Tips For Perfect Chocolate Ganache Drip Cakes

tips for perfect chocolate ganache drip cakes

One of my favorite easy things to dress up a cake is to do a chocolate ganache drip finish. Over the years, my ability to create the drip look has definitely grown, and I get tons of questions asking what my secret is. The truth is, chocolate ganache has definitely put me through the wringer before, especially white chocolate ganache, which used to be my absolute nemesis. Don’t worry, I’ll share my secrets for white chocolate ganache another day because it deserves it’s very own post (but if you’re dying to know my white chocolate ganache recipe I’ve included it in the recipe notes below).

True chocolate ganache has tested my patience as well, but after figuring out the perfect ratio for chocolate to heavy whipping cream and learning the do’s and dont’s of drip cakes, I’ve got it down to a science these days. And now you will too!

chocolate ganache consistency for drip cakes

Here’s a little video I’ve created to show you my method before you read all about it. You’ll notice I do my drips with a spoon instead of a squeeze bottle. This is what’s always worked for me and I’m sure someday I’ll figure out the latter approach, but for now this is my go-to method.

First, here’s the recipe. Read on afterwards for my tips on working with chocolate ganache!

how to drip a cake with chocolate ganache
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Chocolate Ganache For Drip Cakes

The perfect chocolate ganache consistency for drip cakes using milk, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (183g) chocolate chips (Milk, Semi-Sweet, or Dark) or a bar chopped up into bits
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Place chocolate chips into a heat resistant bowl (glass or metal). If you’re starting with a chocolate bar, chop it into small pieces until they’re about the size of chocolate chips. 

  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm heavy whipping cream until it just starts to boil. I always look for small bubbles forming around the edge and a soft boil starting in the middle. When you see that it’s just starting to boil, pour it into your bowl of chocolate and let sit for one minute. 

  3. Whisk it together until it’s uniform in consistency and there are no bits of chocolate left on your whisk. Cool ganache at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until the ganache itself is room temperature. 

Recipe Notes

Make ahead tip: this ganache can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it as a drip, microwave it in 10 second increments, stirring after every interval until your ganache is room temperature and uniform in consistency.

If you're using white chocolate: my favorite ratio is 3:1, meaning three parts white chocolate to one part heavy whipping cream. Follow the same steps with this ratio and you're good to go! 

Tips For Perfect Chocolate Ganache Drip Cakes

Tip 1: Be Patient With The Cooling Process

Once you’ve whisked the ganache together, it’s crucial to let it cool on your countertop until it’s room temperature, about 20-30 minutes depending on how cold your environment is. Trying to speed up this process by placing ganache in the refrigerator doesn’t usually end well – I’ve found that it cools unevenly, leading to thick, globby drips.

chocolate ganache recipe by sugar and sparrow

Cooling in the fridge also leads to the urge to stir it too often. Ganache (especially white chocolate!) does not like to be stirred too often, and the end result can mean that your whipping cream starts to separate from the chocolate. You’ll know that this has happened because the ganache will look grainy and dull, or even separated like oil and water. To fix situations like these, you’ll need to reheat the ganache to 92ºF to melt the fat crystals and re-whisk to bring it back together.  

Tip 2: Make Sure Your Buttercream Is Chilled

There’s a science to this tip. Since molecules move more slowly at cooler temperatures (and warp speed at higher temperatures), it makes a lot of sense that you can better control how far the chocolate ganache drips when the buttercream is chilled. Make sure that after you do your final coat of buttercream, you chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Tip 3: Always Do A Test Drip

When your buttercream is nice and chilled, do a test drip by letting the ganache run down the side of your cake. If it travels rapidly and pools at the bottom, your ganache is too warm. Continue to cool the ganache for another 5-10 minutes and try your test drip again. If it’s globby or doesn’t travel very far down the side of the cake, it’s too cold. Reheat the ganache in the microwave for about 10 seconds, stir, and try again. Repeat the reheating process as needed until you get the perfect consistency.

test drip with chocolate ganache

The good thing about a test drip is you’re able to see how the ganache will behave. That way you don’t have to commit until you like what you’re seeing.

