This espresso buttercream frosting has only 5 ingredients and is the perfect icing to put on top of espresso cupcakes , chocolate cake or brownies. It is super fluffy and pipes easily too! You will absolutely love this if you love coffee desserts.

Espresso buttercream in a mason jar next to 3 unfrosted cupcakes

Do you have a favorite flavor when it comes to your baked goods? Because mine is ALWAYS coffee! When I started making my own recipes after graduating from pastry school it was the flavor I experimented with first.

This espresso buttercream frosting uses instant espresso for the bold coffee flavor, and only a couple other ingredients you probably have on hand. It also whips up in 5 minutes or less and pipes beautifully onto cupcakes!

From these coffee chocolate chip cookies, to this coffee cheesecake, or even these coffee blondies, I can never get enough of the coffee desserts! This frosting goes especially well on espresso cupcakes!

What makes this recipe special

Well one because its delicious haha. I can literally eat this with a spoon, no cake or cupcake needed. I love how easy it is to make, it’s so much better than any frosting or icing you can buy from a store.

Also there is no cooking! This is not like any of the other fancy buttercream or icings you see out there. This is simple and just requires a good hand or stand mixer.

Ingredients you need

  • unsalted butter at room temperature
  • confectioners sugar
  • milk or cream
  • water (is that even an ingredient?)
  • instant espresso
ingredients for espresso buttercream on a gray surface

Difference between instant espresso and espresso powder

Yes there is a difference! In this recipe and all my other recipes that use espresso, I am using instant espresso granules like the one you find easily at the grocery store. Any brand will do. Espresso powder is harder to find which is why I don’t use it in my recipes, because I want them to have easy to find ingredients.

How to make this recipe

You will need either a stand or hand mixer to create the fluffy frosting.

Milk and sugar mixed together in a mixing bowl on a pink tiled surface
  1. Add the unsalted butter and confectioners sugar to the bowl. Start mixing on low so the sugar doesn’t blow up in your face. Gradually move up to medium speed when the mixture starts coming together. Mix for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Turn the mixer off. Mix the water and instant espresso in a small bowl. Add it to the bowl along with the milk.
  3. Mix on low moving up to high speed again and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Ways to use this buttercream

Top this frosting on top of vanilla cupcakes or these espresso cupcakes! They are the reason this recipe was created, and have a light coffee flavor. Topped with this icing and I am in total coffee heaven.

You can also try this buttercream on chocolate cake or my one bowl brownie recipe. Chocolate and coffee go so well together, it’s the next best thing to coffee!

A piping bag filled with espresso buttercream next to 3 cupcakes on a pink tiled surface.

You can use a piping bag to pipe the buttercream over your dessert, or you can use an offset spatula or even just a spoon!

Make Ahead and Storing

You can easily make this frosting up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge in a container with a lid until you need to use it. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to frost otherwise it will be too hard.

If you make it only a day or two in advance you can leave it in an airtight container on your counter and it will be just fine.


This buttercream recipe makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes, or fill and frost one 9 inch cake with 2 layers. It can be easily doubled for more.

Espresso buttercream on a spatula laying on a pink tiled surface

The Difference between coffee and espresso

Coffee and espresso are no different in where they come from, they both come from the coffee bean. What makes them different is the way they are prepared. Espresso is roasted darker and is ground more finely and with higher pressure than regular coffee.

Doesn’t really matter to me how it’s prepared, I love it no matter what!

Don’t have instant espresso? Make this coffee frosting instead! It uses instant coffee and not espresso.

More coffee desserts for coffee lovers

Heads up! This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of those links, I make a small commission, which just makes my day! Thank you for supporting my blog!

Espresso buttercream in a mason jar next to 3 unfrosted cupcakes
5 stars (2 ratings)

Espresso Buttercream Recipe

This espresso buttercream frosting recipe is super fluffy and can be easily made with only 5 simple ingredients. It's delicious on anything chocolate!


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp water, warm
  • 1 tsp instant espresso
  • 1 tsp milk, or cream


  • In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 1 cup softened butter and 3 cups confectioners sugar. Starting on low and moving up to medium speed, mix until smooth and creamy.
  • Turn the mixer off. Mix the 2 tsp water and 1 tsp instant espresso in in a small bowl. Add it to the bowl along with the 1 tsp milk. Mix on low moving up to high speed again and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  • Frost your cake or cupcakes!


This recipe makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes or fill and frost 1 9 inch cake with 2 layers. 
It can be easily doubled!
Try it on these Espresso Cupcakes!
Serving: 1g, Calories: 253kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 3mg, Potassium: 9mg, Sugar: 29g, Vitamin A: 473IU, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 1mg
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