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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.

How to make Ghost Brushstroke cake for Halloween


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. Hi Leah,
        Hard to say, what temperature are we talking about?
        I actually tested it and left it outside in a small bowl in a heat of 89F(31C) and it became very soft. You can however substitute some of the butter for shortening, that would make it more heat stable.

    1. Read over everything but couldn’t find my answer. Does it have to be whole milk? I normally use 1% milk as that is what I drink. Can I use that?

    2. 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! It’s still a little sweet for my taste, so next time I’ll try 3/4 C of the powdered sugar. I did experiment and divide into containers adding lemon extract to one, almond extract to one, and then another I dissolved espresso powder in a little water and mixed in. They all turned out great! Next time I will try I to infuse the milk. I was just impatient.

      Thank you for posting such a wonderful recipe. The cake I grew up on is from a cafe and bakery in Indianapolis. I live about 1,000 miles away now, but my first stop when I fly home is to get a slice of German cake with that amazing buttercream.

      1. Hi Bree,
        I’m so glad you like it. And I really enjoyed reading your comment, your enthusiasm is contagious, thank you so much. By German Cake do you mean German Chocolate Cake?
        Yes, you can definitely make it a little less sweet.

    3. Hi can this be frozen and used for later? Also can I use custard powder mix instead of making the custard from scratch if I’m in a hurry?

      1. Hi Alice, yes, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Re-beat before using. I assume custard powder you have is made from starch, food coloring and milk powder, maybe vanilla powder, right? Though I haven’t used it myself I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The only trick would be to get the right ratio of liquid to custard powder so the custard has the thick consistency. Hope that helps. Thank you.

    4. Love love love the butter cream ! I have never taste anything like this especially this was a first time I made. Thank you !

    5. I am an Italian buttercream loyalist, but this looks delish! One question, does this “crust” similar to American buttercream due to the powdered sugar, or does the custard keep it velvety and smooth?

      1. Hi Gretchen,
        this buttercream doesn’t crust like American Buttercream. However it hardens in the fridge because of butter content.

    6. I was making the custard part and it thickened a lot in the sauce pan while cooking. The texture resembles a thick pudding and I cannot put it threw a strainer. Any idea what I did wrong?

      1. Hi, what brand of corn starch did you use? Consistency should be like thick pudding and is it cools it becomes even thicker. If you could send me a picture that would be helpful.

    7. Hi Hani ~ it’s been while since i was on your site; so glad i viewed again. I have been wanting to try your cut-out cookie recipe/recipes. There are so many out there and wanted the best one for the holidays, I guess it depends on preference/taste. I am going to try your recipe. Thank you for the break-down and explanation on your recipes; it really helps to make without hopeful failures. You are truly talented baker.

    8. I would love to make this German Buttercream, but need to omit the flour. What could I substitute for the flour in this recipe? I have almond flour? Coconut Flour? Would one of these flours be an alternate?
      Some of my family members are gluten-intolerant, and I try to make some of my bakes that cater to their needs. Hope to hear from you soon. I would like to make some goodies for family and friends. Thanks in advance.

    9. A few questions can I do a drip edge with candy melts on this frosting? Will it hold fondant details on top? And what do you use for a dam so the layers don’t bulge? Thanks in advance!!

      1. Hi Bailee
        If small fondant decorations will be fine however if you plan on covering the cake with fondant I’d use Swiss Buttercream of Ganache instead. As far as the drips go yes those are fine just make sure cake is well chilled so buttercream is firm. Hope it helps. Thank you. If you need to make a dam ring I usually use cake crumbs mixed with buttercream. Hope it helps.

      1. Hi Grace, you know I think it could be used but because of the moisture content I’d think it might make shells soggy overtime but I maybe wrong. I haven’t tried it macarons. I kind of prefer flavored ganache. Thank you. Hope it helps.

    10. What could be the problem if it doesn’t whip up ? Did everything exactly how it written but it’s to runny can I fix it

        1. Was butter and custard about same temperature when mixed? Cake batter sound good!:-)

        2. I’m having the same problem, my frosting looks like cake batter. I nuked the custard to make it room temp, the same as the butter but it’s not coming together. Any help would greatly appreciated.

