How to Make German Buttercream (video)

piped German buttercream in a glass bowl

If you’re looking for a creamy, less sweet buttercream frosting recipe for your next cake, this recipe is it! Learn how to make German buttercream with my video tutorial! This creamy and delicious vanilla frosting is made with vanilla pastry cream or custard. Once the custard is cooled, it’s combined with butter to create this incredible frosting! This recipe is part of my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series!

My German Buttercream Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube video tutorial for step-by-step instructions for making the pastry cream and the German buttercream frosting! Want to stay up to date on new recipes? Make sure you’re subscribed to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel  and turn on notifications.

Ingredients for German Frosting

This creamy buttercream frosting is made in two parts – the vanilla pastry cream and then the butter is added. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Unsalted Butter: soften the butter at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes. The butter shouldn’t be melted or too soft.
  • Whole Milk: use whole milk for best results and for a rich and creamy filling.
  • Eggs: use organic, free-range eggs for the richest tasting cream. Have the eggs at room temperature for best results.
  • Sugar: use white granulated sugar or sugar fine sugar.
  • Flour & Cornstarch: both of these ingredients act as thickeners for the pastry cream.
  • Vanilla: vanilla beans are the best option for this recipe but they can be more expensive. You can replace the vanilla bean with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
dollops of piped German buttercream on a tray

How to Make German Buttercream

Making this creamy German buttercream frosting starts with the vanilla pastry cream. Once the cream is completely cooled, you can proceed with making the actual buttercream. You can make the pastry cream ahead of time, just keep it well covered and refrigerated.

  1. Split the vanilla bean in half and add into a sauce pan along with the milk and flour. Whisk the flour in until no clumps remain. Cook the milk over medium-low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until the milk is steaming hot but not boiling. Remove the vanilla bean and scrap out the seeds with a knife and add the seeds to the milk, discarding the pod.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is thick and pale and ribbons off of the whisk. In a small ramekin, combine the cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Add the slurry to the egg yolk mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.
  3. Once the milk is hot, slowly temper the milk into the egg yolks. Add a little at a time and whisk well after each addition. Once the two mixtures have been combined, pour the custard base back into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Custard is ready when it holds its shape on the back of the spatula. Avoid cooking over high heat; this can cause the custard to separate.
  4. Remove the custard from heat and add the 1/2 cup butter and vanilla extract. Whisk the butter into the hot custard until it’s completely melted. Cover the custard with plastic wrap touching the surface, to prevent a film from forming on top. Refrigerate the custard until completely cooled, then use as a filling or for the custard buttercream.

Making German Buttercream:

  1. For the buttercream. first beat the softened butter on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is light and fluffy. Begin adding the cooled custard, a few tablespoons at a time, and whisk on medium speed after each addition. After adding the last few tablespoons, whisk for just 30 seconds. If desired, add an additional 1 cup confectioner’s sugar to sweeten the frosting.
berry almond cake recipe with German buttercream, berries and chocolate ganache
Almond Berry Cake with German Buttercream

Flavor Variations for Frosting

You can make this frosting in other flavors besides vanilla, too! Here are a few flavors you can try with this recipe:

  • Coffee: add a few teaspoons of coffee extract/emulsion, or add a tablespoon of instant coffee into the custard while it’s cooking.
  • Chocolate: add 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips into the custard once it’s done cooking. You can also add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into the finished buttercream.
  • Raspberry: add a few teaspoons of raspberry extract. Or, you can prepare a raspberry sauce, like in my ‘Raspberry Buttercream’. Add the raspberry sauce into the cooked custard.
  • Coconut: add a few teaspoons of coconut extract to the custard.

Recipes to Enjoy

Use this creamy German buttercream for your next cake, cupcake or pastry recipe! Here are a few desserts that are great for this recipe!

  • Berry Almond Cake: this delicious almond cake is filled with berries, frosted with German frosting and garnished with chocolate ganache!
  • Walnut Prune Cake: use this creamy frosting in place of the whipped cream frosting I used in the original recipe.
  • Coconut Cupcakes: replace the meringue buttercream with this German frosting and add a few teaspoons of coconut extract.
a close up of a walnut cake on a wooden cake stand, with diced prunes and walnuts
Walnut Prune Honey Cake

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close up of piped buttercream frosting with text overlay 'How to Make German Buttercream'

More Recipes!

Enjoyed this easy frosting recipe? Check out more of my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series! You can use these frosting and filling recipes for any recipe!

  • Italian Meringue Buttercream – a creamy frosting made with egg whites, sugar syrup and butter. This frosting is super stable and smooth!
  • French Buttercream – my all-time favorite frosting made with egg yolks, sugar syrup and butter. It’s super creamy and silky smooth!
  • Cream Cheese Frosting – my favorite recipe for this classic frosting! It’s so delicious!
  • European Whipped Cream – a unique frosting made with sweetened condensed milk, butter and heavy cream!

How to Make German Buttercream

15 mins prep + 10 mins cook + 2 hrs Chill Time:
4 cups
Learn how to make creamy and delicious vanilla German Buttercream frosting. It's a less sweet frosting alternative that's perfect for cakes and cupcakes!

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp

Instructions

Preparing the Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • This recipe can be made with or without the vanilla bean; increase the amount of vanilla to 2 teaspoons.
  • Split the vanilla bean in half and add into a sauce pan along with the milk and flour. Whisk the flour in until no clumps remain. Cook the milk over medium-low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until the milk is steaming hot but not boiling. Remove the vanilla bean and scrap out the seeds with a knife and add the seeds to the milk, discarding the pod.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is thick and pale and ribbons off of the whisk. In a small ramekin, combine the cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Add the slurry to the egg yolk mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.
  • Once the milk is hot, slowly temper the milk into the egg yolks. Add a little at a time and whisk well after each addition. Once the two mixtures have been combined, pour the custard base back into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Custard is ready when it holds its shape on the back of the spatula. Avoid cooking over high heat; this can cause the custard to separate.
  • Remove the custard from heat and add the 1/2 cup butter and vanilla extract. Whisk the butter into the hot custard until it’s completely melted. Cover the custard with plastic wrap touching the surface, to prevent a film from forming on top. Refrigerate the custard until completely cooled, then use as a filling or for the custard buttercream.

Making German Buttercream:

  • For the buttercream. first beat the softened butter on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is light and fluffy. Begin adding the cooled custard, a few tablespoons at a time, and whisk on medium speed after each addition. After adding the last few tablespoons, whisk for just 30 seconds. If desired, add an additional 1 cup confectioner's sugar to sweeten the frosting.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 797kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 75g | Saturated Fat: 47g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 331mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 2459IU | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 1mg