How to Soften Cake Icing

Softened icing can be piped easily onto a cake from an icing bag.
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Cake icing is excellent for piped or drizzled cake decorations, but you may have to soften the icing to use it as a crumb coat or if you need it to flow more quickly from your decorating bag. A crumb coat is a very thin layer of icing applied to a cake, and then dried so that crumbs do not get into the final layer of icing. When icing can flow quickly from a cake-decorating bag, there will be fewer breaks as you pipe the icing, which is especially helpful when writing words or making lace decorations on the cake.

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Step 1

Beat an extra tablespoon of room-temperature butter or shortening into your icing to soften it, adding 1 tbsp. at a time as needed.


Step 2

Add an extra 1/2 tbsp. of water into shortening-, sugar- or water-based cake-icing recipes to soften icing.

Step 3

Heat your cake icing in the microwave using 5-second intervals. Stir the icing after every interval to check the texture. Do not heat the icing for more than 5 seconds at a time or you could potentially melt all of the icing.

Step 4

Whip butter and shortening thoroughly with an electric beater before adding the sugar, aerating the fats to make your icing softer.


Step 5

Squeeze wrapped icing between your palms, using the heat you create to soften your icing.

Step 6

Place the lower half of a plastic container of cake icing into a bowl of 90-degree-Fahrenheit water to soften it, ensuring that there is no opening on the container through which the water can soak.

Step 7

Add an extra tablespoon of flavoring such as Grand Marnier or vanilla to your icing to make it soft.

Step 8

Set your icing on the counter so that it can come to room temperature. If the icing was stored in the fridge, whip it again to soften it.

Step 9

Use a table-top stand mixer with the bubble-whisk-beater attachment to make your icing; it is stronger than hand-held beaters, so you can make softer cake icing.

Things You'll Need

  • Butter

  • Shortening

  • Water

  • Microwave

  • Electric beater

  • Bowl

  • Grand Marnier or vanilla


Always start with room-temperature butter and eggs, and sifted powdered sugar so that your icing will be very soft.