How many Frostings are There?

A lot. And, almost infinite variations thereof.

I created a list of the types of frosting. Some categories overlap, or some frostings can be considered in multiple sections. Butter means real butter, but in many instances, you can substitute Shortening.

Buttercream: Made with Butter without Powdered Sugar

There are many types of buttercream. For me, the best ones include butter and granulated sugar, with something to make it fluffy. (Scientific, right?)

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Egg Whites are heated with sugar, then beaten until fluffy, then have butter added. (Such as my Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue)
  • Italian Meringue Buttercream: A sugar syrup is heated until it reaches 240 degrees, and then the syrup is added to beaten egg whites, and then butter is added.
  • (You can make Swiss Meringue and Italian Meringue by not adding the butter. Or, rather, make the meringue into buttercream by adding the butter.)

  • French Meringue Buttercream: Instead of egg whites, whole eggs are used. I have not made these yet, but the Robicellisuse French Buttercream almost exclusively, which is one of the reasons their cupcakes are awesome.
  • Pastry Cream Buttercream. I found this in CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch. it involves making a pastry cream with egg yolks and milk, and then whipping it and adding butter.
  • Heirloom Frosting (Often called a cooked flour frosting): A roux is made with milk and flour, and allowed to cool. Sugar and Butter are creamed together, and then the roux is added.

Other Cooked frostings

  • 7 Minute frosting Kinda like a swiss meringue, in which sugar and eggs are heated over the stove, but the mixture is beaten while cooking. This creates an almost marshmallow like consistency.
  • Marshmallow frosting: like a 7 minute frosting, but with additional ingredients to make it more like a marshmallow.
  • Fondant: Technically, Fondant is a candy. It can be made to be rolled out, or liquid to pour over cakes.

Powdered Sugar Based Frostings

These frostings contain powdered sugar.

  • Glaze: Powdered sugar is mixed with a tiny amount of milk, to create a glaze like substance.
  • Royal Icing: Powdered sugar is mixed with Egg Whites, to create a very hard setting frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar Buttercream: Solid Butter and Powdered Sugar are mixed together. You can add infinite flavors and other foods, such as Chocolate and Orange Marmalade
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream cheese and powdered sugar are mixed together. Sometimes this includes butter.
  • Brown Sugar Frosting: Butter and Brown Sugar are cooked together, allowed to cool, the mixed with powdered sugar.

Cream Based Frostings

Frostings made with cream.

  • Ganache: cream and chocolate mixed together. Depending on the proportions, ganache can be poured over (or inside) a cake, or cooled and whipped.
  • Whipped Cream: Cream is whipped, usually with sugar, and often with gelatin or other stabilizers.

Am I missing types of frostings? Please let me know in the comments!


  1. Maureen said

    I’m bakingly challenged so I didn’t even know that there are these many frosting out there! WOW! Interesting. Thanks for sharing the info :D

  2. Sheri Carpenter said

    Great post. Stopping by from SITS 31 DBBB challenge. Great list you have compiled there.

  3. Jo Anne said

    mmmm…frosting…What a great post! As a baker, I love frosting. I spend hours searching through my cookbooks for that *perfect* frosting. I think I’ll be bookmarking THIS post for a quick and easy reference, thus shortening my search for the ideal frosting for any occasion.

  4. Hi there!
    Yum….All those frostings made me hungry!I don’t know much about frosting – let alone baking but I believe you got them all!

  5. Amy said

    Thanks for this post. I did not realize there were so many different kinds of frosting. I tend to make the powdered sugar butter cream or the cream cheese frosting. Now I’ll have to try some others.

    Great list and I’m interested in more of your blog.

    Over from #31DBBB

  6. Jessica said

    OMG this is fascinating stuff! I didn’t realize there were so many variations of frosting– it figures since it is so delicious ;)

  7. Meredith said

    Buttercream frosting is my absolute favorite, although it can be hard to get just right. I love the buttercream recipe from Magnolia Bakery in NYC – I picked up their cookbook after I had the most delicious carrot cake there. Unfortunately, I think it contains about two sticks of butter per recipe!

  8. Patti B. said

    I found you through the ProBlogger Summer Challenge from the SITS group on BlogFrog.

