16 Types of Frosting – Complete Guide 2024

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Have you developed a passion for baking?

If you love decorating cakes, you will need to learn about all the frosting types to level up your baking style.

Creating something that tastes delicious can be a whole lot better if it is visually appealing at the same time.

Every time someone looks at a cake, they can immediately associate wonderful, sweet flavors with the beautiful decorations.

Read along to understand the different cake frosting varieties, and prepare yourself for a whole new baking experience.

What is the difference between icing and frosting?

Icing is often used interchangeably with frosting.

After all, both have something to do with finishing and decorating cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods.

To distinguish between the two, let’s talk about variations in thickness and consistency.

Frosting is the thick and fluffy coating around a cake or the filling between its layers.

On the other hand, icing is the thin, glossy glaze typically used for intricate decorations.

Frosting has a creamy base and flavor, while icing is very sweet because of its powdered sugar base.

Additionally, frosting is excellent for adding color and texture to a baked item. On the other hand, icing is better suited for making a smooth, shiny glaze.

What are the types of frosting?

Most types of buttercream, cream cheese, and whipped cream combinations fall under the frosting category.

American buttercream, German buttercream, and other versions from Italy, France, and Switzerland heavily use creamed butter and are all types of buttercream frosting.

They only vary in a few ingredients and preparation techniques.

What are the different types of icing?

The different types of icing include pastillage, glaze frosting, fondant, royal icing, marzipan, and gum paste.

The most basic form of icing is a combination of confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar and liquid mixed into a smooth consistency.

Liquids used to make icing include water, cream, milk, citrus juice, or liqueur.

Icing should be thick enough for coating, but it should also be thin enough to spread into a completely smooth layer.

16 Types of Frosting or Icing You Can Use

With the distinction between frosting and icing, you can choose which among the various types are best for the different parts of your cake.

Italian Buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream is a type of frosting that is fluffy and buttery. This type of buttercream needs some refrigeration to acquire its medium or thick consistency.

Hot sugar syrup is added to whipped egg whites to make Italian buttercream frosting. After cooling, flavoring and butter are added to the mixture.

Italian buttercream is dependable and holds up well even in warm temperatures.

Swiss Buttercream

Like Italian buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream is fluffy and buttery. It can have a medium to thick consistency after some refrigeration.

To make Swiss buttercream, egg whites and sugar are mixed and whipped in a cooktop using controlled heat.

Butter and flavoring are also only added after the mixture has cooled.

Swiss buttercream tends to deflate a bit quicker than Italian buttercream. It also doesn’t hold up as well in warm temperatures.

French Buttercream

French meringue buttercream is very rich in that it uses both egg yolks and egg whites.

This is unlike the Swiss and Italian versions, which only use the whites.

However, like Italian buttercream, the sugar is only added after the eggs have already been whipped.

Because of the inclusion of egg yolks, French buttercream frosting is quite perishable and should be kept refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Frosting

If you want a slightly tangy flavor with some sweetness, use a cream cheese frosting on your cake.

Cream cheese replaces the buttery fat used in most types of buttercream frosting. 

It is thick and creamy with a thin to medium consistency. It is used to top most red velvet cakes and various types of carrot cake.

To make cream cheese frosting, beat cream cheese with butter, and add in a liquid, such as milk and liqueur.

Add confectioners’ sugar and flavoring after beating the liquid into the mixture.

Most cream cheese iced cakes have to be refrigerated, so check the type of cream cheese you plan to use.


Ganache is the ultimate chocolate frosting because it is a rich emulsified mixture of chocolate and cream.

It can be dark, decadent, and very chocolatey or be white with a rich, velvety flavor that is a little more complex than buttercream.

Ganache is the most versatile of all the types of frosting. It can be a pourable glaze, a rich, fluffy filling, or a smooth cake topping.

Excellent ganache uses high-quality chocolate, and it stands well in warm temperatures.

It can stay at room temperature for two or three days, but it has to be refrigerated or frozen for a longer shelf-life.

Whipped Cream

Just like buttercream, whipped cream frosting is also very popular among bakers.

Whipped cream is very creamy and has a delicate sweetness to it but is quite perishable. Hence, you have to keep it refrigerated.

To make a batch of whipped cream frosting, beat heavy cream with sugar until it reaches the required consistency.

Use a cold, grease-free mixing bowl and a cooled whisk to make the best and the fluffiest whipped cream frosting.

You can add some gelatin to stabilize the mixture for a longer shelf-life.

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is as famous as jam and custard. It is sweet and tangy, and it has a strong lemon flavor.

You can mix it with your afternoon tea, or you can use it to make cake frosting.

If you want something tart and citrusy on your cakes or pastries, thick consistency lemon curd frosting is what you need.

It uses lemon zest, lemon juice, butter or cream cheese, eggs, and sugar and is prepared by cooking on a stovetop.

Lemon curd is one of the most distinct types of frosting because of its unique flavor.

Its thick, custard-like consistency makes it an excellent choice as a filling rather than a frosting, but it works well in both cases.

Like whipped cream frosting, lemon curd frosting needs constant refrigeration.