        3. Hi Lisa,
          Can you send me a picture, please? Is there a separation of butter and custard?
          Try this cold bath- fill a large bowl with cold water and throw in some ice cubes as well. Then place in the bowl with curdled buttercream, and whisk. From my experience cold bath will cause butter to firm up and it will either come together into a smooth buttercream as you are whisking. Or butter will separate from the custard, what I mean by that is that butter will not get emulsified with custard. Then you’ll have to microwave mixture at 5 second intervals at 50%power, whisking thoroughly after each heating, taking care not to overheat though. Or instead of microwaving you can use a gentle heat by using lukewarm bath-just like with cold bath. Whisking constantly.

    11. Hi! I’m making this today with pound cake layers. I’ve tried for 30 yrs to get the perfect frosting for a pound cake….thanks for the recipe and I’ll let you know how well it works!

    12. Hi!
      I wonder if I can use this buttercream under fondant when making a cake, and if it would be ok to do so the day before and refrigirate the cake overnight, or i need to add the fondant the last minute. I guess my question is, is this buttercream more moist than the american one? Kan it lead to dissolving of the fondant?

      Thank you for the tasty idea!

      1. Hi Angeliki,
        I don’t normally use this buttercream under fondant, though someone on FB commented they use under fondant and it’s fine.

      1. Hi Laurie, good question. It would work but I think cake wafers would get soft, absorbing moisture from the buttercream. I’m actually working on a recipe using cake wafers, but it won’t be out for several more weeks.

    13. It looks Yummy! I love custard so I will try this buttercream for sure. If I use a custard made by a bakery ( so delicious ), how much do I need to make the buttercream?

    14. Hi Hani!
      It looks delicious!
      A have one question: I want to make a birthday cake – a 3 tier 7 inch round cake. Is this amount of cream enough for this?
      Thanks for the answers and this recipe!

    15. It seem this is the recipe for the custard part only. How much butter and powdered sugar is used?

      1. Chandra, I highlighted the section with butter and powdered sugar in the recipe box so it’s easier to spot. Hope it helps. Thanks.

    16. Hi Hani,
      My question is can you frost the cupcakes and then store them in the freezer for later use?

      Thank you
      Barbara B

    17. Hi, with the eggs in the custard does this buttercream require refrigeration once on the cake or is it considered cooked?

      1. Hi Jackie,
        yes it is cooked buttercream. Can be kept at room temperature for 2 days, I would refrigerate after 2 days. Thanks

        1. Hello! You mention in the recipe that you have made this into a Caramel version, could you share the modifications to the recipe? My daughter is getting married in 2 weeks, spent a year in Germany as an exchange student, now works for the German Travel site,… this would be the perfect frosting for the cake flavor she had chosen. (I’m an experienced cake decorator, and usually have time to experiment with recipes, but not right now, lol) Thank you so much!

        2. Hi Linda,
          it’s really simple. Use more about 1 1/2 cup to cups granulated sugar (you may need use less powdered sugar to cream butter, depends on how sweet you want the buttercream) to make the caramel and then add milk to it, let the caramel dissolve into 1/2 of the milk, it may take few minutes, then mix egg yolks,starch, flour salt with rest of the milk.Rest is the same. I’ll have to make another post showing how to make caramel one, hopefully soon.

    18. Can I use German buttercream to frost a chocolate layer cake filled with Bailey’s/irish cream ganache?

    19. I made this for the first time for Easter for a carrot cake. I think this might become my go-to frosting from now on. Thanks for the recipe!

    20. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Hani!! I want to make this later this week! We’re having a gender reveal party for our families next weekend and I want to make a cake but use this frosting! Hubby and I are finding out the gender on Wednesday and then we’re using the cake to surprise our families! A couple questions… how would this buttercream work covered in a marshmallow fondant? I want to make a galaxy-colored marble fondant and decorate with pink and blue stars that say “Twinkle twinkle little star, how we wonder what you are.” Also, I don’t have vanilla bean paste but I do have homemade vanilla extract (made with vanilla beans and vodka)… would it work to simmer the vanilla extract in with the custard? I really want to cook out the alcohol since I’m pregnant (even though it’s a minuscule amount lol) but if that won’t work then I can always use imitation I guess!

