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Looking for a brown sugar frosting that has that special flavor but doesn’t leave your mouth grainy? Look no further! My fluffy brown sugar icing brings that buttercream consistency that you love without sacrificing the flavor factor.

what frosting on a vanilla cupcake.

BEST Fluffy Brown Sugar Icing

Brown sugar does the impossible: It takes sugar and somehow makes it better! While it’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth, brown sugar certainly takes the cake when compared to it’s less exciting relatives (I’m looking at you, granulated sugar). 

This delicious brown sugar buttercream frosting highlights that rich, caramel-like flavor that’s so hard to put your finger on. Simply pipe it onto sheet cakes, cupcakes, and even inside of cake rolls or cookie sandwiches!

ingredients in brown sugar frosting

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter – unsalted, softened – this is the most important ingredient in buttercream.
  • Brown sugar – you measure brown sugar by packing it.
  • Heavy whipping cream – I love using cream to make a rich and fluffy frosting.
  • Powdered sugar – You still need a bit of powdered sugar to give the frosting it’s body.

Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

How to Make Brown Sugar Frosting

  1. Cream butter and sugar: In the drum of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat the unsalted butter until it becomes smooth.Then, cream the brown sugar and butter. Beat them together for about two to three minutes, until the mixture becomes fluffy.
  2. Combine ingredients: Once creamed, add vanilla extract, heavy whipping cream, and salt to the bowl and mix until all ingredients have combined. Then, set your mixer to medium-low speed and gradually begin to add in the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is fully incorporated into the mixture, allow the mixer to continue for about one to two minutes, completely mixing the ingredients together.
  3. Beat together: Increase the mixing speed to medium-high and beat the frosting until it becomes fluffy and light. This will take about five minutes. Once fluffy, you can begin to frost cupcakes or cake to your liking! 

Pairings for Brown Sugar Frosting

This brown sugar frosting is so darn good, it goes with just about anything. That being said, I recommend keeping your flavor combinations on the simple side to really let it shine: 

  • Chocolate cupcakes are never a bad idea. Chocolate and brown sugar? That’s a no-brainer. Whip up a batch of my best (and I mean the best) chocolate cupcakes and frost ‘em with brown sugar frosting – thank me later!
  • Frost a dozen or so of my vanilla cupcakes (filled with vanilla whipped cream centers!) with this brown sugar frosting for a little taste of heaven. The real vanilla bean paste that I use in my vanilla cupcake recipe pairs perfectly with the rich yet subtle flavor of brown sugar. 
  • This frosting is also a fall-lover’s favorite, so you can imagine how well it complements autumn flavors like pumpkin and apple. Pecan Pie Cupcakes are perfect with this frosting!
cream colored frosting swirled in a clear jar.

Expert Tips

  • To avoid grainy buttercream, make sure that you cream the butter and brown sugar together long enough so that the mixture has no clumps of sugar at all. 
  • Store frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before using.
  • I prefer using a stand mixer to make frosting – it’s much easier, faster and makes it fluffier than a hand mixer.


Can you use brown sugar instead of powdered sugar in frosting?

Yes, you can use brown sugar in place of powdered sugar, but the texture will be significantly different. If using this method, anticipate a heavier, less fluffy frosting. 

Why is my brown sugar frosting grainy?

If your brown sugar frosting is grainy, it likely means that you did not cream the butter and sugar together long enough. 

Can you freeze brown sugar frosting?

Yes, you can freeze brown sugar frosting in an airtight container or ziploc bag for about three months. Just let it thaw in the fridge overnight before attempting to use it again. You can also store it in the fridge for up to one month. 

what frosting on a vanilla cupcake.

Brown Sugar Frosting

5 from 5 votes
The best frosting that will go with any cupcake you choose to make! It has a great brown sugar flavor!
Yield 14 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 1 ½ cups (339g) unsalted Butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons (38g) packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (339g) powdered sugar
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  • Beat the butter until smooth in a large bowl or stand mixer. Add brown sugar and cream until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add vanilla, heavy whipping cream and salt and mix until combined.
  • Reduce mixer to medium-low speed and while mixer is running, slowly add powdered sugar and mix until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Then increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes.
  • Frost cupcakes as desired

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • Frosting can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature and if needed, re-fluff with mixer for a few minutes before using.
  • I prefer using a stand mixer to make frosting – it’s much easier, faster and makes it fluffier than a hand mixer.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 4143kcal | Carbohydrates: 397g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 292g | Saturated Fat: 185g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 76g | Trans Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 783mg | Sodium: 649mg | Potassium: 186mg | Sugar: 389g | Vitamin A: 9171IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 146mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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Last Updated on October 22, 2023

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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