How to Fix Runny Frosting | The Best Way

There are at least two types of frosting that are likely to turn out runny and either will not stay on the cake or, if it stays, doesn’t firm up and stays sticky to the touch. Those frostings are those made with powdered sugar and chocolate fudge frosting that is made almost exactly like fudge candy. Here is the simple fix:

If your homemade frosting is thin, runny, and will just not stay on the cake or will not become firm, then the best method to fix it is to add powdered sugar until it reaches a spreadable texture. This works whether you are making a powdered sugar-based frosting or a chocolate fudge frosting.

Now, let’s go into detail on how to make better frosting and avoid the runny stuff.

Anne-James-Chocolate-Buttercream-Frosting-in-a-Bowl-With-a-Spoon

Fixing Runny Frosting Made With Powdered Sugar

This particular issue with any of the different buttercream frostings, cream cheese frosting, or whipped cream frosting, which are all made by using powdered sugar, some type of fat, and a liquid to bind them together, is a very easy problem to fix.

All you have to do is just add more powdered sugar to the frosting until it reaches the consistency that you need to spread it on your cake. But here are a couple of tips on adding powdered sugar:

  1. Add a small amount of powdered sugar at the time.
  2. Stir in each addition of powdered sugar until it is completely incorporated before adding any more.

The reason these steps are so important is that if you add too much powdered sugar, then you will have to add more liquid to fix the problem of the frosting being too thick.

Causes of Runny Frosting

Runny buttercream, cream cheese, and whipped cream frosting is caused by one of two main problems. Either too much liquid was added, or not enough powdered sugar was used. This happens when all the ingredients are added at once.

How To Avoid Runny Frosting

When making any of the buttercream frostings, cream cheese frosting, or whipped cream frosting, follow these steps:

  1. Place the softened butter, the softened cream cheese, or whipped cream into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and stir to combine.
  3. Add a small amount of liquid, whether it is milk, whipped cream, or any other liquid, and stir to combine.
  4. Repeat these steps until almost all the powdered sugar is added and the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. It may not take all the liquid, or it may take a little more of whatever liquid you are using to make the frosting spreadable.
  5. Add any flavorings such as vanilla extract, lemon juice, coffee, or other types of flavorings just before adding the last of the powdered sugar and the liquid, because most of the flavorings are liquid and may make the frosting too runny if you add them last. This way, if you need to leave out some of the liquid, you can.
Powdered-Sugar-Added-to-a-Bowl-of-Chocolate-Buttercream-Frosting
Adding the correct amount of powdered sugar is key.

Related 4 Ways To Fix Grainy Buttercream Frosting.

Fixing Cooked Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Cooked chocolate fudge frosting is very similar to Hershey’s old-fashioned cocoa fudge recipe and is a frosting that is meant to be poured onto the cake while the frosting is still hot.

After it cools, it should firm up and form a crumbly fudge-like frosting. 

If you follow the recipe directions carefully, the frosting should turn out alright. Even if it is a little runny, it will not make a huge difference until you are using it to frost a layer cake. This video of making a Texas sheet cake demonstrates the correct way of making this frosting.

How To Fix Runny Chocolate Fudge Frosting

When you have finished cooking the chocolate fudge frosting, if it appears to be a little runny and you are using it to frost a layer cake and want to be sure that it is firm enough to hold the layers together, then try this extra step:

Once you have finished cooking the frosting, stir in about 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar to thicken the frosting so that it will be more likely to be firm enough to hold the layers of the cake together and not run off the cake before it cools. Add the sugar in ¼ cup increments until the right texture is reached.

Causes of Runny Chocolate Fudge Frosting

There are a few things that can affect the way cooked chocolate fudge frosting turns out. Those things are:

  1. Not cooking the frosting long enough. 
  2. If it is raining or the humidity is very high.

Avoiding Runny Chocolate Fudge Frosting

The best way to avoid having runny chocolate fudge frosting is to follow recipe directions precisely and time the cooking process so that it is not under or overcooked. If the frosting appears to be a little runny, the addition of 1 cup of powdered sugar should solve the problem. It may not take a full cup of sugar, so just add ¼ cup at a time until the texture is perfect.

Final Bite

I hope this article has been helpful. Please let me know if it worked and exactly what you did in the comments, so I can continue to improve this method.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or survivalfreedom.com.

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