skip to content

FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $60! *Limited to domestic U.S. orders only.

Discussion Forum

Topic: Icing amount for 400 cupcakes???
jamiehastwins 05/09/2011 8:37 AM
Please help! I am decorating 400 cupcakes for a wedding this weekend and am unsure of how much icing to expect to go through. Thankfully I am not baking the cupcakes, they are being made by "church ladies" and delivered here to my house between 8 and noon on Friday. The bride just asked me to decorate them so that they would all look the same. The reception is Saturday afternoon. I am planning on using the Wilton Decorator Icing in the 4.5 lb. tubs because I like how it tastes vs. my homemade buttercream, plus it will save me a ton of prep work by not having to make icing from scratch. Here are my questions:

1. How many pounds of icing will I need for 400 cupcakes (roughly 34 dozen) using a 1M swirl?
2. Can the cupcakes sit out for 24 hours without needing to be refrigerated or kept airtight? I will be decorating them in my basement kitchen, which is at least 15 degrees cooler than my main level, plus the temps here in Wisconsin are predicted to be below average all week.
whoknew? 05/09/2011 12:37 PM
jamie, you may want to rethink purchasing the Wilton icing for 400 cupcakes done with a 1M swirl. That 1M swirl takes a LOT of frosting. I did a search and came up with this older topic:

I agree with the topic that says it takes about 4 Tablespoons of frosting for each 1M standard sized cupcake. In the thread above, N8smom96 said it takes 5 cups of frosting for 24 standard size cupcakes frosting with 1M swirl. The Wilton Decorator tub of 4.5 lbs. will barely produce 9 cups of frosting, enough for 48 cupcakes (4 doz). You would need 8-9 tubs of 4.5 lb. Wilton Decorating icing.

A 5 gallon bucket of ready-made frosting will contain 80 cups, or enough for about 384 cupcakes. You can get 5 lb. buckets from bakery wholesale suppliers, Sam's Club, etc. At my local wholesale bakery, it costs about $50 wholesale for a 5 gal. bucket.

Any frosting will keep 24 hours just fine, especially in the area/temp you describe. Be sure to have 1-3 helpers on standby so if your hand cramps, or you misjudge the time, you will be able to finish 400 cupcakes. For transport, I'd strongly recommend you purchase a roll of foam shelf liner ( Also contact your local grocery store and ask them to save the cardboard boxes that the strawberries come in. You can line the boxes with the foam liner, then place about 40-48 cupcakes in each box, and stack the boxes without smashing the tops of the cupcakes. Here's a photo of 48 barely frosted cupcakes in a strawberry cardboard box (you'll need more space for 1M swirl cupcakes):
jamiehastwins 05/09/2011 1:13 PM
Thanks WhoKnew? I already had to move on to Plan B. My local WalMart only had 2 tubs of the 4.5 lb. decorator frosting in stock. I tried asking at the bakery department if I could buy a larger quantity from them and was told--quite rudely--that they do not sell their frosting. So, I went back to my local grocery store and talked to the bakery manager. She can order me 15 lb. buckets of their buttercream for $38 each. It is my only option because I do not live near any wholesale or Sams Club type stores. We are very limited in this area. With the price of gas, it would cost me more to drive to one of those stores than it is going to cost me to get them from the Piggly Wiggly. I ran this all by my bride and she is fine with the cost. She is just excited that I agreed to decorate them for her.

I am already planning on going light on the 1M swirl. There will be a fondant flower and sugar pearls on top as well so it doesn't have to be super high.

I've already got my helpers and transportation figured out. I'll have over 24 hours to get them all done, delivered, and set up. It's just going to be a matter of finding enough horizontal storage space in my house for this many cupcakes without my 4 kids (plus dog and husband) getting into them. I am thinking about sending them out of town for those 2 days!
TBCALE 05/09/2011 1:35 PM
jamiehastwins..... Hi. If you have a Sams card or a Sams club around you the bakery there sells the tubs of bc, 28 lbs, in either white or chocolate. I am in Texas and I got one for about $31.00.
jamiehastwins 05/09/2011 2:25 PM
TBCALE: That would be great except as I already stated there is not a Sam's Club within 50 miles of my house. I truly wish there were because that would make this a lot easier. The only large quantities of icing that were available to me were the 4.5 lb. tubs at WalMart until today when I asked at my local grocery store bakery. They are reluctant but willing to let me order the buttercream they use for their cakes/cupcakes. It is the only option I have.

