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German Buttercream

I grew up on German Buttercream although I had no idea it was called German Buttercream till few years ago. In Slovakia we call it Pudding Buttercream.

How to make Vanilla German Buttercream


“I grew up eating cakes with German buttercream. It has a delicate yet rich flavor that American buttercream does not have. I’ve tried for years to find a recipe that came close. This was so simple to make and absolutely delicious!” Bree


If you are not a fan of heavy or overly sweet buttercream, you need to try this buttercream. German Buttercream it’s light, silky smooth with a subtle sweetness. You can use it to fill cream puffs, cakes, or pastries. And it also pipes beautifully on cupcakes and cakes.


German Buttercream is a custard / pudding based buttercream. It’s similar to popular Flour Buttercream (Ermine Buttercream).

  • Ingredients you need to make this buttercream
  • Milk (whole milk, 2% or 1%)
  • Egg yolks from large eggs
  • Sugar
  • Flour – you are gluten intolerant use starch instead
  • Cornstarch
  • Unsalted butter – at room temperature
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Salt


In a sauce pan whisk together milk, sugar and egg yolks. Pour about 1/2 cup of mixture into a smaller dish. Then whisk in all the cornstarch, flour and salt. Whisk well so there are no lumps.

Whisk both mixtures together and cook on medium heat. Stirring constantly, mixture will gradually thicken. Once it starts to boil reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Custard should be thick. It it appears impossible to stir, add 2 tablespoon of milk and bring it to boil. It’s not going to boil rapidly like water. You’ll see a few bubbles on the top.

As soon as you take it off the heat, pour the thick custard through a fine mesh sieve. Use a flexible silicone spatula to press it through. Discard the cooked egg bits caught by the sieve.

Immediately cover the custard with a plastic wrap. The wrap should be touching the custard surface. This will prevent skin from forming.


Before we can beat custard and butter together, custard has to cool to room temperature. To accelerate the cooling process, I use a cold water bath. You can also put the covered custard into the fridge to cool. Let it cool in the refrigerator overnight.

How to cool pudding


One thing I’ve learned over the years of making this buttercream is that butter and custard need to be at room temperature. It is a key to a delicately smooth buttercream texture.

Cream room temperature unsalted butter with powdered sugar and then gradually add room temperature custard. Use a wire beater to mix buttercream. Lastly, I like to add Vanilla Extract and if I have some Vanilla Bean Paste I also add that, too.

TIP: How do you bring refrigerated custard to room temperature? Microwave cold, thick custard on high in 5-second intervals. Stir it gently after each heating until it’s at room temperature. It doesn’t take that long, and it works. It usually takes a total of 10 seconds.

Buttercream should be smooth and not too sweet. If you prefer sweeter buttercream, you can add more powdered sugar.

delicious buttercream



It keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Let it come to room temperature before using. Cake frosted with buttercream can be kept at room temperature for 2 days.


German Buttercream can be made ahead of time. It can be frozen in a freezer safe container for up 3 months. Let it defrost on the counter overnight.


If buttercream looks broken and separated, heat it in 5-second intervals in the microwave or over the pot with simmering water. Stirring well after each heating until it emulsifies and becomes homogeneous.


  • You can color German Buttercream with gel food colors and use wide range of piping tips to create pretty piped designs.
  • Just like with any other buttercream that contains butter heat will make German Buttercream softer. If you notice buttercream is getting softer as you are piping with it place it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
Pipe swirls with German Buttercream


German Buttercream can be used to ice the outside of the cake. However, it is a bit different to work with than Swiss Buttercream. It is more elastic. I’ve used it to ice my Brushstroke Ghost Cake.

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German Buttercream has a creamy color with a yellow tint. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. But I know you might occasionally want pure white buttercream instead. To remedy off white buttercream you can either add White food coloring or, if you are brave enough, add a minuscule amount of Violet or Purple. By minuscule, I mean a tip of a toothpick dipped in food coloring.

