10 Ways To Make Store-Bought Frosting Better

Woman doing icing on cupcakes with pink whipped cream


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Pink icing frosting close up texture
Jennifer Gauld/istockphoto

Frosty Delight

Store-bought frosting — while convenient and time-saving — is often a poor substitute for homemade frosting. Sporting too much sugar and a lack of nuanced flavors, it pales in comparison to the stuff you can whip up at home. But the good news is that, with a little creativity and a few simple tweaks, you can elevate any store-bought frosting into a much fancier spread. 

From adding a pinch of salt to layering in crunch for a bit of texture, follow these 10 easy suggestions to make your store-bought frosting infinitely better. 

Salt in wooden bowl

1. Add a Pinch of Salt

Oftentimes, store-bought frosting can taste so overly sweet that just a few bites of it can make you feel sick. But by adding a pinch of salt, you can counteract the sugar, balance out the sweetness, and enhance its overall flavor profile. In fact, this principle applies to many sweet treats: a bit of saltiness can help highlight and bring out other flavors in a dessert. 

Whipped cream hanging on electric mixer whip

2. Whip It Up

Frosting that's been sitting on a supermarket shelf can become dense over time. By whipping it for a few minutes with a mixer or by hand, you can reintroduce air and help soften store-bought frosting by giving it a lighter, fluffier texture. This will not only make it easier to spread but will also give it a more pleasant mouthfeel.

Aromatic vanilla extract and beans on wooden table
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

3. Stir in Some Vanilla

A teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract can add depth and aroma to most store-bought frostings. Vanilla enhances the flavor complexities of the frosting to help it taste richer and more homemade. Just remember: a little goes a long way when it comes to these tiny bottles, so don’t overdo it by pouring in too much. 

Pile of whole and sliced almonds on white

4. Layer in Texture

By stirring in some chunky ingredients, such as chopped almonds, toasted coconut flakes, or crushed cookies, you can transform store-bought frosting into something more unique. These add-ins provide a contrast to the thick creaminess of the frosting to help give it a crunchy factor and add more flavor. 

Related: The Best (and Worst) Fast Food Desserts

Anonymous Young Woman Making Whipped Cream on a Kitchen Counter

5. Thin It Out

Some store-bought frostings can be overly thick and dense, making it difficult to achieve that smooth, silky consistency when spreading it on cupcakes or other baked treats. By adding a small amount of milk, cream cheese, or heavy whipping cream, you can thin out the frosting to your desired thickness and make it easier to work with. 

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Lemon Zest

6. Make It Zesty

Adding the zest of a lemon, lime, or orange can provide a refreshing zing to your frosting. This introduces a citrusy aroma and a tang that can counteract excessive sweetness and add another layer of flavor. Just be mindful not to squeeze the juice of the fruit directly into the frosting, as acid can cut through cream and cause curdling.

Dark chocolate bar pieces on dark background with grated chocolate, pile chunks of broken chocolate

7. Mix In Cocoa or Melted Chocolate

To infuse a deeper chocolate flavor, stir in some unsweetened cocoa powder or melted chocolate to vanilla or chocolate frosting. This not only enhances the chocolatey taste but also makes the frosting richer in color and flavor. Bonus: Studies have shown that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and may provide certain health benefits

Related: 18 Cheap Recipes That Celebrate Chocolate

Cinnamon sticks and powder, macro shot
Marko Jan/istockphoto

8. Add Spices

Incorporating a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom can introduce a warm and comforting note to your frosting. These spices pair particularly well with fall or winter desserts, such as pumpkin bread pudding, cupcakes, and cinnamon-spiced apple pies, and help give your store-bought frosting a homemade, seasonal touch.


9. Infuse With Coffee

Mixing in a teaspoon of instant coffee powder or a shot of espresso can give your frosting a subtle coffee flavor, which pairs especially well with chocolate- or banana-flavored frostings. The coffee can elevate the taste and also give a slight bitter contrast to help cut through the inherent sweetness of the frosting. 

Male hand with glass of whiskey or brandy

10. Enhance With Spirits

Adding a little bit of rum, bourbon, cognac, or another spirit of choice can add more depth and flavor to your frosting. When these spirits are cooked down before being incorporated, the alcohol content evaporates — leaving behind only the distinctive flavors. However, note that it can take several hours for alcohol to fully cook out, so it's best to leave the booze out if you'd like to keep your frosting kid-friendly.