How To Improve Store-Bought Frosting With Just Butter

There's no doubt that store-bought frosting can make the job much quicker and easier when it comes to decorating cakes and desserts. But does it ever really taste as good as homemade? Luckily, there are lots of ways to improve canned frosting to boost its flavor and texture. And one of the most delicious involves adding just one extra ingredient: butter.

The dairy add-in works for a couple of reasons. It makes buttercream taste more, well, buttery, adding extra richness and natural flavor that makes it seem more like it's homemade. And not only that, but it can help to tone down the sometimes overpowering sweetness that some store-bought frostings can have, too.

The amount of butter to add depends on taste and could be anywhere from a couple of tablespoons to a couple of sticks for a full 16-ounce can of frosting. But before you start, it's worth paying attention to the crucial instruction you're ignoring with canned frosting, and stirring it or using a mixer to add more air and create a creamier taste and fluffier finish. Whipping it first also gives you a larger amount of frosting, and makes it easier to spread, too, which is always a bonus.

Add room-temperature butter to make buttercream taste homemade

The butter tip is very simple to execute. If you're just adding a small amount, such as a couple of tablespoons, then just beat the butter into the canned frosting. If you're using a larger amount, then whip the butter in a bowl first until it turns pale and creamy before whipping in a full can of frosting; if you're using a stand mixer, this will take around five minutes, and a little longer if you're doing it by hand. 

No matter how much butter you're adding, you'll need to use room-temperature butter, rather than fridge-cold, as it will mix in much better with the frosting. If you're using unsalted butter, then try also adding a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor and cut down the sweetness of the canned frosting; if you're using two sticks of butter, you could use one salted and one unsalted to get the same effect. And go for regular butter rather than sweet cream butter for a rich, balanced flavor in the finished frosting.

Other dairy ingredients can elevate store-bought frosting

When you're looking to improve both the flavor or the consistency of store-bought canned frosting, other dairy ingredients besides butter can also help. For a richer, creamier taste that also helps to tone down the sweetness, try mixing in a pack of cream cheese; softening it first means it will combine more easily, and the creamy tanginess goes especially well with chocolate or vanilla flavors.

You can give store-bought frosting a fluffier texture by mixing in heavy whipping cream. Just add a tablespoon at a time until it's your desired consistency. Or fold in fresh homemade whipped cream for a rich flavor and a lighter, airy texture; try using equal parts frosting and cream. The cream needs to be freshly whipped, so don't use whipped cream from a canister as it will be too loose and liquidy — though you could substitute thawed whipped topping in a pinch.

Alternatively, if you're looking for a dessert option that's completely dairy-free, use full-fat coconut milk. Adding a tablespoon to vegan store-bought frosting will make it richer and creamier-tasting — without needing any dairy at all.