How To Thicken Homemade Frosting

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Not thrilled with the texture of your frosting? The right consistency can make or break your baked creations. In this article, we’ll unveil our best tricks and tips for achieving the perfect thickness in your homemade frosting.

We’ve included several techniques, allowing you to adjust based on the ingredients you have on hand, so you can quickly rescue your frosting!


Quick Read

The best and easiest way to thicken frosting is to slowly incorporate powdered sugar.
Other methods include adding butter, shortening, cream cheese, whipping cream, flour, or cornstarch.
Refrigerating your icing will thicken the frosting temporarily.

Keep on reading for more tips on how to thicken frosting that will help you achieve the perfect consistency every time.


How To Thicken Homemade Frosting

1. Add Powdered Sugar

The best and easiest way to thicken frosting is by adding powdered sugar. Start with 1-2 tablespoons of sifted confectioners’ sugar and keep going until you reach your desired consistency. If you add too much, try a tiny amount of milk to thin it back up. If your frosting gets too sweet, you can add a pinch of salt to help balance it out.

2. Add Butter or Shortening

Adding softened (not melted) butter or shortening is another classic trick to thicken frosting quickly. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, add 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.

Don’t like butter? Check out 8 ways to make frosting without butter.

3. Add Whipping Cream

Use this method to thicken frosting for refrigerated treats. Beat in up to 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, adding just a splash or so at a time, to make a rich and creamy frosting.

Related reading: Cool Whip Vs Whipped Cream: What’s The Difference?

4. Add Cream Cheese

Similar to butter, adding cream cheese helps to thicken frosting without making it significantly sweeter. Rich cream cheese does, however, add a delicious tangy taste.

Be sure to use softened full-fat cream cheese for the easiest mixing and best taste. Whip in 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese at a time until the frosting gets thick enough.

Need a good recipe for cream cheese frosting? Check out 10 Delicious Cinnamon Roll Icing Recipes (With and Without Cream Cheese).

5. Add Meringue Powder

Mix in 1 tablespoon of meringue powder per 8 ounces of frosting. Taste, and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar if the frosting needs a bit more sweetness.

6. Add Flour

One tablespoon of sifted flour can be whisked in at a time to thicken your frosting without adding any extra flavor or sweetness.

7. Add Cornstarch

Another flavorless thickener is cornstarch. Sift and mix in 1/4 cup of cornstarch to the frosting. Or you can also sift together 1/4 cup of cornstarch plus a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar. This will create a super thick frosting with a rich sweetness.

8. Add Gelatin

Combine 1 tablespoon of gelatin and 1 tablespoon of cold water, then stir into the frosting. For the frosting to really thicken up you should let it set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before using.

9. Add Cocoa Powder

This is one of my favorite ways to thicken chocolate frosting. Simply mix in 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. An extra pinch of powdered sugar will also help bring the frosting back to the sweeter side.

Using Canned Frosting? Get tips on how to make canned chocolate frosting taste homemade.

10. Add Marshmallow Fluff

Adding a 1/4 cup or so of marshmallow flush can help to thicken the frosting and add a yummy marshmallow flavor. A dash of salt will help to balance the sweetness.

11. Add Pudding Mix

Believe it or not, instant pudding mix is a technique used by bakers to create a thick and creamy texture, especially for whipped cream or cream cheese frostings. As a general rule, start with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of instant pudding mix per cup of frosting, and adjust as needed.

12. Add Shredded Coconut

This option definitely won’t be for everyone, but you can add a few tablespoons of shredded coconut to thicken up frosting while adding a delicious flavor and texture.

12+ Easy Ways To Make Frosting Thicker

More Frosting Tips & Tricks

  • Frosting tends to soften in warm weather. You might just need to put your warm frosting in the refrigerator to thicken it back up.
  • It’s possible the frosting ingredients need more time to come together. This is especially true with a whipped cream frosting. If you think this is the case, keep on mixing and see if the runny frosting starts to thicken.

