Buttercream Icing Consistency, Buttercream Frosting Consistencies for Cake Decorations

There are 3 buttercream icing consistencies used for piping techniques when decorating with buttercream, and you need to know what consistencies work best for the different types of cake decorations.  A medium consistency is most commonly used, but you will need to adjust the consistency for some of your cake decorating creations.

For instance, roses and flowers need a stiffer consistency in order to keep the pedals’ shape.  But if the frosting is too wet and not stiff enough, the petals won’t stay in place and will droop or fall.  If it’s too stiff, it is too dry and the edges of the petals will crack.  So learning the correct consistency is an acquired skill that takes lots of practice.

Test Your Frosting

It’s easy to test your frosting for consistency.  Use a spatula and dip it straight down into the frosting, and lift straight up.  There should be stiff peaks that don’t fall back down.  Check to see if it’s too stiff by taking a little frosting between your thumb and fingers and try to roll a little ball with it.  If you can do this without leaving frosting on your fingers, it is too stiff.

To make the consistency thinner, you can add water, milk, cream or corn syrup, just a couple of drops at a time and mix in.  It is harder to thicken frosting than it is to make it thinner, so be careful to not add too much at once.  A little bit goes a long way.

Thick Consistency

Once your frosting is the right consistency for making roses or flowers, you will be able to make stiff peaks, about 3/4″,  and the tips will not fall back down.

Medium Consistency

A medium consistency will peak at about 1/2 “.  This is what you want to use when decorating with medium size tips for making shell borders, stars, piping figures like clowns, flowers without stiff petals like flower buds, leaves or bows.

Thin Consistency

A thin consistency is used for frosting the cake, and for decorating with the smaller round tips for piping/writing letters or doing outlines, dots, swirls, piping stringwork, lattice, vines, etc.

Watch the video below to see what buttercream icing consistencies look like.  And keep watching to see how to make hydrangea cupcakes!


I’ve got some really great piping icing recipes here on my site.  Go and try them out.  Let us know what you think!

Filed under: Cake Decorating 101