Crusting Buttercream for Holiday Cookie Decorating

holiday cookie decorating

If you are looking for the perfect icing to decorate holiday cookies, this Crusting Buttercream recipe sets up hard on the outside and stays smooth and silky on the inside—creating cookies that are easy to transport, gift, and fun to display.


¾ cup (169 grams) salted butter, room temperature

¾ cup (144 grams) shortening, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lb (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream, room temperature

Gel or liquid food coloring, as desired


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening at medium-low speed until well incorporated. 
  2. Add vanilla to butter mixture and blend at low speed until combined.
  3. Continue mixing at low speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar until well blended, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Add food coloring one drop at a time until desired color is reached. 
  4. Add heavy cream slowly one tablespoon at a time, stopping once the icing reaches the consistency of smooth buttercream frosting. 


Notes: Do not over whip the mixture as this will incorporate too much air.

This icing will form a crust after 8 hours at room temperature, which will allow for stacking. It will not be as hard as royal icing. You can substitute butter for shortening, but the buttercream will not form as hard of a crust. 


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