Buttercream Vs Whipped Cream

Two bowls of cream

When it comes to baking and cooking, two popular ingredients that are often utilized as toppings, fillings, or frosting are buttercream and whipped cream. Both have their unique characteristics, and choosing between them depends on the required texture, taste, and usage. In this article, we will explore the differences between buttercream and whipped cream, including their composition, texture, flavors, uses, nutritional value, and storage tips, to help you decide which one is the best option for your desserts.

What is Buttercream?

Buttercream is a type of frosting that is made by mixing butter, powdered sugar, and milk or cream. It provides a smooth and creamy texture and has a rich flavor that compliments most cakes and cupcakes. Besides, its versatility enables it to be flavored in numerous ways, including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and lemon, among others. Buttercream enrobes cakes, decorates them with intricate designs, or fills them as a layer or stuffing. There are three main types of buttercream – American, Swiss, and Italian. Each has its unique texture and is made using different methods.

Buttercream is not only used for cakes and cupcakes, but it can also be used as a filling for macarons, sandwich cookies, and whoopie pies. It can also be used as a dip for fruits or as a spread for toast or bagels. Additionally, buttercream can be colored using food coloring to match the theme of an event or to create a specific design. It is a popular choice for weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations due to its delicious taste and versatility.

What is Whipped Cream?

Whipped cream, on the other hand, is made by whipping heavy cream using a mixer or a whisk. It results in a light and fluffy texture that compliments most fruits, pies, and beverages. Whipped cream has a subtle taste that doesn’t overpower the dessert’s flavor and can also be flavored with other additives like sugar, vanilla, or cinnamon. However, it is more delicate and doesn’t hold its form compared to buttercream, making it unsuitable for intricate designs or vertical cakes.

Whipped cream is a versatile topping that can be used in a variety of desserts and drinks. It is commonly used in hot cocoa, milkshakes, and ice cream sundaes. Whipped cream can also be used as a filling for cakes and pastries, adding a light and airy texture to the dessert. Additionally, it can be piped onto desserts using a pastry bag to create decorative designs. Overall, whipped cream is a delicious and easy way to elevate the presentation and taste of many desserts.

Difference between Buttercream and Whipped Cream

The primary difference between buttercream and whipped cream is their composition. While buttercream is made using butter and powdered sugar, whipped cream only uses heavy cream. As a result, buttercream provides a richer and creamier texture and flavor, while whipped cream is light and has a more subtle flavor. But, whipped cream can only be left at room temperature for a short time before it starts to lose its shape, while buttercream has more endurance. Additionally, whipped cream should be used for cold desserts or to top hot beverages and pies, whereas buttercream can be used for a more extensive range of baked goods.

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Another difference between buttercream and whipped cream is their stability. Buttercream is more stable and can hold its shape better, making it ideal for decorating cakes and cupcakes. On the other hand, whipped cream is more delicate and can easily deflate or melt, making it less suitable for intricate decorations. It is also important to note that buttercream can be flavored and colored in various ways, while whipped cream is typically only flavored with vanilla or other extracts. Ultimately, the choice between buttercream and whipped cream depends on the specific dessert or baked good being made and personal preference.

Ingredients Used in Making Buttercream

Buttercream generally consists of three main ingredients – unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and milk or cream. Depending on the recipe, additional elements like vanilla extract, food coloring, or cocoa powder may be used. The butter and powdered sugar are mixed using a whisk or electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Then, the milk or cream is added in small increments until the desired texture is achieved.

One important thing to note is that the temperature of the butter can greatly affect the texture of the buttercream. If the butter is too cold, it will be difficult to mix and may result in a lumpy texture. On the other hand, if the butter is too warm, the buttercream may become too soft and lose its shape. It is recommended to let the butter sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before starting the mixing process.

Another factor that can affect the taste and texture of buttercream is the type of powdered sugar used. Some recipes call for confectioners’ sugar, which is a finely ground sugar that contains cornstarch. This type of sugar can help create a smoother texture and prevent the buttercream from becoming too grainy. However, some bakers prefer to use granulated sugar and grind it themselves in a food processor for a more homemade taste.

Ingredients Used in Making Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is a one-ingredient wonder that only requires heavy cream. In specific recipes, sugar, vanilla, or flavored extracts are added to enhance the taste and whipped cream’s stability. The heavy cream should be ice-cold when it is whipped, as it helps to retain its texture and firmness.

It is important to note that not all heavy creams are created equal. Heavy cream with a higher fat content, around 36%, is ideal for making whipped cream as it will hold its shape better. Additionally, it is important to not over-whip the cream, as it can turn into butter. The perfect whipped cream should have soft peaks and a light, fluffy texture.

Texture and Consistency of Buttercream

The texture of buttercream ranges from soft and creamy to dense and firm, depending on the recipe and usage. The addition of milk or cream can create a lighter consistency, while reducing or increasing the powdered sugar amount can make it denser or fluffier. Buttercream can also be piped into intricate designs for decoration or used as a filling. It should be kept at room temperature before serving, so it softens and becomes easier to spread.

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Another factor that can affect the texture and consistency of buttercream is the type of butter used. High-quality butter with a higher fat content will result in a smoother and creamier buttercream. Additionally, the temperature of the butter can also impact the texture. Softened butter that is at room temperature will blend more easily with the other ingredients, resulting in a smoother and more consistent texture.

Texture and Consistency of Whipped Cream

Whipped cream, on the other hand, has a light and airy texture that melts in your mouth. It needs to be chilled, and any leftover cream should be refrigerated to maintain its texture and firmness. Over-whipping whipped cream can lead to a butter-like texture, resulting in clumps and separation of liquids from solids.

