We are going to use a 5 Gallon Pail of Buttercream Icing

to do our comparisons and evaluations. 

To put things in perspective,

you first need to know how some commercially prepared icings compare in weight and size. 

Purchasing Dixie’s Ready-to-Use Icings saves time and money too.   Let’s compare and see!

It’s not the cost per pound that determines the value of the icing, it the VOLUME per pound.....

1    Cup Shortening

4    Pounds Powdered Sugar

1    Tsp Vanilla Flavoring

1    Tsp Almond Flavoring

1    Tsp Butter Flavoring

¾   Tsp Salt

⅓   Cup Corn Starch

8oz (1 Cup) Water

These ingredients added together makes one batch of icing weighing just over 5⅓ pounds (5.35 pounds as shown on the scale in the video).

When the batch of icing is measured, there are 7½ cups of icing.

Truth is, there’s probably not a decorator among us who does not have the story to tell of the time they were rushing to get that special order out and found themselves one small pastry bag short of icing, and had to take the time to make another whole batch of icing...

-which you hate to make icing anyway, and REALLY hate that you have to do it when the cake is supposed to be picked up or delivered right away!

5.35 pounds of Dixie’s Icing yields just about 18½ cups of Icing (18.488), rather than the 7½ cups of the above example! - either Original Almond/Vanilla, Original Recipe Vanilla or Special Recipe Vanilla. 

One cup of Dixie’s white icings measure 4.63 ounces, or just about pound.

One cup of the sample recipe measures 11.4128 ounces, or almost ¾ pound!

You would need to make 2½ batches of the sample icing to equal the same  18½ cup volume of icing as Dixie’s and those same 18½ cups of icing from the test recipe will weigh slightly over 13⅓ pounds!!!

Now, if you are  going to ice and decorate a 250 - 300 serving wedding cake, you will need just about 5 gallons or 80 cups of icing.  Using the same recipe in our example would require 10⅔ batches of icing (at 7½ cups per batch) -  using a standard 4½ Quart Kitchen Aid Mixer.  Your 80 cups of icing weighs slightly over 57 pounds!  No wonder those wedding cakes are so heavy to deliver; and no wonder you get those little bulges around the middle of the layers!  Dixie’s Icing weighs just 23 pounds for a full 5 gallon (80 cup) pail. 

5.35 pounds of sample icing = 7½ cups of icing

5.35 pounds of Dixie’s Icing  = 18½ cups of Icing

Just as the icing in the example weighed surprisingly more than Dixie’s Icing does, making your own icing also costs far more than one expects - based on volume of icing per dollar spent.  

Below are three typical cake decorator icing recipes and the cost evaluation of making enough icing to fill a five gallon pail - .  Find a recipe close to your favorite recipe and see just how much you DON’T really save if you make your own! Better yet, if you haven’t already done so, try your recipe in our calculator above.

Cost of Basic Ingredients Used in Icing Recipes

Highlighted figures are amounts used in all recipe calculations.

Go to very bottom of this page to see how these prices were determined.

In making quality decorator icing, some items can be substituted, and others definitely cannot be. Where applicable I averaged in the cost of “house brands”, others only the brand name products would do.

This is how decisions were made:

Shortening - Crisco is usually the preferred product, or some the the high ratio shortenings.

                     My research shows cost of 3 lbs high ratio fairly similar to or slightly higher than Crisco.

Coffeemate - The recipe I worked with recommended only the “real thing”.

Flavorings - Wilton no-color flavorings usually came in right at or below the average; products are         

                      familiar and readily available across the country.

Meringue Powder - Products vary greatly in ingredient content.  Wilton’s is most similar to the

                      meringue powder used in all Dixie’s Icings.  I felt it most appropriate for evaluation.

   Dixie’s Icing                  net wt 23 lbs.          5 gallon pail

   Sam’s But-R-Creme     net wt 28 lbs.          5 gallon pail

   CK Buttercream           net wt 25 lbs.          3½ gallon pail

Always look at the bottom of the pail.  It will be imprinted with the size in U.S. Gallons


Simply click on the proper icon below to download our icing calculator

Windows users click here

Mac users click here



O.K. -

We have covered weight, volume and expense - how about  



Mixer Wear






When decorating a cake, it’s how much icing you have to work

with that determines if you can complete the decorating job -

no matter what the weight is!