We’ve all heard the term "the icing on the cake," and well, it has a point. While icing might not be a requirement, it can make a good thing turn great. For example, it can bring life to cinnamon rolls or give much-needed creaminess to an otherwise dry cookie (and that’s only touching the surface of its many uses). While homemade frosting is always tasty, canned frosting certainly has its benefits. Opening a jar of icing and slathering it onto a cake within minutes can be a lifesaver for busy folks. Others prefer packaged toppings because baking from scratch might be a bit intimidating for them.

Whatever the case, if you’ve found yourself with containers of store-bought icings, you might wonder if there’s something you can do to jazz them up a bit. Not that pre-made frostings are inherently bad, but they can certainly lack the authenticity that homemade sweets offer. Lucky for you, plenty of unique tips and tricks are out there to help you prevail in your baking experiences. With these simple hacks, you can improve the texture, flavor, and appearance of off-the-shelf icings, so much so that nobody will be able to tell it came out of a jar. The best part is that these methods are incredibly easy to carry out and don’t take much time either. So, buckle up and get ready to give your store-bought icing an impressive makeover.

Mix in toasted sugar for a more complex flavor profile

Did you know you can elevate your frosting with one simple step? Adding toasted sugar to the pre-made icing will bring its flavor to new heights. It is no secret that jarred icing can be ultra-sweet, so you might wonder why adding more sugar would be a good idea. Since the sugar is toasted, it balances the sweetness rather than making it over the top. Similar to when you toast spices, a caramel-like undertone will become present in the icing.

To do this, you’ll want to toast the sugar in an oven that’s been preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Periodically stir it so it cooks evenly and turns light brown. You can also use the stovetop if you want to get the job done quicker, but that method does require a bit more focus and caution (this is because the sugar can start to burn faster than it would in the oven). Once toasted, allow the sugar to cool before you blend it into the icing. You can also use the toasted sugar as a garnish by sprinkling it on a frosted cupcake or other sweet treats in addition to mixing it in.

Transform it into cake batter-flavored frosting

You can try this next trick if you have some boxed cake mix in addition to your icing. Cake batter-flavored frosting is one of the ways you can make box cake mix better, and the best part is that it’s a breeze to make. This hack will work best for vanilla-flavored icing, but if you want to work outside the box you could always go with other flavors. As for the cake mix, you can use Funfetti, red velvet, or virtually any flavor you love.

To bring this tasty creation to life, grab a bit of cake mix (about one cup’s worth) and heat it in the microwave. Make sure to cook it in intervals and stir it between cooking times. To be on the safe side, don’t allow it to heat for more than 30 seconds at a time without mixing it. Once the cake mix reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe to use in your frosting. Fold it in using a rubber spatula and it is ready to roll. The greatest part about this is that you can adjust the amounts to fit your taste preferences, and it is a perfect way to let your creative side take over.

Add fun ingredients for improved texture

If the consistency of the canned icing isn’t up to par for you, you can always add crunchy ingredients to give it a texture lift. For example, nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, or even Pop Rocks candy can be added if you feel bold. Yes, frosting is one of the many things you should add Pop Rocks to, especially if you’re making cupcakes. You can use them as a garnish for a vivid pop of color or mix them right into the icing itself. However, don’t stop at the cupcakes; they can be a showstopper on other frosted confections like cookies, brownies, or cake pops, too.

Aside from crackling candy, there are always more traditional mix-ins that you can incorporate into the dessert that will complement the icing. You can sprinkle nuts into red velvet cake frosting or mix shredded coconut into icing for cookies. Just make sure to chop any crunchy ingredients into small pieces before adding them to the icing so that it’s easy to enjoy.

Incorporate peanut butter into the icing

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Peanut butter is one ingredient that will certainly upgrade your icing within a matter of minutes. This is likely one of the interesting ways you never thought to use peanut butter. While there are recipes to make homemade peanut butter frosting, you’re already one step ahead of the game by having pre-made icing on hand. Simply fold peanut butter into the icing until it is fully blended. Since peanut butter’s flavor can be so prominent, start with a spoonful and then adjust accordingly if you want to add more. Of course, you can always microwave the peanut butter for a short time to soften it first before mixing it into the frosting if needed.

