There’s nothing quite like the indulgent feeling of a delicious piece of cake, especially when it’s topped with homemade buttercream frosting. But sometimes, that thick and creamy frosting can be hard to come by.
The best and easiest way to thicken frosting is to slowly incorporate powdered sugar. However, there are plenty of other methods to try as well including adding butter, shortening, cream cheese, whipping cream, flour, cornstarch and more.
Keep on reading for ten tips for how to thicken frosting that will help you achieve the perfect consistency every time. Happy baking!
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How To Thicken Homemade Frosting: 10 Ways
Option #1: Add Powdered Sugar
The best and easiest way to thicken frosting is by adding powdered sugar. Be sure the confectioners’ sugar is sifted to ensure your frosting won’t have any lumps.
Then simply add the sugar bit by bit as you stir the frosting or beat the frosting. Start with 1/2 tablespoon and keep going until the thickness is how you want it.
If your frosting gets too sweet, you can add a pinch of salt to help balance it out.
If you add too much powdered sugar and the frosting becomes too thick, simply add a tiny amount of milk or cream.
Option #2: Add Butter or Shortening
Softened butter is another classic trick to thicken frosting. Soft, but not melted butter will incorporate easily into your frosting.
Be sure to use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. This helps the butter distribute evenly for a thick and fluffy frosting. 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.
Option #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: Which One Is Right For You?
Option #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 to your liking.
Need a good recipe for cream cheese frosting? Check out 10 Delicious Cinnamon Roll Icing Recipes (With and Without Cream Cheese).
Option #5: Add Meringue Powder
Meringue powder is a traditional trick to get frosting thick and fluffy. 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.
Option #6: Add Flour
One tablespoon of flour can be whisked in at a time to thicken frosting without adding any extra flavor or sweetness. I recommend that you sift the flour before it is added so there are no clumps in the frosting.
Option #7: Add Cornstarch
Another flavorless thickener is cornstarch. Sift and mix in 1/4 cup of cornstarch to the frosting.
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.
Option #8: Add Gelatin
Gelatin needs to be combined with water to be activated; the result is a thick and deliciously gooey frosting.
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.
Option #9: Add Cocoa Powder
This is one of my favorite ways to thicken chocolate frosting. Simply mix in 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. An extra pinch of powdered sugar will also help bring the frosting back to the sweeter side.
Option #10: Add Marshmallow Fluff
Add can add up to equal parts marshmallow fluff to frosting for a fluffy and lighter icing.
If that ratio sounds a bit too much, even a 1/4 cup or so of creme will help to thicken the frosting and add a yummy marshmallow flavor. A dash of salt can help to balance the sweetness too.
How To thicken Frosting: Tips & Tricks
- Frosting tends to soften in warm weather. You might just need to put your warm frosting in the refrigerator to thicken 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. To thicken runny frosting simply add your choice of powdered sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, or any of the fantastic options listed above!
Q. What do you 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 for unsweet thickeners.
Q. How do you stiffen store bought icing?
A. Transfer canned frosting to a large bowl, and use a hand mixer to beat in your preferred thickening agent. You might want to then 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.
Whether you’re making cream cheese frosting, buttercream frosting or chocolate icing, there are many ways to make your recipe thick and fluffy. In this article, we covered ten easy ways to thicken homemade frosting, so follow these tips to create the perfect topping for your next dessert!
- 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
- In a large bowl, add the softened butter. Combine at medium speed with a mixer. The butter will be creamy and lighter in color.
- 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.
- Once the butter and powdered sugar have come together, the mixture will be thick.
- Add vanilla, and beat in the heavy whipping cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
- If frosting is too sweet, you can add a pinch of salt and combine well.
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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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 0gSugar: 33gProtein: 0g