    I do love eating a lot more than I love cooking, but you seem to be someone I could ask if I have any questions. My cooking attempts generally turn out okay. I could always use some more ideas, so I think I’ll be back! Good luck.

  9. elizabeth said

    I am stopping by from SITS. Your list made me crave something frosted! I might have to go out and find some cupcakes… nice post!

  10. Jill said

    Wow! Who knew?! I certainly didn’t! Those are some serious lists, great job! I’m not much of a baker but boy does this list make me want a cupcake :)

    Visiting from the ProBlogger challenge :)

  11. I love this list! So helpful. Definitely keeping it handy.

  12. A mouthwatering list. I am going to make frosting for sure tonight. I just need to decide which one. I love all the options you gave and the simple instructions or links to the how to info. A very helpful post for a frosting newbie like me who just uses the recipe on the powdered sugar box. Thanks. Julie

  13. Andrea said

    Making me hungry! Stopping by from SITS to say hi. Great list! I’m a buttercream girl!

  14. Elyse said

    Love your list of frostings! Stopping by from the SITS challange.

    And I will share with you the very best frosting ever …

    1 lb butter
    1 cup shortening
    3 lbs confectioners sugar
    1/8 cup meringue powder
    1 Tb vanilla
    9 Tb water

    Cream the butter and shortening. Add in the meringue powder and vanilla. Add the sugar and water, alternating. Beat until creamy.

  15. Colleeng said

    Wow, that’s alot of choices. Now, do you always make yours from scratch or have you busted out the Duncan Hines from time to time?

  16. Laura said

    That is a lot of different icings. My mother makes the best homemade chocolate and caramel icing. Yum!

    Stopping by from SITS 31DBBB.

  17. Great post! I’m visiting from the SITS/Problogger challenge and your list is making me crave frosting now ;)

  18. Vanita said

    I’m no cook, as a matter of fact, my hubby is the chef of the household, but I can tell you I love anything with Ganache cream. yum Yum Good.
    Visiting you via the 31dbbb Challenge, hope you’re enjoying it!

  19. Kim said

    I can’t see that you missed any.

  20. Gina said

    Mmmm… I love frosting. I didn’t even know there were so many different kinds of frosting. One time I thought I wanted to decorate cakes. My husband thought I would be good at it. So I tried. Nope.
    Definitely not my calling. But I envy all you bakers. Nice job on your list.

  21. Selena said

    Wow, I had no idea that there were that many different variations on frosting. Plus I thought buttercream frosting was something totally different than what you described, like described here: I definitely learned something new reading your post! Thanks!

  22. AmandaLP said


    I dislike Magnolia’s cupcakes, and after reading the recipe for their buttercream, it has a LOT of sugar for the amount of butter :) Average is about 2 sticks (1 cup) for 1 pound (4 cups) of powedered sugar. But I can frost 36 cupcakes with that amount :)

    @Patti B.

    Please please please ask me questions :) I am glad to help, and I love challenges and blog post ideas! :)


    Um, I have bought canned frosting, but I ate it alone without cake! I cannot remember frosting a cake with canned frosting, but I think I have done cookies and cupcakes with it before. But, homemade frosting is so much better!

  23. Megan said

    Wow. Who knew there were so many. LOL Makes me want a cupcake or something. =)

  24. Gayle said

    love this post… maybe because I love frosting.

    Visiting from Blogfrog

  25. Yummy! I had no idea there were so many different types of frosting.

    Just surfed over via BlogFrog/SITS/ProBlogger/31DBB :)

  26. Jessi said

    I love buttercream frostings! Nothing short of ambrosial.

  27. Holly said

    Wow! I had no idea there were so many kinds of frostings. I bake on a regular basis, but I use honey instead of sugar, so I never use frosting because I’ve never taken the time to see how to make a decent frosting with honey instead of sugar. I can’t imagine how to get a decent texture with it.

  28. I remember making a chocolate sour cream frosting with chocolate chips, butter, sour cream, and icing sugar. It’s from the Better Homes and Gardens “New” Cook Book

  29. This is an excellent frosting list – perfect for referencing frosting without having to search through all of the cookbooks!

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