The Secret to Perfect Honey Buttercream Frosting | Cupcake Project

The Secret to Perfect Honey Buttercream Frosting

I’ve tackled honey buttercream frosting before and I have always been disappointed.  I’m a honey-holic and I really want the honey flavor to shine. In the past, when I added powdered sugar to the frosting (needed to make the frosting stiff and pipe-able), the frosting would always reach a unpalatable level of sweetness.  Today, I discovered the secret to making honey buttercream frosting!  Honey buttercream frosting has finally met my honeyed desires and I’m considering adding it to my list of favorite frostings.

The Secret To Perfect Honey Buttercream Frosting

The secret to honey buttercream frosting is sour cream!  Sour cream thickens the frosting without adding extra powdered sugar, cuts the sweetness, and adds a tangy zing.  It’s a simple but powerful fix that I wish I had thought of years ago.

Below, you’ll find my honey buttercream frosting recipe.  It goes with most any cupcake and is a particularly nice fit for any fall-flavored cupcake.

Make sure that you have a 1M tip so that you can pipe the perfect cupcake swirl.

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Breville BEM800XL Scraper Mixer Pro 5-Quart Die-Cast Stand Mixer

You can make this  frosting by hand, but it is so much easier with an electric mixer.  This is the one I use and love.

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Scrape-A-Bowl Blade by Pourfect for Kitchenaid 5-Quart Artisan Mixer, Empire Red

The Breville mixer above comes with a scraping paddle, but if you use a KitchenAid, I highly recommend this paddle attachment.  With this tool,you won’t need to scrape the bowl while you mix.

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Honey Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Yield: Enough frosting to cover 12 cupcakes with a small swirl

Honey Buttercream Frosting Recipe


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup full-fat sour cream, cold


  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat butter for three minutes with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time until fully combined.
  3. Mix in honey and sour cream until combined.
  4. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.


If your home is warm, the frosting may quickly become runny. Refrigerate it to stiffen it up before piping.
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55 Responses to The Secret to Perfect Honey Buttercream Frosting

  1. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Yum! I’ve never had honey buttercream before

  2. Anonymous November 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I look forward to trying this and wonder, do you think it would work to make a maple buttercream with the same recipe only using maple syrup?

    • Stef November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      Yes – I think it would work really well.

  3. ChristyB November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Excited to have kiddo try this one! THANKS!

  4. Hannah November 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Your timing couldn’t have been better, because I just came across some vegan honey and am dying to use it. A honey buttercream that actually tastes like honey and isn’t terribly drippy sounds almost too good to be true!

    • Anonymous November 8, 2012 at 12:25 am #

      vegan honey?? isn’t that an oxymoron?

    • Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Hannah forgot her quotation marks around “honey”, right after she forgot to check the ingredients on her vegan “honey”. It’s probably highly processed agave, or worse, high fructose corn syrup.

  5. Adrienne November 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Would yogurt work? I’m more likely to have yogurt on hand, and I don’t like buying a whole thing of sour cream just for one recipe

    • Stef December 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      I think Greek yogurt would work just fine.

  6. PittsburGhirl November 8, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    this is great! thanks for the tip!

  7. Brenda November 8, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Thank you for sharing this recipe … I’m looking forward to giving it a try!

  8. Anonymous November 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    You must try the vanilla honey buttercream recipe from Baked Explorations Aunt Sassy cake!!!
    It is light, fluffy, not overly sweet and the honey flavor is so good.


  9. Natalie November 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    definitely plan to try this sour cream trick soon!! :)

  10. Dalila G. November 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Another gem of an idea…..who doesn’t LOVE honey?! The added secret of sour cream is genius…thank you! Definitely going to make soon. :-)

  11. maria November 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I love these cupcakes, they looks so delicates.

  12. Anonymous November 12, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Wish there was a way to do this type of frosting without powdered sugar. All I can seem to get here in Toronto has corn starch in it, and with a maize allergy in the house, that’s a no-go. :-\

    • Anonymous December 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      I use baker’s sugar because I don’t like the taste of powered sugar. It’s super fine so it doesn’t end up grainy like table sugar would. Made this recipe today with the baker’s sugar and it came out great!

    • Anonymous February 6, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      cant you just make your own powder sugar by putting regular sugar in the food processor? i know they put the corn starch in it to keep it from becoming a solid mas.but if your using it right away i dont think its a problem.

