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.

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 Birthday 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.

Small Batch Buttercream Frosting for small 6 inch cake

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.

Funfetti Cake with Small Batch Buttercream Frosting

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 like my strawberry snack 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.

Small Batch Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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:

Items you may need (affiliate links):

Small Batch Buttercream Frosting makes enough to frost 6 cupcakes or one 6 inch cake.

Small Batch Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Decorate cake as desired or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


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