  • First and foremost, if you are planning on neutralizing yellow with purple test it out on a small portion of buttercream first. If I don’t have a purple coloring use sky blue and electric pink instead.
  • You can see my results in the picture below. Notice whiter buttercream in the middle?


If you like to play with different buttercream flavors, try infusing milk. You can try coffee beans, mint, vanilla beans, and lavender. Or, as one of the readers suggests in the comments section, use some condensed milk instead of milk.

For example, simmer milk with coffee beans for 10 minutes, cover the pot, and let it steep for another 10 minutes. Or dissolve espresso powder in milk – this will yield in light brown buttercream. Then process to cook the custard and follow the recipe.

I’ve made Vanilla, Caramel, Coffee and Chocolate German Buttercream. They are all equally delicious and really easy to make.

Recipe for basic Vanilla German Buttercream
Whipped Vanilla German Buttercream in a bowl
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

German Buttercream

Makes 4-5 cups of buttercream
Course Dessert, Frosting
Cuisine American, Slovak
Keyword buttercream, custard, frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling 2 hours
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 5 cups
Author Hani Bacova




    • 2 cups milk
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 3 tbsp cornstarch
    • 3 tbsp flour
    • 1/8 tsp salt


    • 2 cups room temperature butter
    • 1 cup powdered sugar use more for sweeter buttercream
    • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
    • 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste



    • In a sauce pan whisk together milk (2cups), egg yolks (4) and sugar (3/4cup) and salt (1/8tsp). Pour about 1/2 of this mixture into a dish. Into it then add starch (3tbsp) and flour (3tbsp). Whisk well so there are no lumps. Pour flour/starch mixture into the remaining milk mixture into a sauce pan.
    • Cook on medium heat stirring constantly. Custard will gradually thicken.  I find it’s best to use a whisk. Once you see bubble to pop, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
    • Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Cover tightly with a plastic wrap and let cool to room temperature.
    • To speed up cooling you can use a cold water bath. Or if you plan on making buttercream next day you can refrigerate covered custard overnight.
      If refrigerating let custard come to room temperature before mixing with butter.  I like to microwave it on high in 5 second intervals, stirring gently after each heating.


    • Beat room temperature unsalted butter (2cups, 4sticks) for 15 seconds. Then add powdered sugar (1cup, or use more if you prefer sweeter buttercream) and beat on low until fully incorporated into the butter. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
    • Gradually add room temperature custard to butter, creaming well after each addition.
      Once fully blended, beat in Vanilla Extract and/or Vanilla Bean Paste.
      Beat on high for 10 seconds. German buttercream is ready.


    German Buttercream Storage
    It’s okay to leave it at room temperature. It’s a fully cooked buttercream. Leave it at room temperature for up to 2 days.
    Store in the fridge for up to a 10 days. Let it come to room temperature and remix till smooth.
    Freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost, and remix before using.
    German Buttercream Uses
    • Filling for cream puff, cakes.
    • Piped swirls on cupcakes, cakes etc.
    • It pipes beautifully on cakes and cupcakes.
    • If needed you can also ice the cake on the outside with this buttercream. I’ve done this in the past though I find it a bit more elastic than Swiss Buttercream. 
    Can I color German Buttercream?
    Yes you can color this buttercream. I use gel food colors.

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    1. Hello, this buttercream sounds delicious. I was wondering if I could use American “Jello instant-no cook pudding mix” prepared, instead of making it from scratch?
      Thank you

      1. Hi Patty,
        I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen recipes using instant pudding (4 servings) make
        this type of pudding buttercream. For the amount of butter in this recipes. I’d use 2 instant puddings and I’d make the pudding thick, so maybe don’t use as much liquid.
        I’d test it first, with 1/4 cup of butter, just to be safe. I’d have to test it out to give you more tips.

    2. Hi! I was just wondering whether this buttercream tends to form a crust due to the cornstarch in the custard? Thanks

    3. I had an issue with the custard. First of all, it got so thick that it was very difficult to get it to “bubble” without burning it. It was also too thick for the sieve. I swirled it around through the sieve for a long time and had a very hard time getting it to go through. Basically, it was just too thick. Would you suggest I reduce the cornstarch next time?

