Buttercream or Whipped Frosting

A cupcake with two different types of frosting

When it comes to frosting, there are two popular types – Buttercream and Whipped Frosting. Each of these frosting types has its unique texture, flavor, and characteristics. In this article, we will explore the differences between Buttercream and Whipped Frosting, their pros and cons, and share some tips on how to make and use them for decorating cakes and cupcakes.

Differences between Buttercream and Whipped Frosting

Buttercream and Whipped Frosting differ in their ingredients, preparation, texture, flavor, and longevity. Buttercream is made of butter, powdered sugar, and flavorings like vanilla extract or cocoa powder. It is smooth, creamy, and easy to work with while decorating cakes. On the other hand, Whipped Frosting is made of heavy cream, powdered sugar, and flavorings like vanilla extract or fruit puree. It is light, airy, and has a fluffy texture that makes it ideal for filling layers of cake or frosting cupcakes.

The major difference between Buttercream and Whipped Frosting is their stability at room temperature. Buttercream can hold up well at room temperature for several hours or even days without losing its texture or getting spoiled. However, Whipped Frosting is more delicate and requires refrigeration to retain its shape and prevent collapse.

Another difference between Buttercream and Whipped Frosting is their taste. Buttercream has a rich, buttery flavor that complements most cake flavors. It is also easy to customize by adding different flavorings or food coloring. On the other hand, Whipped Frosting has a lighter, less sweet taste that pairs well with fruit-based cakes or light sponge cakes. It is also less customizable, as adding too much flavoring or food coloring can cause it to collapse or lose its texture.

Which frosting is better for cupcakes?

Cupcakes are a popular dessert that can be decorated in various ways. Both Buttercream and Whipped Frosting can be used to decorate cupcakes, depending on your preference. However, Whipped Frosting is the best choice for cupcakes that are served cold, such as in a chilled dessert display or refrigerator. Whipped Frosting can hold its shape and texture better than Buttercream in cold temperatures.

On the other hand, Buttercream is the best choice for cupcakes that are served at room temperature or warm, such as freshly baked cupcakes. Buttercream can withstand room temperature and still hold up well, making it easier to store and transport.

Another important factor to consider when choosing a frosting for your cupcakes is the flavor. Buttercream frosting has a rich, buttery flavor that pairs well with a variety of cake flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet. Whipped frosting, on the other hand, has a lighter, fluffier texture and a less sweet taste, making it a good choice for those who prefer a less sugary frosting.

How to make buttercream frosting from scratch

To make buttercream frosting, you will need unsalted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk or heavy cream. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take a bowl and beat unsalted butter with an electric mixer until it becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, while continuously beating the mixture.
  3. Next, add vanilla extract and continue to beat the mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy.
  4. If the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream and beat until you reach the desired consistency.
  5. Your buttercream frosting is ready to use for cakes or cupcakes.

Buttercream frosting can be customized with different flavors and colors. For example, you can add cocoa powder for a chocolate flavor or food coloring to achieve your desired color. You can also adjust the sweetness by adding more or less powdered sugar. Experiment with different variations to find your perfect buttercream frosting recipe.

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The best whipped frosting recipe you can try at home

If you want to try making whipped frosting at home, here is a simple recipe that you can follow:

  • 1 cup heavy cream.
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.


  1. Pour cold heavy cream into a mixing bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until it becomes slightly thickened.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract to the mixture and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  3. Your whipped frosting is ready to use for decorating cakes or cupcakes.

Whipped frosting is a versatile topping that can be used to decorate a variety of desserts. You can add food coloring to the frosting to match the theme of your party or event. You can also experiment with different flavors by adding extracts or fruit purees to the mixture. For example, you can add strawberry puree to the whipped frosting to make a delicious strawberry frosting. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things!

