The icing can make all the difference between a so-so cake and one that’s out-of-this-world delicious. The sweet, creamy icing is useful both for spreading and for decorating. Store-bought icings are easy to come by, but they can be pricey and may not always be to your liking. You can make a basic icing at home with only four simple ingredients. It will be light and airy on cakes and requires only a few minutes to prepare.

Things You'll Need

Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the sugar and beat with an electric mixer on low speed. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated.

Add milk and vanilla extract to the bowl. Beat the mixture at medium speed until it becomes light and fluffy.

Add more sugar if you require a stiffer icing. For thinner icing, add milk.

Cover the bowl until you’re ready to use the icing.


  • The icing can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Simply beat the icing on medium speed before using.

  • For pure white icing, use vegetable shortening instead of butter.