Your guide to frosting a cake with smooth buttercream


Published: Aug 24, 2017 · Updated: Oct 20, 2022 by Kara · This post may contain affiliate links · This blog generates income via ads

This post is all about getting smooth buttercream. That means no more tiny air bubbles in your buttercream when all you want is a smooth finish on your cake.

I’ve gathered my best tips và tricks here to help you get the cake decorating results you want.

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It seems lượt thích a lot of people are having issues getting their buttercream smooth. I hear you…sometimes buttercream just doesn’t want lớn cooperate.

In this post, I hope khổng lồ help with those issues, so giving you all my tips & what has helped me in the past & hopefully will be the turning point for you too.


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Don’t forget to kiểm tra out the video close khổng lồ the bottom of this post as well.

These tips are in no particular order. You can try all of these out or just a couple. The thing about caking is that different methods work for different people.

When I first started out, I’d watch tons of tutorials with people showing what worked for them. I’d get aggravated because the same thing didn’t necessarily work for me. What I’m trying khổng lồ say is khổng lồ use these tips as a starting point.

You may even want lớn try combining some of these tips along with some things you’re already doing lớn make a custom solution. Make sense?

Jump to:

Before we start, make sure to lớn go here & grab my favorite buttercream recipes:

Favorite buttercream recipes:

Ok, so let’s get started with the tips:


Tip 1 – Use the right mixer attachment:

Use the paddle attachment on your mixer. Okay, I điện thoại tư vấn it the paddle attachment, but others may hotline it the beater attachment. It’s the flat mixer attachment và NOT the whisk. (Tip: I also use this attachment when making cake batter.) Here are some examples with links.


KitchenAid Coated Flat Beater


KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater

These mixer attachments are great because they don’t beat in extra air like the whisk attachment. The buttercream just seems to come out smoother.

Now, if you don’t have a stand mixer…it’s really okay. Don’t panic. We’ll talk about other things you can vì chưng to get smooth buttercream even if you’re using a hand mixer.

Tip 2 – Don’t beat on high:

Don’t beat your buttercream on high.This one is pretty self-explanatory. You just don’t want khổng lồ beat in more air than you have to. I try khổng lồ keep my mixer on medium.

And once your buttercream is all mixed up, you can even turn the mixer on low & let it run.

Tip 3 – Try using cream:

Try using half và half cream.Most of the time, I use milk when I make buttercream, but there are times when I go for the half & half & it seems to make the buttercream a bit more creamy và smooth. Try replacing your milk with the half và half and see how you lượt thích it.

Tip 4 – If using vegetable shortening, get it very smooth before adding the other ingredients:

When you’re making heat stable buttercream or pipeable buttercream, you’ll want khổng lồ sub out either half of the butter or all of the butter for vegetable shortening. This will make it more heat stable and a better piping consistency.

Now, just so we’re clear, I mean vegetable shortening…which is NOT the same thing as lard. And I generally only use this when I have lớn make piped flowers or need the icing to withstand a hotter temperature.

So, when you use vegetable shortening, try to lớn mix the shortening as smoothly as possible first, before adding any other ingredients. You don’t want that clumping up on you.

Some brands of vegetable shortening work better than others. Weirdly enough, I find that Walmart’s store brand works better than the name brand.

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Tip 5 – Smash out the bubbles in a shallow container:

Alright, this tip may sound a little weird & if you’ve read my 7 Tips to Make Your Cakes Look Professional printable, then you’ve seen this one.

Transfer your buttercream into a shallow container (like a large plastic food storage container) kind of like this one:

Snapware 8-Cup Airtight Rectangle Food Storage Container, Plastic

Now use a flat rubber (silicone) spatula và sort of smash the icing down with it.

Stir it around with the spatula as well. You don’t need lớn whip it up, just stir it by hand and sort of smash down the icing & it helps to get a lot of the bubbles out. I know it sounds weird, but it works for me and it gets the buttercream super smooth.

You can kiểm tra out my Youtube short on this & see what I mean.

Tip 6 – Make sure it’s not too thick of consistency:

Make sure that your buttercream isn’t too thick. This isn’t scientific, but I’ve found if the buttercream is a little too thick, when you try to smooth it, you’ll get some bubbles.

