How to improve store bought frosting

While I make cakes and frostings from scratch every week, I do it for a living.  There was a time that I worked in the “corporate world” Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00 and just the thought of going home to make a cake and frosting from scratch was daunting to say the least!

Box cakes, in my opinion, are actually pretty good but store bought frosting, on the other hand, could use some improvement.  I’ll tell you how to improve on cake mixes another time . . .  today is all about improving on the store bought frosting!

For most people store bought frosting is too sweet and hard to spread on a cake.  Though not specifically labeled, most of the tub frostings are considered buttercream frosting, except for those specifically labeled as cream cheese.  Here are a few tricks to making any tub of store bought frosting taste pretty close to homemade:


  • Empty the room temperature tub of frosting into a large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and mix with a hand or stand mixer.  Put a spatula into the middle of the frosting and check for the right consistency.  You want the frosting to be thick enough to allow the spatula to stand by itself but not so thick that it causes the mixer to overheat.  It’s better to be too soft than too thick so avoid adding too much.  The main thing to remember is that you don’t want the frosting so soft that the spatula consistently falls to the side of the bowl.   Continue to add powdered sugar a little at a time until you get the consistency that you want.


  • Cream Cheese Buttercream – Using one tub of room temperature buttercream frosting and one (8 oz) package of room temperature cream cheese, combine the two.  Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract to the frosting prior to adding powdered sugar as directed above.  Just be sure to refrigerate the cake, cupcakes and any leftovers as cream cheese can’t remain at room temperature overnight.


  • Whipped Cream Buttercream – Mix equal parts of store bought frosting with whipped cream for a great whipped cream buttercream.  Add powdered sugar as directed above to get the right consistency.  Add 1 tsp of extract.  Vanilla is always a great extract to use but mix it up based on the flavor of cake you are making.  Try maple, rum or orange extract or even some coffee syrups for a bit of a change.   Like the cream cheese version be sure to refrigerate the cake, cupcakes and any leftovers as whipped cream can’t remain at room temperature overnight.


  • Glaze – If you like the flavor of the tub frosting but just want to make it easier to put on a cake, empty the contents of the tub into a microwave safe bowl and microwave, on high, for 20 to 30 seconds.  You want the frosting to be a consistency of syrup so stir and microwave for another 10 seconds, if needed.  Stir well and pour over the top of the cake.  Let stand to cool.  This will work great for a cake but don’t try this for cupcakes.  Not only will it be too runny, you could burn yourself also!  Be Careful!!


  • Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of nuts, chocolate chips or coconut to the frosting for some added flair.


  • Mix 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter to a tub of chocolate frosting for a great taste of Reese’s candy!


  • If you plan to use the frosting to write on the cake, use food coloring to change the color (use 1 drop at a time) and powdered sugar to thicken the frosting.  Invest in a couple of icing tips or use a gallon baggie with the corner cut out.

I hope these tips will help you to create your own homemade version of frosting.  If you know of more tips, please share them in the comment section below.  Until next time . . .