Tip 4: Drip The Sides Before Filling In The Top

When I first started caking, my initial thought was to just dump ganache over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides naturally. If you’ve ever tried that before, you’ll know it doesn’t end up looking good. You’ll have a lot more control over the appearance if you start by dripping the sides until they’re aesthetically pleasing before filling in the top of the cake.

tips for chocolate ganache drip cakes

Try not to add too much ganache to the top when filling it in, because if you add any more to the drips you’ve created, it will make them travel farther than you’d like. Instead, try to use just a little ganache and spread it so that it just touches where your drips begin. The ganache on the top should self-level a bit, so don’t worry too much about getting it super smooth.

chocolate ganache drip cakes spoon method

Tip 5: Don’t Touch Those Drips

If you’ve ever made a drip cake with ganache before, you’ll know that it’s a little sticky to the touch when it’s room temperature. When the drips have been refrigerated, they’re a little less fragile, but try not to touch the drips at all during the decorating or boxing-up process.

I had a pretty bad time with this one when delivering a drip cake. I had it in the box and turned a corner too fast and the cake slid to the side of the box. Those drips stuck right to it and were ruined. Luckily, I had a little extra ganache and buttercream in my little cake emergency kit to fix it, but talk about a stress fest!

chocolate ganache drip cake by sugar and sparrow

Is there anything else you’d like to know about drip cakes? I’m certainly not an expert per se, but if you have more questions, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer!

81 Comments

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  3. If I want to paint the white chocolate in gold dust how long should I let it dry before painting? Also will there be condensation if I refrigerate the cake after applying the drip and then letting the cake get rooom temp again?

    • Hi Nicole! I have never tried painting white chocolate ganache before, so I can’t say for sure. My hunch is that white chocolate ganache would be too sticky to paint, even after it’s been refrigerated. After researching it a little bit, I think when people paint drips metallic they’re either using melted chocolate, candy melts, or royal icing for the drips (aka something that dries hard). I’ll let you know if I ever try the technique myself. And to answer your second question, in my experience there is usually a little condensation after bringing a refrigerated cake to room temp.

      • Kandice

        If you put the cake in a thick cardboard box to refrigerate it, and then pull it out of the fridge and let it come to temp in the box, it helps with the condensation. I live in Florida so I have to do this pretty much year round. It also helps with fondant sweat etc.

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  5. what amounts do you typically use for 1 part of each? Like a cup of each? more?

    • Hi Katie! I usually use 1 cup of chocolate chips to 1 cup heavy whipping cream. That’s enough ganache to drip up to a 12-inch cake. Even if I’m dripping a smaller cake I like to make that amount and store the extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator, because it will last up to two weeks.

    • Thank you for the tutorial. I know with candy melts you can decorate the drips with sprinkles, but would it work for ganache as you mentioned it’s too sticky to touch?


  6. I have always decorated with fondant, can you please advise how long can you decorate with the drip ahead of a party? Is it best left in room temporature or in the fridge?

    • Hi Lauren! The best thing about a chocolate ganache drip is you can do it ahead of time and once it’s dripped it’ll keep perfectly in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it or continue decorating. I always do the drip the night before and keep it stored in the fridge until the next step.

      • Mandy Osborne


        I have read that if you prefer decorating your cake ahead of time, like the day before the event, the ganache may appear dull or will have lost its shine by the next day. So the article suggests adding a small amount of glucose syrup so the ganache still looks fresh and brilliant the next day.

        • Hi Mandy! I have never had a problem with my ganache appearing dull the next day, so I’ve never tried adding glucose syrup or anything besides what’s in the recipe.

  7. Thanks Whitney, will it dry it out by leaving a cake with buttercream layering only in the fridge?

    • The cake will not dry out in the fridge if it has a layer of buttercream, even if it’s a semi-naked finish. The buttercream acts as a protective barrier to keep the cake part from drying out. I refrigerate my buttercream cakes every single time after decorating and only let them come to room temperature for eating – never had problems with a dry cake.

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  9. Hi Whitney

    I have a couple of questions which i hope you can help me !! Im looking to make a chocolate cake with gold drip. Can i do your ganache drip and color it with gold luster? Also what can i do to make my swiss chocolate butter cream dark but not black? im not looking for the light brown colour for my cake

    thank you

    • Hi Dana! I’ve never done a gold ganache drip before. I think when cakers make a gold drip it’s typically melted white chocolate that’s been painted with a gold luster + vodka mixture. Applying gold luster to chocolate ganache might end up ruining the drip since it’s so soft to the touch when set. And as far as swiss chocolate buttercream.. I would try adding a little bit of brown food coloring to make it a darker color. Hope that helps!


