A rich and creamy brown butter frosting that’s perfect for covering a cake or piping on cupcakes! Easy to make, I’ll walk you through all the steps and the recipe includes a how-to video!
The Best Frosting Recipe. Ever.
Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite frosting. Sister to my popular cream cheese frosting, this recipe takes things to new heights with the toasty flavor of browned butter.
See those beautiful brown flecks throughout the frosting? Flavor goldmines. You’re going to love this one…
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
You’ll love my brown butter frosting because it:
- Is so flavorful! Possibly my new favorite frosting recipe on the blog, the browned butter, cream cheese, vanilla and sugar play perfectly together.
- Is not overly sweet, thanks to cream cheese and a pinch of salt. I felt that a frosting made with just brown butter was too rich and found that cream cheese balanced the flavor perfectly. Seriously. Perfectly.
- Perfect for frosting a cake but also sturdy enough to pipe over cupcakes (see those beautiful swirls on my dark chocolate cupcakes up there?)
- Pairs beautifully with just about any flavor cake or cupcake. It’s wonderful on my chocolate cake or vanilla cupcakes, banana cake, carrot cake, hummingbird cake, and just about anything in between.
- Truly simple to make, but requires just enough effort and technique that you’ll feel like a pro (and anyone you share it with is going to demand to know why you haven’t opened up your own bakery yet).
What You Need
- Unsalted Butter. Of course we will be browning this to toasty perfection and then letting it re-solidify at room temperature before we begin.
- Cream Cheese. Cream cheese adds the perfect depth of flavor to a frosting that would otherwise be too rich. Spreadable cream cheese in the little tubs won’t work here, neither will low-fat. Purchase the kind that comes in the shape of a brick!
- Powdered Sugar. Also known as “confectioner’s sugar” or “10x sugar”.
- Vanilla Extract. Vanilla adds a depth of flavor to the frosting and complements the mellow flavor of the browned butter. Yum!
- Salt. A pinch of salt helps to keep the frosting from being so sweet that it’s cloying. If you’re curious about why I use unsalted butter but then add salt (or if you only have salted butter on hand), see my post on salted vs unsalted butter!
This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Brown Butter
Your first step is to make the brown butter. To do this:
- Melt your butter in a saucepan, ideally one with a light-colored bottom (that way you can tell once the milk solids begin to brown).
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The butter will sizzle and pop and eventually small bits (the milk solids) will begin to turn brown. Remove your butter from the heat at this point and pour it into a heatproof container. Congratulations, you just made browned butter (now do it again and make a batch of my brown butter chocolate chip cookies)!
How to Make Brown Butter Frosting
- Let that browned butter cool completely! It must re-solidify before you continue, otherwise your frosting will be runny. While you could pop the butter in the fridge to speed up the process, you want it to be at room temperature before you make your frosting, that way it combines smoothly with the other ingredients.
- Once butter has re-solidified, combine it with room temperature cream cheese and mix until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract and salt.
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until all ingredients are well-combined and the brown butter frosting is smooth (minus those glorious bits of browned butter!).
SAM’S TIP: Make this in a stand mixer without the mess! After creaming together butter and cream cheese, add all remaining ingredients (and yes, all of your sugar!). Then, cover the head of the mixer with a clean towel (make sure all edges of the bowl are covered) and turn the mixer on low. Gradually increase speed to medium. The towel catches any dust from the powdered sugar and keeps your countertop clean!
I have a detailed post on how to brown butter if you need more tips or have any questions!
Frequently Asked Questions
If either the butter or cream cheese was too cold, it could be difficult to make a smooth frosting, even after beating with an electric mixer. While it’s important that the butter is re-solidified, it shouldn’t be cold when you go to make your frosting.
If the cream cheese is too warm or the browned butter is even a bit warm/hasn’t completely re-solidified, your frosting may be runny. This can also happen if you are in a hot kitchen.
Another culprit is if you use cream cheese from a tub or a low-fat variety rather than brick-style cream cheese.
Unfortunately, no frosting really holds up well to heat (which I consider anything above 75F (24C)). Since this frosting is primarily butter and cream cheese, I don’t recommend leaving it out at warm temperatures.
More Recipes You Might Like
Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
Brown Butter Frosting
To Brown Butter:
- Place one stick of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter is melted, then continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly, as butter sizzles and pops. Once butter bits near the bottom of the pan begin to turn brown, remove skillet from heat and pour browned butter into heatproof bowl.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
- Allow butter to completely cool and re-solidify before proceeding. You can place the butter in the refrigerator to speed up the process, but it can’t be cold when you go to make your frosting and must be near room temperature.
- Once butter has completely re-solidified, combine butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and cream cheese.8 oz (226 g) full-fat brick-style cream cheese
- Stir in vanilla extract and salt until completely combined.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Gradually, about ½ cup (65g) at a time, stir in powdered sugar until all has been added, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar
- Use frosting as desired, spread over cake or pipe or spread over cupcakes!
Making In AdvanceBrowned butter can be made several days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and then bring to room temperature before using. Frosting may be made 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the frosting. Bring to room temperature and briefly beat with an electric mixer before using over cake/cupcakes. You may also freeze in an airtight container for several months. When ready to use, thaw overnight in your refrigerator then bring to room temperature. You may need to beat it once more with an electric mixer before piping or spreading as needed.
Can I leave this frosting out at room temperature?Yes, this frosting can sit at room temperature (up to 75F/24C) for up to 48 hours. Any longer than that and I recommend refrigerating.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.