Pros and cons of using buttercream frosting

Buttercream frosting has its advantages and drawbacks, making it a more suitable choice for certain occasions or baked goods. Here are some pros and cons of using buttercream frosting:


  • Buttercream frosting is versatile and easy to customize with different flavorings or food colorings.
  • It holds up well at room temperature and can last for several days.
  • It is suitable for frosting cakes and cupcakes of all shapes and sizes.


  • Buttercream frosting is high in fat and calories, making it less suitable for health-conscious eaters.
  • It can be too sweet for some people’s taste preferences.
  • It may require refrigeration in hot and humid weather to prevent spoilage.

Another advantage of using buttercream frosting is that it is easy to work with and can be used to create intricate designs and decorations on cakes and cupcakes. This makes it a popular choice for professional bakers and cake decorators.

However, one drawback of using buttercream frosting is that it can be difficult to achieve a smooth and even finish, especially in warmer temperatures. This can result in a less polished appearance for your baked goods.

Health benefits of whipped frosting

Whipped frosting is a healthier alternative to Buttercream and other frosting types, as it is usually lower in fat and calories. Whipped frosting made with heavy cream provides some nutritional benefits as it contains essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. However, it is still high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

In addition to being lower in fat and calories, whipped frosting is also a good source of protein. This is because it is made with heavy cream, which contains casein protein. Casein protein is a slow-digesting protein that can help keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.

Another benefit of whipped frosting is that it can be made with natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup instead of refined sugar. This makes it a healthier option for those who are trying to reduce their sugar intake. However, it is important to note that even natural sweeteners should be consumed in moderation.

Decorating tips for cakes using buttercream or whipped frosting

Both Buttercream and Whipped Frosting can be used to decorate cakes in various ways, such as using a piping bag and tip, spatula, or knife. Here are some tips to keep in mind while decorating with these frosting types:

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Buttercream frosting tips:

  • Ensure that the cake or cupcakes are cooled before applying buttercream frosting.
  • Use a leveler or knife to even out the surface of the cake for smoother frosting application.
  • Use a piping bag and tip to create intricate designs or decorations, such as rosettes, stars, or borders.
  • You can also use a spatula or knife to create textured or smooth frosting surfaces depending on your preference.

Whipped frosting tips:

  • Refrigerate the whipped frosting for at least 30 minutes before use to improve its consistency.
  • Use a piping bag and tip to fill cake layers or frost cupcakes more evenly.
  • Avoid overbeating whipped frosting as it can cause it to collapse or lose its texture.
  • You can add different flavorings to whipped frosting, such as fruit puree or chocolate to enhance its taste and visual appeal.

It’s important to note that both buttercream and whipped frosting have different textures and consistencies, which can affect the overall look and feel of your cake. Buttercream frosting is denser and holds its shape better, making it ideal for intricate designs and decorations. Whipped frosting, on the other hand, is lighter and fluffier, making it perfect for filling cake layers or creating a more delicate finish. Consider the type of cake you’re making and the desired outcome when choosing between these two frosting types.

Different flavors to try with buttercream and whipped frosting

Both Buttercream and Whipped Frosting can be easily customized with different flavorings to suit your taste preferences or the occasion. Here are some ideas to try:

Buttercream flavors:

  • Chocolate buttercream
  • Lemon buttercream
  • Cocoa buttercream
  • Strawberry buttercream
  • Coffee buttercream

Whipped frosting flavors:

  • Raspberry whipped frosting
  • Mint whipped frosting
  • Lemon whipped frosting
  • Cookies and cream whipped frosting
  • Classic vanilla whipped frosting

If you want to take your buttercream or whipped frosting to the next level, consider adding some additional flavors to your recipe. Here are two more ideas to try:

Buttercream flavors:

  • Orange buttercream
  • Almond buttercream

Whipped frosting flavors:

  • Coconut whipped frosting
  • Maple whipped frosting

Experiment with different flavor combinations to find your perfect match. You can also try adding extracts, such as vanilla or almond, to enhance the flavor of your frosting.

