Usually the first step in decorating a cake is frosting it! Remember, wait until your cake is completely cool before you start frosting. If you frost a cake when it’s still warm, the butter in the frosting will melt and the frosting will slide right off your cake!

An icing spatula—a spatula with a bend in the blade—is the best tool for frosting cakes, but a butter knife will also work. (An icing spatula is also called an offset spatula.)

Follow these easy steps to make a smooth frosted layer cake that’s ready for whatever other decorations you want to add, from colorful piped designs to sprinkles to a shiny mirror glaze. To easily move your cake, place it on a cardboard round before frosting.

Prepare Ingredients

Gather Equipment

Cake stand or serving platter
Icing spatula
1-cup dry measuring cup
2 (9-inch)
round cakes, fully cooled
5 cups

Place 1 cake layer on cake stand or serving platter. Use icing spatula to spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake.


Top with second cake layer and press down gently to set.


Use icing spatula to spread 1 cup frosting over top and side of cake to create thin layer of frosting. (Don’t worry if there are lots of crumbs in the frosting at this point.) Refrigerate cake until frosting is chilled and set, about 20 minutes.


Use clean icing spatula to spread remaining 3 cups frosting over top and side of cake.


Use icing spatula to gently smooth out bumps around side of cake and to tidy areas where frosting on top and side merge. Then run spatula over top of cake again to smooth out any remaining bumps.