The problem: you want white buttercream but buttercream is made with butter, butter is yellow, so buttercream tends to be a bit yellow.
So what if you need white buttercream? Here are my 5 top tips to getting super white buttercream
It’s fine to have regular yellowish/cream coloured buttercream, it’s just as delicious. But some occasions or designs might call for super white buttercream or frosting. Weddings often require white buttercream, Christenings too, or just because it’s pretty. Also if you are trying to colour your buttercream a vibrant colour the yellow can interfere. Such as trying to make blue buttercream, the yellow can make it green. So how do you do get white buttercream?
Avoid the Yellow in the First Place
There are ways to make buttercream or frosting without introducing any yellow. Don’t use yellow butter. A lot of American Frosting recipes use Shortening. I myself have made buttercream with a mix of butter and solid coconut oil. Also, a lot of people making vegan buttercream use other butter substitutes which are either paler in colour or virtually white.
I have also recently discovered Korean Butter which is white but is only available in speciality Korean markets. This isn’t 100% foolproof as not all of these products are totally white. They also make buttercream or frosting to different degrees of firmness so may not be the right consistency for what you need. I also don’t like shortening/Trex in buttercream, but that’s only a preference.
And, I know – I KNOW – if it isn’t made with actual butter it isn’t technically buttercream, but let’s keep the terminology simple, for the sake of discussion.
Regardless of the type of butter you are using, it will become paler the more you beat or whisk it. This is actually a sort of trick on the eye, you aren’t removing any of the yellow but you are adding air. When you whip or beat butter and icing sugar together you are creating a little network of sugar crystals and air pockets which makes the colour paler the more of them there are. This will also increase the volume of buttercream.
You can’t overbeat butter. You can overheat it and liquidise it by mistake if you are doing it in a food processor. But in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, as long as you are working at roughly room temperature (or at least under 21℃ / 70℉ when butter starts to melt) you can’t over work it. So beat it until it looks white to you.
If you are in the UK, the consensus amongst most of the bakers I have spoken to is that Lurpac and Lidl/Aldi’s own-brand equivalent are the best butter for white buttercream. They are already quite pale and whip up very white.
Make Meringue Buttercream
Italian, Swiss and French Meringue Buttercream is basically butter added to a big bowl of fluffy egg whites. This means that, while you are still using yellow butter, there is already so much white in the mix you mitigate a lot of the yellow. I regularly make SMBC, with real yellow butter and often with light brown sugar and my buttercream is rarely yellow. Occasionally Ivory, but usually pretty white with no extra work.
You could always whip/beat the butter to a paler colour before adding it to the meringue, but you shouldn’t need to.
Add White Food Colouring
If you are making buttercream and (having whipped or beaten the living daylights out of it) it still isn’t as white as you would like you can add food colouring. Many colouring companies make White and it is a pretty effective option for making white buttercream.
I have used Wilton White-White, they also do a Super White and so do most other food colouring companies. You will have to find out what is approved for your country and which brand works for you.
As with any food colour with buttercream, gel or paste colours are usually the best option. You want to avoid adding more liquid than necessary to buttercream, it can destabilise it. Also, gel or paste colours tend to be more intense in colour so you don’t need to use as much. This one is actually a liquid colour, but you still don’t need much, and hasn’t ruined any buttercream for me.
Counteract the Yellow
Rather than trying to overpower the yellow colour with white you can instead neutralise it with an opposing colour on the spectrum. In the case of Yellow that is Purples and Violets. That means a tiny dot of an intense violet or purple gel or paste food colour, beaten in, will cancel out the yellow and make your buttercream white.
It does only take a tiny tiny amount. I’d recommend using a toothpick, add a dot of colour and beat in thoroughly and only then add more if required. If you add too much the buttercream will go grey and if you add way too much it’ll go purple!
As I mentioned at the beginning, if you are trying to colour your buttercream and the yellow is interfering with the shade you are getting, making Blue buttercream Green or Red buttercream Orange, then neutralising the colour with some purple/violet first will solve that problem for you.
Make Your White Buttercream
Which method is your favourite? Or do you have any other successful ways of making buttercream white? Was this article helpful? Let me know in the comments.