      1. Hi Dina,
        I wonder what happened. If it’s that thick, yes I’d suggest reducing the amount of starch. The custard should be quite thick. If you have any pictures, please don’t hesitate to email them to me to have a look. Thank you.

        1. I found that using a hand blender after “pudding” is cooled works very well to make the mix more runny

        1. Can I turn this into chocolate buttercream? If so…what do I need to add??
          Thanks You!!!

        2. Hi Brad,
          For the chocolate version, I start with a chocolate custard/pudding. I like to add 1/4 to 1/3 cup cocoa powder to the custard mix, up the granulated sugar to 1 cup, add chopped chocolate once it thickens, about a cup. And up the powdered sugar to your liking when mixing the butter. Hope it helps. I shall have a full recipe for Chocolate German Buttercream up in a day or two.

    4. Hi Hani,

      Big fan of your work . Lots of love from the Caribbean.

      I am pretty much self taught when it comes to baking and I have heard fellow bakers in my region use shortening in their butter cream because of the extremely warm climate.

      I am eager to try this recipe and was wondering if this is some thing that can be used in this recipe? Like a mix of butter and shortening And say a butter flavoured emulsion added for flavour? Thanks for your comments.

    5. Hi
      It’s yummy recipe. I tried it and loved it. Can I uses this frosting for the fondant cake? Will it affect the fondant if stays in kitchen counter for overnight?
      Thanks in advance

      1. Hi, I personally haven’t tried it recently under fondant, I know other bakers that have, with no issues. Be sure to chill the cake well before covering with fondant

      1. I’m not sure sure. You could use margarine instead but cream cheese I think buttercream will have a different properties and won’t harden when refrigerated.

    6. Can you make a chocolate version and what type and amount of chocolate to use. I’m assuming it would be added in the custard process

      1. Yes, you can make a chocolate version. It’s super easy.

        I recommend using both, chocolate and cocoa powder to make German Chocolate Buttercream.

        I like to use dark Ghirardelli 60% Chocolate Chips and Cocoa Powder. But any dark chocolate will work.
        Both are added when making custard.

        Cocoa powder(1/4cup, but you are welcome to use more to your liking) is whisked in with flour and starch. Chocolate I add when custard starts to simmer. Just be sure to stir it as chocolate (2/3 cup to a 1cup) it melting so it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the pot and doesn’t burn.

        You can in addition to that beat cocoa powder to butter and sugar. Or add little bit of coffee into the custard to enhance chocolate flavor.

        Lastly you’ll most likely need to up powdered sugar or if you don’t have powdered sugar you can sweeten custard instead a bit so it’s not too bitter for your taste as dark chocolate and cocoa powder are not very sweet. Hope it helps.

        Happy Baking.

    7. Hi,
      I had made this German buttercream for my grand-daughter unicorn cake. It was abosultely delicious and this is validated by many

      1. I, myself prefer butter because of the taste and also I find margarine buttercream doesn’t harden as much as butter. It’s important when decorating a cake with German Buttercream.

    8. Love the look of this very involved German buttercream. I was wondering how this would go as the filling for German Beestuing cake, or would it be a bit to rich.? Thankyou in advance

    9. Hey Hani,
      Could you please let me know the weight of your custard after it is ready? I would like to make a shortcut with my instant custard.
      Thank you so much

        1. This is not so much ” German ” but more european i would say.I,m Dutch and this is the buttercream we know.Its easy to make all kinds of flavoures like coffee flavour used for dutch
          ” Moccataart ”
          Just ad two table spoons of instantcoffee with one table spoon of hot milk let it cool and then mix it in verry gently,otherwise it might curdle.

        2. Hi Jenneke,
          absolutely, I totally agree, I’m not really sure why it’s called German. I also grew up on this type of buttercream and it’s one of my favorites. Thanks for your tip about coffee flavored buttercream.

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