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Frosting Vs. Icing for Cakes, Cookies, and Donuts

Margaret Minnicks is a health-conscious person who researches the health benefits of foods and drinks.

A delicious chocolate cake covered in frosting

A delicious chocolate cake covered in frosting

Frosting Vs. Icing: What's the Difference?

Although many people use the words "frosting" and "icing" interchangeably, there is a big difference between the two pastry toppings. Do you know how they are different?

To think they are the same is to do an injustice to both of them. They each have their own personalities. Besides, they are not made the same way. Even though both frosting and icing are delicious, their taste is not the same. However, most people don't notice because they are more focused on the dessert underneath.

When trying to decide which to use, think of the consistency and taste you want for your dessert.

Frosting Facts

Frosting is a topping for a cake. It is similar to icing, but it is different. It is a sweet mixture that can be cooked or uncooked, and it is used as a coating or filling for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and donuts.

Frosting is a thick and fluffy coating made with cream or butter. Even though some cakes and cookies don't need to be decorated, frosting is usually the option most bakers choose. Not only is frosting used to beautify the dessert, but it also enhances the taste.

Use frosting instead of icing if you want a creamy and buttery taste. Frosting is thicker than icing because it has a cream base instead of a sugar base. The butter in frosting gives the finished product a stronger, buttery taste. Sometimes frosting is referred to as buttercream.

Grocery stores have plenty of boxes of frosting mix on their shelves. However, most cooks like to use a quick and easy recipe to make their own. Simply mix soft butter with powdered sugar, salt, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Food coloring can be added to frosting for decoration.

It is much easier to use frosting for decoration instead of icing. Frosting can hold sprinkles, flowers, and other decorations. Even though frosting is more popular as a topping, it can also be spread between layers of a cake.

Frosting is used more often on cakes and cupcakes than icing. It tends to be more popular than its first cousin. Even though people love both toppings, frosting is a favorite among children and adults.

What's on these cookies?

What's on these cookies?

Icing Facts

Icing is thinner than frosting. It has a sugary base rather than a creamy base. Like frosting, icing is used to cover or decorate baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, or donuts. The thin sugary glaze spread hardens as it cools. Icing shines on the top of desserts because it is glossier than frosting. In fact, icing is sometimes referred to as glaze because of its shiny texture.

You can purchase icing from your local grocery store, but it is easy to make your own. You simply mix sugar and a liquid, usually melted butter, milk, or egg whites. Add vanilla extract for that extra good taste.

It is better to choose icing rather than frosting to top cookies. Icing can be used to top cupcakes, but frosting is much better because of its creamy consistency. Icing is too thin for cupcakes.





Coating for outside of cakes and cookies; can also be used between layers of cakes

Glaze on cakes and pastry





Cream or butter

Sugar base, or egg whites, butter or cream








More popular than icing

Less popular than frosting

Now You Know!

Now that you know the differences, you can choose wisely. It all depends on what you are decorating. Frosting is better for some pastries, while icing is better for others.