Why Is My Buttercream Frosting Shiny? Fixing Greasy Frosting

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The hardest part about frosting a cake is getting the buttercream frosting to look perfect. It’s not always easy, and often times it can end up looking greasy or shiny. This can be frustrating when you’re trying to make something beautiful for your family and friends.

As a general rule, buttercream frosting will become shiny and greasy if there is too much butter in the mixture than necessary. Too much butter will add extra fats to the frosting mixture which will make the buttercream look shiny once finished.

I have had my fair share of greasy icing problems, and I’ve learned a few different ways to avoid them altogether. Learning how to fix shiny frosting has also helped me save my buttercream! After so much experimentation, I am going to share these methods with you so that hopefully, your cakes will look as good as they taste.

Why Is My Buttercream Frosting Shiny?

As a whole, using too much butter or shortening is the most common cause of shiny buttercream frosting. Butter has a high amount of fat in it which contributes to the glossy finish on the frosting. Making the buttercream frosting in a hot environment can also contribute to it being shiny.

Making shiny buttercream frosting made my desserts look greasy and uneatable. I quickly realized that if my frosting looks so greasy on the outside, then it might be actually greasy on the inside. So I dug deeper into my ingredients.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article that talks about Why Your Buttercream Frosting is So Runny. This article talks about how to fix runny frosting by making it thicker. You can check out this article here!

Why is my buttercream frosting so shiny?

While I like to do my mixing by hand, I much rather prefer using a Stand Mixer instead. I recently wrote an article that talks about the 3 Best Stand Mixers that bakers can buy in each stage of their baking journey. After reviewing a few stand mixers, the Best Overall Mixer was the KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer. You can check out this stand mixer on Amazon!

Using Too Much Butter

Using more butter in your buttercream frosting can make it greasy and shiny. Try to use just enough so that the mixture is smooth but not more than you need for this process.

If you do have some excess butter in your mixing bowl after completing all of these steps, simply add a little confectioners’ sugar until it’s balanced out again. This will help retain the equilibrium between the two ingredients.

The Frosting is Over-whipped

This is among the major reasons for greasy or shiny-looking buttercream frosting. I have realized that over-whipped icing becomes overworked and looks shiny.

It might also be grainy or curdled if you’ve gone too far with the whipping process, which is why it’s important not to whip until you see ribbon trails forming in your mixing bowl.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article about Fixing Separated Buttercream Frosting. This article talks about why your buttercream frosting gets separated as well as why the color added into the frosting sometimes gets separated. You can check out this article here!

Pouring Hot Syrup into a Cold Mixture

I have often found that when adding ingredients like hot syrup or honey to your buttercream frosting, make sure that you add them slowly while beating at a low speed. This will prevent the icing from becoming shiny.

Too much liquid will create a runny mixture. If you’ve added too much of these types of liquids during this process, simply beat in some confectioners’ sugar until it’s balanced out again.

*Side Note: I recently wrote an article that talks about Why Your Buttercream Frosting is So Grainy. This article talks about how to fix grainy frosting by making it smooth again. You can check out this article here!

Too Much Liquid in the Recipe

When you’re making a buttercream frosting from scratch, make sure that you use enough powdered sugar. Otherwise, your mixture will be runny and end up looking shiny or greasy when it dries out during baking.

Yet again, use some confectioners’ sugar to save the frosting.

Some Ingredients Are Prone to Being Shiny

Ingredients like marshmallow creme, cream cheese, and mascarpone cheese can be very soft at room temperature. This means that they’re more likely to get oily when exposed to high temperatures for too long during baking or decoration.

When this happens, I simply add more powdered sugar until it balances out again.

*Side Note: I recently wrote an article about How To Properly Store Leftover Buttercream Frosting. This article talks about the right ways to store and freeze buttercream frosting to make it last. You can check out this article here!

How Do You Stop Buttercream From Getting Greasy?

To prevent your buttercream frosting from being greasy, you want to cut back on butter and use more high ratio shortening. Butter is high in fats and has a lower melting point than shortening. Once too much butter is added to the frosting, it will begin melting much faster at room temperatures.

*By the way, you might also want to know How To Mix Batter Without a Mixer. I recently wrote an article talking about The Right Ways of Mixing Batter By Hand, which you can check out here!

Greasy Buttercream Frosting! What should I do?

Cut Back on the Butter

You may have to cut back on the butter in your recipe by a few tablespoons if you’re having issues with greasy frosting. I know I always say to follow the recipe exactly, however, there comes a time where the recipe could have anticipated the usage of different quality ingredients.

Since the fats in the butter melt at a quick rate, you’ll start noticing the frosting on your cake to look greasy within 5 minutes of taking it out at room temperatures.

Cutting back on butter has helped me a few times while making frosting. It will make it harder for the frosting to spread, but at least it won’t be greasy.

Use High Ratio Shortening

This is another I have always used, and I can attest to its effectiveness. Shortening has a higher melting point than butter which means it will last much longer at room temperatures.

Shortening helps stabilize the molecules of the frosting so it doesn’t get greasy or oily when you’re using it over time.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article that talks about Why Your Buttercream Frosting Became Curdled. This article breaks down how to fix and prevent your buttercream frosting from becoming curdled. You can check out this article here!

