How to Make Crusting Buttercream that Actually Sets Firm
The other day I shared How to Make Professional Cakes with One Awesome Tip, but I didn’t share the recipe. Well, the wait is over! Are you ready for a great crusting buttercream frosting that tastes great, makes beautiful buttercream flowers, holds up on those hot days without melting, and spreads so smooth that people may mistake it for fondant?
***Update: Sweetex has changed its recipe. I’m so sad. I haven’t tried the new recipe, but I will update this post and add a new one to reveal what I found out once I use the new recipe. It looks like Mr. Bearfoot Baker is going to eat a lot of cakes in the near future. 😉
The secret to this crusting buttercream frosting is it’s made with hi-ratio shortening instead of butter. I love the buttercream frosting made with butter, but sometimes you need a frosting that can hold its beautiful shape in warm conditions and will crust over so your flowers and decorations won’t wilt as the temperature rises.
This crusting buttercream will do just that because it tastes great and is amazing for piping details and flowers that will hold their shape at an outdoor event. Even though it is made with hi ratio shortening, it doesn’t leave your mouth feeling greasy and has a nice taste that your guest will love. Another reason I love it is because you can spread it out to a nice smooth finish. As a matter of fact, it’s so smooth when people see it they might mistake it for fondant.
Supplies for Crusting Buttercream Frosting:
hi ratio shortening- Sweetex, Alpine, CK, Kitchen Krafts
milk or heavy cream
How to Make Crusting Buttercream that Actually Sets Firm
- 2/3 cup of hi ratio shortening
- 1 pound (4 cups of confectioners’ sugar)
- 3 tablespoons of milk or heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 teaspoon of butter flavor
- 1 teaspoon of almond flavor
- Place the hi ratio shortening and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and mix.
- Add the milk and flavors and mix until creamy.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Hi-ratio shortening is key to making this crusting buttercream recipe. If you use a store brand, check the label for trans fats. Brands like Crisco do not contain trans fats and that will affect the way your buttercream frosting recipe. Check out Make Profession Cakes with this One Awesome Tip to see the difference between buttercream flowers made with hi ratio shortening and flowers make with a shortening that doesn’t contain trans fats. Big difference!
It really is a game-changer when making buttercream frosting. The hi ratio shortening helps stabilize the buttercream which helps it hold its shape and works better in higher temperatures. You don’t have to order hi ratio shortening online but I do. It seems so easy to click a few buttons and get what you’re looking for instead of driving from town to town looking for shortening with trans fats. If you do look for shortening locally, check the label to see if trans fats are listed. If so, you have a winner and you don’t have to pay shipping costs. Lucky you!
I heard that the Wal-Mart brand has trans fats, but haven’t checked it out myself. It is on my shopping list for the next time I venture out. I am going to become a “Label Looker” for the next few weeks!
I have more buttercream creations in the works and will share them soon. Now that you have my secret to beautiful buttercream and crusting buttercream recipes, you should make some beautiful creations and share them with us. It’s super fun to play around and see what you can do with just one tip or experiment to make a new design. I know you are going to have fun!
More Frosting Recipes:
American Buttercream Frosting
Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Swiss Meringue Frosting
Italian Meringue Frosting
I use the Hi-ratio now myself. Use to use Walmart brand until they too removed the Trans fats. Even when it had it in it, the shortening was never consistent. Sometimes it would be nice and firm, and other times super soft. So sadly, I don’t think there is a brand out there in the local market that still has Trans fat. Love my hi-ratio. Thanks for the post!
Thanks Carrie for letting us know about the Wal-Mart brand shortening. That is sad but good to know. I wish we could get it locally but there is such a difference I am happy to pay for shipping.
If you are Canadian, you can buy high ratio shortening at the Bulk Barn. I bought some the other day but haven’t tried it yet.
Thank you, Lisa, for always sharing such helpful and creative information. It’s because of you and a few others I followed that encouraged me to take my baking business to the next level. Your willingness to share freely your ideas is such a blessing! Loved your design and color selection on the cake and the cake stand you featured on this post. Was wondering if you piped or blended the prominent red after you put the buttercream on the cake or used some other technique to get that effect…could you share please? Thanks so much!
The design on the cake was a bit of a mistake as most of my designs are! LOL I placed a poppy on the side and then decided I didn’t like it there. I tried to remove the red with my offset spatula and smeared it all over the white. When I saw how it looked I added three buttercream poppies! I love mistakes like that! 😉
Hi there! I see that this recipe calls for heavy cream or milk, does this mean that the decorated cake needs to be refrigerated? Does this buttercream stands out nicely without going bad?
