Frosting Fixes

by Wendy VanHatten


We’ve all had it. As kids, we loved it. As adults, we still love it. Maybe it’s because it brings back memories or maybe because it has just the right amount of sweetness.

What is it? It’s powdered sugar frosting.

In its basic form it’s simple to make…

1 stick or 4 ounces of softened butter

4 cups of powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon of salt

4 to tablespoons of milk or cream

2 teaspoons of vanilla


Many of us make our own version, depending on what and where we are using it. But, what happens when it’s too soft, too runny, or too stiff.

It seems simple if it’s too stiff. Add a couple drops of water, right? Not so fast. Resist that urge. Instead, try this. Set the bowl in a wider bowl of hot tap water for a few seconds. Beat after each session until the frosting is the consistency you want. For your frosting bowl, you’ll have better luck with a stainless steel one instead of a glass one because the glass one heats up very slowly and then holds the heat for a long time after you remove the bowl from the water, so your frosting may continue to soften even when you don’t want it to.

Now, what to do about fix frosting that is too soft or even soupy? Add more powdered sugar? Nope. That’s just going to make it sweeter and not as flavorful. Place your bowl of frosting in an ice bath to firm up the butter. Then you can beat it to the desired consistency.

Has your frosting ever tasted not like you wanted? Did you ever think it tasted a little metallic? That’s because of the starch added to most powdered sugar. It can make frosting taste slightly metallic. To remedy that, try this. Melt the butter and mix it with the powdered sugar, salt, and milk in a stainless steel bowl. Once mixed, set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Carefully remove the bowl from the water, add the vanilla, and beat until cool and fluffy. You can then set the bowl in an ice bath to cool and thicken the frosting faster.