Another idea is to break out a stand mixer, add the frosting and peanut butter, and then whip them together. Turning a simple icing into a rich peanut butter topping certainly won’t disappoint you, and it will taste heavenly on all sorts of sweet treats. You can pair it with chocolate, maple, and vanilla desserts, just to name a few.

Add syrups and extracts

Once you learn the simple addition that will elevate the flavor of store-bought frosting, you may never return to your old ways. Well, what is the ingredient, you ask? Flavored syrups; it’s as straightforward as that. There are several kinds of syrups, from products made specifically for beverages to colorful syrups made for shaved ice. Whichever one you try out, you will certainly be smitten with the outcome it produces.

Using baking extracts is also an impeccable way to add a bit of pizzazz to an otherwise bland frosting. However, extracts are typically more watery in consistency than syrups. It’s best to be mindful of how much you’re adding because if you’re not careful, it could alter the density of the icing. If you aren’t familiar with syrups and extracts, flavors like cherry, caramel, maple, and peppermint are just a few of the possibilities. Luckily, it doesn’t end there, as you can find citrusy and nutty extracts as well.

Utilize vanilla bean paste

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If you want to elevate your baking game, use this ingredient: vanilla bean paste. This product will provide a more pronounced flavor to your ready-made icing than regular vanilla extract. The paste is a thick liquid with a rich vanilla flavor, and a little goes a long way. A single tablespoon of vanilla bean paste is equivalent to a whole bean pod.

Since the frosting likely already has a sweetener, you won’t need much to get the job done. And, since it is less soupy than the extract, it won’t thin out the icing as much. Aside from boosting the icing’s taste, it will also improve its looks. The vanilla bean specks in the paste will become distributed throughout the icing, leaving tiny polka dots that are appealing to the eye. Just think of how vanilla bean ice cream looks; this is what your icing can look like in no time. The heavenly paste will certainly make the simplest desserts appear more elegant.

Mix in a dash of citric acid to cut the sweetness


If the store-bought frosting is too sugary for your liking, Ron Ben-Israel’s ultimate secret ingredient can help you out: citric acid. Ben-Israel suggests that adding a bit of it will balance out the overly-sweet flavor in the icing. In addition, when used in minuscule amounts, it does a fantastic job of intensifying flavors that are already present, like vanilla. This natural compound found in citrus is utilized in all kinds of foods, from jams to frozen products, because it also doubles as a natural preservative.

This ingredient can save you from having to tolerate sickly sweet icing. As little as ⅛ teaspoon could make the difference, but you can taste-test the icing after adding it to see if the amount needs to be tweaked. You can also give the icing an enjoyable tart undertone by adding a larger amount. After seeing all of its functions, there is no guessing why Ben-Israel cherishes citric acid as much as he does.

Give it a flavor lift with instant coffee


Turning ready-made icing into a coffee-flavored delight is a solid course of action for java lovers. You can add coffee in numerous forms, from instant coffee granules to espresso powder. In fact, coffee is the reason Ina Garten’s chocolate cake is so good. She adds liquid coffee to the cake batter to boost the chocolaty tones, but she also adds instant coffee to the icing — this is exactly how you can improve your store-bought frosting.

Since instant coffee is such a fine consistency, using it in the icing won’t make it grainy, which is terrific news. Adding the coffee to chocolate icing is a no-brainer because of the flavor combination. On the other hand, using it in white icing would also work splendidly. It will slightly turn the icing into a mocha brown color, and a wonderful coffee aroma will be noticeable. Try utilizing coffee-flavored icing for donuts, truffles, or brownies, and you won’t be let down in the slightest.

