How to Frost an Ombré Cake

We created this ombré-frosted cake without using fondant. We'll show you how to frost a cake ombré style using rich buttercream frosting, so you don't have to sacrifice flavor for looks. In just a few easy steps, you'll be presenting a gorgeous cake that's (almost) too pretty to eat.

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Ombré-Frosted Cake

Photo Credit: Courtney Whitmore

Birthdays, baby showers, wedding parties, holidays ... there's an endless number of celebrations that call for an easy ombré-looking cake! Your guests won't guess that this stunning cake came from your kitchen—not the local bakery.

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Step One: The Cake

Photo Credit: Courtney Whitmore

A frosting masterpiece needs a showstopper cake beneath to match! Though the frosting for this work-of-art cake is blended into three layers, you only need a two-layer cake to create it. But feel free to be creative and use as many layers as you want! We used two, but you could cut the two layers in half to make four or use a one-layer cake for a skinny ombré effect. To help avoid getting crumbs mixed into the frosting, start with chilled or frozen cake layers. Use your favorite recipe (pick any flavor you want), or give one of our best cake recipes a try.

Get our best tips for baking a layer cake.

Step Two: The Frosting

Before you can start decorating, you need a totally scrumptious and addicting frosting recipe. Homemade buttercream is our favorite because it has a great consistency and tastes amazing. But if you're not a buttercream-lover or you're looking to step outside the box a little, experiment with your favorite frosting recipe. And if you're looking for a shortcut so you can get decorating faster, try using purchased white frosting. Remember, you need a thicker frosting to create the ombré layers, so steer clear of icings and glazes.

Get the recipe for Homemade Buttercream Frosting.

Step Three: The Crumb Coat

Photo Credit: Courtney Whitmore

Start by placing one chilled or frozen cake layer on a cake stand. Slide a few pieces of waxed paper beneath the cake to help keep frosting off the cake stand. Frost the top of the cake layer, then place the second cake layer on top of the first. Repeat with additional layers, if necessary. Thinly frost the top and sides of the cake with white frosting.

Learn how to make a crumb coat your final layer of frosting with our easy Naked Cake recipe!

Step Four: Choose Your Favorite Color

Photo Credit: Courtney Whitmore

Divide the remaining frosting into three bowls. Leave one bowl of frosting white for the top layer of the cake. Place a few drops of food coloring into the second bowl and mix to create your desired shade. For the third bowl of frosting, use a few more drops of the same color to create a darker shade. If you want to make more than three shades of frosting, divide the frosting into different bowls for each shade (using five bowls for five different shades, for example), and then add color until you reach your desired shades.

Step Five: Creating Ombré Layers

Photo Credit: Courtney Whitmore

Using an offset spatula, frost the bottom third of the cake with the darkest shade of frosting. Then, using the lighter shade of frosting, frost the middle third of the cake in the same way. Be sure to thoroughly wipe or rinse and dry your offset spatula between layers so the two colors of frosting don't mix.

Learn how to give your cake the ultimate smooth edge for a polished finish!

Step Six: Finish and Smooth

Photo Credit: Courtney Whitmore

Using your offset spatula, frost the remaining third and the top of the cake with white frosting. Clean your spatula, then dip it in warm water and dry. Use the spatula to smooth the between the different shades of frosting. This will blend the layers together slightly, giving your cake the desired ombré look. Feel free to get creative and use other cake decorating tools to make lines or swirls in the frosting. Gently pull out the waxed paper from beneath the bottom layer, and enjoy!

Go Natural!

Get our best tips for natural food coloring.

If you want to skip the artificial dyes and colorings, we have a couple of different natural methods for you to try. We used fruits and veggies instead of food coloring to give these frostings their hue, which not only creates stunning colors but also makes yummy flavored frosting!

Frosting Made with Natural Food Coloring

More Gorgeous, Celebration-Worthy Cakes

Get instructions for baking this dazzling ombre layer cake.

Why stop at ombré frosting when you can serve ombré cake as well? Each slice of this beautiful ombré cake reveals the hidden pattern inside.

How to Make an Ombré Layer Cake

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Recipes for Decorated Cakes

Cake Decorating Ideas and Tips

Creative Cake-Decorating Ideas

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