  10. Thank you for this! Ganache is such a tricky thing! I have a question – if I wanted to do whipped ganache, would you use the same ratios, chill in the fridge, then whip up in your mixer? Or is it different? I typically use milk chocolate if that makes a difference too 🙂

    • Hi Carla! For whipped ganache I use 2:3 ratio (for example, 2/3 cup whipping cream to 1 cup chocolate). That ratio works great with any true chocolate, especially milk chocolate. I usually make it ahead and store in the fridge for up to two weeks, then when I’m ready to use it I bring it back to room temperature and whip in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

    • Hi Shahin! I am working on converting all of my recipes to the metric system. I’ll make an announcement when I’m finished. In the meantime, this ganache recipe can still be made using a 1:1 ratio in grams.

  11. vicky bonnett


    Do you have a specific type of white chocolate you like to use for the white chocolate ganache?

  12. Looking at making a caramel drip over a cream cheese frosting. Any suggestions? I feel if I let the caramel cool too long it won’t flow or drip. But too warm will melt my frosting.

    • Hi Pam! I love doing caramel drips! Here are my tips: 1) make sure your cream cheese frosted cake has been chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (longer is better) before dripping. 2) make sure your caramel is room temperature before dripping, because it could melt the buttercream if it’s too warm. 3) I use this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction for caramel drips and find it to be not only easy to make, but really easy to work with: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-salted-caramel-recipe/ 4) if you find that the caramel is too thick and won’t drip easily when it’s room temperature, try adding a few drops of water to make the consistency more runny (but be careful not to add too much water!!). That trick worked with the recipe in tip #3 quite well.

  13. Madeleine Heap

    Hi, I’ve found with the quantities in the recipe above that the cooling times are off. 30 minutes wait after cream is poured before whisking and then a further 20-30 minutes before pouring leaves the ganache almost set. My room temp by the way was 19.5C.

    • Hi Madeleine! After you pour the cream over the chocolate, the instructions state to wait 1 minute before whisking it all together, not 30 minutes. After whisking it together, I find that it takes about 30 minutes for the ganache to come to room temperature, but kitchen environments vary. I would just keep an eye on it and test the temperature every 10 minutes to see how long it will take to reach room temperature. Doing a test drip on your chilled cake always helps if you’re not sure if it has reached the right consistency. Hope that helps!

    • Hi Shasta! I’ve never used the ganache on a stabilized whipped cream frosted cake, but I have seen it done beautifully before. As long as the ganache is room temperature and the frosting is cold, I’m sure it will work just fine. Let me know how it goes!

  14. Hi. Thanks for the helpful information. I want to do a drip with candy melts (since I already happend to have some). Would I use the same ratios that you mentioned above for regular chocolate? Would the instructions change at all?

    • Hi Kimberly! I have only used candy melts for a drip cake once, and didn’t like the taste as much as white chocolate or the consistency (it dries much harder!) but you can totally try it to see what works for you. I would use 12 oz of candy melts, chop them into smaller bits so they melt easier, use 1/3 cup heated heavy whipping cream and follow the instructions in the recipe above. Let me know how it goes!


  15. hi. ive done drip cake with white chocolate beFOre but when it reach the customer, the cake melt.. did i do anything wrong?

    • Hi Rose! At what point did the cake melt? If it was during the dripping process, the ganache was probably too warm. It’s essential to chill your cake before dripping it with room temperature ganache. Then I recommend keeping the cake in the refrigerator until you deliver it, especially if you live in a warmer climate. That way, the cake will be cold during the delivery process and the chances of it melting will be very slim.

  16. Hi – I want to do a white chocolate drip over a lemon drizzle cake (iced with lemon buttercream). I see you’ve put a recipe tip about using 3 parts to 1 part chocolate to cream when using white. Sorry if I’m being stupid but could you possibly explain how that translates to actual measurements? I.e. how many cups/grams do I need of each? Also, I’m in the UK – is ‘heavy whipping cream’ the same as ‘double cream’?
    Did you ever do your post on white chocolate ganache that you mention above?! Just wondering if I should be reading that!

