If you love coffee, you need this frosting on everything! It’s super easy to make, the perfect consistency to pipe on cakes and cupcakes, and it tastes just like coffee ice cream!
I struggled getting the perfect consistency for this frosting because adding brewed coffee directly to the frosting makes it too loose and reduces the coffee’s strength. I’m so excited to have figured out the best answer – dissolving instant coffee in the vanilla extract. Perfection!
This recipe is based on my classic vanilla frosting recipe. It’s an American buttercream (read about all of the different frosting types if you are curious) so it uses only powdered sugar, butter, salt, and flavoring (in this case, vanilla extract and instant coffee).
You can use any instant coffee for this frosting. If you want to make it extra strong, you could even use instant espresso powder. If you don’t want the caffeine, instant decaffeinated coffee works really well.
I use unsalted butter and add salt so I can control the amount. If you prefer to use salted butter, taste the frosting before adding any additional salt.
How It’s Made
The first step is to beat the butter for three minutes at high speed in a stand mixer or using a handheld electric mixer. Mixing for the full amount of time is very important as you’re aerating the butter. If you don’t mix long enough, the frosting will be very dense.
Mix in the powdered sugar. Add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time and always start the mixer on low speed. If you start on high speed, the sugar will end up flying all over your kitchen!
Next, dissolve the instant coffee in the vanilla extract and stir until it’s smooth. Smell it before you add it to the batter, because it is such an incredible scent!
Then, add it to the batter along with salt and mix until fully combined.
Spread or pipe on cooled desserts such as vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cake, chocolate cupcakes, coffee cupcakes, and more!
Expert Tips and FAQs
The easiest way to achieve the perfect cupcake swirl is to use a 1M tip [paid link].
While there are many frosting recipes that you can mix by hand, the best buttercream frostings require lots of air to be incorporated into the butter. To really get this job done right, I highly recommend that you use an electric mixer. A handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer will both work well.
You will need to stop and scrape down the side of the bowl every minute or so while you are mixing as butter will stick to the edge of the bowl. You can do this with a silicone spatula or avoid it entirely by using a scraping paddle.
Take a look at the sugar to see if it has clumps; some brands are clumpier than others. These clumps of powdered sugar will not get integrated properly into the frosting and may end up getting stuck in your piping tip. Remember to always measure your powdered sugar before sifting.
It lasts for up to a week at room temperature or months in the freezer. If you freeze it, you will need to bring it to room temperature and mix it again for a minute or two before you start piping.
- Coffee cookies
- Coffee Cupcakes
- How to make coffee-flavored cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and more
- The best cupcake frostings
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar add more until it reaches your preferred consistency
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee You can also use instant espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Beat butter on high speed with an electric mixer for about three minutes until light and airy.
- Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
- In a small prep bowl, stir instant coffee into the vanilla until it dissolves.
- Add coffee flavored vanilla and salt to frosting and continue to beat for another minute.
- Spread or pipe onto desserts.
- If you plan to make a large swirl of frosting, this recipe will only cover about 12 cupcakes otherwise, it will cover 24. Double as needed.
- The frosting will cover two 8″ round cakes.
- If you want to pipe frosting on cupcakes, the easiest way to achieve the perfect cupcake swirl is to use a 1M tip [paid link].
- While there are many frosting recipes that you can mix by hand, the best buttercream frostings require lots of air to be incorporated into the butter. To really get this job done right, I highly recommend that you use an electric mixer. A hand mixer or a stand mixer will both work well.
- You will need to stop and scrape down the side of the bowl every minute or so while you are mixing as butter will stick to the edges of the bowl. The easiest way to do this is with a silicone spatula. One way to avoid scraping down the bowl is to use a mixer that has a scraping paddle. Many mixers now come with scraping paddles, but you may be able to purchase one if yours doesn’t (e.g. the beater blade [paid link]).
- Sift the powdered sugar if needed. Take a look at the actual sugar to see if it has clumps (some brands are clumpier than others). Clumps of powdered sugar will not get integrated into the frosting and may end up getting stuck in your piping tip. Measure before sifting.
- The frosting lasts for up to a week at room temperature or months in the freezer. You will need to bring it to room temperature and mix it again for a minute or two before you start piping.
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