This simple Buttercream Frosting Recipe for Cookies hardens, doesn’t include heavy cream, is great for piping, AND tastes delicious. It’s the best frosting for sugar cookies!
This post contains affiliate links. This means, if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for any and all support. ❤️
My new obsession is watching cookie decorating videos on TikTok. Most people use royal icing and create BEAUTIFUL masterpieces.
I was determined to learn how to do it… I bought everything I needed to make and decorate with royal icing…
Then I remembered I don’t really like the taste of royal icing or that it makes sugar cookies hard.
I would much rather have buttercream cookies.
So, I decided to make buttercream frosting for cookies that hardens!
Best Sugar Cookie Frosting
This amazing buttercream is delicious on all cookies, but especially chewy sugar cookies.
My favorite sugar cookie recipe is my No Chill Sugar Cookie Recipe.
It makes chewy, soft sugar cookies that aren’t too sweet and are the perfect compliment to this buttercream icing.
They are the best sugar cookies for ALL occasions. And, when topped with this buttercream recipe, you can transport these delicious frosted sugar cookies to any party or event.
At Christmas time, everyone loves making cutout cookies with cookie cutters. It’s THE Christmas cookie for a lot of people. And decorating them is the ultimate holiday activity.
I recommend topping them with this buttercream cookie frosting. You’ll never go back to royal icing or store bought frosting again.
It’s also way easier to make the look of different textures with this fluffy frosting, which is perfect for those classic Christmas tree cookies.
I LOVE to make different kinds of flowers on my sugar cookies with this buttercream. It's so easy to pipe!
This Buttercream Frosting Recipe for Cookies is super easy-to-make and only requires a few basic ingredients.
You can easily get everything at your local grocery store - unsalted butter, shortening (like Crisco), powered sugar, almond extract, and a little milk.
It doesn’t call for corn syrup or heavy whipping cream.
I highly recommend using almond extract like the recipe calls for. The taste is UNBELIEVABLE. I could eat the entire bowl of frosting. I’m obsessed. And I’ve only heard amazing things from others. It is one of the reasons this is the best frosting.
BUT, this buttercream frosting for cutout cookies can also be made with vanilla extract.
If you’re looking for a vanilla buttercream frosting, use vanilla extract instead of almond.
If you’re looking for an almond frosting for sugar cookies, use almond extract.
Buttercream Frosting for Cookies that Hardens
American Buttercream usually forms a slight crust when left out for awhile.
To help this, I added shortening to a classic buttercream.
When I first made this recipe, I used equal parts butter and shortening. But, the taste was off. It also didn’t have the right consistency. It definitely hardened though.
So, I decreased the amount of shortening by half and replaced it with 1/4 cup butter. The taste was SO SO good. The homemade buttercream was smoother, it was easier to frost cookies, AND the frosting hardened! Woo woo!
It’s important to note that this frosting hardens up really, REALLY well for cookies that you just want to spread frosting on then decorate with sprinkles.
You can easily stack these type of frosted sugar cookies and transport them without worrying about the frosting coming off, smudging, or sticking to another cookie.
If piping buttercream frosting on cookies, especially in delicate designs, I highly recommend allowing the buttercream to harden overnight (for at least 8 hours). It’s also important to very carefully stack cookies with piped designs on top of one another.
Any raised pieces of frosting, especially if they’re thin, can break or smush by stacking the cookies.
It doesn’t always happen. I have made beautiful roses on sugar cookies with this buttercream frosting, stacked them, and drove three hours to have them look identical as when I packed them.
Buttercream that hardens will never be as hard as royal icing. It just tastes WAYYY better. No matter how you decorate buttercream cookies, please do not press your finger into it with force. That will ruin the design. Be gentle with it.
Tips & Tricks for this Buttercream Frosting Recipe for Cookies
- Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer/electric mixer. I do not recommend using the whisk attachment. The butter and shortening will get stuck inside. I’m very fortunate to have KitchenAid Stand Mixer. If you bake a lot, it’s definitely a great investment.
- Use room temperature butter. Beat the butter and shortening together for a couple minutes before adding any other ingredients.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar into the large bowl a little bit at a time. Mix on low speed at first. This prevents it from billowing out into your face and all over your kitchen.
- To create pretty colors of buttercream icing, use gel food coloring. It’s always best to use a small amount at first, mix, then add more to get your desired color. The color also tends to deepen as the buttercream sits.
- Place a damp paper towel over any unused buttercream that is sitting out while decorating. This will prevent it from hardening. For example, I had several different colors made and sitting in separate bowls. When I wasn’t actively frosting or piping with a color of buttercream, I had a damp cloth over it.
- I love piping buttercream frosting on cookies with piping bags and tips. Wilton has this great decorating kit with piping tips, bags, and more.
- I also like to spread the frosting on cookies with an offset spatula, which also comes in the Wilton kit mentioned above. It’s an easy way to use this frosting recipe. A butter knife works too!
- If adding sprinkles, do it right away. Once the buttercream starts to harden, it’s difficult to get them to stick to the cookie.
- Let the buttercream frosting harden overnight at room temperature.
- Sometimes, the buttercream frosting won’t harden if the room is too hot. If this happens, try to move them to a place that is around 65-70 degrees F or place them in the refrigerator.
How to store Iced Sugar Cookies?
Store iced sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days.
Buttercream cookies do not need to be refrigerated. There’s enough sugar in them to act as a preservative. Sugar cookies tend to dry out in the fridge.
If you make this buttercream frosting recipe for cookies before decorating, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
When you’re ready to use it, allow it to warm at room temperature then mix it again.
If you stored the buttercream in piping bags, allow it to warm to room temperature then roll the piping bag in your hands to warm up the frosting further.
Want to make an easy sugar cookie? Check out my best sugar cookie recipe - no chill time needed.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe for Cookies
- 3/4 cup Butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup Shortening
- 1 tsp Almond Extract (or Vanilla Extract)
- 2 Tbsp Milk
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
- In a large bowl, beat softened butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add shortening and beat again at medium-high speed for about two minutes.
- Whip in the almond extract, milk, and salt.
- On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar. It’s best to do this about a 1/2 cup at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Mix at high speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- If you want to add gel food coloring, you can do this now. If making different colors, divide the homemade buttercream into separate bowls and add the desired color to that bowl. You can mix this by hand, in a stand mixer, or with an electric mixer.
- Spread on top of cookies or place into a piping bag (with tip) to pipe designs on the cookies.
I have lots of fun, new recipes coming. Subscribe to my mailing list above and follow me on social media below so you never miss out!
If you make this Buttercream Frosting Recipe for Cookies, I'd love to hear how it came out. Please comment and rate the recipe below. You can also tag @lovemischka on Pinterest, FB, or Insta.