate the buttercream, to make it lighter. The paddle attachment will certainly make it creamy when adding the butter, but much more dense. I don’t think you could foam the meringue in the first place using the paddle…

For the German buttercream, you can beat the pastry cream with a paddle, then continue beating while adding the butter. But using a whisk will help lighten it further.


Apr 19, 2013 ·  2:42 PM

Hi Stella I’m making this buttercream at the weekend with a pb variation. I recently saw a recipe that call for brown sugar buttercream and i was wondering if i could adapt this for your german buttercream? Much love x. Xx

 · Corky · 

Apr 19, 2013 ·  7:00 PM

Hi Corky! Absolutely. Just replace the sugar in the recipe with dark brown sugar and you’re there! If the flavor winds up not being quite as pronounced as you’d like, you can hit it with a Tablespoon of molasses to bring out a deeper flavor, as molasses is what flavors brown sugar.


Apr 23, 2013 · 12:08 PM

For the milk is that fluid ounces or weight ounces?? Thank you for your help. Much love xx x

 · Corky · 

Apr 23, 2013 ·  3:46 PM

sorry about the previous comment didnt read through all the comments. Thank you for such an informative blog much love xxxx

 · Corky · 

Apr 23, 2013 ·  9:17 PM

Hi Corky! No sweat, glad you’ve got it all sorted out. Hope you enjoy the buttercream, happy baking!


Apr 26, 2013 ·  7:58 PM

Dear Stella,

Aggghhh the cream cheese demons are cavorting again. I can’t think of anything I did wrong…the butter and cream cheese were perfectly room temp, having sat out (covered) for 7 hours. Buttercream is loose. So I tried your trick and just-barely melted a bunch of white chocolate, let it cool and added that. Still soupy (although the traces of white chocolate clinging to the spoon, counter etc. hardened up rock-hard in minutes). So I did what you’re supposed to do when buttercream is finicky—cranked up the mixer and beat the crap out of it. It’s now even soupier. Perfectly homogenous and creamy, just SOUPY. It’s not too warm—my kitchen’s around 68-70 degrees. I cannot get over how it just ATE all that white chocolate without changing at all. It’s like a black hole. Do you think there’s any hope for it?

 · Psyche1226 · 

Apr 27, 2013 ·  9:45 PM

Hi Psyche1226, ahhh, that’s so frustrating! How did the custard itself look before you added the cream cheese and butter? Just wondering if something might be up on that end. I’d say to refrigerate the buttercream overnight, then see how it sets up once it’s had a chance to chill. Let me know!


Apr 28, 2013 ·  9:28 PM


I made this cream cheese-buttercream and tried to a raspberry variation by adding some homemade raspberry coulis. The BC on its own was superb, texture and all. I added in the coulis and whipped it and it was fine. After refrigerating for about an hour I decided I wanted to add a tablespoon more of the coulis. I added this in and whipped and I got the “separated” (Broken?) look. I tried your idea of reheating a portion and rewhipping and it seemed to help a bit but its still not one smooth pink colour (more like white and pink dots). The texture is also so much less fluffy and more liquidy. I’ve filled my cake and put the rest of the frosting in the fridge. Will figure out what to do about piping/decorating tomorrow…

 · Natasha ·

Apr 30, 2013 ·  9:22 AM

Hi Natasha! Awww, bummer!! The problem is that the cornstarch is already working a full time job to bind the liquids int he pastry cream, and the coulis simply added more water than it could handle. It’s funny, it really can reach this sharp breaking point where it can hold exactly X amount of an extra add in, and then even a drop more is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Warming and rewhipping the buttercream may help, but in the future what you can do instead of adding coulis is to add a homemade reduction. Reducing the fruit puree with sugar cooks out the water content while preserving the bright, fresh taste. Because it concentrates the flavor, you can use less but get more flavor. I’ve got a berry reduction recipehere.


