If you’re in need of a striking decoration technique to really make your cakes, cupcakes, cookies or brownies pop, try ombre frosting! Learn how to color buttercream icing with this fun cake decorating technique!
This colorful gradient effect will certainly make gorgeous treats that you can serve up at any party or for any holiday. Making colored frosting is pretty darn easy, too!
You may be wondering…what does ombre mean? It’s a gradient effect applied to already prepared buttercream icing when decoarting. In other words, it’s a color that fades into another color. Or more colors if you really want to get committed!
You’ve likely seen it used on cakes or cupcakes, or even brownies and cookies. For instance, to make an “under the sea”-themed cake, you might use frosting that fades from blue to white. That’s ombre coloring! Super cool, right? And believe it or not, it’s a technique even a first-time baker can learn.
How To Create The Ombré Frosting Effect
- Buttercream frosting – vanilla is our fave to use!
- Food coloring – gel food color recommended to keep frosting consistency
Utensils & Other Items
- Bowls (one for each shade of frosting you desire!)
How To Color Buttercream Frosting
- Make buttercream frosting according to recipe.
- Divide the frosting into bowls. Again, you’ll want as many as you want for each shade of frosting. You can have a really subtle ombre gradient with lots of shades, or a bolder one with only three or four shades.
- Begin adding a small amount of coloring into each bowl. Use more coloring to make darker shades but be mindful that the colors get darker the longer they set. A little goes a long way! Sometimes too much color adds a bitter taste, try a little at a time to avoid this.
- Mix the gel colors with the buttercream being sure to mix fully.
- Add more color to any of the bowls as needed.
- Use your new ombre buttercream frosting to decorate your favorite cupcakes or cake recipes! We use piping tips, but even just an offset spatula will do.
Ombre Frosting Recipe Suggestions
You know what time it is, everyone…our decoration suggestion section! If you need some inspiration for an upcoming baking project involving ombre icing, here are a few ideas for your brainstorming pleasure.
- Winter-themed: fade from light blue, dark blue, or grey to white, then top with our Frozen Heart sprinkle mix.
- Christmas-themed: fade from red to white or pine green to white, then top with Christmas jimmies.
- Halloween-themed: fade from deep purple to white or dark orange to white, then top with our Haunted House sprinkle mix.
- Spring-themed: fade from bright green to white, then top with Spring Sorbet sprinkles.
- Autumn-themed: fade from a rich brown to white, then top with our Apple Cider sprinkle mix.
- Feminine birthday or baby shower for a girl: fade from light or hot pink to white, then top with Pink Princess sprinkles.
- Masculine birthday or baby shower for a boy: fade from light or navy blue to white, then top with Blue Moon sprinkles.
Coloring Frosting Tips & Tricks
Avoid all the mess and read this section for help before you start!
Do you have any suggestions for buttercream recipes?
We do! Our own buttercream recipe is out go to frosting recipe of course!
Will other frostings work?
Yes! You can also use cream cheese or a basic vanilla frosting. Really, any light-colored frosting should work out well, since it’ll let the ombre colors pop. We haven’t tried this recipe with very light tan-colored icings like almond or caramel, but if you experiment with those, let us know how it turns out. It will alter the final colors for sure.
Is there a more exact measurement for the amount of food coloring to use?
We know for those who really like numbers in their recipes to make things perfect, this recipe may be a bit strange! That’s valid! But this is a recipe you really have to eye. Add food coloring to each bowl until you have the shade you want, and use as many bowls as you think you’ll need for all the shades.
We start with counting the number of drops and start small. We recommend under-coloring each bowl of frosting so you can simply add more if it’s too light.
Check out our ombré cupcakes post to see how we used these shades. Instead of the ever popular ombré cake effect or ombre cupcake swirls, we used our new favorite cupcake decorating technique: multi tip technique!
Now that you know how to color frosting the ombre way…
…how are you going to use this technique? What holiday or event or occasion are you going to brighten up with ombre frosting? Or are you just going to make a bunch of awesome ombre cupcakes for your friends and loved ones? (We aren’t judging!) Let us know down in the comments. We always love to hear from you!
Check Out These Other Frosting Recipes
Not feeling ombre today? Or just in the need of more frosting recipes and tutorials? That’s our specialty! For further icing goodness, check out:
Colouring icing is one of my favourite parts of baking! I love watching white icing transform into such vibrant, intense colours – it’s like magic ??
We couldn’t agree more!!
My soon to be 13 yeR old grandson wants a 2 tare cake with cream cheese ombre using red and pink. How much icing do I need to make and color? One more thing, I’m wanting to put in some strawberry emulsion onto the icing, can you please help
Hi Diana, the size of the cake would make a difference. Generally speaking, we would suggest doubling the recipe and starting with 2 drops of coloring is good.