It is important to note that the fat content of the cream used can also affect the texture and consistency of whipped cream. Heavy cream, with a higher fat content, will result in a thicker and more stable whipped cream, while lighter creams may not hold their shape as well. Additionally, adding sugar or other flavorings to whipped cream can also impact its texture and stability, so it is important to follow a recipe or guidelines carefully when making whipped cream.

Flavors of Buttercream

Buttercream has a versatile flavor profile that allows for numerous adaptations. Some popular flavorings include vanilla, chocolate, lemon, hazelnut, raspberry, and peanut butter. Additionally, food coloring can be added to make any shade of frosting.

Another popular flavor for buttercream is coffee. Adding a small amount of instant coffee or espresso powder can give the frosting a rich, bold flavor that pairs well with chocolate or vanilla cake. For those who prefer a more subtle flavor, almond extract can be used to add a hint of nuttiness to the frosting.

Buttercream can also be infused with herbs and spices for a unique twist. For example, adding a small amount of cinnamon or nutmeg can give the frosting a warm, cozy flavor that is perfect for fall desserts. Fresh herbs like lavender or rosemary can also be used to add a floral or earthy note to the frosting.

Flavors of Whipped Cream

Whipped cream’s natural taste is light and airy, making it a perfect addition to desserts that require a subtle topping. However, it can be flavored with vanilla, almond, cinnamon, or any other extract to create a more pronounced taste.

One popular way to flavor whipped cream is by adding fruit puree. Strawberry, raspberry, and mango puree are some of the most commonly used flavors. The puree not only adds flavor but also gives the whipped cream a beautiful color.

Another way to flavor whipped cream is by adding liqueur. Kahlua, Baileys, and Grand Marnier are some of the popular choices. The liqueur not only adds flavor but also gives the whipped cream a slight boozy kick.

Uses of Buttercream in Baking and Cooking

Buttercream is often used in frosting cakes, cupcakes and filling pastries like puffs, eclairs, and macarons. It can also be used as a coating for layering cakes before adding fondant designs. Depending on the flavor, buttercream is a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into most desserts.

Aside from its use in desserts, buttercream can also be used in savory dishes. It can be added to mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and even used as a sauce for grilled meats. The creamy texture and rich flavor of buttercream can add a delicious twist to traditional savory dishes. However, it is important to use buttercream sparingly in savory dishes as it can easily overpower the other flavors.

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Uses of Whipped Cream in Baking and Cooking

Whipped cream primarily tops off pies, fruit salads, hot chocolate, and coffee drinks, amongst others. It’s an ideal component in no-bake desserts like trifles, parfaits, and mousse. You can also create a low-calorie frosting by folding whipped cream into Greek yogurt or create a silky smooth ice cream topping by combining it with condensed milk.

Another great use for whipped cream is in making homemade hot fudge sauce. By combining melted chocolate, heavy cream, and whipped cream, you can create a rich and decadent topping for ice cream or other desserts. Whipped cream can also be used as a filling for cakes and pastries, adding a light and fluffy texture to your baked goods. Additionally, it can be flavored with extracts or liqueurs to add a unique twist to your desserts.

Nutritional Value Comparison between Buttercream and Whipped Cream

Buttercream and whipped cream are both high-calorie ingredients. Buttercream is high in saturated fat and sugar, which can lead to increased cholesterol levels and weight gain if consumed regularly. Whipped cream is a better option, as it has less fat, sugar, and calories, but still adds a creamy texture and flavor to desserts. Plus, heavy cream contains valuable vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and calcium, essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

How to Make Perfect Buttercream Frostings?

The perfect buttercream frosting is light, fluffy, and creamy. To achieve this, ensure that the butter is at room temperature before mixing and that you incorporate the ingredients gradually. Additionally, consider the recipe and adjust the amount of sugar, butter, and liquid depending on the desired texture. Lastly, flavor your frosting with extracts, fruits, or cocoa, depending on the dessert you are making.

How to Whip Cream Perfectly Every Time?

To whip cream perfectly, ensure that the cream is chilled, and the mixing bowl and whisk are also cold. Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, then add sugar and vanilla or any other extracts if desired. Continue to whisk until firm peaks form, making sure you do not over-whip the cream, as it can result in clumpy liquid butter.

Which One is Better for Different Desserts – Buttercream or Whipped Cream?

When it comes to choosing between buttercream and whipped cream, it is essential to consider the dessert you are making. Buttercream is better for decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies, or filling pastries. It’s best suited for desserts that require a dense and firm texture. On the other hand, whipped cream is suitable for toppings on pies, tarts, fruit salads, and beverages like hot chocolate, coffee, and milkshakes. It’s best suited for desserts that require a light and fluffy texture.

Tips for Storing Buttercream and Whipped Cream

Buttercream frosting should be stored at room temperature until the cake, or pastry is served. After that, refrigerate any leftovers consistently and consume within three to five days or freeze for up to three months. Whipped cream, on the other hand, should be chilled immediately after whipping and stored in a covered glass container in the refrigerator. It is best consumed within 24 hours of being whipped or frozen for up to two months.


In conclusion, buttercream and whipped cream have their unique characteristics that make them ideal for various desserts. Buttercream provides a dense and rich texture, while whipped cream offers a light and fluffy texture. Ultimately, it depends on the dessert’s requirements, flavor profiles, and presentation, which makes one better than the other. Using both in combination can also create a balance of flavors, textures, and aesthetics.