46 Decadent Flavored Frostings To Elevate Boxed Cake Mix

Mama's German Chocolate Cake
Photo: Jennifer Davick

While we can't resist a homemade cake, we don't have the time or patience to whip up a three-tiered layer cake on some days. In a perfect world, we would make all of our cakes from scratch, but we'll admit that there have been many forgotten school bake sales or church potlucks when boxed cake mix has come to the rescue at the last minute. Boxed cake mix is much more versatile than it may seem, and we're here to show you how to pass that Duncan Hines off as homemade. Our number one tip for upgrading your boxed cake mix? Fresh frosting.

Homemade frosting is much simpler (and quicker) to make from scratch than cake batter. While baking your cake, you can whip up a batch of one of these creatively flavored icings to top it off. These fun frosting recipes will carry you through the seasons, from holiday-party-ready buttercreams to Strawberry Frosting meant for summer potlucks. With these decadent frosting and icing recipes, no guests will ever guess the cake came from a box. And while you're at it, upgrade your boxed cake mix with this simple hack from our Food Editor.

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Salted Caramel Frosting

Gingerbread Latte Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Use this sweet-and-salty caramel frosting to dress up a vanilla cake. It's made with three different types of sugar to achieve depth of flavor.

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Lemon-Orange Buttercream Frosting

Lemon Cheese Layer Cake
Southern Living

This bright, citrus-packed frosting is worthy of a prime place on the dessert buffet. Uplift any simple yellow cake with this zesty frosting spread thickly all around.

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Strawberry Frosting

Strawberry Frosting
Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

This frosting, loaded with fresh chopped strawberries, pairs beautifully with any fruity cake. A drop of food coloring guarantees that your cakes will be pretty in pink, surrounded by bright berries.

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Homemade Caramel Frosting

Caramel Cake
Jennifer Davick

This caramel frosting can pair with vanilla, chocolate, or spice cake, making it the ultimate versatile choice for year-round baking. We promise it's so much better than store-bought.

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Buttermilk Frosting

Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Hector Sanchez

Southerners love to use buttermilk in everything, including in our frostings. This reliable frosting will pair beautifully with any cake flavor, but we especially love it with our Gingerbread Cake.

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Coconut Buttercream

Coconut-Carrot Cake with Coconut Buttercream
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

This double-action coconut buttercream brings a bit of tropical flair to your cake. It's made with unsweetened coconut milk and coconut extract for extra flavor with just a dash of vanilla extract.

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Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Mama's German Chocolate Cake
Jennifer Davick

We use this Coconut-Pecan Frosting to top our German Chocolate Cake, but it's truly delicious all on its own. You're welcome to lick the spoon but remember to save enough for the cake.

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Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

Ultimate Carrot Cake
Alison Miksch

Brown sugar brings warmth to the classic cream cheese frosting, making it the perfect pairing for a carrot cake. This silky frosting comes together in about 10 minutes, and it looks best garnished with candied carrot curls.

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Peppermint Buttercream

Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Pretty pink peppermint buttercream? Sounds like the holiday frosting of our dreams. It couldn't look dreamier in heavy-handed dollops.

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Fudgy Coca Cola Cake Frosting

Coca Cola Chocolate Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

A fudgy chocolate frosting gets a hint of cherry spice with the addition of your family's favorite soft drink. This frosting goes great with chocolate and vanilla, but we especially love it with our Coca-Cola Layer Cake.

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Cherry Swirl Frosting

Cherry-Swirl Frosting
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

A two-toned swirl of white and pink frosting means these cupcakes look as good as they taste. Cherry Swirl Frosting is infused with Cheerwine soda and looks adorable topped with a maraschino cherry.

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Coca Cola Frosting

Coca-Cola Cake
Micah A. Leal

This cream cheese frosting is spiked with a few cups of cola to add tang and zing. Reduce the soda to syrup and mix it into the buttercream for a frosting as sweet and refreshing as its namesake.

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Lemon-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

7-UP Bundt Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Fresh lime and lemon juice combine with lemon zest to create a creamy frosting you'll be using to top all your springtime cakes. Slather this on top of a Bundt or sheet cake to add citrus flare to any last-minute cake.

