How To Thicken Frosting (12 Easy Ways + 1 Thing NOT To Do)

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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 twelve tips on how to thicken frosting that will help you achieve the perfect consistency every time. Happy baking!

How To Thicken Frosting - 12+ Easy Tips and Tricks

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How To Thicken Homemade Frosting: 12 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.

Get tips on how to make canned chocolate frosting taste homemade. You’ll also want to check out this delicious old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe.

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.

Option #11: Add Pudding Mix

Believe it or not, instant pudding mix can be used to thicken frosting. It’s a popular technique used by bakers to create a thick and creamy texture, especially for whipped cream or cream cheese frostings.

To use instant pudding mix to thicken frosting, simply add the mix to your frosting mixture and beat until it is fully combined. The amount of instant pudding mix you need will depend on the recipe you are using and the desired thickness of your frosting.

As a general rule of thumb, start with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of instant pudding mix per cup of frosting, and adjust as needed.

Keep in mind that instant pudding mix contains sugar and flavorings, so adding it to your frosting will affect its taste. You may need to adjust the amount of sugar and other ingredients in your recipe to compensate for the additional sweetness and flavorings from the pudding mix.

Option #12: Add Shredded Coconut

This option definitely won’t be for everyone, but using shredded coconut to thicken frosting can add a delicious flavor and texture to your baked goods.

Just be sure to start with a small amount (around 1-2 tablespoons. Add it gradually and adjust the other ingredients in your recipe as needed to achieve the desired consistency and taste.

If you add too much coconut, you can always add a splash of milk to thin it up.

12+ Easy Ways To Make Frosting Thicker

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. Below is a quick rundown of some of your best options.

Quick Ways To Thicken Up 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: Place the frosting in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to cool it down and thicken it up. 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 cornstarch, flour, or gelatin to your frosting. Dissolve the thickener in a small amount of liquid before adding it to the frosting to avoid clumping. Mix well to fully incorporate.
  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: Use a stabilizer like cream of tartar or meringue powder to help thicken the frosting and prevent it from becoming runny. Add a small amount of the stabilizer to the frosting mixture and mix well to incorporate.

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. Here are some tips:

  1. Use the right ingredients: Make sure you are using the correct ingredients in your frosting recipe, and use high-quality ingredients whenever possible. For example, use unsalted butter instead of margarine, and make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature before adding it to the frosting.
  2. Sift powdered sugar: Sift your powdered sugar before adding it to your frosting to remove any lumps or clumps. This will help ensure a smooth and consistent texture in your frosting.
  3. Add ingredients slowly: Add your ingredients to the frosting mixture 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.
  4. 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. However, be careful not to chill it for too long, as this can make the frosting too stiff and difficult to work with.
  5. 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.

By following these tips, you can help prevent your frosting from becoming runny and ensure a smooth and consistent texture every time.

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 unsweetened 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.

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.

However, it is important to note that not all types of frosting will thicken properly in the refrigerator.

For example, cream cheese frosting tends to become too firm when refrigerated, so it is best to avoid chilling this type of frosting unless you want it to be very firm.

In contrast, buttercream frosting and whipped cream frosting will typically thicken up nicely when refrigerated.

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.

It is important to note that while frosting may set relatively quickly, it can take several hours for it to fully firm up and reach its maximum stability. For this reason, it is best to avoid handling or decorating the cake until the frosting has fully set to prevent it from smudging or smearing.

Overall, the time it takes for frosting to set will vary depending on the type of frosting and the conditions in which it is being set. It is best to allow plenty of time for the frosting to set and firm up before handling or decorating the cake.

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!

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Yield: Covers 9x13 cake

How To Make Thick 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


  • 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


  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.


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.

Amp up the flaveflavo

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 0gSugar: 33gProtein: 0g

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