How To Thicken Frosting FAQs

Q. What do I do if my frosting is too runny?

A. Here are some quick ways to thicken runny frosting.

  1. Add more powdered sugar: Gradually add more powdered sugar to your frosting, about 1/4 cup at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. Be sure to mix well after each addition.
  2. Chill the frosting: Refrigerate the frosting for about 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to chill it for too long, as this can make the frosting too stiff.
  3. Add a thickener: Add a thickening agent such as sifted cornstarch, flour, or gelatin to your frosting.
  4. Whip the frosting: Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the frosting for several minutes until it thickens up. This can also help add air to the frosting and make it lighter.
  5. Add a stabilizer: Stabilizers like cream of tartar or meringue powder can help thicken the frosting and prevent it from becoming runny. Add a small amount of the stabilizer and mix well

Overall, the best approach for thickening up runny frosting will depend on the type of frosting and the specific recipe you are using. Try these different methods to see what works best for your frosting and adjust as needed until you achieve the desired consistency.

Q. Why did my frosting get runny? How can I prevent it?

Dealing with frosting that is too thin is no fun. There are several things you can do to prevent your frosting from becoming runny in the first place.

  1. Use the right ingredients: Make sure you are using the correct ingredients and the correct amounts. Too much liquid or using melted butter can result in runny frosting.
  2. Add ingredients slowly: Add your ingredients slowly and in small amounts, mixing well after each addition. This will help prevent overmixing and allow you to keep a close eye on the consistency which will both help keep the frosting from becoming too thin.
  3. Chill your frosting: If your frosting starts to become runny because your workspace is too warm, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool down and thicken up. Be careful not to chill it for too long, as this can make the frosting too stiff and difficult to work with.
  4. Adjust the recipe: If your frosting is consistently too thin or runny, try adjusting the recipe by adding more powdered sugar or reducing the amount of liquid ingredients like milk or cream.

Q. What do you use to thicken frosting without powdered sugar?

A. There are several easy ways to make frosting thicker without adding any sugar or extra sweetness. Try flour, cornstarch, meringue powder, gelatin or cocoa powder.

Q. How do you stiffen store-bought icing?

A. Transfer canned frosting to a large bowl, and use a mixer to beat in your preferred thickening agent such as powdered sugar. You can also place the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes to help stiffen the frosting further. Get more tips for making canned frosting taste better.

Q. Can I freeze frosting to thicken it?

It is not recommended to freeze frosting to thicken it. As the frosting gets colder, it will definitely thicken up, but it’s a temporary fix as it will eventually need to be thawed. Freezing can cause the texture of the frosting to change, and it may become grainy or separated when thawed.

Q. Can I refrigerate frosting to thicken it?

You can try chilling the frosting in the refrigerator for a short period of time before using it, but do not freeze it.

When frosting is chilled, it will firm up and become more solid, making it easier to work with and spread on cakes or cupcakes. Again, this is a temporary fix and as the frosting warms, the texture will loosen up.

Q. How long does it take for frosting to set?

The time it takes for frosting to set will depend on the type of frosting you are using and the conditions in which it is being set.

Buttercream frosting will typically set within 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature, depending on the humidity and temperature of the room. If you are working in a warmer environment, the frosting may take longer to set.

Cream cheese frosting and other types of soft frosting may take longer to set, often requiring several hours in the refrigerator to firm up properly. Whipped cream frosting will also need to be chilled to set, typically taking about an hour or two in the refrigerator.


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Yield: Covers 9x13 cake

Thick Vanilla Frosting

Vanilla Cupcake With Thick Vanilla Frosting

In just 5 minutes and with 4 ingredients, you can mix up a batch of delicious, thick frosting that is perfect for decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the softened butter. Combine at medium speed with a mixer. The butter will be creamy and lighter in color.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed to fully incorporate all of the powdered sugar.
  3. Once the butter and powdered sugar have come together, the mixture will be thick.
  4. Add vanilla, and beat in the heavy whipping cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. If frosting is too sweet, you can add a pinch of salt and combine well.

Notes

For colored frosting, add 2 drops of food coloring and combine well. Add additional drops as needed until you achieve your desired color.

Other flavorings and extracts, such as mint, almond, lemon or orange can be added to this frosting. Start with a small amount of extract and work your way up until you achieve a flavor you like.

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Meet Micky Reed, your go-to snack expert and creator of The Three Snackateers—a hub for all the best sweets and treats to make, try, and buy. From whipping up collaborations with industry giants like Ben & Jerry's to being featured on Delish and PopSugar, Micky's delicious adventures are causing a stir in the foodie world. You can find Micky on IG and Pinterest.

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