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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 an 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 cupcakes.

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
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4.23 from 22 votes

Honey Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Honey buttercream frosting with just the right mix of honey flavor and sweetness.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword honey buttercream, honey buttercream frosting recipe, honey-sweetened buttercream
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 12 Enough frosting to cover 12 cupcakes with a small swirl
Calories 176kcal
Author Stef


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


  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat butter for three minutes with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time until fully combined.
  • Mix in honey and sour cream until combined.
  • 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.


Nutrition Facts
Honey Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 176 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 22mg7%
Sodium 5mg0%
Potassium 10mg0%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Sugar 25g28%
Vitamin A 265IU5%
Calcium 8mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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58 comments on “The Secret to Perfect Honey Buttercream Frosting”

  1. Yum! I’ve never had honey buttercream before

  2. Anonymoussays:

    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?

  3. ChristyBsays:

    Excited to have kiddo try this one! THANKS!

  4. Hannahsays:

    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!

  5. Adriennesays:

    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

  6. this is great! thanks for the tip!

  7. Brendasays:

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

  8. Anonymoussays:

    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. Nataliesays:

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

  10. 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. Anonymoussays:

    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. :-\

    • Anonymoussays:

      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!

    • Anonymoussays:

      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.

  12. Katiesays:

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

    • Stefsays:

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

    • Katiesays:

      Nope, I used full-fat…

    • Stefsays:

      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.

      • Anasays:

        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…

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

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

  15. Anonymoussays:

    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!

  16. Anonymoussays:

    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.

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

  18. 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!

  19. Gingersays:

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

  20. 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!!

  21. Maurinesays:

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

  22. 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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  27. Silsays:

    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.

  28. Julzsays:

    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!

  29. angelsays:

    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?

  30. Philsays:

    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…

  31. rachelsays:

    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!

  32. Teresa bolessays:

    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 .-.

    • Stefsays:

      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.

  33. Shellisays:

    What if I don’t have sour cream?

  34. Lisasays:

    Can you use the vanilla cupcake recipe for a cake? Has anyone tried it?

  35. Miasays:

    Does Vanilla Cupcakes work with this recipe?

  36. Amandasays:

    Hi Stef! I made this frosting, and while it was delicious, it was way too runny. I made sure it was cold when I frosted the cupcakes, but overnight the frosting melted. Should I simply add more sugar, or perhaps take out the sour cream?Thanks!

  37. Emilysays:

    I’m guessing you wouldn’t recommend this recipe to frost a cake in warmer weather?

  38. Teresesays:

    Do you have to refrigerate this icing? I need one that can sit out a few days.

  39. Amanda Frysays:

    5 stars
    This came out perfectly fluffy, and tastes great!!

  40. Marsha Berrysays:

    Looking forward to making the buttercream icing with honey

  41. Jennasays:

    This icing was one of the worst I’ve ever tried. I made it and it was super sweet and super runny. I even put it in the fridge and it was still running off my cake. It was also kind of churning and it just wasn’t good at all. I would completely not recommend. If I could I would give it zero stars. It was awful please no one make it unless you want to ruin your cake.

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