Boiled Frosting

Make boiled frosting by warming egg whites, corn syrup, sugar and water, and beating them together until the mixture gets fluffy and glossy.

When you try to substitute white granulated sugar with light brown sugar, the resulting consistency is like a seafoam that sets quickly.

Heating helps coagulate the proteins in the egg whites to produce a frosting that can hold its shape.

A batch of boiled frosting is one of the easiest cooked frosting recipes you can make. This is why it is also called the seven-minute frosting.

It has been around since the 1900s, and it is still popularly used by many bakers and dessert enthusiasts today.

Boiled frosting does not freeze well, and it deflates after about 24 hours.

If you want fat-free frosting with a marshmallow-like texture, choose boiled frosting.

However, be careful when combining it with fat-based frosting.

Boiled frosting almost immediately deflates if fatty ingredients, such as chocolate or heavy cream, are added to the mixture.

Candy Clay Frosting

As the name suggests, candy clay frosting is an edible sculpting clay. It can be formed into any shape and come in different colors.

Make it using some melted candy mixed with corn syrup.

It has a dough-like consistency, and it can be rolled flat before application to a cake.

You can use candy clay frosting to cover cakes and create a vast array of edible decorations.

It can be very hard at first, but some kneading will turn it soft.

Rolled Fondant

The best choice of frosting for outdoor applications is rolled fondant. It holds up well in hot temperatures, but it will soften in warm and humid conditions.

Rolled fondant has a smooth, matte finish, and it can come in a variety and blend of colors.

It is a combination of sugar and vegetable shortening that makes a thick, dough-like substance.

Like candy clay, it can be molded into any shape or rolled out into a covering layer for a cake.

Rolled fondant can last up to two months at room temperature in a well-sealed container.

Poured Fondant

For a perfectly smooth, satiny iced surface, use poured fondant.

Poured fondant has an extremely sweet flavor, and it dries to a semi-hard candy-like consistency.

Any excess can be refrigerated and then gently heated to be poured again.

Poured fondant will soften and become sticky under warm and humid conditions.

Glaze Frosting

The most straightforward kind of frosting that has a fragile consistency is glaze frosting.

It is typically used as a drizzle on top of sweet treats such as cakes, donuts, cookies, and cupcakes.

Glaze frosting leaves behind a smooth, shiny look. It forms a hard, glossy crust that produces a crunch after every bite.

Powdered sugar is mixed with a small amount of milk or water until a syrup-like consistency is achieved to make glaze frosting.


If you love the flavor of almond, marzipan can be your frosting of choice.

Marzipan is used similarly as rolled fondant because of its dough-like consistency.

Since it is made from a mixture filled with almond paste, marzipan can go rancid. The best storage practice is to keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Marzipan can hold up well in warm weather conditions.

Gum paste

Gum paste is thick and malleable, much similar to the dough-like consistency of candy clay.

To make gum paste, you need a stiffening agent to keep a gummy consistency.

Gum paste can survive warm conditions, but it softens under extreme heat and consistency.

To store excess gum paste for up to two months, keep it in an airtight container at room temperature.

Royal Frosting

Royal frosting is a pure white, sticky icing that dries to a hard, brittle finish.

This characteristic makes it an ideal choice for decorating cakes and pastries.

It can have varying consistencies depending on the amount of certain ingredients in the mixture.

Royal icing is made with a heavy paste of egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and small amounts of lemon juice or vinegar.

When placed over butter or fat-based frosting, royal frosting softens.

It does not need refrigeration after it has air-dried, and it can last for several months.


Pastillage is more of icing than frosting. It is like gum paste, and it consists of sugar and water, and sometimes it has a hardening agent.

The hardening agent is often tylose.

Pastillage can be molded, shaped by hand, or imprinted before it dries firm.

This type of frosting makes an excellent alternative to gum paste, especially when a quick fix is required.

Pastillage dries quicker than gum paste, and it can keep its shape better in humid conditions.

Unlike fondant or gum paste, pastillage is sturdy enough to go through gentle sanding.

However, avoid using pastillage as an overall cover for a cake. It is quite bland, and it is too firm. Use it for creating awe-inspiring decorations instead.

What is the best type of frosting?

Buttercream frosting is the preferred choice for flavor and versatility.

It is softer and more spreadable than other types of frosting, and it can be prepared in so many ways.

Buttercream frosting can be used as a coating for a cake, a filler between its layers, or a topping for baked goods.

Its flavor can be easily manipulated with the addition of artificial flavoring. The introduction of flavors does not easily affect the frosting’s consistency.

The only problem with buttercream frosting is that it melts or deflates under hot conditions.


The different types of frosting and icing come hand-in-hand in the creation of visually delectable baked goods.

Each type is unique, and many bakers even combine the preparation methods of various kinds for experimentation.

Baking is a very tedious hobby, but it can be very fulfilling.

Unlike home-cooked meals with slight changes in results when recipes are not followed to the letter, baked goods require a stricter approach.

With baking, there are such things as mixing too much and whisking too fast.

It pays to have a few practice runs and learn the basics.

Making your own frosting for the first time can be frustrating when the results are not what you expect, so learning the different types can help you decide which ones to try out first.

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