Small Batch Buttercream Frosting
Want to make the best buttercream recipe but tired of throwing away leftover frosting? Look no further than this Small Batch Buttercream Frosting! Makes enough to frost 6 cupcakes or one 6 inch cake.
I’m back with another frosting recipe! This time I’m making my traditional Small Batch Buttercream Frosting.
It’s to pair with both my Small Funfetti Cake and Small Vanilla Cake recipe, perfect for birthdays and celebrations.
You can also use it for Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes, Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes, Small Batch Red Velvet Cupcakes, and Small Batch Strawberry Cupcakes.
I’m posting this separately because I have a ton of homemade frosting recipes on my site, but they’re usually overshadowed by the cake.
What makes my buttercream frosting special? You make only what you need.
How many times have you made frosting, only to have a ton leftover? Unless you have plans to make another cake, you end up throwing out said extra frosting. All that butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla wasted.
That’s why I set out to make a small batch of vanilla buttercream. Just the right amount of frosting for most small batch cakes without having to throw it away.
How To Make a Small Batch Of Frosting
I highly recommend using an electric mixer to beat together the ingredients rather than beating by hand. Using a mixer makes it super smooth and adds air, which is key for making a fluffy frosting.
I personally use a 5 quart stand mixer. However, you can also use a hand mixer.
First, you want to start with room temperature butter.
If you beat it while too cold, the frosting won’t be as smooth and may result in a lumpy frosting. If you beat it while too warm, the frosting will become too soft to set up.
Since I always use unsalted butter, I often add a pinch of salt to my frostings. It helps amplify the other flavors.
Next, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, roughly 1-2 minutes depending on how powerful your mixer is. You may also want to scrape down the bowl if needed.
I like to sift my powdered sugar before beating so it’s not all clumpy. That also helps with making a smooth frosting.
After the frosting is light and fluffy, you then add your vanilla and a little bit of cream to help make it more spreadable.
How do you fix runny frosting?
At this point, you need to decide if your frosting is to your liking. If you’re making a cake, you want the frosting to be spreadable.
However, if you’re piping cupcakes, you want the frosting more on the firm side so it doesn’t fall over while piping.
If your frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar. If your frosting is too thick, add a few drops of milk.
Sometimes if your frosting is the right thickness but too warm to pipe, the refrigerator is your friend! My kitchen gets super warm when the oven is on, even in the winter.
What I do is chill the frosting in 15 minute increments until firm enough to pipe.
How much frosting does a small batch make?
The yield for this frosting recipe will vary depending on what you’re making:
- If you’re piping cupcakes, you can frost between 6-8 cupcakes, depending on how tall you make the swirls.
- If you’re frosting cupcakes with an offset spatula, you can frost 1 dozen cupcakes because you typically don’t use as much as you would piping.
- If you’re frosting a 6 inch cake, you can frost the top and edges with about a spoonful or two left over, depending on how thick you like it.
- If you’re frosting an 8 inch cake, you can still frost the top and edges. Depending on how thick you like your frosting, you may or may not have some leftover.
- If you’re frosting a small two layer cake, you can frost the middle and top. Frosting the edges will depend on how much you’ve used so far. You can always leave it as a naked cake with the edges showing.
Can buttercream be made in advance?
Yes, you can make buttercream frosting in advance! Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You may need to bring your frosting to room temperature if it’s too hard to spread.
Do you have to refrigerate buttercream frosting?
The biggest question I get about buttercream is do you have to refrigerate a cake with buttercream frosting?
The answer is no. Because it uses a good amount of powdered sugar, buttercream frosting is safe to leave out at room temperature for 2-3 days.
That means a small cake covered in buttercream frosting can sit out overnight for up to 2-3 days.
However, buttercream frosting does tend to melt if it’s too warm because of the butter’s melting point. In the winter I can leave my cake out, but in the summer I refrigerate my cakes.
How to refrigerate a cake with buttercream frosting
To refrigerate a cake with buttercream frosting, first put it in the fridge uncovered for about 15 minutes. This will harden the frosting just enough so it won’t smear if accidentally touched.
Next, you want to cover the cake so it doesn’t dry out in the refrigerator.
You can either loosely wrap with plastic wrap (you can use toothpicks if you don’t want it touching the frosting) or store in an airtight cake container (affiliate link).
I highly recommend using a cake container because it won’t actually touch your cake and you can store other items on top in the fridge.
