Creating Your Own Buttercream Flavors

Creating Your Own Buttercream Flavors

Creating Your Own Buttercream Flavors

Did you know that creating your own buttercream flavors is the simplest Building on Recipes technique there is?

You can create just about any flavor under the sun and add it straight away into the base recipe of Swiss Buttercream?

Probably the strangest request I ever got was for Marzipan Buttercream!

I had not heard of that one before, but I was so glad I did because it was fabulous!

It was from a customer who just loved my Petit Four recipe, which is classically a Frangipane Cake recipe (almond paste cake) and vanilla buttercream centers with poured fondant icing.

So I set off to recreate those flavors for her in one really neat layer cake to serve about 20 people!

There is just one thing to keep in mind when you start experimenting with adding this or that to the buttercream.


Buttercream is an oil based formula (butter=fat)

Oil and water (in the form of purees, or extracts or emulsions)  do not typically mix well together.

So a certain amount of vigorous blending will do the trick, but watch carefully as you add the flavorings.

You will see if the mixture starts to separate or “break” this means over saturation and once you get to that point, there ain’t no going back!

Unless of course you add more buttercream to even out the ratios.

Much of the flavorings are “to taste” and when I say this, it simply means, start with a tablespoon of extract or emulsion and then taste it.

Purees are not the greatest to add, since their concentration of flavor is not as pronounced as an extract or emulsion, so you will tend to want to add more to the buttercream causing breakage.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it in certain instances like adding a really strong Strawberry Puree or even Mango Puree is great for this!

Oh yeah, and in the fall- I do not hesitate to add Pumpkin Puree too!

Typically about a cup of puree to the entire recipe of buttercream

I always recommend adding extracts or emulsion along with the purees to give it that extra “uumphf” of flavor you are going for.

Candlyland Crafts has a wide selection of flavor oils and extracts that work great in my buttercream recipe.

They also ship worldwide!

I know many of you want a chart that says exactly how much of this to add to the buttercream, but not all BRANDS are crated equally!

I once purchased a mint extract from another source than what I was used to getting and Wowsers! It was like Listerine Mouthwash!

So again I prefer the “taste test”method versus me telling you to add a few tablespoons of something I don’t even know what you are using.

For example that Marzipan Buttercream I mentioned?

I didn’t have a recipe for it, so I experimented a little bit.

I took some very soft almond paste and smoothed it out even more in the kitchen aid with the paddle attachment and some warm water to thin it out.

I then added the buttercream a little at a time while mixing until it was all incorporated well.

Last, I hit it with about a teaspoon of almond extract and a tablespoon of Amaretto Disaronno (optional of course for those of you who do not like alcohol in your pastry).

It was out of this world!

I encourage you to play around with flavors whenever possible.

BE BRAVE GUYS!  No recipe needed!  Start to rely on your TASTEBUDS to guide you to perfect balances.

Just remember, anytime you add ANYTHING to an already soft base (like buttercream) it is going to get SOFTER!

So be prepared to refrigerate many flavored buttercreams not because they will go bad (unless you are using curds or custard of course) but because they are going to be super soft!

Here are just a few suggestions off the top of my head that you can achieve simply by adding some liquors, flavor oils or emulsions, extracts or fruit purees. Simply stir desired amount into the buttercream and off you go!!  (Be sure to refrigerate accordingly if you are using an addition of fruit curds or egg rich custards)

  • Baileys Irish Cream – add liquor
  • Peanut Butter – add peanut butter
  • Nutella – add nutella
  • Lemon Custard Buttercream -add lemon Curd and lemon zest
  • Boston Cream Pie Buttercream- add vanilla custard
  • Coconut – add toasted coconut and coconut extract
  • Key Lime – add key lime juice and grated lime zest
  • Cinnamon- Duh!
  • Kahlua- add instant coffee and Kahlua liquor
  • Pineapple- add canned pineapple (drained first and patted dry)
  • Marachino Cherry – add the Juice from the canned cherries

What else can we think of?  Leave it in the comments section!

Or better yet, MAKE IT and share with us on Facebook!

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  1. I would like to add strawberry purée to this SMBC. How much puree and is it better to cook the puree first? Do I add the puree at the end when you add the vanilla? Thanks in advance.


