Here at Queen, buttercream is one of our favourite ways to finish off a beautiful cake. The basic recipe is made from simple pantry ingredients, and is a versatile blank canvas for adding colour, flavour and texture to your bakes.

But did you know there are actually several different types of buttercream? Follow our step-by-step tutorial for four delicious varieties – Basic, Ermine, French and Swiss Meringue. Mix things up with Queen Food Colour Gels and a splash of something delicious from our Flavour for Icing range!

Tip: Use our handy Food Colour Mixing Chart to  create a rainbow of icing and cake colours from soft pastels to vivid brights. Happy mixing!


1: Basic Buttercream

Sweet, fluffy and delicious, but don’t be fooled – this icing is anything but basic! Basic buttercream’s firm consistency makes it perfect for all types of decorating projects including stabilising multiple layers and all kinds of fancy piping effects. One thing to note: you may need to add extra colour to compensate for the yellow of the butter.



250g unsalted butter, softened

3 cups (450g) icing sugar, sifted

Queen Strawb’ry & Cream Flavour for Icing

Queen Red Food Colour Gel



  1. Place butter in bowl of a stand mixing and beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes until pale and fluffy.
  1. With mixer off, sift in icing sugar and Strawb’ry & Cream, folding to combine. Return to mixer and beat until combined, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  1. Add Food Colour Gel and mix until desired shade is reached.


2: French Buttercream

Compared to basic buttercream, the French method of adding sugar syrup creates a much smoother finish. Take the richness up a notch with egg yolks and you’ve got yourself one sexy, silky icing!



230g unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 tbsp water

5 large egg yolks

Pinch of salt

Queen Unicorn Dream Flavour for Icing

Queen Red Food Colour Gel

Queen Blue Food Colour Gel



  1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, add yolks and salt to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until pale and thick.
  3. When syrup reaches softball stage (114°C) remove from heat. With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully add syrup to yolks. Stop pouring every 10 seconds and increase speed to high, then switch to low and drizzle in more syrup until fully incorporated.
  4. After all syrup has been added, beat on high until mixture has cooled to room temperature – about 10 minutes.
  5. Switch to paddle attachment and add butter one cube at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  6. Add Unicorn Dream and Food Colour Gel and mix until desired shade is achieved.

3: Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This smooth, glossy buttercream is made with whipped egg whites for a much lighter texture than basic buttercream. Better yet, it has a super white finish, making it perfect for colouring without over-compensating for yellow butter! It looks stunning on the outside of cakes, but be wary of using it between layers as it has a much fluffier consistency.



6 large egg whites

1 2/3 cups caster sugar (310g)

¾ tsp (3g) salt

¼ tsp cream of tartar

565g unsalted butter, softened

Queen Mermaid Magic Flavour for Icing

Queen Blue Food Colour Gel

Queen Green Food Colour Gel



  1. Fill a pot with at least 4cm of water. Use a thick ring of alfoil to prevent bowl from touching bottom. Bring to a boil, then adjust temperature to a gentle simmer.
  2. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar in bowl of a stand mixer. Set over simmering water, stirring and scraping constantly with a spatula, until egg whites hold steady at 80°C – approx. 10-12 minutes.
  3. Once ready, transfer to stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed for 10 minutes, until meringue is glossy, stiff, and cool – around 32°C.
  4. With mixer still running, add butter, 1 – 2 tablespoons at a time. Volume will initially decrease, but as cool butter is added, it will begin to thicken and cool. Buttercream should become thick, creamy, and soft around 22°C.
  5. Add Mermaid Magic and Food Colour Gel until desired shade is reached.


Troubleshooting: If warmer than 23°C, buttercream will be soft and loose; chill for 15 minutes and re-whip to help thicken and cool. If colder than 20°C, buttercream will be firm and dense, making it difficult to spread; to warm, briefly set over a pan of steaming water until edges melt slightly, then re-whip to help soften and warm.


4: Ermine Buttercream

This is a very old, traditional recipe for buttercream, made on a simple pudding base. While flour in icing may sound a little strange, this recipe is perfect for anyone who finds buttercream far too sweet! It is soft, fluffy and the least sweet icing of all.



4½ tbsp plain flour

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup milk

230g unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Queen Bubblegum Flavour for Icing

Queen Blue Food Colour Gel



  1. Whisk together flour and sugar in medium saucepan. Whisk in milk. Place saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil, whisking continuously, then cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Pour pudding onto a clean heatproof plate or shallow container. Cover immediately with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly against pudding surface.
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add cooled pudding one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add Bubblegum flavour and salt and beat until buttercream looks thick, smooth, and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  1. Add Food Colour Gel and mix until desired shade is achieved.


Ready to whip up some buttercream perfection? From ruffles and rosettes to blossoms and begonias, check out our selection of step-by-step buttercream decorating tutorials here.

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Comments & Reviews

thank you am giving the glycerine tip a go today!


Hi , I was reading that glycerine in your buttercream makes it more creamy and not crust, but it isn’t in any of your recipes could you please give a measurement for a basic batch of buttercream please


Hi Natasha, we would recommend approximately 2-3 tsp of glycerine in one (700g) batch of buttercream. Hope that helps!

Queen Fine Foods

has anyone made the Ermine one? how does it taste and whats the consistency like?


Hi Sandra, we have made Ermine buttercream many times here at Queen – it’s one of our favourite types of icing! As we discussed in the blogpost, it is far less sweet than regular buttercream and has a silky smooth, fluffy consistency. We hope you give it a try 🙂 Regards, The Queen Team

Queen Fine Foods