You can see it here on the manicorn cake I made a while back. I got the icing consistency a little too thick consistency and it would have been better had I added a tad bit more milk or half và half and worked at mixing it with my rubber spatula.

Tip 7 – Make the filling a thicker consistency

Make the filling between the layers a little thicker consistency than the icing around the cake. This, in addition to lớn letting the cake settle before icing the outside, will keep you from getting those dreaded icing ridges around your cake once you’ve iced it completely.

That will help you get a smooth finish to lớn your cake.

Tip 8 – Use a good buttercream smoother:

You definitely want to use a good smoother. Now, a good smoother might be different for you than it is for me. Everyone has their preference, but here are my two favorites.

(By the way, I have tried one of those acetate smoothers & while they seem to lớn work great for others, they’re not my favorite.)

Plastic Icing Smoother

I like the plastic one because it’s tall and if I’m doing a taller cake tier, I don’t have issues.

Metal Smoother

This metal one isn’t as tall, so if you’ve got a taller cake tier, it might not work for you & you’ll need lớn get a taller one.

You can get taller smoothers along with smoothers that have different shapes khổng lồ texture your buttercream.

Tall buttercream smoother

The good thing about a metal smoother is that you can heat it up with hot water khổng lồ help smooth the buttercream. This leads to the next tip.

Tip 9 – Use boiling water:

You can use boiling water to lớn heat your smoother, wipe it off và then smooth it around your cake to lớn get a smooth surface.Obviously you’ll have khổng lồ use the metal smoother for this tip though as the plastic or acetate ones, just won’t get hot.

This also helps if you have bubbles in your buttercream. One quick chú ý though. I generally only lượt thích to use this method if the buttercream is white. It sometimes discolors dark buttercream.

Tip 10 – Slow down when smoothing:

Don’t try to smooth around your cake super fast. Sometimes that causes more bubbles. Try going around a little slower & see how that works for you.


Tip 11 – Try the paper towel method:

Once your icing is phối (and you’ve let it dry if you used the hot water technique) you can try the Viva paper towel method.

Now, I will tell you that I vì NOT like this method for the sides of cakes. The smoothers work better for me on the sides, but I will use the paper towel method on the vị trí cao nhất of the cake khổng lồ smooth it.

You’ll want khổng lồ use a paper towel that doesn’t have a pattern on it & that’s why most people lượt thích Viva paper towels for this technique. Just make sure your icing has crusted over a bit before you use this method.

Lay your paper towel on the top of the cake and then use a fondant smoother, your buttercream smoother or your hand và just barely smooth over the paper towel.

Tip 12 – Keep your buttercream container covered:

Don’t leave your container of icing uncovered.I know this probably goes without saying, but if you leave it mở cửa to air before you spread it on your cake (especially if it’s made with shortening), it’s going lớn crust, và then when you go to lớn stir it or ice your cake, it won’t be smooth…it just gets grainy.

Tip 13 – Use a turntable:

This is the most important tool I use. I could not live without my turntable. I actually have two.

If you’re just starting out và don’t want lớn spend much, the Wilton turntable below is a good option. Sometimes you can even get a coupon for your local craft store & purchase it there. You can also find it at the liên kết below.

Wilton Turntable

I also have this Winco turntable. It’s more heavy duty and spins really smoothly. Mine is similar khổng lồ this one.

Winco Turntable

Ateco brand also has some good turntables as well that I’ve heard great things about.

Okay that was a lot and you got through it! Whew! My very last tip for you is khổng lồ not get discouraged.

The very first cake I made in which I tried to get the buttercream smooth, I got so aggravated that I just stabbed the buttercream spatula right into the đứng top of the cake. I know, I know, not cool. But I know how frustrating it is, but it gets better!


The Cake Blueprint:

If you found this post useful, I’ve got an entire guide plus video for my ‘cheater method’ for getting smooth buttercream on your cakes, without buttercream blowouts and icing ridges in my Cake Blueprint.

The Cake Blueprint

Now, what if your cakes don’t come out perfect? Don’t you worry about it, because do you know what? NO cake is ever going lớn be absolutely perfect & that cake is gonna taste delicious either way!