  2. Hello Fellow Bakers, maybe someone can help with this question: will be making my daughter’s Bday cake fri..she wants choc with banana filing …if I use bananas will they turn brownish/blk color ..thanks

    1. Hi Ana, once the bananas are inside the cake they will not turn borwn, AIR makes the bananas oxidize so as long as they are sealed inside the layers you will have no trouble

  3. Hi Gretchen!! Looking for your pink champagne cupcake recipe AND the swiss meringue buttercream that had champagne to it… it had extra eggs added with the champagne rather than just adding champagne….

    1. HI Valerie Because I have been forced to shut down anything related to Woodland Bakery Blog, I definitely have to start from zero. I have a mountain of work ahead of me
      to rebuild with the most popular and most requested vids/recipes first. in the meantime if you go to my Gretchens Bakery facebook page in PHOTOS I have alot of the most popular recipes and also there are so many people who
      have saved the recipes and can share with you right away! Just ask on the main page! Thanks!

  4. Hi Gretchen,
    I see on your recipe picture you have the Lorann emulsion. I LOVE these products!!!! I stopped using extracts to get away from the alcohol. Didn’t like the taste. These emulsions are wonderful. And you can now find some of them at Walmart, Michael’s Craft’s and Hobby Lobby. I chose their website cuz I order the large bottle of butter vanilla. It’s changed my buttercream! Everyone Wow’s me.

  5. I have used RumChata and Chambord with the Swiss buttercream and both were awesome! Just FYI I have used your Swiss buttercream with different flavorings and ingredient adjustments to make my cream chocolates during the holidays and always have many compliments.

  6. I have one for you, and you have to try this for fall. Make an amazing spice cake, then just add maple flavorings to your swiss buttcream, yup another winner!!!

  7. I LOVE making original buttercream flavors! You can offer tons of flavors, making huge batches of vanilla, then flavoring at will

    An odd combo, to me, that has been a huge Southern hit is Maple Bacon SMBC on Pecan Pie Cake.

  8. Help! I used your caramel recipe and your smbc recipie to get caramel buttercream. The plain buttercream came out perfect, as usual. But once I added the caramel, it was super runny. I put it in the fridge, hoping it will gone back yogether. I am in a time crunch! Help!!!!!

    1. HI valerie, how much did you add?
      I also used this for my Caramel Apple Cake and had no trouble with it being too soft, but Just remember, anytime you add ANYTHING to an already soft base (like buttercream) it is going to get SOFTER!
      So be prepared to refrigerate many flavored buttercreams not because they will go bad (unless you are using curds or custard of course) but because they are going to be super soft!

      1. My caramel apple cake went way soft to point of sliding off the cake…apples and all:) No less at my mother’s birthday party..haha my home bakery – Gianna’s flops big time……ouch. The caramel didn’t get soft and thick as I expected it too. .kind of tasted strong…I learned from now on I must add more 10x and refrigerate overnight. A must for me. I am making this again without dripping caramel over it though. Thanks again for all of your fantastic recipes!! I am still grovin gretchenator

        1. Oh no!!! I’m sorry to heat this! Sounds as if your caramel was borderline burnt- to give that taste of bitter, so be sure to get it off the heat quicker next time- but I think I have to post a revised recipe for a WET CARAMEL method since the dry method does not leave much room fro error!
          It is a sauce after all though and it does drip down the sides when it is out at room temp- so I do keep it in the fridge until I serve then its OK out for a couple hours

  9. I have used this recipe for over a year and a half now and everyone loves it! I have made so many flavors just using the base frosting first. I also made raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, Cream cheese and my famous MAPLE! For the fresh fruits I always made a puree first and drained most the liquids so it leave more fruit than liquid and every one loves it. For the maple you can use pure maple syrup or maple extract. I tend to use both!

    1. Hi! I’ve been using the SMB as a base as well but I was really wanting to try Maple syrup/extract. How much did you add without it becoming runny? Thanks!

        1. Hi! This is wonderful! Is it at all possible to do the regular swiss meringue buttercream recipe instead of the vegan buttercream? My family just loved the SMB the last time I tried it. Thank you so much!

  10. Hi Gretchen
    I love all your recipes every time I bake one of your cakes for a party everyone loves them. Could you please show us how to make the Petit Four recipe again with the Frangipani cake.