    • Hi Helen! That’s not a silly question at all. When making white chocolate ganache, I usually use 1 Cup (183g) of white chocolate chips and 1/3 cup (79ml) of heavy whipping cream, which is the same as double cream. The steps in the above recipe will work perfectly. I haven’t yet done a specific post for white chocolate ganache drips but I definitely will in the future!

  17. Christine Hinder

    Hi, Whitney, I want to decorate my drip cake with sweets (candy), is it possible to decorate the day before? I have to travel in the car for two hours and I had thought of decorating when I got there. I will have dripped the cake the day before and left in fridge overnight. Thanks

    • Hi Christine! It shouldn’t be a problem to decorate your cakes with candy the day before deliver, as long as the candy you’re using is good in the fridge (chocolate, etc). The only problem I have ever had with candy melting in the fridge is with cotton candy. That’s the only thing I really recommend leaving until the last minute.

    • Hi Alice! I’ve never tried the drip technique on fondant-covered cakes, so I can’t entirely recommend it. You can totally try it with fondant as long as the ganache is room temperature (so it won’t melt the fondant!) but in my experience it works best with a chilled buttercream finish.

  18. Hi! I’m planning on doing a drip for the first time and am really excited about it! I’m glad I found your tutorial. I’m making it a day a head and wanting to put fresh raspberries on top. I plan on keeping it in the refrigerator over night. Have you ever done this? Just wondering if the raspberries will make the ganache kind of wet underneath them from the juice? TIA

    • Hi Andrea! I don’t think storing the cake overnight with the raspberries on top will be a problem. If you’re worried about the raspberries leaking I would drip the cake, store it overnight in the refrigerator, and add the raspberries on top the day of. The ganache will be set (not super sticky) after the refrigeration process, so if you need it to be sticky you could always add a tiny bit more ganache to the top the day of (see the recipe notes for how to store ganache overnight) and stick the raspberries on.

  19. Hi Mandy! I have never had a problem with my ganache appearing dull the next day, so I’ve never tried adding glucose syrup or anything besides what’s in the recipe.

  20. Hi thankyou for your post…ive tried this before (not your recipe) and found the ganach had set but not too hard. when trying to cut a slice the ganach almost lifted off the cake each time the knife went up nd down. Im assuming ganach should not set at all and stay a watery consistency? I also found dark chocolate was a little bitter. If i use milk chocolate would that stop it from setting and have a better? Last question, Would your recipe create a large amount. Or just enough for an 8 or 10″?

    Thankyou in advance

    • Hi Haleema! To answer your questions: 1) the ganache should set and be a little bit tacky, but not watery in consistency, after you refrigerate it for about ten minutes. This process helps the drips from not traveling too far down the cake (if they were watery, they would keep dripping down the cake). What you experienced previously with ganache is considered normal. 2) You can totally use milk chocolate with the same recipe ratio as above, and it will be much sweeter than dark chocolate. I almost always use semi-sweet chocolate, but have tried milk chocolate before and it’s delicious. 3) My recipe creates about 1 cup of ganache, which is sufficient for dripping up to a 12 inch cake. I hope you try my recipe!

      • Hi yes ofcourse, i aim to try his in near future. I probably shouldnt of said watery consistency because ofcourse itll just keep running‍♀️ , i suppose im looking for a recipe where it sets but probably not as hard, that it lifts off the cake. your receipe will be just right consistency.

        Many thanks

        • Hi Haleema! Let me know when you try this recipe. I think you’ll be happy with the results! It sets, but is still semi-soft, so it won’t lift off the cake. It definitely doesn’t set hard like a chocolate shell or anything 🙂

          • Hi just thought id let you know how it went. It set perfectly! Its looks and tastes great. The only downside is the quantity is way too much ill try halfing it next time. But yes very happy with results. Shame i cant post a picture.

  21. Hi is it possible to add gin and food colouring to the white chocolate recipe you previously mentioned, im planning on making a floating bottle gin drip cake so just wondered if its worth attempting. Thankyou

    • Hi Hanna! I have never tried adding alcohol to white chocolate ganache, but I know you can add it after pouring the cream over the chocolate. Make sure you decrease the amount of heavy whipping cream by however much gin you’re adding (to keep the liquid ratio the same). And then you can definitely add food coloring once all the ingredients have been incorporated and the ganache is ready to begin the cooling process.

