How Many Cans of Store-Bought Frosting Do You Need to Frost a Cake?

When there isn't time to make homemade frosting, how much canned frosting will it take to properly frost a cake?

While we do not suggest the use of canned frosting from the baking aisle from a flavor standpoint, we recognize its value in a pinch. We measured the amount of frosting sold in a standard can and created a conversion for homemade frosting. A typical 1-pound container from the baking aisle contains just over 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

Manufacturers claim that each can should be able to frost one 9-inch layer cake. But by our measurements, these cans contain much less than what’s needed.

Be aware that our measurements allow for a layer of frosting between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick, so if you have a heavy hand when frosting, budget for more.

We did find that you can stretch canned frosting by chilling it in the refrigerator for 1 hour and then whipping it with a whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Doing so, we were able to expand a typical can’s 1 1/2 cups of frosting to just under 2 1/2 cups. This frosting was lighter in texture but was able to cover a lot more of our 9-inch cake (though we still needed two cans to get the job done).

BOTTOM LINE: We recommend homemade frosting, but in a pinch, you can follow our chart to determine how many cans of frosting you’ll need for standard cake sizes.

Cake size: 9-inch two-layer cake

Amount of frosting needed: 4 cups

Canned frosting: 3 cans


Cake size: 9-inch three-layer cake

Amount of frosting needed: 5.5 cups

Canned frosting: 4 cans


Cake size: 13 by 9-inch one-layer sheet cake

Amount of frosting needed: 4 cups

Canned frosting: 3 cans


Cake size: 24 cupcakes

Amount of frosting needed: 3 cups (2 tablespoons per cupcake)

Canned frosting: 2 cans


Add a decorative edge

Amount of frosting needed: +1 cup

Canned frosting: +1 can


Add writing on top of a cake

Amount of frosting needed: +4 tablespoons

Canned frosting: +4 tablespoons

WELL-FROSTED: Plenty of good stuff.

SKIMPY: Frosted according to the can.

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