Last Updated on July 20, 2022
If your buttercream frosting became grainy and you feel helpless, this article is for you! Here are the best ways how to fix grainy buttercream frosting.
We will be looking at exactly what causes grainy frosting, how to prevent it, and the best ways to fix it. They are all incredibly easy and don't even take up a lot of time. So, without further or do, let's crack into it!
What Makes Buttercream Grainy?
You would be shocked to learn how many different reasons there could be that your buttercream frosting has become grainy. It's a miracle we don't get this texture every time once you have learned how easily it happens.
The word "grainy" is used to describe buttercream that either has a grainy appearance or a physical gritty texture. Each of these is caused by different problems. So, let's have a look at some of the most common reasons that buttercream frosting gets a grainy texture.
Ingredients are not at room temperature
This is one of the first mistakes bakers make when attempting a buttercream frosting. If all of your ingredients, especially the butter or shortening, isn't at room temperature and soft, they will cause a lumpy texture. Often, the lumps are so small that people mistake them for being grainy.
Gritty textures can also be caused when people use ice cold milk and add it to butter and powdered sugar. The cold milk will cause minor lumps as it solidifies certain areas of the mixture, while others remain warmer.
Used unsifted powdered sugar
Another ingredient-based mistake people make is not sifting the confectioner's sugar into the softened creamed butter. There are two problems with skipping this crucial step.
The first is that the icing sugar will create air bubbles that will in turn create a grainy texture. The second, which happens if you haven't sifted the sugar at all, is that the lumps will be incorporated into the frosting. And once sugar lumps are there, it is a nightmare to try and remove.
Used too soft fat
While your fat should be softened at room temperature, it should still hold its shape. If it is too soft, it won't be able to be correctly mixed with the other ingredients to create a stable bond.
The frosting is too hot or cold
This reason is what creates grainy-looking frosting. If you have ever seen a frosting that looks like the fat sits on top of the icing, that's a grainy frosting (in appearance).
The bonds between the fat and water in the butter or shortening you have used completely break down and separate. This causes the fat to leech out and create an appealing flavor and texture. It is unusable!
This is another reason you should use room temperature ingredients and never heat or cool the frosting too much.
Over mixing and overworking the frosting
Another extremely common mistake bakers make when making buttercream frosting is that they over mix it. Unfortunately, while many people claim the longer you beat it the better it will get, it also means risking separating the mixture.
When correctly making frosting, you are essentially trying to create stable bonds. However, the more you mix the ingredients, the weaker the bonds will become. Ultimately, the frosting will separate and even form a gritty texture.
How To Fix Grainy Buttercream Frosting And Ways To Prevent It
Now, if you already feel completely hopeless and that there is no possible way how to fix grainy buttercream frosting, fear not, because we have just as many solutions for yo0u to try!
Now, you first need to identify what your problem is. Luckily, that is pretty easy to do. Only about two of the above-mentioned reasons may be difficult to identify. This is that your icing became too hot or cold, or that you have over-mixed it. Luckily, if you know for certain that it is one of these reasons, the fixes are the same.
So, let's have a look at the best ways how to fix grainy buttercream frosting.
1. Use the ingredients correctly
There are many rules to apply when we are looking at how the ingredients should be prepared and mixed.
So, as we have mentioned, ingredients should all be at the same temperature. This way, they won't create lumps when mixed. You should also make sure that the butter and shortening you use are soft, but not melted. I should be able to be whipped and creamed for the best results.
Furthermore, sift the powdered sugar using a fine-mesh sieve. This will break up the lumps very well. It will ensure there are no grainy parts that will be incorporated into the frosting.
And finally, if you use low-quality ingredients, they are more likely to separate once being creamed and worked.
2. Do not overmix
Another great way to prevent grainy frosting is to completely prevent overworking it. This will prevent the frosting from separating or forming other strange gritty textures.
Once your butter has been creamed for roughly 5 minutes, you can add the powdered sugar and flavorings and cream it for another 5-8 minutes.
3. Slightly heat and beat the frosting
if you know the lumps are from hard butter, slightly heat the buttercream in the microwave for 10 seconds. This will soften the butter. Then, beat the mixture again for a couple of minutes.
4. Cool the frosting
If it has separated or is too hot, place it inside the fridge for 10 minutes. This will help cool the butter and make it more solid. Then, you can cream the ingredients again for a couple of minutes.
5. Leave it to rest
If you are unsure what caused the grainy texture and which method to use to fix it, you can leave the frosting on the counter (covered) overnight. This will cool and rest the ingredients. If you have lumpy icing crystals, it will also cause them to soften and melt away.
The next morning, beat the mixture at low speed to recreate the bonds.
Hopefully, you feel a little more at ease knowing there are so many fantastic and easy solutions on how to fix grainy buttercream frosting. And, if you still have any questions or need a specific fix, let us know in the comments below!
Why has my buttercream gone grainy?
There are a ton of reasons. You could have used the ingredients incorrectly and at the wrong temperatures and consistencies. Or it could be that you overworked the frosting or made it too hot or cold. Have a look at our in-depth guide in the article to help you determine exactly where you went wrong.
How do you fix buttercream that is not smooth?
It depends on what the graininess is. If it is lumps of butter, you can gently heat it for a few seconds and re-mix it. If it lumps are from powdered sugar, you can leave it to rest overnight so they melt away. If the mixture has separated, it is best to either rest and cools the mixture before beating it again or slightly heat it and re-align the bonds.
How do you fix granulated frosting?
Hard granules are usually formed from grainy powdered sugar. To prevent this, you should sift the sugar through a fine-mesh sieve. To fix the grains, allow the mixture to rest at room temperature overnight. This will melt the granules and when mixed, incorporate them into the rest of the frosting.
What happens when you overmix buttercream?
When over mixing the buttercream frosting, the bonds you have created weakens and the fat separates from the water molecules in the butter. This causes the mixture to get a grainy appearance and often fine gritty texture.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.