Brown Butter Buttercream is a delicious way to take ordinary American buttercream and make it extraordinary! The browned butter gives the frosting a nutty flavor, paired with the sugar and vanilla and you get a hint of caramel flavor!  

This delicious brown butter frosting can be used on my Brown Butter Cake, Butterscotch Cake, my Cookie Dough Cake, my Smash Cake Recipe, or my Cookie Dough Cupcakes

A brown bowl filled with light yellow colored Brown Butter Buttercream.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Makes a simple recipe simply amazing! This is a classic American buttercream recipe. There aren’t any adding flavorings, ingredients or components — just basic ingredients. However, we have transformed the basic ingredient (butter) into something entirely elevated! The browned butter provides a nutty, caramel-like aroma and toasty flavor to the buttercream.
  • Beautiful golden flecks. You may notice some little brown bits in the brown butter buttercream frosting. These are the milk solids that are cooked to golden brown while browning the butter. It makes for a beautiful touch to the presentation of the browned butter frosting. 

Ingredient Notes

Brown Butter Frosting ingredients on a brown background: powdered sugar, salt, butter, brown butter, heavy cream, and vanilla.
  • Unsalted Butter: 1 cup + 3 T of the butter you will brown. The remaining butter (1/2 cup + 5 T) you’ll want to be slightly chilled. The browned butter adds a delicious depth of flavor to this traditional buttercream frosting. 
  • Powdered Sugar: Measure the powdered sugar and then sift it to get the smoothest texture for this browned buttercream frosting. 
  • Heavy Cream: Adding heavy cream will make the brown butter buttercream recipe easy to whip. As it whips up, the heavy cream will be beaten and create a light and fluffy texture when combined with the buttercream. 
  • Salt: If using salted butter, reduce the added salted to 1/4 tsp.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Brown the butter: Place 19 tablespoons (1 cup + 3 T) of butter into a saucepan or skillet. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook for a few minutes. The butter will begin to foam and sizzle. Milk solids will begin to form on the bottom of the pan. The butter is perfectly browned when the milk solids are golden brown and the butter smells buttery and nutty, about 8 minutes in total. Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes or until solid. Do not burn. See my How to Brown Butter post for tips, tricks, and troubleshooting.
  2. Beat the butter. Add the remaining 13 T butter (1/2 cup + 5 T) and the cooled brown butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and light. 
  3. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the salt. Add the heavy cream 1 T at a time as needed until the brown buttercream frosting reaches the right consistency.
  4. Serve. Use this brown butter frosting to serve on cakes, cupcakes, brownies, blondies, cookies and more! 

Recipe Tips

Use a light colored pan when browning the butter so you can see the color of the milk solids more easily. 

Brown butter can quickly go from perfectly browned to burnt in no time! So be sure to stir constantly and to keep a close eye on it! My post on Browning Butter will be a huge help in getting amazing browned butter every time! 

Pouring the brown butter into a heat-proof bowl or container will stop the cooking process. The butter then needs to return to room temperature — so essentially it needs to become a solid again. You can speed up this process by placing the butter in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. 

The butter that you aren’t browning should be set out at room temperature for about 15 minutes prior to using it. You want it to be slightly chilled but not cold. 

Use this brown butter buttercream as a base for other flavors of buttercream. The browned butter will simply elevate the nutty, buttery flavor in whatever type of buttercream you are making! 

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

To make the brown butter frosting recipe ahead of time, simply store the finished product in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days prior to using. 

You can brown the butter ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

The brown butter buttercream will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. 

Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight then remove and let come to room temperature. Whip up to return to a fluffy texture. 

A black spoon in a bowl of brown butter frosting.

Recipe FAQs

What is brown butter?

Brown butter is butter that has been cooked until the milk solids in the butter separate from the butter and turn a golden brown color.  

What does brown butter taste like?

Brown butter tastes extra buttery, rich and has nutty and caramel-like flavor components. 

What do I do if I burnt my butter?

It’s the worst when this happens! But unfortunately you can’t save the butter. Once it is burnt, there really isn’t anything you can add to the brown butter buttercream to mask the burned flavor. Grab some new butter and try again! See my Browning Butter Recipe for additional help.

A spoon scooping brown butter frosting from a bowl filled with buttercream.

More Frosting Recipes

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Brown Butter Buttercream in a brown bowl on a tax textured background.
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Brown Butter Buttercream

Brown butter really elevated this American buttercream above and beyond! Use this to frost cupcakes, cookies, cakes, whatever you want!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
Total Time: 22 mins

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups unsalted butter - room temperature but still slightly chilled, divided
  • 7 cups powdered sugar - measured then sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 tablespoons heavy cream - more or less to reach desired consistency
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Brown butter: Place 19 tablespoons of butter in a light colored saucepan or skillet. Place the pan over medium to medium-low heat. 
  • Stir the butter around the pan until melted. While browning butter you want to stir just about the entire time to keep things moving and to prevent the butter from burning. Browning butter is a process that takes about 8 minutes from the time the butter has melted.
  • Once the butter melts, it will begin to foam and sizzle. Continue stirring, eventually the foam will subside and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan will turn a very light golden color. Continue stirring until the milk solids are golden brown and almost amber colored. The smell will be nutty and very buttery. Butter can burn in a matter of seconds so don’t overcook the butter. 
  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a heat proof bowl or container. This will stop the cooking process. The butter needs to be at room temperature, so essentially it needs to become a solid again. You can speed up this process by placing the butter in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. 
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the remaining 13 tablespoons of slightly chilled butter and the room temperature browned butter. Beat to combine. Add the vanilla, and the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and salt. Beat for about 30 seconds, add heavy cream to reach your desired consistency. Mix to combine. 

Notes

My post on Browning Butter will be your best friend! It’s a huge help in getting amazing browned butter every time!
Store leftover buttercream in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight, then remove and let come to room temperature. Beat to return to a light and fluffy texture. 

Nutrition

Calories: 6738kcal (337%)Carbohydrates: 841g (280%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 390g (600%)Saturated Fat: 247g (1235%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 101gTrans Fat: 15gCholesterol: 1044mg (348%)Sodium: 1246mg (52%)Potassium: 189mg (5%)Sugar: 824g (916%)Vitamin A: 12227IU (245%)Vitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 158mg (16%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Instagram and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!