  22. Hello I have a question, can I fix a cake where to many drips pooled at the bottom?

    • Hi Susana! The only way to fix that would be to scrape the chocolate ganache off, fix the frosting, and try again. It sounds like the ganache didn’t have enough cooling time before you started dripping the cake though, so next time I would let it cool more and do a test drip to make sure it doesn’t pool at the bottom before dripping the whole cake.

  23. Hola tengo una consulta a que te refieres con crema? Creo que en mi país nos e vende, será crema doble? Es la crema de leche batida, o chantilly? Muchas gracias


  24. Hi Whitney,
    i was wondering how long do I wait to add sprinkles to my drips?

  25. Sam Brown

    Hi I’m in the UK and I’ve used whipping cream, it seems fairly runny. I’ve just read the comments above and it says double. Should I redo??

    • Hi Sam! I use Heavy Whipping Cream for this recipe, and I believe that is called Double Cream in the UK. Not sure if the Whipping Cream over there is the same as Heavy Whipping Cream/Double Cream or not. The ganache is usually really runny when it’s hot (right after it’s made), but should become more thick as it cools to room temperature. If it’s too runny at room temperature, I would redo with a 2:3 ratio (1 cup chocolate and 2/3 cup cream). Hope that helps!


  26. Thanks for this recipe. I used it today and results were perfect. I am not a practised Baker, but the result was perfect.

  27. Hi! I’m getting ready to make a 5 layer drip cake for daughters birthday. I’ve never done it before but she wants one so badly so I’m giving it a shot!
    My question is about the consistency of the white chocolate ganache after refrigerating overnight. I have to transport it about 45 minutes to the venue and im afraid the ganache will be sticky or wet. Has that ever happened to you?
    I’ll be using a cake board and have built a box for it so it shouldn’t move too much. I wont have the use of a microwave to apply more ganache and it will have warmed up a bit from the drive. Too risky?

    • Hi Joanne! In my experience, after the white chocolate ganache has been set, it shouldn’t move at all or get too sticky, even during a 45 minute transport. My best advice is to keep the cake refrigerated until right before you leave, and make sure you build the cake box in such a way that the cake sides won’t touch the sides of the box. I think you’ll be good to go as long as your ganache is nice and set. Here’s the ratio and all my tips for white chocolate ganache in case you need them: https://sugarandsparrow.com/white-chocolate-ganache-drip-recipe/

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  30. Stella

    Hi ,
    You make it look so easy. Trying my first attempt with ganache. My question is I am using a whipped icing (not the white tub kind) is this a problem. I will be putting in fridge to set before attempting.


  31. I let the ganache cool for 45 minutes and the drip is still complete liquid. I finally just had to put the drip on because I’m going to a party and now my cake looks terrible. I followed the recipe exactly and let it cool for almost an hour.

    • Hi Lily, so sorry to hear about your chocolate ganache being too liquidy. While this is the ratio that works for me, it sounds like you need to try a ratio with less liquid to get better results. I would recommend trying a 2:3 ratio and use 1 cup chocolate chips to 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream next time.

  32. Bárbara López

    Hi! Thanks for the tips! I have a question, I use Italian meringue to cover the cakes since the buttercream in Venezuela is very expensive to make, so I wanted to know if it works just as well and if you also have to put it in the refrigerator

    • Hi Barbara! You can totally do a chocolate ganache drip on Italian meringue as long as the buttercream is chilled first. Just follow the instructions above (no extra steps necessary) and you’ll be good! I always store my cakes in the refrigerator until about an hour before serving, but refrigerating a ganache drip cake isn’t necessary. If you’re used to leaving them out at room temp after decorating, it’ll be fine!

  33. Great tips. I’m having such a hard time getting drips right! I think I’m perhaps too impatient, and not using quite enough cream in my ganache. Thanks for the help!

    • Hi Donna! It definitely takes patience, mostly getting the right ratio of cream and waiting for it to become the perfect temperature for dripping. I hope these tips help!


  34. I found this 1 cup to 1 cup ratio is too runny, I’ve waited for 45 minutes and it’s room temp but the drip still would go all the way down to the cake board.

    • Hi Kevin! Sorry the 1:1 ratio didn’t work out for you. Next time I would try 1 cup of chocolate chips to 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream. I think that ratio will work perfectly for you.

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