Whipped Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting recipe is a light brown sugar whipped frosting that’s made without powdered sugar!
I love the whipped buttercream frostings because they are so light and creamy without being heavy or greasy.
They’re also pretty fantastic because you make the frosting without powdered sugar, so they’re perfect for those times when you don’t have any on-hand.
I’ve been thinking about making a brown sugar version for a while because some cakes pair so well with the caramel-y tones in brown sugar.
Anyway, this whipped brown sugar buttercream frosting doesn’t disappoint. It is incredibly light and super creamy.
It isn’t overpoweringly sweet either, so it pairs well with sweeter cakes. It’s especially good with fall-flavored cakes (i.e. pumpkin, apple, spice).
If you’ve never tried a whipped buttercream, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how good they are. This recipe makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes or a 9-inch 2 layer cake.
How to make whipped brown sugar buttercream frosting
Step 1: In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. It will be the consistency of a thick paste.
Step 2: Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Step 3: Stir in vanilla.
Step 4: While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy on medium high, about 3 minutes.
Step 5: Then add the completely cooled milk mixture.
Step 6: Beat it for about 5 minutes on medium-high to high until it looks like whipped cream. If you can still taste the sugar granules, keep beating it until you can’t.
There are a few places where things could go wrong in this recipe.
- First, not cooking the milk mixture long enough. The mixture should be a thick paste. If it’s too wet, the frosting will be too loose.
- Second, the cooked milk mixture needs to cool completely. If it’s too warm, it will melt the butter, and you’ll end up with loose frosting that doesn’t come together.
- Third, using butter that’s too warm. The butter should be at cool room temperature. It should dent if pushed, but it shouldn’t be too warm and certainly not beginning to melt.
- Fourth, using old brown sugar. Brown sugar that is hard and lumpy won’t mix well with the butter. It’s best to use soft, fresh brown sugar.
- Fifth, not whipped the frosting long enough. The frosting needs to be whipped to get the right light and airy texture. Cutting the time short could leave you with a grainy frosting or a frosting that separates.
Any leftover frosting or cake/cupcakes frosted with the frosting should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
More whipped buttercream frosting recipes!
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Whipped Brown Sugar Buttercream
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups salted butter at cool room temperature1
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar packed
- Pinch of salt
- In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. It will be the consistency of a thick paste.
- Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Stir in vanilla.
- While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy on medium high, about 3 minutes.
- Then add the completely cooled milk mixture.
- Beat it for about 5 minutes on medium-high to high until it looks like whipped cream. If you can still taste the sugar granules, keep beating it until you can’t.
- So, what is “cool room temperature”? A lot of people think that room temperature butter means that the butter is on the verge of melted or is partially melted. That’s too warm. Cool room temperature butter means that if you press it with your finger, your finger will leave an indentation in the butter, but the butter should still hold its shape and should still feel cool to the touch.
- Check out the tips and tricks section above the recipe for more helpful hints.
- Nutrition facts have been estimated.
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Published 7/21/14. Updated with new photos and hints on 5/8/18.
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Comments & Reviews
I beat it for 8 minutes on medium high in my kitchen aid stand mixture and it’s still gritty. What did I do wrong? It tastes like when you mix butter with sugar at the beginning of making chocolate chip cookies. :(
You haven’t added the milk/flour mixture and finished making the recipe. The milk/flour mixture helps to smooth out the frosting. So, as long as you used regular brown sugar, and not a larger grain, natural-type brown sugar, it should be fine once you finish making the recipe.
It is a great buttercream and good for the ones that need to cut the sugar levels. I used a mix of non- sugars and worked great.
Tammy Tobac says
I made this on a white almond cake for New Year’s Eve for my stepfather‘s birthday. This made the cake exquisite! Everyone was asking for two pieces. It was the best cake I ever made. And it was hands-down thanks to this frosting. I was licking the beaters after making this one for sure! The cake was actually just a white box cake with some almond extract added. And it was truly the best cake ever made.
Thank you! I’m glad that your cake turned out so well!
maryann westfall says
Love the flavor of this frosting! I’ve tried this type of “cooked” frosting before and I’m frustrated by the inconsistency in the texture. When the texture is good, this frosting is very close to a SMBC texture but so much easier! But when the texture is off, the frosting appears curdled/separated, not fluffy. I’m not sure where I went wrong. My butter was cool, definitely not too soft/warm. I felt like my cooked mixture was thick and paste-like, however, after cooling completely to room temp it seemed a little less thick than I expected. I thought it would get even thicker after cooling – it did not! The one thing I did that wasn’t mentioned in the recipe was I covered my cooked mixture so that it didn’t get a skin on top of it while it cooled. (This has been recommended on other recipes for cooked frosting.)
So I’m wondering if I didn’t cook the flour/milk long enough and it should have been thicker. I cooked it for about 10 minutes over low – medium heat. Or if covering the mixture while it cooled added moisture to it? The mixture cooled for about 45 minutes.
