Skip to Content

What is the Difference Between Buttercream and Frosting

New to baking and cake decorating? Confused about what is the difference between buttercream and frosting? We’ll answer this question for you here.

Buttercream, frosting, as well as icing, are terms often confused with one another because they are used interchangeably by many. But of course, if you are just about to start or are new to the world of baking and cake decorating, it’s important to take note of the differences between these three as they play a big role in the outcome of your baked goods.

Aside from giving you an idea about what is the difference between buttercream and frosting, I’ll also discuss everything you need to know about icing, types of frosting, and when and where to use them. 

This post contains links for items to purchase. I make a commission on any sales.

Pin showing the title What is the Difference Between Buttercream and Frosting

Buttercream vs. Frosting

First things first, buttercream is a kind of frosting. Frosting is a cream based spread usually made by whipping sugar and butter together, hence the term “buttercream.”

There are many kinds of frosting made from different cream bases including whipped cream and cream cheese but buttercream is the most popular among all of them. It’s light, thick, fluffy, spreadable, and can hold its shape well too. 

These qualities make buttercream an all time favorite choice for decorating and filling cakes. But take note that buttercream is also classified into different types according to preparation, ingredients, texture, taste, and consistency. In fact, there are lots of buttercream frosting recipes you can try.

What is the difference between icing and frosting?

Before we jump into the wide world of frostings and buttercream, we’ll discuss their differences between icing first. Unlike frosting, icing is a sugar based topping typically made with powdered sugar mixed with liquid such as citrus/lemon juice, liqueur, cream, or milk. 

Icing does not hold its shape and is only drizzled or poured on top of desserts and pastries. It also hardens once cooled, thus it is also referred to as “glaze.”

Sometimes, icing is also mixed with food coloring to make decorative icing for frosted cakes. There are three common types of icing that you can use for cakes and cookies: standard icing, royal icing, and fondant. 

What kitchen tools do I need to make buttercream frosting?

Making frostings is easier than you think, especially if you have these items ready in your kitchen arsenal. New to baking or not, these baking essentials will make your overall experience more fun and stress free. If you have a fellow home baker or cake decorator in your life, they’ll love to have these items for sure!

These kitchen tools and gadgets will help you save time and energy in making frostings and all other baked goods and desserts you want to try. You can easily get these items on Amazon by simply clicking the items you like below. 

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

what is the difference between buttercream and frosting featured image

Which frosting is better buttercream or whipped?

Whipped cream is another kind of frosting that is perfect for ice cream and cheesecake. If buttercream is made by whipping butter and sugar, whipped cream, on the other hand, is made by cold whipping heavy cream and powdered sugar until it’s light and fluffy.

They are both smooth and creamy but whipped cream is fluffier, lighter, and not super sweet. Thus, it’s best used for desserts that are already sweet enough. If you need a lighter and less sweet frosting, then whipped cream will be a better choice.

Here are some of my favorite easy to make whipped cream recipes you can try at home. 

What are the different types of frosting?

Like mentioned earlier, there are other types of frostings aside from whipped cream and buttercream. Here are some of them: 

Cream Cheese Frosting

The most common topping for cupcakes, carrot cakes, and red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting is a bit heavier than other kinds of frostings. It’s made by whipping butter (at room temperature), cream cheese, and powdered sugar. 


If you love chocolate, you’ll surely love ganache. Ganache is a mix between frosting and icing and is simply made by mixing melted heavy cream and chocolate. It’s shiny and best to use for glazing cookies and filling for cakes and pastries.

Seven Minute Frosting/ Cooked Frosting

This type of frosting does not use butter making it lighter and airy and ideal for piping and frosting cakes. It’s an old fashioned recipe that requires cooking the ingredients while beating them up for about seven minutes.

Fudge Frosting

Best spread for tart desserts and mild sponge cakes, as well as piped onto cupcakes, fudge frostings are sweet and decadent. They are also chocolatey as it is made with chocolate bars or sometimes cocoa powder mixed with milk, sugar, and butter. 

On the other hand, the nine most popular types of buttercream include American Buttercream, French Buttercream, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Italian Meringue Buttercream, Russian Buttercream, German Buttercream, Vegan Buttercream, Ermine Buttercream, and Korean Buttercream. 

If you want to know how to make and when and where to use these different types of buttercream frostings, you should check out this amazing collection of recipes for buttercream frosting. Aside from these nine popular types of buttercream frosting, this recipe collection also includes some flavor infused buttercream recipes that are sure to wow any crowd!

How to make buttercream frosting?

There are lots of ways to make buttercream frosting. After all, each type of buttercream frosting calls for different ingredients and preparation which also results in a wide variety of texture, consistency, and flavor. 

If you want to try making buttercream frostings, you can check out these 25 Recipes for Buttercream Frosting to make your baked goodies even more impressive, stunning, and delicious!

Knowing what is the difference between buttercream and frosting will allow you to take your baking and cake decorating experience to the next level. Hopefully this guide was able to help you know which kind of frostings is best for your baked goods.