May 31, 2013 ·  1:22 PM

love your site! thanks for this recipe! after much deliberation, i’ve decided to try the cream cheese variation to frost a lemon-curd-filled vanilla layer cake. also, because i prefer it in frostings, i am going to replace the cream cheese with mascarpone.

now, forgive me if i missed a comment that covers this in the thread, but i was wondering how this recipe would be affected if the milk was replaced with heavy cream. too much? any thoughts?

 · jescaloo · 

Jun 01, 2013 · 12:04 PM

Hi jescaloo! Haha, normally I get people asking me how to make this LESS fattening. Between the eggs, a pound of butter and a pound of cream cheese (or mascarpone!!), the buttercream has plenty of fat and richness as is; but I don’t think there’s any technical reason it wouldn’t work.


Jun 06, 2013 · 11:06 AM

thx! i just had a large amount of heavy cream that i was going to try to use up, but i ended up just using whole milk. great recipe—the cake turned out to be a huge hit with this buttercream. i will definitely make this again!

 · jescaloo · 

Jun 06, 2013 ·  6:30 PM

Oh, haha, that makes sense! I was thinking you were just like Paula Deen Junior, ready to start putting in more fat. Lol. I’m glad you liked it with the milk!


Jun 30, 2013 · 12:28 PM

So, yesterday i thawed about a 1/3 recipe in the fridge over night for a sheet cake. When i went to re-paddle it the butter cream separated; in an act of desperation I put a spoon of mayo in to emulsify it back together and good as new! I thought i would share. Also, what did i do wrong to make in separate like that?

 · Nir · 

Jul 01, 2013 ·  9:12 AM

Hi. There is no sugar in the German buttercream with cream cheese variation?

 · Hala · 

Jul 02, 2013 ·  7:00 AM

Hi Nir, nice save!!! Generally, this buttercream is pretty forgiving to be whipped cold, but even so it may have just been too cold when it was rewhipped. So happy the mayo worked, but if it ever happens again (or for someone else reading in the future) you could do the same thing by adding in some melted butter. Alternately, you can melt the buttercream a little over a water bath (just until the edges get melty and the bowl is warm) and then rewhip. Knocking the chill off the mix can do as much good as the extra fat.

Hi Hala. For the cream cheese variation, you make the recipe as written above (which includes sugar), but with half butter and half cream cheese, rather than all butter.


Jul 08, 2013 ·  8:08 PM

Hi, first things first. Your blog is amazing and such a comforting resource of information for bewildered bakers like me. So thanks!
Onto my question, Im planning to make this GB (cream cheese version) but scaled down to 1/4 of what your recipe calls for since I only need a small amount for a couple of cupcakes. (Pls dont judge me hehe) I was wondering what to do with the egg component. Should I keep it to 1 egg and 1 yolk despite scaling down everything else or is it safer to just scale down to half. Any tips on scaling down recipes?

 · barbs · 

Jul 10, 2013 ·  7:09 PM

Hi Barbs! Sorry for the delayed response, hope I’m not too late. Generally, I don’t like splitting a recipe down any smaller than a single egg batch, so with this recipe I wouldn’t recommend making anything smaller than a half batch. The problem is that you have to either have to work super hard to get a half egg and a half yolk, or you have to fundamentally change the ratio. Once you go there, it’s hard to promise success since the buttercream relies on eggs (in part) for a good texture.

I know you only need a tiny amount, but with a half batch you can at least guarantee well behaved results. It’s not any extra work or time, though it will take more ingredients if cost is a concern. On the plus side, the buttercream freezes almost indefinitely so you can squirrel some away in a freezer safe bag to pull out next time a baking emergency pops up (like you forgot your friend’s birthday, or have unexpected company).


Jul 12, 2013 ·  3:16 PM

I made a half batch and results exceeded expectations! Although, it didn’t turn out as white as yours in the photo. Could it be the butter?

Really surprised myself here as I’ve never made this kind of buttercream before. (I live in the tropics so I tend to shy away from stuff that may not hold up to our version of “room temp” . One last thing, I’d really appreciate it if you could recommend any type of frosting that fares better in high humidity. Or is the answer simply to refrigerate before serving or transporting?

Thanks again and more power!