I am a self taught baker and am not an expert, but yes you can leave a cake decorated with buttercream frosting out for 2-3 days.
I have been decorating cakes for 32 years and have always used Crisco in my frosting. I have never had a problem with flowers or any detail losing shape. It also crusts over nicely. I think the problem is in the recipe…I only use 1/3 cup shortening to 1 lb of confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp flavoring and 1/4 tsp. salt. Everyone loves my buttercream and they are always asking for the recipe. Try this recipe to see how you like it. It spreads nicely…depending on the weather I sometimes have to add a tad more water.
Thanks so much Becky! I will be happy to try it out!
This is why I love the baking community, everyone is so nice and willing to share!
Becky, does your Butter Cream leave a greasy mouth feel?
I did purchase some hi ratio shortening, going to give it a try. I was wondering what I would need to make it chocolate buttercream, using hi ratio shortening. Or do you have a recipe you would recommend
I am tweaking my hi ratio chocolate shortening recipe now. I will let you know as soon as I get it just the way I want it. 😉 Hopefully very soon!
Oh my goodness!! THAT PHOTO!!! SO unbelievably GORGEOUS!!!
YOU are the one that is gorgeous GEORGANNE!!! 😉
I can’t wait to try your buttercream recipe! I need to print this one and keep it my recipe notebook. Thanks Lisa! 🙂
You are very welcome Karen! I hope you like it! Hugs!!
I stumbled onto your website looking for ways to freshen up my flower decorating game, and wow. You’re tutorials are fantastic! They make it all seem very doable.
I’m excited to try this so my flowers stop wilting, but don’t have time to get the butter flavor. Would it make that much of a difference in the flavor if I left it out? Or is there something else I can substitute…
You don’t have to use the butter flavor. You can use almond, vanilla or other extracts to make the flavor you want. I would just add a little at a time and taste it as you go so you get the flavor just right.
Hey !! Amazing photography skills I must say 🙂 could you please tell me if Crisco is a high ratio shortening?
Unfortunately Crisco isn’t a high ratio shortening. I’ve given up looking in stores and buy mine online. Sweetex, Alpine or Ck are really good. I hope you can find some!
I am making for people with but allergies. Can I just omit the almond extract or should I add in not vanilla to take its place?
Sure you can omit the almond extract. When you do, taste it to see if you like the flavor. If not add a little more vanilla. 😉
Hello, Thank you for sharing your recipe., but is there anyway to make this not so sweet. , would more shortening work?
I’ve never tried to make it less sweet. You might want to try a little kosher salt to help reduce the sweetness. If that doesn’t work you may need to use a different recipe. If you Google “Buttercream” I’m sure you can find one you like. Good luck!
What can I use instead of hi ratio shortening as I can’t find it in Ireland.
I searched high ratio shortening in Ireland and found Coronet High Ratio Shortening here: http://andrewingredients.co.uk/products-info/154/coronet-high-ratio-shortening and this site: http://andrewingredients.co.uk/products-info/794/rowallan-nh-high-ratio-shortening-previously-sweetex
I hope one of these will help.
I was just wondering if anyone has tried this for decorating cookies? I read somewhere that some people use a buttercream instead of royal icing, but I can’t remember where I read that. This is why I need to limit the blogs i read lol
So does the high Trans fat content give it that “lardy” waxy taste? Like some bakery buttercream, all I taste u s lard with way to much sugar, to sweet.
It does not have a “lardy” taste to it. That is one reason I hated Crisco. It was awful! I was surprised the first time I tried the Hi-ratio shortening because I didn’t have the waxy feeling in my mouth1
I made it using your recipe, but it didn’t come out smooth and nice 🙁
I used CK high ratio shortening, powdered sugar, 4 table spoons of milk, and the flavors. I put them all together in Kitchenaid mixer and I mixed until they are smooth(not realy)
The color is not bright white too.
Can I make this buttercream ahead of time, freeze then thaw when I’m ready to use?
Buttercream frosting can be placed in the fridge for 4-5 days or it can be frozen for up to three months. The Kitchn did an article on it and you can find it here: https://www.thekitchn.com/bakers-tip-what-to-do-with-leftover-buttercream-168061.
This buttercream was so simple to make and so lovely tasting! Thank you for providing a great recipe.
I’m glad you liked it Marianne! I can’t wait to see what you make! Your cakes are so pretty!
Can you use this to pipe rosettes on sugar cookies? I am looking for something that I can stack but still tastes good on a cookie.