  11. Hi Gretchen, I was searching your comments for the chocolate chip cookie dough variation of your SMBC; I remember at one time you had an eggless chocolate chip cookie dough recipe for the very purpose of incorporating it into the buttercream. I would love if you could share that with us again, pretty please?
    Love what you’re doing, and of course thank you!!

  12. I’m planning of baking banana chocolate cake for my lil one’s birthday. Thought of putting chocolate ganache inbetween layers and cover with buttercream to decorate with flowers. However, do guys have suggestions of buttercream flavors for this kind of cake? Thanks!

  13. Hi Gretchen, one of my customers wants a banana filling for her daughters birthday cake. Can I make a banana puree or curd? How would I make that? Help!

  14. Hi Gretchen,
    Do you have any suggestions on concentrated flavors to add to SMBC for guava? I’m gonna add a cup of guava puree and see how it goes. I’m wondering if you could recommend an extract or other addition to enhance/compliment the guava taste.

    I’m thankful for how you make it easier for the home baker to achieve professional desserts! Not many professionals like to “give away their secrets” so to speak. THANK YOU!

  15. Hi Gretchen,

    I love this buttercream recipe and would like to try adding your lemon curd. How much would you recommend to add?

  16. I have been decorating for a very long time, and have never tried Swiss buttercream because I thought it would be too difficult or not as good as my American buttercream with real butter and cream. So I finally tried it today, both the vanilla and the chocolate, and I want to tell you… it is AMAZING! Thanks so much for the recipe. I used meringue powder instead of egg whites, and it turned out great first time. I will be using it a lot, and trying different flavors. I have already added it to the flavor list on my website. I have used inspiration from your videos to design many of my dessert cakes. Thanks again! I will keep watching. I am living proof that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

  17. Where can I find your cookie dough buttercream icing recipe? I made it once, and loved it but don’t know where I wrote it down. Please help! My son requested it for his 6th bday tomorrow.

  18. Hey Gretchen! I love your work soooo much! *Blushes* I was wondering if it would be possible to incorporate a vanilla bean instead of the vanilla extract and if so, would it taste the same or better?

  19. I want to make lemon cupcakes decorated & filled with raspberry buttercream using your Swiss buttercream . Do you think I can pipe a flower design if I add raspberry flavoring to the buttercream? Will it be stable enough to hold the flower shape. Please help me!! Love your tutorials!! Thank you for your generosity in sharing them.

    1. sounds great! yes you can still pipe with flavored buttercream although it will be a lot softer once you add anything to the base BC and you will most likely have to refrigerate the cupcakes because of it

  20. Hi! i just found your site and its so inspiring and creative as i hardly find creative buttercream flavors on other sites….
    I was wondering if you could give me some recommendation about my cupcake experiment for Chinese new year! 🙂 i want to try a RED DATE cupcake flavor but not sure where to start… Im thinking ot bake a vanilla pound cake and use the poking holes on warm cake and brushing with date syrup to add the flavor but not sure if it will be too weird? and make a buttercream with some date puree? 🙂

    would really love to hear from you!
    thank you for the creativity encouragement! 🙂

  21. This is my ultimate “go to” for most of my cakes! My wife would like salted caramel for her Birthday party because someone brought Fleur de Sel to the house. How would you suggest I doctor your SMBC?
    Thank you for sharing your talent and tips!

  22. Hi there Gretchen!
    I was wondering if I can mix cream cheese (block) with Italian meringue buttercream? Please advise

  23. Hi Gret Chen

    I love your Swiss Buttercream Recipe!! How I can make Strawberry Buttercream can I put Strawberry Puree in the Swiss Buttercream? Thank you in advanced!!

  24. I love your butter cream and I always use it. I actually like it more than the Swiss buttercream. But I want to add strawberry purée into the butter cream, how much purée do I use? And is there anything in that recipe that I have to adjust? Thanks a bunch.

  25. Hello Gretchen, I make a lot of fruit jams and preserves. Have you ever used them in your buttercream before? any tips?

  26. Hi Gretchen,
    Can I mix a can of dulce de leche in one batch of the swiss buttercream? Is it to little? To much? Or just enough? I want a really intense caramel flavor.
    Thanks for so many great recipies!

