Everyone needs to know how to make a stunning and delicious buttercream frosting. This spiced brown buttercream frosting is subtly spiced like a gingerbread cookie, so it’s ideal when you secretly want to eat gingerbread all year round. I’ll show you how to make a classic buttercream frosting and how to spice it up brown butter style, and both versions are so, so easy!
Honestly, this is the best buttercream frosting I’ve tried so far! Brown butter takes it to a whole new level, with just one extra step. So worth it! This frosting can easily be made into all different sorts of flavors, whether it being vanilla, chocolate or lemon cream cheese, but right now I’m in a cozy mood of spiced brown butter.
What Exactly is Buttercream Frosting?
Buttercream frosting is a frosting (or icing) made essentially of butter and powdered sugar. There are a lot of different kinds of buttercream frosting, but this is the classic American frosting.
- American Buttercream: softened butter and powdered sugar whipped together (with optional add ins like spices and brown butter). Easy peasy! It’s stable and easy to work with. Although it can melt in higher temperatures.
- Italian Buttercream: made by adding warm simple syrup to egg whites and let the syrup cook the egg whites, and then whip with softened butter.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream: cooking egg whites and sugar in a double boiler (bowl over boiling water), then it’s continually whisked to reach 140F (60C), remove from heat and whisk with softened butter until it’s cooled. Heating the meringue gives this frosting extra stability, while still being light and airy.
- French Buttercream: a rich frosting that has a light texture. Add boiling simple syrup into beaten egg yolks and then whipping to a foamy consistency. Then add softened butter and whip some more. Perhaps the tastiest of the bunch, but it’s also the least stable, making it difficult to work with.
- German Buttercream: also known as pastry-cream buttercream, because pastry cream is added to the butter, with more powdered sugar and starch.
I love making meringue for pavlova, it makes the cake so light and airy. The same goes for these frostings, just with the added flavor and creaminess of butter, bring it on.
How to Brown Butter
Browning butter really is easy peasy if you just keep a few things in mind;
- Use a light bottomed saucepan, this way it’s easier to keep an eye on the browning process.
- Add the butter in smaller, equal-ish sized pieces, so everything melts evenly.
- Let it brown on medium heat, it will froth, but this is normal.
- Swirl the pan/stir with a spoon occasionally.
- Once it smells nutty and the bottom has pieces of brown bits – it’s done! About 7-10 minutes.
- Let cool 5 min before using in a frosting.
It’s important when you transfer the browned butter to the buttercream frosting that you take with you most of the brown bits too. That’s where the nutty, amazingness of the brown butter is. There’s no need to scrape everything out, but – do not – strain it.
Decorate with Buttercream Frosting
Baby showers, theme party birthdays (mermaids anyone?), Halloween – there’s so many reasons to decorate a cake or cupcakes. Classic American buttercream frosting is perfect for that, as it’s pretty stable and easy to work with. If you live in a really warm climate, an American buttercream may melt and I’d suggest trying a Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting instead.
This amount of frosting is enough for a 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes, using these flower decorations. Use a piping bag with a star tip, place the tip on the center of the cupcake, start piping while you move the piping bag in a circular motion. This is the perfect amount of frosting while still looking pretty! Add some sprinkles or a few fondant cut-outs and you’d be ready for anything.
Classic American Buttercream Frosting
Instead of the 1/2 cup brown butter, add an extra 1/2 cup with softened butter to the bowl. Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract and cream until creamy, a couple of minutes or so. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks.
If you want the other spices, feel free to add those as well. You can also add melted chocolate, or lemon zest and juice. There’s so many things we can make with a classic buttercream!
This frosting is, as mentioned above, enough for 24 cupcakes or a 9-inch layer cake. If you like a tall, cool looking frosting, I would double this recipe.
How to Make Spiced Brown Buttercream Frosting
A bit of a summary from the above paragraph on how to brown butter: In a light bottomed saucepan, add equal-ish sized cubes of butter and melt on medium. Let it brown for about 7-10 minutes or until there’s brown bits at the bottom and it smells nutty. Stir or swirl the pan occasionally. It will froth a bit, but that’s normal. Let the brown butter cool for 5 minutes, meanwhile, make the rest.
Add all the other ingredients to a large bowl and mix using either a stand mixer or hand mixer. Mix 2-3 minutes before adding in the brown butter. Mix until creamy. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks.
This frosting is, as mentioned above, enough for 24 cupcakes or a 9-inch layer cake. If you like a tall and pretty looking frosting, I would double this recipe. Perfect for classic chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes or even lemon lilac cupcakes!
Did you like this recipe? Here’s more inspiration:
- Lemon Lilac Cupcakes with Lilac Cream Cheese Frosting
- Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Irish Baileys Frosting
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Black Forest Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
- Orange Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Blitzen’s Cherry Eggnog Pavlova Dessert
- Summer Berry Pavlova with Pastry Cream
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Spiced Brown Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter (to brown) see first step, 112g
- 1/2 cup softened butter 112g
- 4 cups powdered sugar 460g
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 pinches each of ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger
- Brown butter: In a light bottomed saucepan, add equal-ish sized cubes of butter and melt on medium. Let it brown for about 7-10 minutes or until there’s brown bits at the bottom and it smells nutty. Stir or swirl the pan occasionally. It will froth a bit, but that’s normal. Let the brown butter cool for 5 minutes, meanwhile, make the rest.
- Cream together: Add all the other ingredients to a large bowl and mix using either a stand mixer or hand mixer. Mix 2-3 minutes before adding in the brown butter. Mix until creamy.
- Tips: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks. Double the recipe if you want a lot of frosting on your cupcakes.