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Strawberry-Sour Cream Buttercream

Cream Soda Confetti Sheet Cake
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Strawberry and sour cream? Don't knock it until you try it. This topping delivers just the right ratio of fruity sweetness to the tang.

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Brown Butter-Pistachio Frosting

Chocolate-Zucchini Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

If you lean more towards savory than sweet, this creative frosting recipe is for you. Use it to top a decadent chocolate cake.

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Orange Buttercream

White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream
Hector Sanchez

Pair this fruity orange buttercream with cranberry at Christmastime or strawberry in the summer. With citrus frosting so tasty, you can't go wrong.

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Browned Butter Frosting

Butter Pecan Layer Cake with Browned Butter Frosting
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Browning your butter gives it a deliciously deep nutty flavor that shines in this Browned Butter Frosting. Pair it with toasty, buttery pecans, and you've hit a home run.

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Peanut Butter Frosting

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Southern Living

The dreamiest way to upgrade your chocolate cake? With a heavy dollop of Peanut Butter Frosting. Spread a layer of nutty frosting onto the chocolate cake and revel in every delicious bite.

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Ginger Whipped Cream

Chocolate-Gingerbread-Toffee Cake
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

Spice up your go-to whipped cream frosting with this Ginger Whipped Cream recipe. Slices of peeled fresh ginger lend themselves to the delectable frosting perfect for seasonal baking.

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Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting

Italian Cream Cake
Southern Living

Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting is just five simple ingredients and two steps away with this recipe. Soften your cream cheese before preparing this decadent icing filled with pecans.

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Brown Butter Toffee Frosting

Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
Greg DuPree

Creamy Brown Butter Toffee Frosting with dark brown sugar can save the day for any last-minute cake. We recommend making the frosting before the cake to give it time to firm up.

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Coconut Cream Frosting

Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Cream of coconut and coconut extract gives this frosting a double dose of coconut flavor. This dreamy frosting pairs excellently with both fruity and decadent cakes.

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Lavender Frosting

Mini Pie Pan
Hector Sanchez

Whipped cream sweetened with lavender buds or tea is a delicate flavor combination for a light cake. Use a touch of pale purple food coloring to give curious cake lovers a hint at its unique and delightful flavor before digging in.

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Luscious Lemon Frosting

Luscious Lemon Cake
Jennifer Davick

Lemon juice and lemon zest pair up to deliver the most decadent lemon frosting to grace your cake. Luscious frosting is as simple as can be and lives up to its name in spades.

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Pecan Frosting

Coconut Pecan Frosting
Southern Living

This nutty and sugary frosting is well-equipped to take any cake to the next level. With only three ingredients, you've got an excellent cake topper.

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Mascarpone Frosting

Mascarpone Frosting
Hector Sanchez

Traditionally used in Tiramisu and beloved savory dishes across the South, mascarpone also makes for wonderful frosting. Best of all, Mascarpone Frosting only has four ingredients.

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Ermine Frosting

Ermine Frosting on Cake
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Ermine Cream is light and airy, yet a solid choice, like a cross between buttercream and whipped cream. This vintage recipe shines with simple flavor and texture.

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Praline Frosting

Bourbon-Chocolate Cake With Praline Frosting

Be warned. This frosting hardens quickly, so serve it immediately for the best results. With some planning, you've got sweet Southern frosting with lots of nutty texture that will impress atop a boxed cake.

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Vanilla Buttercream

Vanilla Buttercream
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

When in doubt, stick to the classics. Make sure to start with softened butter for this go-to recipe. We use heavy cream to make Vanilla Buttercream fluffier than ever.

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Peach Buttercream Frosting

Brown Sugar Layer Cake with Peach Buttercream
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This Peach Buttercream Frosting delivers a smooth and rich icing signature to buttercream with summer peaches' delicate, sweet flavor. Brown your butter and process your peaches for the best results.

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Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Eggnog Layer Cake with Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

We layered this spirited frosting on Eggnog Cake, but Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Buttercream is so good, it'll wow with any flavor underneath. It's simple and oh-so-creamy with a dash of bourbon.