For sheet cakes, melt the frosting to get the most out of it

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You need to try this brilliant hack next time you’re creating a large cake. Melting the icing before working with it is the quick trick that makes frosting sheet cakes even easier. This practice is so beneficial that you might think you’re dreaming when you give it a go. To see it firsthand, start by microwaving the icing, stopping it every 10 seconds to stir it. Once the icing has evenly melted, pour it over your cooled cake (you can spread it with an offset spatula if needed).

Once the icing cools it will return to a solid state and the cake will have a smooth finish. This method is perfect for those who need to have a cake ready quickly or just want to save some elbow grease. One important matter to remember is that if you’re going to garnish the frosting with sprinkles or other toppings, you’ll want to add them immediately. The fixings will stay more intact if you place them on before the icing fully sets up.

Try out the rainbow frosting hack for a colorful makeover

One foolproof way to upgrade your icing is to transform it into fun colors. Did you know that you can easily turn it into several colors without the need for several mixing bowls? There is a clever rainbow frosting hack that you need to start using ASAP. Whether your pre-made icing is vanilla, cream cheese, or just plain buttercream, this genius trick can work wonders for you. It is all about the order in which you add the food coloring to the icing. Specifically, you’ll have to follow this order: yellow, orange, red, green, blue, then purple.

Begin by transferring the pre-made icing into a bowl (the more, the merrier, so if you have a couple of jars of it, feel free). After every new addition, transfer each color to its piping bag or frost some sweet treats before adding in the next color. Alternatively, you can do what the creator of this hack does in her Instagram video: Line up each color in a single piping bag, leaving a flawless and flowing rainbow design on every pastry you decorate. This trick will save you time and additional dirty dishes.

Make it fruity by adding freeze-dried berries

Freeze-dried fruit is yet another clever ingredient that will elevate your baking game. Incorporating freeze-dried fruit into the ready-made icing guarantees it will have a pleasant fruity flavor. There is no denying that some syrups and extracts can be divine when working with flavors like caramel or hazelnut. However, when it comes to fruity flavors, artificial products just don’t compare to real fruit. This method of utilizing freeze-dried fruit is also better than adding fresh fruit because it won’t introduce unwanted water to the icing (which could make it runny).

To make the most of the dried berries and their intense flavors, you can run them through a food processor to turn them into powder. Then, fold the fruity dust into the icing. You can also use chopped freeze-dried fruit as a garnish, giving the dessert a marvelous presentation. All sorts of freeze-dried fruits are available, like bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and even mango. So, you don’t have to worry about not having enough options when it comes down to it.

Use Jell-O powder to color and flavor it in one go

Here is a game-changing hack you need to take for a spin: adding Jell-O powder to pre-made icing. Although it might seem a bit odd, this practice has its perks. First, the Jell-O powder will effortlessly color the frosting, and second, it will simultaneously change its taste. Jell-O‘s flavors range from banana to black cherry to peach, so you can only imagine how creative you can get with this. The easiest way is to transfer the ready-to-use frosting into another container before introducing the gelatin powder.

Leaftv suggests starting with 1 to 2 tablespoons of powder and incorporating it into the jarred icing; once it is fully disbursed you can add more. The color shift will be subtle by adding a small amount, but if you add a whole package of the powder, the icing color will be undeniably vibrant. Leaftv also reports that you can use this practice with cream cheese icing, whether homemade or off-the-shelf, so why not give it a try? This brilliant idea will save you time by killing two birds with one stone.

Whip it in a stand mixer to make it fluffier

Sometimes pre-made icing can be on the denser side, making it hard to apply it on cakes and other pastries. Luckily, it can become much lighter by whipping it in an electric mixer. Simply scoop the icing out of the can, making sure to get every nook and cranny, then transfer it to a stand mixer. If all you have is a hand-held electric mixer, that works too. Beat the icing until it’s noticeably fluffier. Its volume should greatly increase, meaning you can get more out of it than if you were to use it straight from the jar.

The texture of the whipped frosting will be incredibly easy to work with, which is ideal for when you need to pipe it or create intricate designs with it. The best part is that this method only takes a few moments to put into play, so you won’t need to worry about it taking up all of your time in the kitchen.