Tested Ways To Make Icing Thick

Everyone loves icing. Many of us probably prefer eating the icing over the actual sponge cake underneath. And what’s wrong with that? However, loving something doesn’t make it any easier to make. And sometimes mixing your own icing can lead to some less than stellar results. 

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One of the biggest hurdles for any amateur baker is getting your icing to the right level of thickness. A process that can leave you with bowls upon bowls of runny icing. And if there’s one thing that haunts every baker’s nightmares, it’s runny icing. But there’s a reason for that. Icing that is too wet is essentially unusable and is impossible to utilize when trying to decorate your cake. 

So if you find yourself in a situation where your icing just won’t thicken up, here are 4 great methods to help you out!

How To Thicken Icing

Icing and frosting are two very different foodstuffs, as frosting is far thicker and fluffier than icing. However, this does not mean that icing is at a disadvantage as it is a workable and useful decoration for any baked good. 

When using icing to decorate a cake, you have to mix it to a certain consistency so that it can be used for more complex designs. However, this is easier said than done, as icing can become unusable if it is made too wet or runny. 

But this doesn’t mean that runny icing cannot be saved. There are numerous ways you can thicken your icing once it has gone runny. One of the more popular techniques involves adding more powdered sugar to the mix. 

Powdered sugar is an incredibly dry ingredient that adds needed volume and weight to the icing. Once it has been mixed thoroughly into the bowl, then the icing should take on a finer and smoother texture. 

However, we understand that some people may want to resist adding more sugar to their icing in case it becomes too sweet. If this is one of your main concerns, then you can follow the following 4 methods. These methods are foolproof ways to thicken your runny icing, and they don’t require adding more sugar to the mix. So why not check them out!

Method One: Add Butter To Your Icing

Butter is one of those ingredients that go hand in hand with baking. Not only is it a key component in most cakes and desserts, but it is also a first-class thickening agent. So if you find yourself with a bowl of runny icing, butter could be your key ingredient to fix the problem. 

Simply add a teaspoon of softened butter to your runny icing and mix it thoroughly into the bowl. If the icing is still not at your required level of thickness, then add more butter until it has reached your desired consistency. 

Before adding the butter you should only soften it slightly, as melted butter could ruin the overall consistency of your icing. Once complete, place the bowl or piping bag into the fridge to let the icing set. The setting process can take up to 2 hours maximum. 

Method Two: Add Cream To Your Icing

When faced with runny icing, you may feel like there’s no way to save the day. However, if you want to thicken your icing and give it a fluffy texture, you can always add some whipping cream to the mix. 

There are several different varieties of whipping cream available on the market, but we do suggest using heavy whipping cream for a perfect result. Add 3 to 4 teaspoons of the cream to your runny icing, and then stir the mixture with an electric whisk. 

Once this is finished, you can check the icing to see if the consistency is to your liking. If not, then you can add more whipping cream to the mixture. However, you should now only do this a teaspoon at a time until you have reached your desired thickness. 

Method Three: Add Meringue Powder To Your Icing

Aside from butter and cream, another effective way to thicken your icing is by adding meringue powder to the mixture. Simply add a tablespoon of meringue powder into your runny icing, and then add a dash of sugar to keep your icing sweet. 

If this results in icing that is still too runny for your purposes, then you can gradually add more powder and sugar until the mixture has thickened to your desired consistency. When mixing icing you should always add your dry and wet ingredients at a slow and gradual pace. 

In this instance, the meringue powder works as an alternative to raw egg whites, a key ingredient in many professional icing recipes. The powder helps to stabilize the runny icing, making it less wet and more sturdy in its consistency. The meringue powder will also help the icing to harden when it has been spread on cakes and pastries. 

Method Four: Add Flour To Your Icing

If there is one ingredient that is perfect for thickening icing, it’s flour. All you have to do is add 1 or 2 teaspoons of flour to your runny icing and then stir the mixture over low heat. This method only works when making warm icing, as flour can leave an unpleasant taste if not fully dissolved. 

Once you have mixed the flour into the icing, give it a taste and see if it is still sweet enough for spreading. If not then you can add some more sugar into the mixture, just to heighten the flavor. If the icing is still too runny, then add more flour and sugar until it has reached the level of thickness you desire. 

Last Resort Methods

Of course, there are other thickening agents that you can use to help thicken your runny icing. For example, you can use cornstarch, cocoa powder, cream cheese and gelatin for a thick and delicious icing. 

But when it comes to last-resort methods, the best thing you can do is put your icing in the refrigerator for a few hours. Make sure to tightly cover the top of the bowl, otherwise, your icing could harden and be made difficult to work with. 

The cool temperature will help to thicken and solidify the icing, making it easier to spread and pipe once it has set. However, this does mean that the icing could return to its runny consistency when it has reached room temperature. 

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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.
Cassie Marshall
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