 · barbs · 

Jul 12, 2013 ·  5:56 PM

Hi Barbs, oh, that’s great! The color can vary a lot depending on the color of your eggs and butter, and also how long it is whipped (more air = paler). Generally, this buttercream is very stable even in warm weather (well, say a Kentucky summer where it’s humid and about 95 F outside). If it seems a little loose, toss it in the fridge for 15 minutes, then whip it again. It should be much thicker.

I always refrigerate my cake after crumb coating, then once it’s solid, I finish decorating. To travel, I chill cakes for 45 minutes so the buttercream is nice and hard, which “locks” the cake to the plate and keeps it sturdy for transport. Hope that helps!


Jul 14, 2013 ·  2:01 AM

Re: Adding chocolate to buttercream

I would suggest making a semi-thick ganache (room temp) first before adding the chocolate to the buttercream which may help with the chipping issue with cold buttercream being mixed and giving a smoother finish. Making buttercream at room temp is impossible in our tropical weather.

Any alcohol used can also be added to the ganache already to help flavor the buttercream. I use the same technique when making chocolate mousse.

 · kayenne · 

Jul 14, 2013 ·  5:26 PM

It helps heaps! So I went ahead and made the Red Wine Velvet to go with the buttercream. Everything devoured and demolished in no time.

Happy to report that the GB withstood the weather which was at around 28 C (82.4 F says my converter) with 90% humidity (compared to 50% in Kentucky these days), left at indoor “room temp”. The long search for the perfect buttercream is over. The little extra I’ll pack in small dollops for when I have pancakes Cant thank you enough!

 · barbs · 

Jul 16, 2013 · 10:00 PM

@kayenne, true! I like adding pure chocolate because, ounce for ounce, you get more flavor. So long as the chocolate’s slightly warm or room temp and the buttercream’s not cold (which it shouldn’t be, given the temp of the butter) everything should work out fine. But for those in colder climates, ganache can be a safe bet. And yes! Alcohol is a great way to add flavor.

@barbs, omg, on pancakes?! That sounds outrageous!! Sign me up, or at least let me know what time you’re serving breakfast! So happy you approve and that the buttercream behaved for you. Happy baking!


Jul 17, 2013 ·  4:54 PM

Hi Stella,
im going to try making the peanut butter version and was wondering how much peanut butter i should add?

 · jennifer · 

Jul 17, 2013 · 10:52 PM

Hi Jennifer! You can pretty much just whip it in to taste, depending on how intense you’d like the flavor. If you’re making a fresh batch, I’d omit the salt since PB can get pretty salty, then start with 6 ounces of creamy peanut butter whipped in after the butter. Give it a taste and work your way up from there until you’re happy.


Jul 18, 2013 · 12:16 AM

Thanks so much for your fast reply.

 · Jennifer · 

Jul 19, 2013 ·  3:49 PM

No prob, Jennifer! Hope it turns out just the way you want it.


Aug 23, 2013 ·  8:17 AM

I just made this frosting (the NON cream cheese version) and while I love the taste, I do find it a smidge greasy. Perhaps I did something wrong. At any rate, I was considering adding in 8 oz of cream cheese after the fact, in an attempt to “cut the grease”, so to speak. If I whip up my refrigerated frosting would I be able, in theory, to then add in room temp cream cheese? I don’t know if adding too much fat could somehow ruin it…or if flavor-wise, this might be a disaster since it already has a full portion of butter. Thoughts?

 · Lynne · 

Aug 25, 2013 · 12:44 AM

Hi Lynne! A few quick questions just to make sure we’re on the same page: did you use a scale, whole milk, and unsalted butter? I hate to ask, they’re such run of the mill questions, but I’ve had a few people wind up with problems because they either switched to cup measurements, used a milk replacement, or even margarine. You never know until you ask.

But presuming you made the recipe as written, it may be that the buttercream is just a little cold. When cool, butter melts quite slowly on the tongue, which makes it seem greasy. You can try warming the buttercream by melting a 1/2 cup or so, then whipping it back in. This can help improve the texture.