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Lemon-Thyme Frosting

Lemon Cake with Lemon-Thyme Frosting
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Adding thyme to classic citrus frosting makes it infinitely more elegant. This VIP-worthy, herb-infused frosting may seem chic, but it couldn't be easier to assemble.

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Berry-Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

White Cake with Berry-Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

This meringue frosting is the bright and pillowy topping on hand to make your box cake the center of attention. Freeze-dried raspberries are the key to pink buttercream that's fluffy and not too sweet.

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Vanilla-Sour Cream Frosting

Confetti Cake with Vanilla-Sour Cream Frosting
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Rather than more obvious choices like cream cheese, sour cream in frosting makes it tangier than ever. It's the perfect element to balance sweet vanilla flavor and the sugary cake of your choice.

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Fresh Raspberry-Cream Cheese Frosting

Fresh Raspberry-Cream Cheese Frosting
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Give your boxed cake the old razzle-dazzle with tart and sweet raspberry-filled frosting. Gather your freshest berries and just a few other ingredients you already have to get started on a dependable topping for chocolate or vanilla cake.

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Fudge Icing

Fudge Icing
Iain Bagwell; Styling: Kay Clark

Rich chocolate icing is the result of this well-loved recipe. What's the secret ingredient? Dr. Pepper.

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Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Devil’s Food Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting and Ganache
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

We love this recipe atop a Devil's Food Cake, but it can save almost any cake. Our Test Kitchen calls this Salted Peanut Butter Frosting "out of this world."

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Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing

Coffee and chocolate lovers everywhere will find this cake to die for! Between each layer of chocolate cake is a delicious Mocha-Chocolate Cream Filling, and it's topped with Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing. Recipe: Chocolate Cake IV
Southern Living

What's a party without cake? Grab your go-to coffee liqueur. We like Kahlúa, and let's get the party started. The result is a decadent frosting with bittersweet chocolate and deep flavor.

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Browned Buttercream Frosting

Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

If you love our Brown Butter Frosting, you'll really love its boozy cousin: Browned Buttercream Frosting. Browned butter and bourbon are an all-star pairing on top of a cake.

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White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

If you want to turn your box mix red velvet cake into a class act, this recipe is for you. White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting is rich and elegant—It presents wonderfully spread in a ruffled design.

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Wacky Cake Frosting

Wacky Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

What makes this frosting so wacky, you ask? It's crazy good. It's also shockingly easy to whip up.

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Malted Chocolate Buttercream

Yellow Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Mix malted milk powder into this chocolate buttercream frosting for a nostalgic flavor we can't get enough of. It's simple, straightforward, and one of our best to date.

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Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate-Mayonnaise Cake

This frosting is a light and creamy option that all chocolate lovers can get behind. To amplify the gooey chocolate effect, slather this frosting on a moist, fluffy chocolate cake.

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Salted Milk Chocolate Frosting

Raspberry Snack Cake with Salted Milk Chocolate Frosting
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

You've heard of salted caramel—Now introducing Salted Milk Chocolate Frosting. The addition of salt makes this frosting a perfect not-too-sweet pairing with raspberries.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

Slow-Cooker Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
Victor Protasio

Classic cream cheese frosting is an essential recipe to have in your repertoire. It's the ideal mix of sweet, creamy, and tangy flavors.

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Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting and Rainbow Sprinkles or Jimmies a Sheet Cake
Cyndi Monaghan / Getty Images

Going for the homemade type is infinitely better than the kind you can get from a jar when it comes to simple chocolate frosting. It's a decadent classic that will light up virtually every flavor cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can you thicken frosting for cakes and cookies?

    When thickening frosting, first determine whether you are working with buttercream or royal icing. For buttercream frosting, chilling is the first step to thickening it before adding powdered sugar to achieve your desired results. Add powdered sugar or cornstarch for royal icing before letting it rest.

  • What are the easiest ways to upgrade store-bought frosting?

    Upgrade store-bought frosting by adding pantry staples to help improve the consistency, flavoring, and texture. Smooth additives include cream cheese, whipped cream, and butter. Try using peanut butter, Nutella, jam, or marshmallow creme for additional flavor. Improve the frosting's texture by adding chopped nuts, chocolate chips, flaked coconut, or sprinkles.

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