18 Genius Ways to Upgrade Your Buttercream Flavors

Buttercream doesn’t need any additions to be absolutely, wonderfully indulgent. But even buttercream can get an impressive makeover by upgrading the ingredients and adding flavors. Here are some easy ways to indulge your sweet tooth by making buttercream even better!

Upgrade Your Ingredients

Using high-quality ingredients is an easy way to take the flavor of your buttercream from good to outstanding. Here are some simple ideas.

Use Cultured Butter

All butters are not created equal. Lesser-quality butters actually have less butter and more air and water in them. Investing in European-style or cultured butters can bring a whole new world of flavor to your buttercream. Or, for an extra special touch, make homemade butter and use it to add a favorable flavor to your creation.

Use Flavoured Sugar

Making your own powdered sugar is another fantastic way to make your icing special. Homemade confectioners’ sugar can also be made with infused or flavored sugars, adding an extra nuance to flavors.

Add Out-Of-The-Ordinary Extracts

Vanilla extract is a typical flavoring for buttercream, but don’t settle for typical! Substitute something unexpected like almond, peppermint or lemon extract. Or, try mixing your vanilla extract with part almond or another extract to give your buttercream a fascinating and subtle flavor. Bonus points if you made your own flavoring extracts at home!

Mix In Some Salt!

Wait…salt? In super-sweet buttercream? Though it doesn’t regularly appear on many buttercream recipes, adding just the teensiest sprinkle of salt to buttercream can bring out every other flavor in the best possible way.

Buttercream Flavor Ideas

Vanilla buttercream is a fantastic canvas for you to add flavor and texture. Here are just a few ways ideas.


There are countless ways to give buttercream an addictive chocolate flavor. Add a swirl of melted chocolate (cooled — not super hot) to create a swirl, substitute ganache for a portion of the butter, stir in cocoa powder for a subtle chocolate flavor — they all create a to-die-for chocolatey delight!


Creamy coconut adds a beautiful flavor to buttercream. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut cream to your buttercream, and stir in a little extra sugar to adjust the consistency if needed. For a more robust coconut flavor, stir in toasted coconut, or garnish your cake with coconut shreds.

Fresh Fruit

There are a number of ways to incorporate firm fruits to buttercream, but we love using a fruit reduction.

Here’s how: add some sugar to the fruit and wait until it begins to release its juices. Drain the fruit, blot it dry, and cut into tiny pieces to add to the buttercream, reserving the juice. Reduce the juice with sugar until it becomes a syrup; let this come to room temperature and add it to the icing.

Bananas Or Soft Fruits

No need to drain soft fruits that don’t release juices. Simply purée the fruit and add it to the buttercream in place of part of the butter for a wonderful flavor.

Fruit Powders

These days, you can buy dried, ground fruit in powder form. You get the same color and flavor without sacrificing texture or consistency of the buttercream.

Citrus Juice

Citrus can add a wonderful brightness to buttercream. Add a few teaspoons of citrus juice, along with the chopped zest, to your buttercream. You may have to add a little extra powdered sugar to make the buttercream firm.

Jams And Curds

Several tablespoons of fruit curd can be added to icing to give it a subtle fruit flavor. With stronger-flavored preserves such as lemon curd, add a little at a time.


Soft cheeses can be a great addition to buttercream — simply swap out a portion of the butter for cheese. We’re not just talking cream cheese here: You can also add soft homemade goat cheese or mascarpone. Cheese adds a nice tang and richness that complements sweet cakes. The stronger the flavor of the cheese, the less you will need to get the flavor point across.


Add finely chopped toasted nuts to the icing for a nice crunch and flavor. To really highlight the flavor, add the same flavor extract as a complement (such as toasted almonds with almond extract).

Nut Butters

Nut butters — such as peanut butter, almond butter, or even Nutella — are fantastic additions to your buttercream. Stir in a couple of tablespoons to your recipe. Mix well to ensure the nut butter is evenly distributed.

Pudding Or Custard Mix

Pudding or custard mixes lend a wonderful, rich flavor to your icing. Stir in about 2 tablespoons for a buttercream that will set firm and take on the flavor of the mix. However, be sure to use this icing soon after making it so it doesn’t set before you’ve iced your cake.

Herbs And Spices

Add freshly ground spices a little at a time (freshly ground and toasted spices will be more flavorful than packaged) until your desired flavor has been reached.