The science behind making perfect buttercream or whipped frosting

The key to making perfect Buttercream or Whipped Frosting is to understand the science behind its ingredients and preparation. In Buttercream, the fat content from the butter plays a crucial role in creating a smooth and creamy texture. The powdered sugar helps stabilize the frosting and balances out the sweetness. In Whipped Frosting, the fat content from the heavy cream creates a light and airy texture, while the powdered sugar helps stabilize the frosting without making it too sweet.

The temperature of the ingredients also plays a vital role in creating a perfect frosting. The butter or heavy cream should be at room temperature before use to ensure proper mixing and texture. Overbeating either frosting can cause it to split, and underbeating can cause it to be too dense or lumpy.

Vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options for buttercream or whipped frosting

For those who follow specific dietary restrictions, there are also options for making vegan, dairy-free, or gluten-free versions of Buttercream and Whipped Frosting. Here are some alternatives to try:

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Vegan and dairy-free options:

  • Coconut milk buttercream – uses coconut milk and dairy-free butter
  • Almond milk whipped frosting – uses almond milk and vegan whipped cream

Gluten-free options:

  • Cream cheese frosting – made with gluten-free cream cheese and powdered sugar
  • Whipped cream frosting – made with gluten-free whipped cream and sugar

Buttercream vs Whipped cream – which one is the best topping for desserts?

When it comes to choosing between Buttercream and Whipped Cream as a topping for desserts, it ultimately depends on your taste preferences and the type of dessert you are serving. Buttercream is a richer, creamier topping that goes well with dense, moist cakes and cupcakes. Whipped cream, on the other hand, is lighter and airier, making it a perfect topping for light and fruity desserts such as pies, shortcakes, and trifles.

How to store leftover buttercream or whipped frosting correctly

To store leftover Buttercream or Whipped Frosting, you can keep them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to five days. Before using the stored frosting, allow it to come to room temperature and rebeat it to restore its texture and consistency. Discard any frosting that has been left unrefrigerated for more than four hours or has an odd smell or taste.

Common mistakes to avoid while making buttercream or whipped frosting

Making Buttercream or Whipped Frosting can be tricky, and there are some common mistakes to avoid that can affect the texture and flavor of the frosting. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Buttercream mistakes:

  • Overbeating the butter or powdered sugar mixture, causing it to be too thin or greasy.
  • Using salted butter or margarine, which can affect the taste and texture of the frosting.
  • Not sifting the powdered sugar before adding it to the butter, resulting in lumpy or grainy frosting texture.

Whipped frosting mistakes:

  • Overbeating the heavy cream, causing it to turn into butter or lose its texture.
  • Using low-fat whip cream or not refrigerating the frosting, which can cause it to collapse or become runny.
  • Using acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice or vinegar, which can cause the cream to curdle or separate.

Frequently asked questions about buttercream and whipped frosting

Here are some common questions about Buttercream and Whipped Frosting:

Q: Can I freeze Buttercream or Whipped Frosting?

A: It is not recommended to freeze Buttercream or Whipped Frosting, as the texture and quality may change after thawing.

Q: Can I use a hand mixer to make Buttercream or Whipped Frosting?

A: Yes, you can use a hand mixer to make Buttercream or Whipped Frosting, but it may take longer to reach the desired consistency than with a stand mixer.

Q: How can I make my Buttercream or Whipped Frosting less sweet?

A: You can reduce the amount of powdered sugar used in the frosting recipe or use less sweet flavorings like lemon or cocoa powder.

Q: How long can I keep Buttercream or Whipped Frosting on a cake without refrigeration?

A: Buttercream frosting can last for up to two days at room temperature, while Whipped Frosting should be refrigerated and consumed within a day.

In conclusion, both Buttercream and Whipped Frosting have their unique characteristics and usage scenarios. Whether you choose Buttercream or Whipped Frosting, the key is to follow the recipe correctly, use the right ingredients, and store the frosting correctly to retain its texture and flavor. Happy frosting!

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