      1. Hi April, congratulations on your pregnancy.
        To avoid alcohol in the buttercream you can also option for water based baking emulsions, or use vanilla sugar instead. I usually don’t use this buttercream under fondant, though I’ve used it once a long time ago(15 years ago). If I was to use it under fondant I’d use a dam on each filling layer to prevent bulging and I’d give it a light crumb coat only. Your design sounds very pretty. Good Luck and keep me posted how it goes. Also, and this might be easier to make for you, is Swiss Buttercream, it’s a bit sweeter than German Buttercream and it works great under fondant.Swiss Buttercream

    21. Thank you for your wonderful recipe. I am from Czech Republic and I can surely appreciate it. I am not a big fan of american buttercream, so for my cakes I am usually using Swiss or mascarpone/heavy cream fillings. For the chocolate German Buttercream I just need to add cocoa to the custard or butter/sugar mixture? I do have request for yellow cake with chocolate icing and I would like to try German Buttercream.
      Thank you

      1. Hello Bohdana, when making Chocolate version I add cocoa powder with flour and starch. Then once the curstard starts to boil/simmer I add chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. You can play with with the ratio. chocolate to cocoa powder. I usually add 1/4 to 1/3 cup good cocoa and then 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips.Hope it helps.

    22. I have made tons of frostings/icings – but have never tried a German Buttercream. Sounds wonderful. It’s abit more work because of the custard. Is the flavour that much different from a Swiss or Italian Meringue? Thank you for sharing!

      1. Hi Pamela,
        I think it’s definitely worth the try. With whipped cream it’s my favorite cream puff filling. And I very often make a chocolate version of it which I like even better than vanilla. It’s a rich tasting frosting. Swiss and Italian they kind of dissolve in your mouth and you need another spoon to taste them. I love meringue based ones, too. German buttercream has the same silky texture but taste lingers for a little longer. I don’t think it’s ideal under fondant but folks on FB told me they’ve used with no issues.

        1. I would love to make this German Buttercream, but need to omit the flour. What could I substitute for the flour in this recipe? I have almond flour? Coconut Flour? Would one of these flours be an alternate?
          Some of my family members are gluten-intolerant, and I try to make some of my bakes that cater to their needs. Hope to hear from you soon. I would like to make some goodies for family and friends. Thanks in advance.

    23. This looks FABULOUS! I would like to try it for the cake I’m making for Easter, especially as my grandmother is German and my grandfather is Slovak. Do you think I could flavor it with key lime without curdling it? I was planning to make a coconut cake with key lime curd filling and a light lime buttercream, but having been trying to decide what kind of buttercream to make as an American buttercream seems too heavy.

      1. Hi Lorena, that’s so sweet of you to make your grandparents a cake for Easter. I tried to add lemon juice to German buttercream and I left it on the counter overnight and it was fine. I added freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice to buttercream, I didn’t add it to the milk. I added it after I was done beating buttercream. Hope that helps.
        I like the idea of key lime curd filling and maybe make coconut German Buttercream ? Keep me posted how it goes. Happy Easter.

    24. Lick the beaters…. lol!!!! This looks so good. I’m a huge fan of custard, so I will definitely be trying this!

      1. Hi June, Thank you.
        Few years back I got a card for my mom saying what a wonderful mom she had been because she always turned off the mixture before letting us lick the beaters. I love custard based desserts, too.
        So good and delicious. This recipe is not overly sweet and if you prefer you can add more powdered sugar to make it sweeter. 🙂

        1. Hello! What a WONDERFUL recipe! I am going to try it this weekend! Thank you for sharing. I had NO idea German buttercream existed until today, lol. Anyways, I was wondering if I wanted to make a chocolate custard to make this chocolate flavored, how much chocolate or cocoa powder would I use? Thanks 🤗

        2. Hi Tina, Thank you. I usually add 1/4 to 1/3 cup good cocoa and then 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips.Hope it helps. I add cocoa with starch and flour. I cook custard and then when it’s hot I stir in chocolate and simmer for 2-3 minutes like regular custard. You can also add cocoa when you beat sugar and butter.

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