How to Thicken Frosting: Simple Steps for Perfect Consistency

Homemade frosting adds a delightful touch to your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. Getting the perfect consistency, however, can sometimes be tricky. With a few helpful tips and tricks in your arsenal, you can achieve thick and delicious frosting every time. From using powdered sugar to incorporating other common ingredients like butter, shortening, and cream cheese, there are plenty of ways to ensure your frosting has the ideal texture for your baked masterpieces.

In this article, we’ll explore 12 ways to thicken your homemade frosting, as well as discussing other tips and frequently asked questions to help you perfect your baking skills. By following these guidelines, your frosting will not only taste amazing but also create stunning decorations and glazes that will make your treats stand out.

Key Takeaways

  • Create the perfect thick frosting with various methods such as incorporating powdered sugar, butter, or cream cheese
  • Achieve a consistent texture for decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
  • Learn additional tips and tricks to enhance your homemade frosting taste and appearance

How To Thicken Homemade Frosting: 12 Ways

Option #1: Add Powdered Sugar

Adding sifted powdered sugar is an easy way to thicken frosting. Start with 1/2 tablespoon and continue until you achieve the desired thickness. If it becomes too sweet, add a pinch of salt.

Option #2: Add Butter or Shortening

Add softened butter (1-2 tablespoons at a time) to thicken frosting without making it too sweet. Use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer for even distribution.

Option #3: Add Whipping Cream

For refrigerated treats, beat in up to 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream to create a rich and creamy frosting.

Option #4: Add Cream Cheese

Adding softened full-fat cream cheese thickens frosting and adds a tangy taste. Whip in 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired thickness.

Option #5: Add Meringue Powder

Mix 1 tablespoon of meringue powder per 8 ounces of frosting for a thick and fluffy consistency. Add powdered sugar to sweeten if needed.

Option #6: Add Flour

Sift and whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to thicken frosting without altering its flavor or sweetness.

Option #7: Add Cornstarch

Sift and mix in 1/4 cup of cornstarch for a flavorless thickener. Or combine with powdered sugar for a thicker, sweeter frosting.

Option #8: Add Gelatin

Combine 1 tablespoon of gelatin with 1 tablespoon of cold water, and stir into the frosting. Let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.

Option #10: Add Marshmallow Fluff

Adding up to equal parts marshmallow fluff creates a fluffy and lighter frosting. A dash of salt can help balance the sweetness.

Option #11: Add Pudding Mix

Instant pudding mix, added in 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup of frosting, thickens and adds creaminess to your frosting. Adjust sugar and ingredients accordingly.

Option #12: Add Shredded Coconut

Add 1-2 tablespoons of shredded coconut to thicken frosting and add a unique flavor. If it becomes too thick, add a splash of milk to thin it out.

How To Thicken Frosting: Tips & Tricks

To thicken your frosting, try these techniques:

  1. Chill the frosting in the fridge to regain its consistency.
  2. Mix longer, especially for whipped cream frosting, using a hand or electric mixer allowing ingredients to come together.

Remember to store your frosting in a cool place to avoid softening. Happy cooking!

How To Thicken Frosting FAQs

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

To thicken runny frosting, you can add powdered sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, or other thickening options. You can also chill the frosting for 10-15 minutes or whip it using a hand mixer. Another option is to use a stabilizer like cream of tartar or meringue powder.

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

To prevent runny frosting, use the right ingredients, sift your powdered sugar, add the ingredients slowly, and chill your frosting when necessary. If your frosting consistently turns out too thin, adjust the recipe by using more powdered sugar or reducing liquid ingredients like milk or cream.

Q. What do you thicken frosting without powdered sugar?

You can use unsweetened options like flour, cornstarch, meringue powder, gelatin, or cocoa powder to thicken frosting without adding sugar.

Q. How do you stiffen store bought icing?

Transfer the frosting to a large bowl and use a hand mixer to beat in your preferred thickening agent. You might also want to chill the frosting in the refrigerator for a few minutes to help stiffen it further.

Q. Can I freeze frosting to thicken it?

Freezing frosting to thicken it is not recommended, as the texture may change when thawed, becoming grainy or separated.

Q. Can I refrigerate frosting to thicken it?

You can chill the frosting in the refrigerator for a short period, but different types of frosting behave differently when chilled. For instance, buttercream and whipped cream frostings will thicken nicely, while cream cheese frosting may become too firm.

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

The time it takes for frosting to set depends on the type of frosting and the conditions. Buttercream typically sets within 15-30 minutes, while soft frostings like cream cheese may take several hours in the refrigerator. Whipped cream frosting generally takes about 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.


  • 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 and combine at medium speed until creamy and lighter in color.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing after each addition.
  3. Add vanilla and beat in heavy whipping cream or milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
  4. If the frosting is too sweet, add a pinch of salt and combine well.


For colored frosting, add a few drops of food coloring and combine well. You can also experiment with different flavorings and extracts, such as mint, almond, lemon, or orange.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make frosting thicker with cornstarch?

To make frosting thicker with cornstarch, follow these steps:

  1. Start by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into 1/4 cup of cold water.
  2. Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
  3. Gradually pour the cornstarch mixture into your frosting, while continuously stirring.
  4. Continue adding the mixture until the desired thickness is achieved.

What can be added to make frosting thicker?

To make frosting thicker, try adding these ingredients:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Cream cheese
  • Cocoa powder (for chocolate frosting)
  • Melted chocolate (for chocolate frosting)

How to fix runny cream frosting?

Fix runny cream frosting by:

  1. Chilling the frosting in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, allowing it to thicken.
  2. Mixing in a bit more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
  3. Adding a small amount of cornstarch, but be cautious not to add too much, to avoid altering the taste.

How to thicken buttercream frosting?

Thicken buttercream frosting by:

  1. Adding more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while mixing well.
  2. Refrigerating the frosting for a short period to help it stiffen up.
  3. If necessary, add a small amount of cornstarch to the mixture.

How to thicken cream cheese frosting?

Thicken cream cheese frosting by:

  1. Adding more confectioners’ sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
  2. Chilling the frosting in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to set and thicken.

How to thicken icing sugar for frosting?

Thicken icing sugar for frosting by:

  1. Gradually adding more icing sugar to the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, while stirring.
  2. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a tiny amount of liquid (such as milk or water) to thin it out.
  3. Continue adjusting the consistency by adding more icing sugar or liquid as needed.
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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