    1. Yes you can! Im not sure how big “the can is” but you can start with about a cup at a time and see how it goes, you will know if it is starting to get too “soupy-soft” and you have to stop adding or it will break the emulsion

  27. Happy Saturday Gretchen! I’d like to a sort of orange creamscicle (I totally just spelled that wrong) type of buttercream to go on your vanilla cupcakes. (Mailing to mom for Mother’s Day!) I read somewhere that you can use a couple of tablespoons of orange gelatin. I was also thinking perhaps some orange extract and orange zest. I was curious as to what you would use. Thanks!

  28. Hello Gretchen!

    I would really like to make the kahlua buttercream mentioned there. Just one question, it says to add instant coffee and kahlua… The instant coffee is where my doubt lies… as to wether I should add the instant coffee powder directly to the buttercream with the kahlua… or if I should make it like a paste, as you do a cocoa paste with the cocoa powder and water for making a chocolate buttercream.

    Thanks! Greetings from Mexico

  29. Gretchen,

    I love your site and your recipes – I have made them many times and they are not only delicious, but are also a HUGE hit!

    I was wondering how you would make a cookies and cream buttercream? Do I just fold in crushed Oreos when the buttercream is finished?


  30. Peanut butter is what I want. So that can be added to your famous Swiss mirangue just by the cup full??

  31. Hi Gretchen ,
    I have a home bakery and my cottage laws don’t allow me to sell the meringue butter creams . When flavoring the ABC do the same rules apply? I want to expand my flavors that I offer to my customers. I love watching you and you have taught me so much.
    Thank you,
    Cheryl Rosner
    Sweet Vanilla Dreams

  32. Boy, You answered me back quick. & Thanks so much for the Butter cream recipe. I use this recipe all the time for my cakes. But, didn’t think it would be stiff enough for my Rose tips. Wow! You learn something new every day. & At my age. You never quit learning no matter how old you get.
    Thanks so much for the recipe.
    God Bless you & your Mom & Dad.
    Wouldn’t know what I would do without you.

  33. Dear Gretchen,
    This Saturday I am delivering a wedding cake using your ABC recipe with strawberry puree. Its a barn wedding Weather Channel says 87 degrees. Should I make any adjustments to the recipe? Its a two tier 8″ and 6″ also 40 cupcakes would doubling the recipe be enough? I am frosting 40 cupcakes with your ABC with your caramel sauce. How much caramel should I use, and will one recipe of ABC be enough?

    1. Yes 1 recipe should be enough for the cupcakes only- double if you are doing the cakes too, add 3/4 cup (to 1 recipe) caramel and taste, add a little more at a time until you get your desired taste, be wary the consistency will get softer

  34. If I wanted to make chocolate smb do I just need to add cocoa powder and if so how much for the recipe.

  35. Hi, Gretchen! Hope you are doing well, and as always, I LOVE your website and all the yummy goodies! My granddaughter has requested a caramel buttercream as a filling and frosting for a cake. Suggestions as to incorporating caramel into the smbc? Thanks!

  36. I’m looking for a raspberry buttercream frosting that will actually hold up (be kinda stiff). the last one I made wanted to break up. I dont know if I should use unsalted butter or unflavored crisco

  37. Can I use the smuckers strawberry preserve in the strawberry-lime frosting? Because here in the Philippines, we dont have much fresh or even frozen strawberries. Thanks.

    1. yes however jam adds mostly sweet and not alot of flavor, so your already sweet buttercream will be super sweet with adding the jam and you wont get very much strawberry flavor

  38. I want to make a marshmallow flavored SBC. I’m stumped on if I should try to find a marshmallow extract ( if they exists!) or add fluff.

    What are your thoughts?!

    1. if you add half the amount of butter/shortening to my Swiss Recipe – it tastes like marshmallow!! (or you can add fluff- YES!)

      1. Thank you!! I’ll have to experiment with each and see which I like better. More reasons to make cake When adding the marshmallow fluff how much do you suggest adding at a time?

        Thank again!

        1. as with anything you are adding to buttercream, just about a 1 cup at a time to a whole recipe and taste as you go, you want to be sure you dont oversaturate or break the emulsion of the buttercream, so just go a little at a time

  39. I have found adding dry, unsweetened Kool-Aid makes amazing fruit flavors. It takes such a small amount and doesn’t change my truffle fillings at all. I add tiny bits at a time to taste.

  40. the only way to add fresh fruit is to pulp it pass it through sieve and boil it up with the sugar, which is then added to the beaten egg yolks. cooled. then added to the butter. result super smooth and very subtle flavour of the fruit.

