Cooking Basics

How do you make frosting?

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frosted cupcakes
Frost cupcakes in creative colors and decorate
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Forget the can! You can know how to make frosting at home - it's easy!

Whether it's a birthday, anniversary or holiday party, when you make a special cake, the frosting should be just as special. But how do you make frosting, especially if you're just learning your way around the kitchen?

Here are three simple recipes for homemade frosting that even a beginner can master.

Classic Buttercream Frosting

Once you taste this rich frosting, you'll never go back to using canned. The combination of fresh ingredients and a smooth texture makes it easy to use for all kinds of cakes and cupcakes.


1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk (fat free or 1% may not give you the right consistancy)


Electric mixer


  • Put shortening and butter in mixing bowl and cream with the electric mixer until smoothly blended
  • Add vanilla
  • With the mixer running, gradually add sugar 1/2 cup at a time
  • Scrape bowl often to make sure sugar is well incorporated
  • With mixer still running, add milk and blend until smooth
  • Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (re-whip refrigerated frosting before using)
*Use colorless vanilla for a whiter frosting. 

Yields 3 cups of frosting

Rich Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a delicious choice for carrot cake, spice cake or even dark chocolate cake or cupcakes. But how do you make frosting with cream cheese and that tangy taste you love in restaurants? 

Thanks to the people at Philadelphia Cream Cheese, it's simple.


1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup  butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package.  (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups), sifted


Electric mixer


  • Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended
  • Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition until well blended
  • Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week
Yields about 2 1/2 cups of icing

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting

Is there anything better than chocolate frosting?  If you can resist licking the spoon and bowl long enough to actually get this chocolately icing onto the cake, it's sure to be a favorite!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Ghirardelli Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter
Stir in cocoa
Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed.
Stir in vanilla.

Yields about 2 cups of frosting.

For an unforgettable layer cake, alternate the Hershey's chocolate frosting with raspberry preserves between layers.  Then frost the cake with the chocolate icing. 

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