Homemade Small-Batch Buttercream

5 from 46 votes

Whip up a velvety small-batch buttercream in minutes with 4 easy ingredients. A delicious vanilla frosting for cakes, cupcakes, and pastries!

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This small-batch buttercream frosting is perfect for those moments when you find yourself craving something sweet, maybe a mug cake, or a single iced cookie, but are short on frosting and don’t want to make an entire batch. That’s where this small-batch buttercream frosting comes in. It’s simple, straightforward, and just the right amount for those “just because” moments. Plus, with only four ingredients, it’s super easy to make.

Buttercream frosting in a bowl with a rubber spatula dipped in.
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This small-batch buttercream frosting is my go-to when I don’t want to whip up an entire batch. There are days when all you need is just a little something to top off a cupcake or to throw in some cake pops, and this recipe is perfect for those instances. Simple, fuss-free, and just the right amount, it takes the guesswork out of portioning and leaves more time for enjoying. No more leftover frosting lingering in the fridge; it’s all about making just what you need and indulging in the moment.

Why you’ll love this Small-batch buttercream

  • Great for Beginners: An excellent starting point for those new to frosting-making; it’s forgiving and hard to mess up.
  • Economical: Uses pantry staples, so there’s no need to buy special ingredients or let leftover perishables go to waste.
  • Perfect for Sampling: Ideal for those wanting to test out different flavors or colors without committing to a large batch.
  • Easily Double or Triple: If you ever need more, the recipe scales up seamlessly without losing its charm.

Ingredients to make Small-batch buttercream frosting:

  • Unsalted Butter: The base of the buttercream, providing a rich, creamy texture.
  • Powdered Sugar: Gives the frosting its sweet taste and smooth consistency.
  • Milk: Helps in achieving the desired spreading consistency while adding a touch of creaminess.
  • Vanilla Extract: Lends that classic, aromatic flavor that makes buttercream so irresistible. Adjust to preference or swap with other extracts for a flavor twist!
Ingredients for recipe: powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and milk.

How to make Small-Batch Buttercream Frosting

  1. Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar and mix.
  3. Add milk and vanilla extract.
  4. Continue to mix until light and fluffy.
4 image collage making recipe in a stand mixer bowl: 1- butter added to bowl, 2- after creaming with powdered sugar added, 3- after combined with remaining ingredients added, and 4- after frosting is completely combined.

Tips for making the best small-batch buttercream

  1. Room Temperature Butter: Always start with butter at room temperature. This ensures a smoother, creamier frosting without lumps.
  2. Sifted Powdered Sugar: Sifting the sugar before adding it helps prevent clumps and gives a smoother consistency.
  3. Adjust Texture with Milk: If the frosting is too thick, add milk a teaspoon at a time. If it’s too thin, add a bit more sifted powdered sugar.
  4. Beat Well: The longer you whip the frosting, the lighter and fluffier it becomes. So, don’t cut short the mixing time.
  1. Flavor Variations: Swap out vanilla extract with almond, lemon, orange, or even peppermint extract for a flavor twist.
  2. Dairy-Free: Use a dairy-free butter alternative and non-dairy milk (like almond or soy) for a vegan-friendly version.
  3. Chocolate Buttercream: Add ¼ cup of sifted cocoa powder for a rich chocolate flavor.
  4. Cream Cheese Twist: Add 2 ounces of softened cream cheese for a tangier, creamier texture. Adjust powdered sugar if needed.

Recipes to use with small-batch Frosting

Small two layer cake frosted with buttercream.

How to store small-batch buttercream frosting

Place the buttercream frosting in an airtight container. If you’re not using it right away, it’s best to refrigerate it to maintain its freshness and consistency.

How long will small-batch buttercream frosting last in the fridge?

Stored properly in an airtight container, this frosting can last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Before using, let it sit at room temperature to soften, and give it a good mix to bring back its creamy consistency.

Can I freeze small-batch buttercream frosting?

Yes, you absolutely can! Place the frosting in a sealed, airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag, and freeze. It can last up to 3 months in the freezer. To use, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then let it sit at room temperature to soften before using.

Can I add food coloring to this frosting?

Yes, you can add a few drops of gel or liquid food coloring to achieve the desired shade.

The frosting seems too runny, what should I do?

Add more sifted powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

My frosting is too thick, how can I thin it out?

Add milk, a teaspoon at a time, until you achieve the right consistency.

Can I use this buttercream to pipe flowers or decorations?

Absolutely! This frosting is versatile and holds its shape well when piped. If it’s too soft, refrigerate for a short time to firm it up before piping.

Spatula lifting up a scoop of buttercream to show thick, creamy consistency.

So there you have it. When you’re just craving a touch of sweetness or looking to decorate that solo cupcake or mug cake, this small-batch buttercream has got your back. It’s easy, fuss-free, and oh-so-good.

More sweet topping recipes:

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Small-Batch Buttercream

Whip up a velvety small-batch buttercream in minutes with 4 easy ingredients. A delicious vanilla frosting for cakes, cupcakes, and pastries!
5 from 46 votes
Servings 1.5 cups
Course Ingredient
Calories 1176
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
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  • Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar.
  • Mix at medium for about 2 minutes, then add milk and vanilla extract. Continue to mix for about 2 additional minutes, or until light and fluffy. This will yield about 1 to 1 ½ cups of buttercream.


This recipe yields approximately 1 ½ cups of buttercream. The nutrition label is for the full batch.


Calories: 1176kcal, Carbohydrates: 161g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 61g, Saturated Fat: 39g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 16g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 163mg, Sodium: 16mg, Potassium: 40mg, Sugar: 157g, Vitamin A: 1899IU, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Ingredient

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  1. Linda Walker says:

    I made this frosting and it is so easy and delicious. I was wondering if cake had to be refrigerated after frosting.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I’m so glad to hear that! I think it will depend on the temperature in your house and the season. But I recommend not leaving it out more than 1 hour in general.

  2. Leah says:

    I love the option to double or triple this with correct measurements. This is a great recipe

    1. Yumna says:

      Thanks so much!

  3. CB says:

    This was perfect for the little bit of cake frosting I needed to decorate a New Year’s Eve cake! It was delicious!!!

    1. Yumna says:

      Great! So happy to hear it was helpful for your holiday celebrations!