  13. Katie November 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    I just made this and the frosting never thickened :/ It got soupy and never recovered… Any thoughts?

    • Stef November 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      Oh no! I just noticed that I didn’t specify full-fat sour cream. Maybe it’s because you used low-fat?

    • Katie November 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      Nope, I used full-fat…

    • Stef December 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      I made it again tonight and I think the problem might be the order that I had the steps. I followed my own directions and ended up with something soupy. I felt awful! I’m so sorry! I updated the recipe to show the way that I found that works. Butter and powdered sugar and then honey and sour cream.

      • Ana June 6, 2013 at 12:23 am #

        I just tried this, and followed tour exact directions. The flavor was spot on, (and tastes great on a mixed berry cupcake), but mine never really thickened up. I added some meringue powder in hopes it would help, but no go. I’m hoping some time in the fridge will help…

  14. Stacy @ Cupcake Crusaders November 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I love honey and this looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it!

  15. Michaela H November 22, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you for sharing your tips and this incredibly yummy recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

  16. Anonymous December 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    This frosting is FABULOUS! I wanted something unusual, but crowd pleasing to bring to the family holiday party! I baked blueberry cream cheese cupcakes to go with the honey buttercream, and it has recieved rave reviews from my husband and two friends! It was so easy to make and it piped beautifully! I’m hoping this will put to rest the newlywed cooking jokes 😉 Best holiday wishes to you and your family!

  17. Anonymous January 10, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Just made this frosting for some BC Butter Pecan cupcakes. Very good! I just wish it would have held up better for piping. Would adding some corn starch help? The honey and sour cream are a bit out of my comfort zone to try adding other ingredients into the mix.

  18. The Jobmeister February 8, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    I just made this to test it out, as I just tried honey cream cheese frosting and was not impressed. This was FANTASTIC!

  19. Christy Chittick March 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    My sister-in-law loves lemon. So I made lemon cupcakes with lemon creme filling. Found this and had to try it as the baby shower theme baby bee! Everyone loved it! It is truly amazing flavor, not to sweet but just sweet enough for the very tart lemon! I think I will be using your recipes first in the future!! thank you so much!

  20. Ginger September 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    Does something like this need to be refrigerated or would it be ok if left covered on the counter?

    • Stef September 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

      I leave it out on my counter. It should be fine on the counter unless it’s really hot in your home.

  21. Mary@SiftingFocus September 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    You must have been hearing my cry to find the perfect honey buttercream by tomorrow for some Rosh Hashanah cupcakes I am making. Sounds perfect! Thanks!!

  22. Maurine November 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Marvelous, what a webpage it is! This blog gives
    helpful information to us, keep it up.

  23. Chelsea @ Gal on a Mission January 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Oh yum – this looks delicious. Never heard of adding sour cream to buttercream before, but sounds like a brilliant idea. Love it :)

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  28. Sil August 17, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    So i made this yesterday to go on a cake. I tripled it. I did not add all of the sour cream and honey….i did maybe 75%. It was soft but i was able to cover the cake and do basic piping but absolutely needed refridgeratiln to set up. I found it , sweet with a hint of honey. Not convinced i would make this one again as is.

  29. Julz August 21, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Is there a way to thicken the frosting? my frosting was pretty runny and I think it will be hard to put any decoration as it seemed like it is melting.. But it is super yummy and smells amazing too!

    • Stef August 21, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Hmm… mine didn’t have that problem. Sorry! You could chill it for a little bit.

  30. angel August 28, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    If you don’t refrigerate it, how long can it sit out? I have long used sour cream in my buttercream- I love the tang! But I can’t sell my cookies if they have to be refrigerated. Suggestions?

  31. Phil September 21, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I am making a Bee-Sting Cake and was searching for a Honey-Butter-Cream filling with not only butter… and here I found it! Thanks…

  32. rachel March 6, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    I just had a buttercream disaster so I will most definitely be following your directions/tips the next time I attempt to whip up some buttercream, which may be a while!

  33. Teresa boles March 28, 2015 at 2:44 am #

    My frosting never thickened up even after adding alot of powdered sugar and cornstarch.-. I followed the directions perfectly I even refrigerated it for 1hour still not good enough to do basic piping .-.

    • Stef April 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I wonder if it had to do with the temperature of the sour cream. Was yours cold? I am going to add a note about temperature to the recipe.


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