Easy & Delicious French Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Easy & Delicious French Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Discover the secret to creating the most luxurious, velvety frosting without any hassle or mess.

While many bakers are well-versed in meringue-based buttercreams like Swiss and Italian varieties, French buttercream remains a hidden gem. This decadent frosting boasts a rich, custard-like flavor reminiscent of the finest vanilla ice cream, making it a must-have recipe for any serious baker.

Unlike its cousins that use egg whites, French buttercream starts with luscious egg yolks, transforming them into a silky-smooth frosting that’s perfect for special occasion cakes. While it may seem indulgent to use a dozen egg yolks, the results are truly spectacular.

Streamlined Technique: Water Bath Method

Our innovative approach uses a gentle water bath instead of the traditional hot syrup method. This technique not only simplifies the process but also ensures food safety by fully cooking the egg yolks. Say goodbye to the stress of pouring scalding syrup into a running mixer!

We begin by combining egg yolks with sugar, salt, brandy, and vanilla. The brandy adds a subtle depth of flavor, but feel free to substitute with bourbon, rum, or even water if preferred. This mixture is then gently heated over a steaming water bath until it reaches the perfect temperature of 155°F (68°C).

As the mixture heats, it transforms from a thick, grainy paste into a smooth, loose syrup-like consistency. This magic moment signals that your base is ready for the next step.

Whipping Up Perfection

Once your egg yolk mixture is ready, it’s time to let your stand mixer work its magic. Whip the mixture on high speed until it becomes thick, foamy, and starts to form soft peaks. This process typically takes about eight minutes, but keep an eye on those visual cues!

Next, we’ll gradually incorporate cool butter into our fluffy egg base. The key here is balance – we’re aiming for a final temperature in the 70s°F (20s°C). Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks a bit strange at first; as you continue adding butter, it will transform into a glossy, smooth frosting that holds beautiful peaks.

Troubleshooting Tips for Perfect Texture

Buttercream is wonderfully forgiving. If your frosting turns out too thin, it’s likely too warm. Pop it in the fridge for a quick chill. If it’s curdled or greasy, it’s too cold. A gentle warm-up will do the trick. Remember, temperature is the key to achieving that dreamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Properly whipped French buttercream should be light and airy, weighing about six and a quarter ounces per cup. If yours is denser, don’t worry – simply warm it slightly and re-whip for that perfect consistency.

Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, let your creativity shine! Try adding melted chocolate, peanut butter, ground nuts, or warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s incredibly versatile and pairs beautifully with everything from classic vanilla cakes to rich chocolate creations.

Irresistible French Buttercream Frosting


  • 5 1/2 ounces egg yolk (shy 2/3 cup; 155g), from about 10 large eggs
  • 5 1/4 ounces plain or lightly toasted sugar (about 3/4 cup; 145g)
  • 1 ounce bourbon, brandy, rum, tea, or coffee (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)
  • 1/4 ounce vanilla extract (1 1/2 teaspoons; 7g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 16 ounces unsalted butter (4 sticks; 455g), softened to about 65°F (18°C)


  1. Set up your water bath by filling a wide pot with 1 1/2 inches of water. Create a makeshift ‘booster seat’ with crumpled aluminum foil to keep your mixing bowl from touching the pot’s bottom. Bring water to a gentle simmer. In your stand mixer bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, your chosen liquid (bourbon, etc.), vanilla, and salt.
  2. Place the bowl over the simmering water. Stir constantly with a flexible spatula until the mixture reaches 155°F (68°C), about 5 minutes. If it’s taking too long, increase the heat slightly. Once ready, transfer to your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on high speed. Continue until the mixture is fluffy, stiff, and starts to gather around the whisk, approximately 8 minutes.
  3. With the mixer running, begin adding softened butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Allow a few seconds between each addition. The finished buttercream should be thick, creamy, and soft but not runny, with a temperature around 72°F (22°C).
  4. Use your French buttercream immediately, or store it for later. To store, transfer to a large zipper-lock bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for several months. When ready to use, bring to 72°F and re-whip for best results.
  5. Troubleshooting: If your buttercream is too soft (above 74°F/23°C), refrigerate for 15 minutes and re-whip. If it’s too firm (below 68°F/20°C), briefly warm over steaming water until the edges start to melt, then re-whip for the perfect consistency.


For a less sweet frosting with subtle depth, try using quick-toasted sugar. It’s particularly lovely in vanilla buttercream but less crucial when working with stronger flavors like chocolate or spices.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This French buttercream can be made ahead and stored in a sealed zipper-lock bag. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for several months. Just remember to bring it back to 72°F (22°C) and re-whip before using.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
135 Calories
13g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 32
Amount per serving
Calories 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 8g 38%
Cholesterol 83mg 28%
Sodium 28mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 9mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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