But given the fat content of cream cheese, I don’t think you’ll want to whip any more in after, because it will just make it feel richer and the cream cheese is likely to curdle. If melting a bit of the buttercream doesn’t help, you could try whipping in a Tablespoon or two of lemon juice, the acidity may help cut the richness.

As a last note/idea, many grocery store brands of unsalted butter list some sort of “flavor” as an ingredient, which can give the buttercream an unnatural butteriness (which you may find objectionable). Hope all that extra info helps!


Aug 25, 2013 ·  8:08 AM

Well, here’s what happened: I made everything exactly as written using the correct ingredients. I did measure the milk by volume, since it was only in closely reading the comments I figured out it should have been weight. :/ Also, the butter I used was Sam’s Club brand, and right now I don’t have another box to check the label for ingredients; maybe it was partly to blame? When I asked about fixing the frosting, it was room temp. So who knows exactly what happened there. I was reading other websites for ideas on how to improve it, and found this type of problem described as “mouthfeel”. That’s the perfect description. But…because I was in a hurry (about to leave town!)and didn’t get a response RIGHT THEN I made the decision to try the cream cheese. I took an 8 oz, room temp block and whipped it with about 1/2 C. powdered sugar. Then I whipped it into the frosting, a little at a time. It seemed to come together fine and because it was a small amount of cream cheese in relation to the frosting, it didn’t drastically alter the flavor. I stuck it all in the fridge and left. Now, two days later, I just pulled it out to soften up so I can frost with it. I took a little taste and didn’t get any “greasiness”, though maybe that will change in today’s mid-90 heat? I look forward to seeing how it holds up and hearing the comments I get on it! Thanks for your reply, and for the recipe!! It’s the only one that I have seen on the internet, and in no way comparable to the sickening powdered sugar stuff.

 · Lynne · 

Aug 25, 2013 ·  4:50 PM

Hey Lynne! The Sam’s Club butter may play a small role- I actually stocked up on their butter recently to make my little brother’s wedding cake. I bought it because I didn’t want to unwrap a hundred million sticks, haha. Anyhow, when I used it I noticed a strong fake-butter smell, and that’s when I read the label and saw it had added flavor.

But it may just be a mouthfeel issue, as you say! Powdered sugar buttercream has a lot of texture, that slightly gritty feel, and for most of us Americans German, French, and Swiss buttercream all feel so silky it can be a little freaky at first.

For a lot of people, this sensation goes away after making the recipe a few times, kind of like coffee seems so overwhelmingly bitter at first but then one day you realize you’re drinking it black! (Or is that just me?)

I think that by adding some powdered sugar to the buttercream, you wound up “texturizing” it, lessening the extreme silkiness. That actually sounds like a good “trick” for people who are making this style for the first time and not used to the super smooth mouthfeel. A little bit like a splash of cream in that coffee.


Aug 26, 2013 · 10:51 AM

Just wanted to follow up and let you know that the frosting turned out perfectly, and held up extremely well in the 95 degree/50% humidity day that we had. As I whipped up the frosting in the morning it curdled (too cold?) but I gave it a couple of short hot-water baths and it fluffed up beautifully. I used this to top a strawberry-filled white cupcake, and the whole thing tasted like a strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. Lovely! Thank you for your help!

 · Lynne · 

Sep 04, 2013 ·  6:10 PM

Dear Stella! I made the caramel variation and your recipe and method works perfectly (as always!).Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and know-how with us. The buttercream was fluffy, airy – I could eat half of it at once , and the caramel sauce was the best caramel sauce I’ve ever made or taste. The cake was a great succes and everybody was impressed. I tried your custard making method (long mixing as a cooling method) and recipe (with less more sugar of course and only egg yolks) as a home-made chocolate puding – now my children want me to cook it every other day
I’d like to ask if it is possible to change of the proportion of the custard and the butter to reach softer cream if the cake is kept in the fridge?

 · piszke ·

Sep 04, 2013 ·  9:44 PM

Hi Lynne, Thanks so much for the follow up. I’m so happy to hear you were able to fix the buttercream by warming it up a little, hurray!