Use Less Liquid in Your Recipe

Using more liquid ingredients than necessary is another reason why your buttercream frosting can end up greasy. Some recipes have liquids such as citric acid, cream of tartar, or lemon juice.

Make sure that you don’t add too much of these ingredients to avoid runny greasy frosting. If the frosting already looks greasy, try adding more powdered sugar until it balances out again.

Increase Powdered Sugar Ratio

This has always worked for me as it doesn’t affect the flavor of your buttercream frosting. If you don’t have enough powdered sugar in your recipe, there is more chance of it being greasy or oily when you bake with it.

Increasing the number of dry ingredients used in the frosting will help balance the frosting’s greasiness. Dry ingredients absorb some of the oil and grease to create the perfect frosting.

*Side Note: You might also want to know Why Your Brownies Crack On Top after baked. I recently wrote an article that talks about How To Prevent and Fix Cracks On Top Of Brownies, you can check it out here!

How Do You Fix a Shiny Buttercream?

As a general rule, you can fix frosting that is too shiny by adding some more dry ingredients, such as meringue powder or powdered sugar. Adding in more dry ingredients will absorb some of the frosting’s oil and grease. You can also cool the frosting by putting it in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.

Fixing a shiny buttercream frosting isn’t hard. Here are my tried-and-tested ways to fix a greasy buttercream.

Fixing Shiny Buttercream Frosting!

Add Some Meringue Powder

Sprinkling in a little meringue powder will help to thicken your buttercream and make it less greasy. As long as you add some in, even if it’s just a little, your buttercream will be fine.

Add Some Powdered Sugar

If you’ve already added the meringue powder and this isn’t working for you, adding in more confectioners’ sugar is another solution that I use to fix greasy or shiny buttercream frosting.

It shouldn’t affect the flavor of your buttercream, but it will help to thicken it while absorbing some of the oils out of the frosting.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article about Fixing Lumpy Buttercream Frosting. This article breaks down why your frosting might have lumps in it as well as how to fix and prevent lumpy frosting. You can check out this article here!

Cool the Frosting in the Fridge

Heat can cause your buttercream to get shiny. While layering your cake, you want to keep it in a cool environment. Keep your frosting away from hot kitchens, direct sunlight, or any other source of heat until you’re ready to serve or decorate it.

You can also cool the frosting in the fridge before putting it on your cakes. That will help keep the frosting’s integrity intact.

How Do You Make Frosting Matte?

As a whole, you can make frosting matte by beating egg whites and lemon juice together until they are stiff. Add ingredients such as powdered sugar and coloring gel to make the frosting look flat. Make sure to use chilled utensils in order to prevent the frosting from becoming shiny.

Perfect Matte Frosting!

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  • Beat one teaspoon of lemon juice, one egg white, and 2 cups of powdered sugar. If you want more mixture, add more ingredients in this ratio.
  • Use coloring gel or powders to color the mixture. Colouring also avoids thinning.
  • Add the ready frosting to your decorating bag and
  • Decorate your baked goods.
  • If you want a darker color, add more coloring or lemon juice to the mixture.

*By the way, if you are interested in knowing how to get Stuck Parchment Off of Your Cake and how to Prevent It, I recently wrote an article about Removing Stuck Parchment Paper, which you can find here!

What Makes Different Frostings Shiny?

Most frostings will be shiny if you don’t use the right ingredients in the correct ratios. Also, if there are too many liquid ingredients or if you bake in hot temperatures, your frosting may become shiny. 

In my experience, I have noticed that there different factors that make different types of frosting shiny. They include:

Different Frosting TypesWhy It’s Shiny
Buttercream FrostingToo many liquid ingredients
Chocolate GanacheToo much cream
Royal IcingToo much egg white
Caramel ButtercreamLow-quality caramel sauce

Buttercream frosting: This frosting will be shiny if there are too many liquid ingredients, too much butter, or too much whipping.

Chocolate ganache: This frosting will be shiny if you’re not using the right ingredients. For example, it won’t work with milk chocolate and may need to use dark or semi-sweet instead of regular baking chocolate. It can also happen when there’s too much cream added in as well.

Royal icing: It becomes shiny when you’ve used too many egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. It can also appear this way when there’s too much water added.

Caramel buttercream: Becomes shiny if you’ve used a low-quality caramel sauce. I recommend using the organic or gourmet versions for best results. You can also add more powdered sugar to balance it out, but make sure that you don’t add too much as this may thin it out instead.

*By the way, I wouldn’t be able to fix my runny buttercream frosting if I didn’t have the right type of mixer. For this situation, I used a 5-Speed Electric Hand Mixer which can get the job done! You can check out the Hand Mixer I use on Amazon!

To Summarize…

Your buttercream frosting will be greasy and shiny because of different reasons, including having too much liquid, butter, or whipping. If you want to fix it without affecting the flavor of your frosting, try adding more powdered sugar or meringue powder.

Learning how to prevent shiny frosting helped my cakes look better than ever before! I hope the tips and tricks I provided help you with fixing your greasy buttercream frosting. Good luck with your next baking project.

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My name is Fainna! I've been baking desserts ever since I was 10 years old with my grandma passing her baking wisdom down to me with every passing day. I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful here at my little Baking Nook!

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