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How To Thicken Icing: Here’s What You Should Know To Be A Baking Pro

Aside from taste, if there is one thing that can make or break your cake, it would be its icing. If it is runny, the cake appears moist and soggy. The consistency of your frosting affects not only its look but also its taste. With this, in the rest of this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to thicken icing. Even for beginners, doing this is a piece of cake, literally! No technical knowledge is required!

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

Before I begin sharing the steps you should know, prepare the following materials:

  • Electric grinder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Gelatin
  • Coconut
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Butter
  • Cream cheese

You may also like: Gluten free foods and recipes.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Thicken Icing

Generally, there are two ways to thicken icing – through using additional ingredients or through using various techniques. To begin with, let us discuss how to thicken icing with the use of different ingredients.

1. Use Powdered Sugar

If the icing is runny, chances are, more powdered sugar is needed. Add one to two tablespoons in the mixture. This should be controlled so as not to have a too sweet flavor. To lessen sweetness, some people might put more water, but it makes it liquid and lessens consistency. This ingredient contains cornstarch, resulting in better absorption of liquid and prevention of caking.

2. Use Heavy Whipping Cream

In a mixing bowl where the icing is, add at least 55 ml of double cream. Whip it slowly using your electric mixer until the desired consistency is achieved. If required, keep on pouring more cream until it becomes as thick as desired.

If you do not have a mixer, using a whisk can be done, but this requires more effort. In the end, the icing turns out to be not only thick, but also fluffy and soft.​

3. Use Gelatin

This ingredient is known for stabilizing whipped cream and preventing it from deflating after being beaten. When using gelatin as an icing thickener, make sure it is unflavored. Otherwise, this can have a negative impact on the flavor of your cake.

Have the gelatin soften in cold water for about five minutes. Place it in the microwave until the granules are dissolved. Add whipped cream and stir occasionally to avoid the formation of clumps. Pour it on your icing and mix continuously until it thickens.

4. Use Coconut

While this is an effective solution, do this only when the icing is coconut-flavored. Add at least six grams of shredded coconut in the icing. Put more if it is still not as thick as you want it to be.

5. Use Arrowroot Starch

This is an example of dry starch known for its ability to absorb the liquid. Use arrowroot if you have an icing high in acidity to effectively increase gloss and volume. Simply add one tablespoon to your icing and mix well until it turns out to be as thick as what you want.​

6. Use Cornstarch

The neutral flavor of cornstarch is perhaps the reason why it is a preferred option for many people. It thickens icing without negatively altering its flavor.

Simply add one tablespoon in your icing for it to be thicker. Aside from its natural flavor, being low gloss is another reason why you should use it. It also works well in dairy-based icing.​

7. Use Butter

If you used butter in the preparation of the icing, adding more helps to make it thicker. The same thing holds true in the case of a shortening. Add one tablespoon of butter and mix the icing. Add another one if it is still not thick.

Be careful when putting more to avoid having a dominant butter taste. The results may not be apparent quickly. More often than not, you need to refrigerate the icing first before it comes thick.

via: mnn.com

8. Use Cocoa Powder

Before resorting to this trick, be sure it does not alter the flavor of your icing. This should be done only with chocolate icing, and never for vanilla, butter, or cream cheese.

Add up to two teaspoons of cocoa powder and mix it thoroughly. Using more than necessary should be avoided to prevent bitterness.

via: vegetarian.about.com

9. Use Cream Cheese

You might love its flavor, but it can also be used not just to improve taste to your icing, but to make it thicker as well. The tanginess of cream cheese reduces the sweetness of the icing while enhancing consistency.

There are also ways to thicken icing without using more ingredients. Here are some easy and effective ways to do it:

10. Put it in the Fridge

Icing may look soggy because it is too soft and needs to be refrigerated. Having it chilled for at least half an hour can help.

This is highly recommended if you have icing using butter or whipped cream as the base. Once it is taken out of the fridge, consume it immediately. Otherwise, the icing will melt.

11. Continue Mixing

In some cases, icing becomes too thick only because you have been mixing without enough effort. Exerting more force will help the ingredients to bind well with each other, and in the end, it results in a thicker consistency.​


Pro Tips

Aside from the steps mentioned above, here are some tips on how to achieve thicker icing:

  • Avoid doing it manually as this can be exhausting. An electric mixer can be a lifesaver. This allows you to be spared from exerting too much effort while also providing the freedom to choose the desired speed depending on the anticipated consistency.
  • When using additional ingredients to thicken icing, use only complementary flavors. As mentioned, cocoa should be used only for chocolate-flavored icing. Not following this rule can lead to significant alterations in taste.
  • Use the right tools. Even if the icing is thick, if it is not appealing, this won’t do a lot to make people like your cakes. Invest in the right frosting tools.
  • Follow the right instructions. It may seem trivial, but it is critical to making sure all ingredients are mixed in a logical manner. Generally, fully-liquid ingredients are the ones added on the last part. More so, when using more ingredients, it should be done in small amounts and as slowly as possible. If the icing is not yet thick enough, this is the only time you must add more ingredients.


A thick and glossy icing will be a crucial component of your cake, making it look and taste better. However, it is not enough to have an icing. The more important thing is for it to be done right. This makes it critical to know how to thicken icing. Follow the tips mentioned above, and for sure, it won’t take long before you can be a baking pro. You can easily impress family and friends with your sweet treats!


Did you love reading this guide? Are there other tips you would like to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.​

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