Hi piszke. Sorry for the delayed response, things have been a little crazy around here. You can play with the ratio a liiiitle, but any major changes tend to cause the buttercream to break or curdle as there’s not enough fat in the emulsion.

I know there are a lot of reasons to refrigerate a cake (like if you have a whipped cream filling or something like that), but this buttercream doesn’t need to be refrigerated itself, so if that’s the reason then you don’t have to bother. Hope that helps.


Sep 09, 2013 · 12:47 PM

Hi Stella,
I wrote to you a while back. I just wanted to let you know that I tried the cream cheese var. for my baby’s 1st bday and it was wonderful. (And she was covered from ear to ear!) I didn’t see your suggestion about whipping the cream cheese until after the fact, but I think I will do that next time. Birthdays are usually in the cold months at our house so room temp is around 68, so the butter and cream cheese don’t get quite soft enough.
Just one question, when you cook the custard, do you just time it or do you ever go by temperature?

Thanks for your recipies and your help!


 · czipp · 

Sep 13, 2013 · 12:14 PM

Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this recipe. Why aren’t people aware of this? I have tried most buttercreams and this is hands down the best.

 · disha · 

Sep 15, 2013 ·  4:52 PM

Hi czipp! I’m so happy the cake turned out so nicely for the party, hurray! When I make it, I usually set a timer because I use the same burner and pot every time, so it always cooks to the right temperature in the same amount of time. When I use a different pot (or work at home), I take the temperature to make sure it’s fully cooked (about 195). Hope that helps!

Hi disha! You know, I think it’s such a shame that this is a little “secret.” It’s called German buttercream, but once upon a time it was pretty standard in America! (We’re talking 19th century here… So happy you like it!


Sep 19, 2013 ·  1:27 PM

Hi Stella!! I love your blog! I was wondering if arrowroot starch could be used in place of the corn starch and if so is it a 1:1 ratio for subbing arrowroot for corn? Thanks!

 · Christine · 

Sep 19, 2013 · 10:51 PM

Hi Christine! I haven’t tried it with arrowroot, but everything that I’ve read indicates the two should work very well when swapped for each other. I think you’d be safe to give it a shot; in your place I would definitely start with a 1:1 ratio. Please let me know how it turns out for you! Good luck.


Oct 08, 2013 ·  3:07 AM

Hi Stella!

I was wondering, can i make a white choc version of this?

Will the buttercream (any version) melts if the humidity is high?

Will it turn very hard if i place it in the fridge (frosted on a cupcake)?


 · Fiqah · 

Oct 11, 2013 · 11:30 AM

Hi Fiqah! You can absolutely make a white chocolate version, you can pretty much add in melted white chocolate to taste (at the end), probably up to a pound. Get it hot enough and any buttercream will melt, but this one is very stable! I’ve heard from several people who have used it for outdoor weddings, etc, without any trouble. Of course that’s always relative to their location, I don’t know how hot it is where you are.

It will firm up in the fridge, so after refrigerating I always suggest leaving a cake at room temperature for at least 6 hours before serving. The buttercream does not need to be refrigerated, as the eggs are thoroughly cooked in the custard. It can survive at room temperature for several days.


Oct 27, 2013 ·  9:33 PM

Hi Stella,

I used your caramel German buttercream recipe to frost a dark chocolate cake this weekend and ohhh lordy, it was divine! Smooth and rich but not too buttery (yes I belong in that odd camp of liking a buttercream that isn’t overly buttery), fluffy despite the richness, and wonderful to work with. Thank you so much for sharing!

Now I’m looking at making a coconut and lime version of this, would I be able to substitute the milk with coconut milk or cream? Also, should I fold lime curd into the basic buttercream recipe (minus the vanilla) or is there a way to incorporate it at the custard-making stage? I don’t want the texture to become too loose, I’m enough of a spaz with frosting cakes as it is!

Thanks again!

