Buttercream frosting, when made perfectly well, is a deliciously smooth frosting that is perfect for icing cakes and cookies. The problem most people have when it comes to getting a smooth frosting is having air bubbles.
Air bubbles easily accumulate in buttercream while being whipped in the stand mixer. I am going to share the biggest hack for how to get air bubbles out of buttercream if you’ve overmixed.
And no, this trick is not to use a rubber spatula to smooth out the frosting. This is for buttercream that is beyond air bubbly and needs a real make over.
Although, if you want, you can use this trick to get out mild air bubbles from your buttercream as well.
I will also detail how to avoid getting air into your buttercream frosting in the first place. Prevention is always the preferred route.
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How to Get Air Bubbles Out of Buttercream Frosting
So, you’ve overmixed. Don’t feel bad, this has happened to probably 99.9% of people who have made buttercream frosting.
Let’s get right to how to get air out of frosting.
The EASIEST way to get rid of air in buttercream frosting is to put the frosting in a food processor.
This might sound silly, as we have just overmixed our buttercream, why would we want to mix it more? Well, the food processor will “chop” those air bubbles right out. It works wonders.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender. You may need to add just a tad more milk/cream to get it going, though.
Simply transfer your bubbly buttercream frosting from the stand mixer directly into a food processor. We want our frosting to be at room temperature, so just after it’s been mixed is best.
If you have a fancy food processor that has multiple blade attachments, choose the “S” blade. This is the blade that has two curved blades on each side of the attachment.
Process the buttercream frosting until it looks smooth. That’s it!
Do make sure that you don’t keep processing for too long, as we don’t want the buttercream to get too warm.
Tips on How to Make Buttercream Smooth in the First Place
As I mentioned before, the best way to get smooth buttercream is to prevent air from getting into the buttercream in the first place. Here are some tips of achieving smooth buttercream.
- When mixing buttercream in the stand mixer, always use the paddle attachment and never the whisk. The whisk is typically used for making things you want air in, such as whipped cream. The paddle will help reduce air getting in to the frosting.
- MIX ON LOW. This is a big one and, when not followed, is one of the biggest reasons why air gets into buttercream in the first place. Once the butter/fat has been creamed, from there on out, the mixer should only be on low.
- Keep an eye on the buttercream as it is mixing. Since you are mixing on low, it may take a while and you may be tempted to walk away. You want to watch for when it’s thoroughly combined so you can turn off the mixer right away.
- When mixing in your gel food color, separate the frosting into smaller bowls and mix the gel with a fork. You will have more control over both the color and the speed of mixing.
- Keep your kitchen at room temperature. If your kitchen is too hot, the buttercream is more likely to break and/or become grainy. If this happens, place the buttercream in the refrigerator for a bit to cool. Then, proceed with the food processor to bring it back together.
Other Methods to Smooth Buttercream
- As mentioned above, for buttercream frosting that just has a bit of bubbles, you can press a rubber spatula into it and smooth it back and forth. You will hear the bubbles popping as you do this, so it can be quite rewarding.
- Microwave small amounts of buttercream for just a few seconds and then mix with a fork. You don’t want the buttercream to be anywhere near melted, you just want to soften it a bit to allow the bubbles to break.
- If you overmixed the buttercream by using the whip attachment or mixing on medium-high speed, use the paddle attachment on low to keep the mixer running for 15 minutes or so. This is similar to the food processor method, but much slower.
- If adding buttercream to a piping bag and your buttercream had a small amount of air bubbles, massage the buttercream in the icing bag with your hands. This helps break up air bubbles.
How to Smooth Buttercream on Sugar Cookies
I have an entire post detailing a couple fool-proof ways to smooth buttercream on decorated sugar cookies. Other common ways to smooth buttercream frosting is to use an angled flat spatula or a palette knife.
The angled flat spatula/palette knife method takes more skill than the fool-proof methods I go over on the post linked above. However, many people find this the easiest for them.
I find more control with the palette knife than with an angled flat spatula, as the palette knife is smaller.
Another way to get smooth buttercream is a twist on one of the fool-proof methods I mentioned in the other post. This involves placing a blob of buttercream onto your sugar cookie & flipping it upside down onto a cookie tray lined with piece of parchment paper.
You will push the cookie down into the parchment paper until the frosting blob has spread out onto the cookie.
Place the cookie sheet into the freezer and allow the buttercream to freeze completely. Once frozen, remove and pull the cookies off of the cookie sheet.
This is my least favorite method for smoothing buttercream for a couple reasons. One, it can be difficult to get the right sized blob of frosting and center the blob correctly. And two, it leads to air bubbles that may need to be smoothed over with an angled flat spatula again.
Some people love this method; however, so I wanted to include it in case it works wonders for you.
The last method is similar to the one just mentioned. This method is the frozen cut out method. I have a post detailing this method which also includes adding a fun texture effect if wanted.
The downside to this method is that air bubbles can still be present in the cut out buttercream.
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