Used to achieve a smooth, buttercream finish cakes, especially using the Viva paper towel method. This recipe is not recommended as the layer of icing underneath fondant if you’re trying to achieve sharp edges, because the shortening used in this recipe won’t allow the buttercream to harden in the freezer well enough before adding your layer of fondant. See the Non-crusting American Buttercream recipe for that application.

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American Crusting Buttercream
Shortening and butter based recipe used to achieve a smooth, buttercream finish on cakes, especially when using the Viva paper towel method.
This amount will cover and fill a 6″ cake, with maybe a little to spare.
This amount will cover and fill a 6″ cake, with maybe a little to spare.
  1. Cream shortening and butter in mixer with beater blades or flat blade (NOT whisk), on medium for 2 minutes
  2. Add extract and water and beat on low ’till incorporated
  3. Gradually add sugar, beating on LOW (very important to avoid air bubbles) until just mixed.
Recipe Notes

*Add more water, a TAB at a time if too thick. But remember, you don’t want a thin consistency.

*You can color the buttercream by using gel colors

*Keep your bowl covered until ready for use

*Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for months

* To turn this into chocolate buttercream, just add 3/4 cup (177 grams) cocoa (or 3 oz which = 85 grams of melted, unsweetened chocolate) and 3-4 Tablespoons milk!

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  1. DianesDesserts 4 months ago

    Hey Shawna 👋. I see that this buttercream isn’t good to use under fondant,but is it ok if your not covering the entire cake and just adding some fondant decorations?

  2. prospert 5 months ago

    Hi Shawna,

    Love your work! I just purchased the Sweetex Golden Flex which is a soy bean high ratio shortening. In your recipe, you recommend using a HR shortening with at least 3 grams of trans fat, but the Sweetex says 0 grams. I purchased my shortening before I subscribed. I still have time to return it, but, what brand do you know of that has 3 grams of trans fat? Since nothing seems to have trans fat anymore, I have been running into problems with the texture of my buttercream and I am not really loving the taste, but I need a reliable crusting recipe with good texture and flavor.

    • Author
      Shawna 4 months ago

      Thanks friend! Well, it’s getting harder and harder to find shortening with trans-fats these days (understandably so) but here’s one I found with good reviews… https://amzn.to/2HjKw7h

  3. Zeina 5 months ago

    Hi Shawna. I was just looking at the recipe. I wanted to ask when do you add the meringue powder? And can I substitute the meringue powder with egg white powder?
    I’m a big fan of your work by the way and I think your tutorials are amazing! Thank you

    • Author
      Shawna 5 months ago

      Hiya Zeina! You can add the meringue powder in when you add the powdered sugar in or right after! And yes, I believe you can substitute egg white powder for the meringue powder. 🙂 And thanks so much for that, my friend!!! Wonderful of you to say! Xx

  4. Debbie Tracy 2 years ago

    Hi Shawna,
    Will this be suitable to lay gum paste flowers on for a wedding cake I am doing? I love this recipe and use it all the time, but have not used it under gum paste flowers before.
    I would rather be placing the flowers on fondant since they could melt under the buttercream ?? The customer has requested buttercream.
    Can I decorate the cake with the flowers the day before?
    Thank You!!

    • Author
      Shawna 2 years ago

      You can absolutely place gumpaste flowers on this, Debbie, and they should be perfectly fine! And you can definitely decorate the cake the day before without any issue. 🙂

  5. Author
    Shawna 2 years ago

    I’m with you, Catherine… I’m not in love with super sweet either! But this is your traditional American buttercream that so many people love over here in the states. I personally LOOOVE swiss meringue buttercream which is waaaaay less sweet and more buttery, but that’s not a crusting buttercream, and I’ve found many people ’round here don’t love it like I do, unfortunately.
    If you take out some of the sugar, it will change the consistency of the buttercream and will then be less stiff… so that’s not a great idea if you need it to be a crusting buttercream.

  6. Catherine 2 years ago

    Hi Shawna,

    I want to make this crusting buttercream, but 2 lbs of confectioners sugar????!!! Sooooo sweet, isn’t it? I really hate super sweet buttercreams. It’s going under fondant, so can I skip some of the sugar?

    • Author
      Shawna 5 months ago

      Catherine, somehow I missed this question!!! I personally don’t like super sweet buttercream either! But that is the American buttercream way, unfortunately. If I were you, I’d go over to the Easy Swiss Meringue buttercream recipe here on the site and use that one as it’s perfect for use under fondant and isn’t overly sweet AT ALL. (In fact, I often actually add one more cup of sugar to the recipe as it’s not really sweet enough for most members of my family, ha!)

      • Author
        Shawna 5 months ago

        Umm…and now I’ve just seen that I actually didn’t miss this question, lol. I just wrote my response in a separate comment and not as a “reply”. Thank goodness you’re used to me and my scattered brain by now. 😉

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