 · dani · 

Oct 28, 2013 · 10:44 PM

Hi dani! Oh, I’m so happy you liked the buttercream. You can absolutely make the custard with whole coconut milk, just make sure it’s unsweetened. I haven’t tried to make it with a curd before, so I’m not really sure the best way to go about it. My first inclination would be to beat the curd into the finished buttercream. I’m not sure what curd recipe you’re using, but you’ll definitely want to make sure it packs a punch so the flavor will still shine through after it’s “diluted” by all the butter.


Nov 03, 2013 · 11:35 AM

I made this yesterday. Wow! So yummy. I’ll be using it to frost my cake today.

I have a feeling I’ll be quality taste testing quite a bit today while I’m decorating the cake.

 · Miss Tori ·

Nov 05, 2013 · 10:13 AM

Wow, Miss Tori, you’re on a buttercream roll! I’m glad this one turned out well for you too! Hope the cake was a smash hit!


Jan 28, 2016 ·  2:14 PM

Have you ever used the german buttercream for macaron filling? I typically use swiss or french depending on what needs used, egg whites or egg yolks. Happy to see on that uses a little of both.

 · cindy · 

Feb 20, 2016 · 11:55 AM

Not sure if this question has been asked, so sorry if it was.
How would this frosting hold up for a wedding cake? It sounds delicious – and seems relatively stable – but with all the conflicting info out there, it’s hard to know what’s right. I’d really like to use something different from the “norm” and this sounds perfect.

 · Amanda · 

Jun 04, 2016 ·  2:06 AM

Hey! i cannot wait to try this recipe out, i have been looking for less sweeter cream cheese frosting, and stumbled upon this. It seems great! How many cupcakes can this recipe frost? And the place that i am living has high humidity, and temperature is around 25-30 C. Will this frosting whip up for this temperature? My SMBC is always to liquid to be frosted on a cupcake. So are my cream cheese frosting.

 · Aishwarya · 

Feb 14, 2017 ·  5:40 PM

I thought I’d let the readers know that the little black things and anything else inside of a vanilla bean happens to be known as the “caviar” of the vanilla bean. It sounds much better than “goo” don’t you think! I imagine, considering the price many places ask for the beans people felt as though they WERE buying Russian caviar and so therefore the “powers that be” decided to name it caviar, just like the those fish eggs. Caviar sounds SO much better than fish eggs and caviar sounds so much better than goo. I was glad to find the German Buttercream recipe. It’s one not seen very often.

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May 01, 2017 ·  9:11 PM

Hi Stella! I know I am way late in commenting on this post, but I just discovered your site and I just made this buttercream a few hours ago for a birthday cake and Oh…My…Goodness….I do not have words for how delicious this is. And your instructions were just perfect and helpful. Thank you.

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 · 33Dwayne ·

May 31, 2017 ·  5:11 PM

I’ve made vanilla and strawberry version of this German buttercream and they were both stellar. Any suggestions for making this using peanut butter?

 · Jocelyn · 

Jun 24, 2017 ·  8:06 PM

Hi Stella, I love your blog, I made the toasted sugar that you spoke about for the SMBC and it is fabulous.

When I made this frosting the pastry cream was really very thin and liquid consistency. I was not able to get a good mixture with the stand mixer so switched to my hand mixer and after all the butter was added I got a bit of a I was able to get it fluffy but it still seems a bit greasy and mushy. Do you think refigerating overnight and then re-whipping will help make it less greasy? . Any help would be great, the vanilla bean and toasted sugar really add value to this. the taste is delicious!!!!
Thank you for all your help, and sharing your knowledge Much appreciated! Cheryl

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Oct 22, 2017 · 11:12 AM

Made your brown butter carrot cake from Serious Eats.
Also made the cream cheese icing… have 1 quick question.
The custard is cooling but is VERY thick. I am worried I may have put in too much cornstarch?
Should I go ahead and use it or start over?
Will an extra thick custard ruin the icing?

 · Randi · 

Oct 23, 2017 ·  7:58 AM

I went ahead and made the icing with the thick custard and it turned out so well!

 · Randi · 

Oct 27, 2017 ·  6:35 AM

@jason any update as to wether this is considered potentially hazardous (needs to be refridgerated) or not?

 · Vanessa · 


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