My primary question is not WHERE to buy the icing but HOW MUCH. I am sorry if that was not clear in my first post. I really am just looking for advice on how many pounds of icing I am going to need for this order.
ginnyl 05/09/2011 2:42 PM
jamiehastwins, I guess you got your answer as to how much icing you will need...When I did 36 cupcakes with the 1M tip I used about 1 1/2 recipes of bunnywoman's buttercream...
whoknew? 05/09/2011 6:03 PM
jamie, rain down blessings upon your local grocery store, reluctant or not! Sounds like they will save you since nothing else is nearby. In my figures above (not good with math by the way....) that came from the earlier thread, the Wilton 4.5 POUND bucket will barely produce 9 cups of frosting, enough for 48 cupcakes (4 doz).

5 POUNDS (10 cups) of frosting will generously frost 4 dozen (50) cupcakes. THREE of the grocery store 15 POUND buckets will do the 1M swirl for 300 cupcakes. So you will need to purchase FOUR of the 15 pound buckets to have enough. You can always freeze any leftover frosting.

I noticed in my post that I made a mistake and put gallon instead of pound in couple of spots. Make sure the grocery store buckets are 15 POUNDS each (15 pounds = 30 cups).

Here's some examples of two different 1M swirl techniques. The flatter one is swirled from the inside to outside. The taller one is swirled from the outside to the inside and lifted off the center.

BlackWidowNor 05/09/2011 6:17 PM
If you're putting a butterfly on top - chose to do the swirl from the inside out. Looks like a rose and a butterfly on a rose will look so romantic. The inside out swirl will actually save you icing a bit.
jamiehastwins 05/09/2011 6:45 PM
WhoKnew? Thanks! That is super helpful. I have done the 1M swirl quite a bit, but I am more of a cake decorator. This cupcake fad is foreign to me. I'd much rather be doing a wedding cake for 400 than individual cupcakes but this is what the bride wanted and she goes to my church so of course I'm going to oblige. Your math pretty much matches what I figured as well--it's just taken a long time to get to the right figures. I've never had to figure out amounts for 34 dozen anything before!
whoknew? 05/09/2011 11:19 PM
You are very welcome.
TBCALE 05/10/2011 11:58 AM
jamiehastwins: My apologize. I jumped the gun on my response before I actually slowed down to read the full response. I guess that will teach me to do a fast skim thru. Again, I'm sorry for the miss understanding on my part. I hope you will post pics of the cupcakes when they are done.
jamiehastwins 05/10/2011 12:47 PM
TBCALE: It's all good! I will definitely post the pics and the final answer to exactly how much icing is in fact needed for 400 cupcakes, in case anyone else ever needs to know the answer!
denetteb 05/11/2011 10:58 PM
I just did a bunch of rose swirl cakes and they took way more frosting than I would have imagined. I used the 2D because I think it uses less icing than the 1M but looks the same. 2D is closed star and 1M is open star. If I could ever figure out how to do a new post I will start a thread on what I learned. Some techno thing keeps me from starting a new thread, will see if hubby can help me with it. Good luck with your cuppies.
jamiehastwins 05/11/2011 11:08 PM
Denetteb: Oooooooohh, that's a great tip! I might have to experiment with that one tomorrow quick before the frenzy begins on Friday.
denetteb 05/12/2011 7:42 AM
When you have a chance to breath, I would be curious what you think.....if I am deceiving myself that it looks the same but uses less icing.
KitKat79 05/12/2011 9:57 AM
I haven't done a side-by-side comparison yet, but the 1M and 2D swirls, if not identical, are very similar. I'm also with you on the 2D swirl taking less than the 1M.

When I use the 1M tip, I go from outside-to-inside, but I stop with only the first layer of frosting, skipping the second, smaller layer on top. I'm a frosting junkie, and even I think that stopping at 1 layer/level puts plenty on each cupcake. I also stop at 1 layer/level when doing the 2D swirl. It has the added bonuses of there being less work and using less frosting.
whoknew? 05/12/2011 9:59 AM
Good morning Jamie and denetteb. Here's a Cupcake frosting tutorial, showing which tip to use for 6 techniques, swirl, poofy, button, etc. with pictures of the finished cupcakes.
jamiehastwins 05/12/2011 10:20 AM
I agree, KitKat, I only do the one swirl. Outside to inside and leave a nice tip at the top. The extra swirl is too much, especially for these particular cupcakes since they are getting 2 MMF flowers besides.

As if this all weren't enough, I just found out my grandma is not expected to live past today. Going to try to squeeze in a trip to say goodbye this evening (one hour drive each way).

I think I need my head examined....
whoknew? 05/12/2011 10:54 AM
Oh sorry to hear about your Grandma. Make the drive, take your time. The cupcakes will get done and you can always sleep later. Please don't stress, it will be hard enough dealing with the feelings about your Grandma and the grief of the other family members. My prayers are with you.
KitKat79 05/12/2011 11:22 AM
I'm so sorry, Jamie. *hugs*