Soft, fluffy frosting is incomparable. It is delicious and irresistible! Fluffy frosting is so much better than heavy, dense frostings that can weigh down a cake or cupcakes.
So how can you make perfect, light frosting? Let me show you how! Making frosting fluffy is something I know a lot about. So get ready to have perfect frosting anytime you need it! Let’s get started.
Types of Frostings
There are lots of different types of frosting out there. From royal icing to ganache, glazes to buttercreams, each frosting has it’s own special use. Glazes, for example are usually very thin frostings, made with just powdered sugar and a liquid.
Glazes are not usually fluffy but rather used just to thinly coat a dessert in a sweet finish. Royal icing is another type of frosting that is usually thin and liquid rather than fluffy. Royal icing is usually used to decorate cookies as it dries hard and smooth.
When you think about soft, fluffy frosting, you are probably thinking about buttercreams or whipped cream frostings. Both of these are the lightest, airy frostings out there. Both whipped cream frosting and buttercream are used to ice cakes and top cupcakes.
I will be focusing on these kinds of frostings throughout this article and giving you tips on how to make them as fluffy as possible.
What is Frosting Made Of?
Just like there are all different kinds of frostings, there are also many different ingredients that may go into making a frosting.
I will keep it simple though and just focus on what goes into a basic buttercream and what goes into a basic whipped cream frosting. These are the two most commonly used frostings out there!
American Buttercream Frosting- American buttercream frosting is made by creaming butter and powdered sugar together until the mix is light and fluffy. Vanilla, salt or other simple fruit flavorings are often added after the butter and sugar have been creamed.
Italian Buttercream- Italian buttercream is made by pouring hot, cooked sugar into whipping egg whites. Once the mix has whipped until it is cool, soft butter is added into the frosting. Flavorings like vanilla extract are then added and the frosting is ready to use.
Whipped Cream Frosting- Whipped cream frosting is made by whipping heavy cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form. Sometimes gelatin is added to the frosting to help it keep its shape over time. Flavorings can also be added but are best when they are in extract form so as not to deflate the frosting.
How To Make Buttercream Fluffy
Since there are a few kinds of fluffy frosting you may be interested in making, we will take a look at tips to make each specific kind of frosting fluffy. To start, how can you make buttercream extra fluffy?
American buttercream, made with butter and powdered sugar is up first! Then we will look at Italian buttercream, made with egg whites, butter and cooked sugar.
Sift the Sugar
American buttercream is made by creaming softened butter and powdered sugar together. One thing that may weigh down the buttercream is if the powdered sugar has lumps.
The lumps in the sugar will give the buttercream a gritty texture. They can also deflate the buttercream as it mixes- not fluffy!
To prevent the powdered sugar lumps, all you need to do is sift the sugar before adding it into the buttercream. The sifted sugar will be light and airy itself, lump free! A softer, lighter sugar will make for a fluffier buttercream.
Add The Sugar Slowly
It may be your natural inclination to dump the powdered sugar into the bowl with the butter and just start the mixer. While this will make frosting, it will not be as light and fluffy as it could be.
Instead of adding all of the sugar at once, add it a little bit at a time, scraping down the mixing bowl after each addition so that the ingredients blend evenly.
Adding the sugar a little at a time will give the powdered sugar time to mix in well and dissolve in the frosting. It also increasing the mixing time, which will allow the frosting to have more time to aerate.
Adding the cooked sugar to the whipped egg whites when making Italian buttercream is also important to do slowly. If your pour the hot sugar into the egg whites too fast, you will cook and burn the eggs.
This will leave little clumps of cooked egg white pieces in your frosting- not fluffy! Adding the sugar very slowly will help you get fluffy frosting and not pieces of yucky cooked egg!
Mix A Long Time
While your butter and powdered sugar may come together quite quickly, it will get lighter and fluffier the longer you let it mix. So, while it may already taste like frosting after a few minutes, let the mixer keep beating!
This continuous mixing will add more air into your frosting. More air means a lighter frosting!
Mixing your Italian buttercream for a long time is a great idea as well. You should especially be sure to let your egg whites whip until they are very fluffy and have nice, soft peaks before you add the hot sugar.
Getting as much air as possible into those whites is the best way to start making fluffy Italian buttercream. You should also let the mix whisk a long time as you slowly add the hot sugar.
Take extra time, add the sugar slowly and the results will amaze you!
Scrape the Bowl
When you mix your buttercream, the mixer that you use can really only reach the ingredients in the middle of the bowl.
It is important to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl often. You will see that stiff butter tends to stick to the sides and needs to be pushed toward the center to really be mixed in.
If you do not scrape the sides of the bowl, then you will get clumps of unmixed ingredients in your final frosting. This is true for both American buttercream and Italian buttercream- the bowl should be scraped for both!
If you do stop often and scrape the sides of the bowl, your frosting will be more cohesive and also much fluffier!
How To Make Fluffy Whipped Cream Frosting
If you are using a whipped cream frosting, there are special tips and tricks to help make it super fluffy. Some are the same as making buttercream fluffy while others may vary.
Take a look and get ready for some very soft, puffy frosting!
Use Cold Ingredients
Whipped cream frosting will aerate best when the ingredients are cold. The fat inside the cream can whip and hold more air when it is colder, allowing the frosting to get fluffier.
Make sure to start your recipe with cold cream and you are sure to have a nice fluffy frosting.
Use Powdered Sugar
Every whipped cream-frosting recipe out there will differ. Some may use granulated sugar while others opt for powders sugar.
Those that use powdered sugar will be fluffier. Powdered sugar dissolves into the cream faster and more evenly. This gives the whipped cream frosting a nice, soft texture.
Granulated sugar may not dissolve completely and, therefore your frosting may be slightly gritty. Look for a recipe that uses powdered sugar to be sure your frosting will be soft and fluffy.
Add a Stabilizer
Once your whipped cream frosting is whipped to perfection, you may be surprised when it starts to slowly fall flat after resting a few minutes.
Whipped cream only stays fluffy for so long before it starts to collapse and go back to its liquid state. To keep the frosting fluffy, you can add a stabilizer to the whipped cream.
Gelatin works well and has no flavor so it will not change the taste of your whipped cream. Adding gelatin to the frosting will help keep it fluffy and aerated, just as you need!
Do Not Over Mix
While buttercream frosting gets fluffier and more buoyant the longer you mix, this is not necessarily the case with whipped cream frosting.
While you want to be sure to whip your whipped cream frosting to stiff peaks, getting a good amount of air into the mix, you do not want to mix the frosting longer than that.
When whipped cream whips for too long, it starts to get very stiff and actually turns into butter. You do not want to use stiff butter to ice your cake!
As the whipped cream frosting mixes, be sure to keep an eye on it in the final few minutes and turn the mixer off once stiff peaks have formed.
Making frosting fluffy is easy once you have the right tricks in your pocket. Follow these simple tips and you are sure to have perfect, fluffy frosting to use for your cakes and cupcakes.
Everyone loves a good fluffy frosting and now you will be able to make a perfect one! Happy baking!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.