  41. Hello Gretchen, Do you think that I could use buttercream-marzipan frosting in a naked Christmas fruit cake? p.s. I find your site very useful… often have tested some of my own ideas (which obviously are not really original!!) Thanks

  42. Hi Gretchen, is it possible to add coconut cream powder to italian meringue buttercream to get a really great coconut flavour. If not what would you suggest. In my book you are THE QUEEN OF BUTTERCREAM.

  43. Gretchen,

    I made a variation of your swiss meringue buttercream and everyone loved it! Thank you so much. However, I have a question regarding color. I have someone who asked me to make gold, and after reading some forums I have come to the conclusion that gold just isn’t possible. Do you have any thoughts on making a shiny gold swiss meringue buttercream? Thank you!!!!

    1. Its very difficult to do metallic food, so rather than color the actual buttercream, since you’re correct it wont work, most people do airbrushing or luster dust applied after icing the cake

  44. Is it safe to add crushed oreos in your Italian Meringue Buttercream? Won’t it collapse? Thanks 🙂

    Im from the Philippines. You help me understand buttercreams more!

  45. Hello,
    I am wanting to make your IMBC with a caramel flavour.
    I can’t find a recipe for that on this site but I have read another post that says just to add caramel sauce to the buttercream. I think it was about 2 cups buttercream to 250ml caramel sauce (seems like too much?)
    I want to use it as a filling in a fairly dense 8″ x 3 layer caramel cake. I am just a bit concerned it may not hold up especially with sauce added to it. It’s not hot here at the moment and the cake will then be covered in Ganache and Fondant.

    Do you think this would be ok, or do you have better option to make a caramel buttercream ?
    Many thanks

    1. Yes you can add it to the buttercream however in reading this article we are posting on, I am sure you see that adding anything to buttercream (especially a soft recipe like caramel sauce) you will end up with ultra soft buttercream that will have to be refrigerated once you ice the cake. Filling, no problem it is more forgiving because it is filling and will be contained in the cake.
      CLICK HERE for more about covering cakes in fondant

      Click here for more about caramel buttercream

  46. Hi Gretchen,
    I love your recipes and plan to use the recipe for buttercream mixed with the Swiss recipe…I want to make a “red wine” tasting one but realized that there would be too much liquid to add to get the “wine taste” . Any suggestions as to what I might try to add to thicken thebuttercream? Piping roses on the side of the cake so it needs to be pretty stiff.

    1. yes it’s true that too much liquid and not enough flavor will come through by simply adding wine to buttercream, you will have a soupy mess with little to no wine flavor
      I will suggest to make a thick super concentrated cranberry, cherry or pomegranate puree (yes it sounds weird) but that will give you the concentrated fruit taste that will resemble wine, then add a smaller amount of wine to the buttercream for that hit of alcohol. BUT the most impactful statement you can make with wine in your final cake is to soak your cake layers with wine syrup CLICK HERE FOR SIMPLE SYRUP RECIPE

      CLICK HERE FOR PUREE RECIPE (can interchange with any fruit- I would NOT add sugar, just straight cooked down fruit)

  47. Hey Gretchen!

    I was thinking of making a mango flavoured swiss meringue buttercream but I’m not too sure how I should go about doing it. I’m thinking a puree would work but how should I do that? frozen or fresh fruit? Will it be too much liquid and make my buttercream runny? Or break it?

  48. I want a cream cheese buttercream frosting. Can I blend butter and creamcheese together to add to meringue base?

  49. I woukd like to make a pistachio swiss meringue buttercream. Have you ever tried it. I am thinking if adding a Tbs of pistachio paste? Do you think it will add enough pistachio flavor without breaking consistency?

    1. yes you can add that just like peanut butter, I think you may need more than 1 tbs though, but always add a little at a time and taste as you go, the nut pastes are the most stable additions to buttercream (in my experience)

  50. I wonder if you would have any suggestion for me. I made italian buttercream that was coming together quite nicely after adding the butter, but then I added cocoa powder directly to the frosting and I have not been able to get it to come back together. I have tried adding heat and chilling a couple times, but so far it is quite thin. I did get it to thicken a bit, but it did not come fully together. I did not know about making a cocoa paste. Is there anything I could add to try and fix this? Thank you.

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