Why is my butter cream frosting so grainy? Fixes?

Kate Christiansen


Kristy M. May 4, 2016
I made the frosting a couple days prior and refrigerated it. Because I'm impatient I beat it again to get it to workable consistency before it had come to room temperature. I'm glad I found this site as I was about to throw it out and start all over again. I had made Italian Buttercream frosting and it took a while since I had to use a hand mixer so I really did NOT want to throw it out. I microwaved it for about 15 seconds and then for another 30 seconds and then put it in a stand mixer with the whip attachment and it came back together beautifully.
boulangere January 6, 2014
When you say "grainy," it leads me to think that, in the case of a Swiss meringue buttercream, the egg whites and sugar didn't reach a temperature high enough to dissolve the sugar, as happened to me once as a result of a stemmed thermometer in need of calibration. I wish I didn't need to learn lessons the hard way. The mixture needs to be heated to 140 degrees in a bain marie, which both pasteurizes the whites and dissolves the sugar. To reconstitute a buttercream of any sort which has been refrigerated, warm about 30% of it in a microwave just until melted. Add the melted portion to the rest of the icing in a mixer bowl and whip until the temperature and consistency of all the icing has equalized, which may take a few minutes. It isn't unusual for my kitchen at work to be downright chilly early on winter mornings, so sometimes I need to remove a portion of the whipped icing, warm it, and once again add it to the bowl and re-whip everything in order to achieve a good spreading consistency. As in many things, patience yields its typical reward.
plainhomecook January 5, 2014
Great to learn that next time this happens to me I can fix it! Thanks all!
LeBec F. January 5, 2014
twin is brilliant. this is exactly what i have always done when i was in a hurry to get my swiss or italian buttercreams defrosted and whipped to spreading consistency asap. i always opted for the latter of the 2 techniques. no problems ever. *BUT, if you're calling conf sugar and butter a buttercream, that's a totally different animal and i know nothing about that!
twinjadojo January 5, 2014
You CAN fix a broken buttercream! The problem likely resulted from ingredients being too cold. I just had this problem with a grainy, wet German buttercream. The best fix is to beat on med-high to high with your whisk attachment while gently heating your mixing bowl with your hair dryer. Another method is to remove 1/4-1/3 of your mix and gently heat it in the microwave, and then return it to your mixing bowl and beat on med-high to high until your buttercream comes together. Good luck! Don't give up on all of those beautiful ingredients just yet!
Daisey C. September 2, 2019
Well that ruined it even more than what I started with....it was actually fluffy before I heated it...
plainhomecook January 5, 2014
If you refrigerated it, or froze it, and then didn't let it come completely to room temperature before you beat it, that would cause it to be grainy... And there really isn't any fix for that, sorry to say.

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boulangere January 5, 2014
Kate, can you tell us what kind of buttercream you made? What are its ingredients, and how did you put it together? Thanks.
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