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My Buttercream Frosting isn't stiff enough? How to fix it!!!!!

My Buttercream Isn’t Stiff Enough: How to Perfect Frosting

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The perfect frosting recipe isn’t out of reach, even if your Buttercream Frosting Isn’t Stiff Enough! Here’s how to fix it — and love your results.

Hi Bold Bakers!

Help! My Buttercream Frosting isn’t Stiff Enough! I hear this a lot. We all like to make the perfect frosting. It’s that special occasion you look forward to all year — you’ve taken the time to make a beautiful cake and decided to try a really special new frosting recipe. You are all set, and ready to decorate, but then you hit a roadblock: your frosting just isn’t quite right!

Do not panic! This has happens to the best of us. Making perfect frosting takes practice. Whether your room is too warm, or maybe the recipe is off, this is a common problem. No need to worry.  Once you’ve got the base for your frosting (whether it be Royal Icing or Buttercream Frosting), you can easily make the perfect frosting and reach the right consistency by adding just a little of this or a little of that!

My Buttercream Frosting Isn’t Stiff Enough…

You have followed the recipe perfectly, but you find your frosting just isn’t stiff enough. This is a nightmare to work with, leaving decorating cakes incredibly difficult. Just like fixing frosting that is too thick, there is an easy solution.

The first thing I’d suggest is to chill the buttercream frosting. By bringing down the temperature, the frosting should tighten up immediately. This is a great trick for buttercream frosting that may have been overmixed or made in a warm kitchen. If this doesn’t seem to do the trick, try adding sifted powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. With just a few extra tablespoons of sugar, your frosting will transform and be so much easier to work with, saving you from wasting ingredients.

My Buttercream Frosting Is Too Thick…

If your frosting feels way too thick, it can be tough to spread it easily over sides and tops of cakes and is even more difficult to force out of a piping nozzle. If this is something you run into, there is no reason to start over from scratch on a new batch. Simply add milk 1 tablespoon at a time to your Buttercream Frosting until you reach your desired consistency. This will not at all affect the flavor of your frosting, regardless of what is in it.

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Want some easy cake decorating tips for bakers of all levels? Check out 4 Easy Ways to Decorate a Cake and How to Use Piping Nozzles.

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Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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Write a Comment and Review

  1. Asha on July 14, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    What type of colouring do you use?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 15, 2019 at 3:09 am

      Hi Asha,
      this depends on the results I want.
      Homemade colors like these ( you will get a soft pastel color.
      If you want deeper colors you use gel or paste colors, which you can buy. Americolor is a good brand, and there are others too.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Yvette Donovan on May 12, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    I made the frosting. Used real butter but it came out a bit runny. I only used 2 tablespoons of milk. I am doing your Cupcake bouquet for Mother’s Day however the rock the frosting is falling off. I’m putting in the refrigerator hope that helps please advise thank you

    • Gemma Stafford on May 14, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Yvette,

      Sorry for my late reply. I’m sorry to hear that it was runny. It really shouldn’t have been that way. Was it stiff before you added the milk?
      Did you use all of the sugar?

  3. Emily Metzger on September 15, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    I made this buttercream frosting and while the taste was wonderful I think I over mixed it because it was more of a whip cream texture. Am I over mixing it or maybe adding too much milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 16, 2018 at 2:32 am

      Hi Emily,
      Powder sugar dissolves really easily. It dissolves in the whipping butter, and then the little milk smooths the texture further. Using real butter really helps, and a little milk does give a whipped cream feel to the buttercream, but it should not be too soft. Return to the fridge for a time to chill, then re-whip, this may resolve it for you. The amount of milk or cream matters, a lot!
      I hope this helps. Extra powdered sugar, with a very little cornstarch added, 1/2 teaspoon or so, may rescue this for you.
      Gemma 🙂

  4. Paola on August 24, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    I always wonder what is the best butter to make buttercream? there are some unexpensive ones or really expensive. what brand do you use Gemma? please help me!!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 26, 2018 at 5:06 am

      Hi Paola,
      I am Irish, and in Ireland we have a wonderful butter Kerrygold. It is yellow in color, from grass fed cows and it is delicious. I understand that it can be an expensive thing, depending on where you live. I can get it here in the US too, and sometimes it is great value too.
      What matters for buttercream is that it is made with real dairy butter, the brand is not so important, for best results.
      Some butter type spreads, usually hydrogenated vegetable oils, will be ok, but not great. These tend to be too soft for this recipe.
      So, check in your place, see if you can get real butter, this will be best.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  5. HH Tube on April 10, 2018 at 10:20 am

    When I added milk vanilla extract and cocoa powder it suddenly started to separate it was

    • Gemma Stafford on April 10, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Hi there,
      I think this was to do with the butter!
      If the butter is fresh dairy butter, it will take up the cocoa/powdered sugar really well. The milk will soften out the sugar, and the vanilla should make little or no difference. It may be different with a tub of margarine. do tell me what you used, I do not have sufficient information,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Sonia on November 7, 2017 at 3:42 am

    Hi Gemma, you said to put the frosting in the fridge but once I did it and the frosting didn’t look right – it separated (there was pieces of butter) and just didn’t have good texture etc. I have only handmixer.. so do you think that I should beated it more or what could be problem? It was the first and (I guess) the last time I made frosting. Thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on November 8, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Sonia,
      I have no idea how this could happen if it was well mixed before you refrigerated it!
      I use a hand mixer too for frosting. If the butter is softened to room temperature, and it is beaten before adding the icing/powdered sugar, then I really cannot see where this went wrong. Take it back to room temperature and start to beat it again, for about 3 – 5 mins. it will resolve,
      Gemma 🙂

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