How To Thicken Frosting- Step By Step

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Last Updated on November 28, 2020

Do you enjoy desserts spread with a lovely frosting? If you do, then you need to learn how to thicken the frosting effectively. Nobody likes runny frosting on their favorite cakes, and it is going to be a nightmare to find a batch of light frosting whether you are a professional baker or just a home baker. After all, a cake without the final embellishment at the top is not even a cake.

No one can truly enjoy frosting without its dense, spreadable, and smooth consistency. For icing that will not remain solid at the end, the cake will not appear as amazing. As a result, the runny frosting will make the cake look spiritless and sticky. Fortunately, there are various tips and approaches to tackle this problem, based specifically on your individual needs.

What is the Difference Between Icing and Frosting?

The thick and fluffy icing on the outside of the cake is usually cake frosting. It has a texture that is smooth and feels much like butter. To make it more attractive, you should apply color to this coating. It is dense, opaque, and gooey, and it is super soft to touch. Icing, on the other hand, is a thin and sugary spread of glaze that hardens on cooling. In comparison to frosting, when dried out, the icing is more settled and fixed.

What You Will Need to Thicken Homemade Frosting 

Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting 

  • 250g buttercream frosting
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • ½ cocoa powder

Ingredients for Heavy Whipping Cream Frosting

  • 250g Heavy whipping cream frosting
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar or granulated sugar

Ingredients for  Swiss Meringue Frosting 

  • 250g Swiss Meringue Frosting


  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Hand mixer or stand mixer

Wilton Non-Stick Diamond-Infused Baking Set with Utensils, 9-Piece

 Check out more frosting recipes here: Sensational Dark Chocolate Frosting and Fast And Easy Sweetened Condensed Milk Frostings

Step by Step Instructions on How to Thicken Frosting

Refrigerating your Buttercream 

Step 1 

Make your usual buttercream and place it in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2

Chill your buttercream for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. It should bring the temperature down. Making buttercream in a hot kitchen would cause it to melt, so I suggest to chill it in a refrigerator or chiller to lighten up the frosting.

Step 3

Please take out your frosting from the refrigerator and use a mixer to beat it on high speed for 5 minutes.

Usage of Thickeners 

Powdered Sugar

If the refrigerating method is not working, then add a tablespoon of powdered sugar to your frosting. Slowly add another tablespoon of powdered sugar until desired consistency.

How to Thicken Frosting


Adding too much-powdered sugar is too sweet for you? Aside from adding sugar, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch instead. Add another 1/2 teaspoon until desired consistency.

Cocoa powder

Add 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder if you are making a chocolate buttercream. Repeat until you reach your desired consistency.

Step by Step Instructions to Thicken Heavy Whipping Cream Frosting

Refrigerating your frosting

Step 1

Make sure that your cream is super cold before whipping to make it rise. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes and then check if it is thick enough.

Step 2

If not, then beat with a mixer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Thickening Heavy Whipping Cream Frosting

Usage of Thickeners

Powdered sugar

Just like the buttercream, the method with the heavy whipping cream is likely the same. Add a teaspoon of powdered sugar gradually until desired consistency.


Cornstarch is also useful for a runny whipping cream frosting. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch while beating it at high speed. Repeat until you reach your desired consistency.

Step by Step Instructions to Thicken Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The butter you are going to use for making a swiss meringue buttercream must be at room temperature. Having softened butter will make the buttercream soupy, and having too cold butter will make it curdled.

Step 1 

Refrigerate your frosting for about 20 minutes until the edges harden.

Step 2 

Take it out from the refrigerator and use a mixer to beat it on high for 5 minutes.

Thickening Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Tips and Trick on How to Make Frosting Thicker

Measure all the liquids carefully since it is very difficult to deal with runny frosting. It takes time for the frosting to come together, so do not under-beat the mixture. It should do the trick for at least three minutes. Stand mixers will also do a better job than electric hand mixers, mainly because you can turn them on and leave them to mix without getting tired. Until allowing your butter to hit room temperature, slice it into around 1cm cubes, making it so much easier to blend smoothly. When decorating with frosting and making a mistake, do not be afraid to brush the frosting back into the bowl and try again.

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