This buttercream sets firm for cakes, but you can’t stack it like you can royal icing. It tastes great but not the best icing for stacking.
I want to thank you first of all for sharing your knowledge with us.
The issue I have is that Crisco is mainly the shortening we have where I live. There seems to be no “hi- ratio” shortening here.
I really want to get crusting frosting in my cakes.
So, in this situation I just enumerated above, what do I do ?
I REALLY WANT CRUSTED BUTTER ICING LIKE YOU HAVE SHARED.
I’m trying out some shortenings to see if I can find something that works. I’ll share the results. 🙂
Firstly, I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Going by your recommendations, “high ratio ” shortening is Paramount.
The issue here that only Crisco is obtainable where I live. The high ratio is not accessible.
what else can I do to get crusting frosting with your recommendation.
I really want to achieve crusting with your method.
The FDA made everyone change the hi-ratio shortening and the reviews say it doesn’t work as well as it did before. I’m going to order some shortening and I’ll share the results with you soon.
OK Lisa. Will be waiting. Thanks!
Hi Lisa, would this be suitable to use as a dirty icing under fondant. I live in Central Florida and need something for a wedding cake which will hold up in the heat and humidity? Thanks for all your great tips and recipes.
Yes! This buttercream frosting doesn’t contain butter so it dries firm and is good for dirty icing. Let me know how it turns out! 😉
Does this freeze enough to stamp letters into the sides? Thank you! Or to freeze a design on acetate and transfer onto a cake?
I’m not sure. I haven’t tried that. I’m baking cakes this week so I will try to use a few stamps and let you know.
Once the FDA forced the removal of “Trans Fats” I don’t consider anything HIGH Ratio. Have read many complaints about all the New versions that Sweetex now has so it’s back to trial & error. And for those that don’t know, CK’s shortening is SWEETEX, just private labeled for them. If anyone has a Shortening based Buttercream that has NO graininess P L E A S E share it!!
Thank you so much for the recipe and the tips! I’m making/decorating our 10th anniversary cake in a few weeks and this worked perfectly to use the textured mold I found. For anyone that has a Roth’s Market that they have access to, their store brand shortening has a good amount of trans fats (3g) and worked great.
Thanks, Heather for sharing that with us! Happy anniversary!
Just used this recipe and it truly is the best buttercream icing I have ever tasted and it is perfect for the smooth cake finish I was going for for my daughters birthday cake. Thank you!!!!
Thank you, Sarina!
There’s nothing like a good birthday cake that your mom makes! I bet your daughter was thrilled with the love you put into that cake! 🙂
What is the equivalent weight of 2/3 cup of the hi ratio shortening? I’m thinking it may be easier to weigh it than scoop 2/3 cup out
Thanks for your question Fleur.
I measured it this morning and 2/3 cup = 133 g. Hope this helps!
What brand of butter flavoring do you use? Thanks!
Thanks for this. My question is can I freeze the cake after decorating without the fear of it swelling while transporting?
Thank you so much for mentioning high ratio shortening to make cake frostings I had never heard of this. I had been searching on-line trying to understand why I could not make my frosting just like my mother’s frosting – my frosting was soft yet not firm like hers – from many years ago. It’s because Crisco is processed (no trans fat!) differently today then years ago. I will purchase this shortening and hope for the best next time I make frosting for my cake. Thank you again!
Hello I am a bit puzzled by the recipe. Do you intend to add 1 lb plus 4 cups powdered sugar, or is it supposed to read 1 lb. (or 4 cups) sugar? If the former, then why are you mixing weight with measuring cups vs using one means of measuring out powdered sugar? I bake all the time and have never seen any recipe read this way. We want t be sure we add the correct amount of sugar! Thanks!
It’s just 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar. I fixed the recipe. Sorry about that!
When you say
“1 pound 4 cups confectioners sugar”
Do you mean 1 pound AND 4 cups sugar or 1 pound (4 cups) sugar?
1 pound 4 cups comes to 2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar according to my measures, so I”m curious why you didn’t say 2 pounds.
It’s just four cups of confectioners’ sugar. I fixed the recipe. Sorry about that!
What brand shortening are you purchasing that contains trans fat? I can’t find any.
Sweetex no longer has Trans Fat either.. Just purchased 5 pounds 🙁
UGH! I finally found something that worked well and they changed their recipe! I’m so sad. I will purchase more without the trans fat and see how it works. I’ll add new posts and share the results. I’m so sorry it changed Julie. I’ll make new posts soon.