Best buttercream for piping flowers

Posted by Cornel Schalkwyk on

If you are thinking about piping American buttercream flowers, or have tried and failed, then stop right HERE and look at my foolproof recipe for American buttercream when piping flowers. It’s all about consistency!

This is the recipe I use daily, without fail, to pipe stunning cupcake bouquets.  Not only does it give you perky petals, but it also tastes soooo yummy!  I have a huge number of repeat customers, ordering from me because they love the taste of these beautiful buttercream blooms.  Vanilla is also my most popular flavour ordered, so you just cannot go wrong with this recipe.

You need only two main ingredients for this recipe, butter, and icing sugar, and then a tiny amount of liquid (water and flavouring). 

Firstly, let’s talk about butter!  There are loads of different brands on the market these days and it can be quite overwhelming choosing which one to buy.  My advice is to choose a butter with a high percentage fat, at least 80%.  I’m based in the UK and I personally use CountryLife, but any brand with a minimum of 80% fat will work.  Avoid using dairy-free alternatives, since these will often result in softer buttercream which means you will struggle with piping flowers.

Another thing to consider when choosing your butter is whether you use salted or unsalted.  This is a very personal choice and won’t affect the consistency of your buttercream.  However, I personally use salted butter in my buttercream since it breaks the sweetness just a little bit to make it more palatable. I get fantastic feedback, so it’s worth trying salted butter, at least once!  If you use unsalted butter, you might want to add just a pinch of salt to this recipe.

Your second main ingredient is icing sugar, also know as powdered or confectioners’ sugar.  There are two main types of icing sugar, with the difference being the plants that provide the sugar.  Sugar beets and sugarcane are the main types of plants used in producing icing sugar.  Although they might taste the same, they can have very different results in professional baking and decorating.  Icing sugar made from sugar beets could theoretically be a bit grainier, however, in terms of piping buttercream flowers though, I have not found much difference.  I personally use Silver Spoon Icing Sugar, which is made from home grown sugar beets in the UK and thus a proudly British product.

Your last ingredient is a bit of liquid, which includes water and flavouring .  The amount used is much less than what you’ll see in traditional buttercream recipes, simply because you need your consistency to be quite stiff for piping flowers.  If your buttercream is too soft, you’ll struggle with the shape of your flowers and your petals will wilt.

Top tips for this recipe:

  • Use room temperature butter. Your butter needs to be squishable but not melting.  Butter straight out of the fridge will be too hard to beat into a creamy consistency, and butter that is near melting, will result in a gloopy mess when adding your icing sugar.
  • Beat your butter for a LONG time, at least 5 minutes. It will go pale in colour and have a fluffy consistency.  The longer you beat your butter, the paler it will go, and the whiter your buttercream will be.  This is particularly important if you want to make pastel colours such as baby blue.
  • Use an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment. A whisk might struggle with beating the butter but will also add too much air to your buttercream.
  • Add your liquid little bits at a time. Half a teaspoon of liquid can change the consistency of a batch of buttercream quite significantly when it comes to piping flowers.
  • If you use water instead of milk as the liquid in your buttercream, it will prolong the life of your buttercream. With a tiny amount of liquid such as this recipe, it really doesn’t affect the taste either.


Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 12 cupcake buttercream flowers

Author: Cornel Schalkwyk

*This article contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.



  • 300g room temperature butter
  • 680g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
  • 1 – 2 tsp water

Watch my YouTube video here for a demonstration on how to make this recipe.


  1. Cut the butter into smaller blocks and beat in a stand mixer on high speed with a paddle attachment for 2 – 3 minutes.
  2. Scrape down the sides and beat for another 2 – 3 minutes until fluffy and pale in colour.
  3. Add half of the icing sugar and beat on high speed until fully incorporated.
  4. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining icing sugar. Beat on high speed until fully incorporated.
  5. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla extract and 1 tsp of water. Beat on high for 10 – 20 seconds.
  6. Scrape down the sides and check the consistency of your buttercream. If it needs to be a bit softer, add half a teaspoon of water at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.


  • No need to sift your icing sugar when piping buttercream flowers. However, if you find that your brand of icing sugar is particularly lumpy, then you should sift your icing sugar before adding to the butter.
  • For best results, use the buttercream immediately for piping your flowers.
  • If you are not using your buttercream immediately, cover your buttercream with cling film, by pressing down with the cling film against the surface of the buttercream and ensure the cling film is sealing against all sides of your bowl. Exposure to the air will make the buttercream crust and go hard. Keep in room temperature until use. 
  • Use gel food colouring to colour the buttercream, which will not change the consistency of your buttercream.
  • Once you’ve piped your buttercream cupcake flowers, they’ll keep well in cool room temperature for up to 4 days. If you want to keep the piped flower cupcakes for a week or longer, you should keep it in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • You can store buttercream in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Bring back to room temperature before use.

Share this post

Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.