The Effortless Butter Swap For Brighter White Frosting

We can probably all agree that it's better to have a cake that tastes good than one that looks good ... but sometimes we want it all. Think of a birthday cake frosted with perfectly swirled vanilla buttercream that comes in a shade that's oh-so-white. Doesn't that white and bright frosting look slightly more appealing than one that's off-white or even yellow? Luckily, getting your buttercream to this level of brightness is surprisingly simple. To make a buttercream that's white and bright, the first step is to re-evaluate the butter you use. Opt for a pale butter in lieu of a stick or tub that comes with any tint of yellow. Think of it this way: If your butter is on the yellow side from the get-go, it will make your frosting yellow, too. 

Granted, you can combat yellow butters in a few ways. You can certainly incorporate clear vanilla extract instead of a darker option, or even add some white food coloring. However, starting with the butter is typically the best route to take, as buttercream is, after all, heavy on its signature ingredient. As for why there's so much variance between butters? The grass — and the cows it feeds — may be responsible.

Choose the right butter

Butters not only come in varying degrees of saltiness but also come in different shades. You can certainly make and improve your buttercream frosting in a multitude of ways, but if you want one that looks as pristine as it tastes, avoid yellow butters: namely, products from Ireland. These tend to veer toward the more colorful side thanks to the amount of beta carotene in the grass that feeds grazing cows, explains the National Dairy Council. This yellow pigment is found naturally across Ireland's fields, so grass-fed cows store beta carotene in their fat. In turn, the resulting butter reflects this shade. After all, there's a reason Kerrygold has the word "gold" in its name. 

With Irish butters off the table, which kind should you use instead? Chances are, that stick in your fridge is a safe bet for a white and bright frosting. Your standard American butters — Hello, Land O'Lakes — tend to come with less of a tint. So you can whip up your buttercream, knowing full well that it'll turn out as alabaster as can be.