Cake Recipes For Your Small Batch Frosting
As much fun as it is to eat frosting with a spoon, chances are you need a cake recipe too. That’s why I wrote my 6 Inch Cake Recipes and Small Batch Cupcake Recipes guides. Mix and match your favorite flavors!
More Small Batch Frosting Recipes
Don’t want to make buttercream? Here are more small batch frosting recipes you can make:
- Small Batch Chocolate Frosting – the best chocolate buttercream recipe without leftovers.
- Lemon Buttercream Frosting – A lemony twist to classic buttercream
- Strawberry Buttercream – A berry twist on buttercream
- Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting – a tangy and sweet frosting that pairs well with most cakes
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting – a berry sweet and tangy frosting made with fresh berries
- Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting – Similar to my strawberry frosting but with tart raspberries
Items you may need (affiliate links):
Small Batch Buttercream Frosting
Want to make the best buttercream recipe but tired of leftover frosting? Small Batch Buttercream Frosting makes enough to frost 6 cupcakes or a small cake.
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl (with the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer), beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. Add the cream and vanilla. Beat for another 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
If the frosting is too thick, add a few more drops of milk. If the frosting is too thin, add a little more sugar.
- Decorate cake as desired or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Enjoyed this recipe? Check out my full list of Small Batch Frosting Recipes, including chocolate, strawberry, and more.
- Need cake ideas? Check out my full list of Small Cake Recipes and Small Batch Cupcake Recipes.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchase.
I made this cake on a whim tonight and it is SO delicious!
Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful! Happy to hear you enjoyed it.
This is great, I hate wasting frosting! Can’t wait to try it.
Let me know what you think!
Tasted great, but I don’t know what I did wrong. It became very stiff, maybe I over mixed.
Hmm how long did you let your butter soften? It sounds like maybe your butter was too cold or you mismeasured your powdered sugar.
Mayve you could add more heavy whipping cream and soften it up!
Yes TOTALLY agree
This recipe is awesome! Just the right level of sweetness, tons of rich flavor, and best of all, it makes just the right amount. I made this to frost your strawberry snack cake and it was the perfect amount and perfect flavor combo. Thank you!
Wonderful! Glad you enjoyed the frosting recipe.
Do I need to use a electric mixer or can I just do it my hand? I’m making a very small batch and I don’t want to dirty up the mixer, I also don’t have a hand held one.
You’ll get best results with a mixer. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that many more dishes because if you beat it by hand, you’d still be dirtying a bowl and a spoon vs. a bowl and the beater. However, if you have the arm strength you can certainly beat it by hand.
I think this was an AMASSING recipe! It was a but sweet but overall amassing!
Glad you enjoyed it!
I’m going to give this one a try tonight for some cupcakes. But I want to know who on earth throws out leftover frosting?! That should be a crime :) Also for anyone saying it is sweet – yes, it is frosting using powdered sugar , what are you expecting? I once saw a review for a frosting recipe with someone asking if it could be made without sugar….
Not sure if joking or serious, but as far as throwing out leftover frosting, that was me. I used to make regular batches, have enough leftover for at least another cake, then throw it out 2 weeks later because I never got around to using it. And I’m not the type to eat a cake’s worth of frosting with a spoon. Maybe others are. Anyway. I totally agree with you about the too sweet part. That’s the definition of buttercream frosting LOL I hope you enjoy it with your cupcakes tonight!
Kind of joking but I was previously married to a pastry chef so we didn’t waste anything, always found a use for it. My current boyfriend loves frosting more than the cake and he is the kind of person who can eat anything and everything. But I was looking for a smaller batch so we don’t have so much!
I get that comment all the time, so sometimes it’s hard to tell anymore. People think I’m crazy, but when you live by yourself, you don’t use up large batches.
So the Domino’s Box recipe is 16 tablespoons of butter (2 sticks or 1 cup) to 4.5 cups of powdered sugar. If i am doing the math correctly – 8 tablespoons of butter would take 2.25 cups of sugar (depending on your sweetness i suppose?) And if youre in my shoes right about now with only 4 tablespoons of butter in the house and I follow above, I’d use 1/2 cup of pow sugar. But Domino’s would go with a whole cup (and 1/8) – altho, i’m realizing better to start with too little so I can add. I shall experiment. (Frosting part of a sheet of brownies) I grew up with the Dominos recipe but it’s been a while since I made it.
I never used the Domino’s recipe, but offhand it sounds really sweet. You’re welcome to follow mine and if you feel like it needs more sugar, you can add more.