I wonder if placing the cooked mixture in the fridge to actually chill it might be helpful??
Any thoughts? I don’t want to give up on this recipe. I really think it could be great for me if I figure out what I’m doing wrong!
Hi! My milk/flour mixture always thickens a bit as it cools. It may be helpful to check out the photo of the milk/flour mixture or to watch the video showing how to make the frosting. It’s difficult to adequately describe what the milk/flour mixture should look like, and I think it’s helpful to see the process and see what it should look like.
I’ve chilled the cooked milk/flour mixture, and it speeds up the process, but I haven’t found that it makes any difference in the way that the frosting turns out.
I don’t cover the mixture, and I’ve never had a skin form. I have a vanilla version of this recipe that uses granulated sugar, and I’ve gotten thousands of comments on that recipe. Out of all of those comments, I’ve only heard from 2 or 3 people who have had a skin form on the milk/flour mixture. They said that pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the mixture, like you would if you were making pudding, solved the problem. Like I said, though, I don’t cover it, and I’ve never had any issues.
Please feel free to ask if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help with any info that I can give.
Kate – Thanks so much for your reply. I found your video after I posted my comment and my flour/milk mixture was NOT as thick as yours! I’m certain this was my issue! The video was so helpful for the visual of how thick it should be. Thanks again.
I’m so glad that the video helped! If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!
How long is this recipe good in the fridge for? I want to make the icing a few days in advance
It will keep for about 3-4 days. However, it’s more difficult to use the frosting after it has been chilled than to frost a cake/cupcake with the frosting and then chill. Hope that helps!
Am I the only one who can taste the flour. I followed the recipe.
Hi! The frosting shouldn’t taste like flour. Cooking the flour should remove any flour-y taste.
Tricia V says
Love how it turned out! I made this for the first time and it came out perfect. I only made half the size, and since I didn’t have milk handy, I used 1/2 water and 1/2 heavy whipping cream for the milk part. It turned out light, creamy, airy, just how I like it. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!
Thank you! And thank you for sharing that using water and heavy cream worked for you!
Delicious! Can it be frozen? I made way too much.
Thank you! I’ve frozen cupcakes frosted with this frosting, and it froze well. However, I haven’t frozen the frosting by itself and used it to frost cakes/cupcakes after freezing it.
Have you tried dyeing this at all? If so, any tips?
I haven’t tried dying this frosting, but I have used food coloring with my original (granulated sugar) version. I recommend using gel food coloring to get color without adding excess liquid to the frosting. Hope that helps!
Emma Martin says
We just tried this recipe as my daughter had been planning on icing buns and was very disappointed when we discovered we were out of icing sugar (or powdered sugar as you call it). She turned to Google and came up with your recipe, and it has worked out beautifully! I actually think we prefer this to regular butter icing and will definitely be using it again. I also had thought about dissolving the sugar in the milk and flour and then just creaming up the butter, as after a good whisk we still had a few granules in ours. I might try this next time and let you know how it works out. Thank you again for such a perfect recipe! And for cheering up a budding 9 year old baker!
Thank you so much! And I’m very impressed by your daughter! I hope she keeps up her great work in the kitchen!
RS Clary says
I am in LOVE with this recipe!!! I just finished icing banana cupcakes and I am already thinking about what I can bake next just so I can use this frosting!! My family never agrees on any type of frosting /cake. They ALL loved this one. It whips up into heavenly clouds of buttery goodness that spreads so beautifully. Thank you for sharing this recipe. This is a game changer for me, as I often struggle when it comes time to icing. I can’t believe how amazing my cupcakes look. The best part though is the flavor!! Even though it’s already perfect, I must admit I can’t wait to try this with browned butter… thank you again and God Bless😊🎂
Thank you so much! I’m so glad that you liked it!
I used this frosting to ice a carrot cake for a friend who is allergic to all corn based products (ie, icing sugar). The frosting was DELICIOUS. I added a bit of cinnamon to complement the spices in the cake. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe…I will definitely be making it again.
Thank you so much!
Erica k says
Can these stay out? My husband is taking them up to a bake sale at his work and will be left out.
Hi! Since the frosting has a high dairy content, I don’t recommend leaving the frosting out for an extended time. If you’re going to need to leave the frosting out, I highly recommend chilling the frosted cake or cupcakes first. The frosting sets up quite a bit in the fridge, and that should help.
Teresa Gilbert says
Hi could you put the brown sugar in the milk and flour mixture to melt the sugar?
Hi! I haven’t tried that to say for certain.
What happens if you mistakenly use becel margerin instead of butter?
I’m not familiar with becel, but margarine is made with water and oil, so it may work differently in the recipe than butter.
Delicious! Easy to make. Great frosting, not too sweet. I made a carrot cake for my mother in law for Mother’s Day. I cannot wait for her to try it.
Thank you so much! I hope you and your mother-in-law enjoyed the cake!
Could this be done with browned butter (cooled to room temp) instead of regular butter? Thanks!
Hi! I haven’t tried using cooled browned butter. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it works out!