Brian Strubel/Demand Media

Everything seems to taste better when it’s homemade, but sometimes, you simply don’t have time to bake from scratch. However, a number of shortcuts are available that not only help you simplify your life, but also help you improve canned frosting. For example, you can frost a homemade cake with “doctored-up” store bought icing, and most of your guests won’t even be able to tell the difference. Whether you’re adding additional flavors or using a trick or two to fake the icing’s origins, using canned frosting hacks is one of the easiest ways to enhance the taste of your dessert.

Make Canned Frosting Better

You can improve canned frosting's appearance and taste by adding flavorings, colors and other ingredients. Spoon the store-bought icing in a large mixing bowl. Choose an extract flavor and begin by adding two to three drops of the extract to the bowl. Add the extract slowly, thoroughly mixing after each addition, until you reach the desired flavor. Supermarket vanilla icing tastes better with the addition of 2 drops of vanilla extract and 1 drop of almond extract. Follow the same steps when adding liquid food coloring to frostings. You can add red food coloring to chocolate frosting to make a deep, burgundy shade of red.

You also can make cream cheese frosting with store bought icing. Place the canned icing in a mixing bowl, and add one 8-ounce package of cream cheese and 2 to 3 drops of vanilla extract. Mix the ingredients together until smooth; then frost your dessert with an easy cream cheese frosting.

Add other ingredients to create your own versions. For example, using canned frosting as your base, add ½ cup peanut butter and a pinch of salt. Top with chopped honey-roasted peanuts to make a Snickers-like frosting on chocolate cupcakes.

How to Make Store-Bought Frosting Stiffer

You also can improve the texture and thickness of canned frosting. Although store bought frosting hardens when exposed to open air, it won’t duplicate the effect of royal icing, which is best for decorating. To thicken canned frosting, empty the container into a large bowl. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar and thoroughly mix it into the frosting. If the icing is still not the desired texture, continue adding sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired thickness.

To thin frosting, you can use water, but milk makes it taste more like homemade. Again, empty the store-bought frosting into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time to the frosting, thoroughly combining after each addition, until the desired texture is reached. Do this slowly to prevent the frosting from becoming too runny.

Tips for Improving Large Batches

To improve a large batch of store-bought frosting, don’t add the ingredients to each individual can; instead, combine all the cans you need in one large mixing bowl, followed by the appropriate amount of extracts, cream cheese or food coloring. For example, if you’re using three cans of frosting, add 9 drops of extract or food coloring or three 8-ounce packages of cream cheese. This ensures consistency both in the texture and taste of the frosting.

If you’re mixing more than three or four containers of store bought icing, write down how much of each ingredient to add per can of frosting, such as the number of drops of extract or food coloring. Also note the length of time to mix the frosting as well to help you get the texture right.