19 Cake Frosting Recipes So Good You’ll Lick the Bowl (2024)

This recipe makes enough frosting for a two-layer, eight- or nine-inch cake. For a single-layer sheet cake, you can halve the recipe.

11. Ganache

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How to Master Chocolate Ganache

This is a rich mixture of chocolate and heavy cream that can be paired with many different types of cakes (or layered atop brownies and ice cream, for that matter). You can change the impact of a ganache by varying the ratio of chocolate to cream—at one-and-a-half parts chocolate to one part cream it makes a thick, luxurious filling for cake layers. If you use equal amounts of chocolate and cream—known as “ordinary ganache,” though it tastes pretty extraordinary—the result will be a bit thinner. At room temperature, this mixture will be a pourable glaze. Or, if chilled briefly, it will thicken slightly and can be spread on the outside of a cake.

12. Jam and jelly

Jams and jellies are also best in combination with other fillings such as buttercream or ganache. To use a jam or jelly as a cake filling or even as a topping, simply stir it to soften, or heat it slightly if it’s too thick. You may also want to strain jams to remove the seeds for a smoother texture.

13. Custard

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Rhubarb Custard Cake

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Custard—a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, and milk or cream thickened with flour or cornstarch—is used as the filling in many European-style cakes. Also known as pastry cream, custards work well between layers of genoise—but can be used with any layers that aren’t too rich, such as white or chiffon cake. Pastry cream can be flavored with vanilla or other yummy flavorings, and sometimes a small amount of whipped cream is folded in to lighten it (fold an equal measure of whipped cream into pastry cream and it’s called diplomat cream). Custards are generally used only as fillings—they’re too rich and have the wrong texture to cover the outside of a cake. But a small amount of custard can be folded into a cream cheese frosting to flavor it.

14. Whipped cream

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Strawberry Shortcake With Thyme and Whipped Cream

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Whether lightly flavored with sour cream or chocolate or left as is in all its fluffy goodness, a layered cake filled with whipped cream frosting is a classic. Since it’s somewhat bland itself, whipped cream works particularly well with assertively flavored cakes, such as devil’s food or spice cakes. But, when paired with other fillings like fruit, it’s also good with lighter cakes such as genoise. Whipped cream can also be used to cover the outside of a cake and piped to form soft decorations, but it’s best used only for cakes you plan to eat right away. For more stable whipped cream, follow this recipe.

15. Water icing

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Vanilla Heart Cakes With Rosewater Icing

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This powdered sugar icing can actually be made using water or milk, often with the addition of a flavoring such as citrus juice or vanilla extract. A thin water icing may be brushed on a simple cooled cake like a pound or coffee cake. If made thicker, it forms a white glaze that can be drizzled onto the cake—a standard finish for many simple cakes baked in Bundt pans.

16. Rolled fondant

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Fondant-Covered Wedding Cake with Raspberries and Chocolate

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This is a combination of sugar and vegetable shortening that makes a thick white putty-like substance that can be rolled out like pastry dough and stretched over cakes. Rolled fondant is popular among cake artists, particularly for wedding cakes, because it holds up well in hot weather, can be tinted any color, and forms a smooth, perfect surface for decorations. Unfortunately, while it looks terrific, fondant does not have much flavor and, if applied too thickly, can taste terrible.

17. Marzipan

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Five-Minute Marzipan

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This smooth, sweetened almond paste is another thick material that can be rolled out and used to cover cakes. It’s off-white, so not a good candidate for tinting, but it’s quite sweet and has a much better flavor than fondant. Vienna’s famous rum-soaked Punschtorte conceals a paper-thin layer of marzipan under a sugar icing. Marzipan can also be used to mold flowers and other decorations that are then placed on a cake.

18. Royal icing

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Royal Icing

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Royal icing is made from a heavy paste of egg whites (or meringue powder) and confectioners’ sugar beaten with a little vinegar or strained lemon juice to help the egg whites froth. The result is a pure-white sticky icing that dries to a hard finish. Royal icing is used for delicate piping such as elaborate “string” decorations that are piped from a tiny plain tube or paper cone. Its pure-white color makes it a good option for tinting. Its flavor is sweet and unobtrusive, but due to its crisp texture when dry, it should not be used in large amounts.

19. Sugar syrup

Sugar syrup, also known as simple syrup, is sometimes brushed on cake layers to moisten them. It’s particularly essential for drier cakes, such as genoise, but even some butter and oil cakes can benefit from being brushed with syrup, which will keep them from drying out. For this reason, syrup is popular in wedding cakes and other large projects that must be made in multiple stages. The cake is made first and can be several days old by the time it’s served—the syrup keeps it tasting fresh and moist. Syrup is not usually used alone as a filling—generally the layers are brushed with syrup and then another filling, such as jam or buttercream, is spread on top. Basic sugar syrups can be flavored with myriad ingredients, including espresso, vanilla extract, spices, liquors, liqueurs, eaux-de-vie, and fruit juice. The flavoring of the syrup should complement or match the flavors of the cake and other finishing agents.

Now that you’ve got an overview of all the amazing cake frostings out there, it’s time to get to baking! Check out our favorite layer cake recipes, including mouthwatering affairs like maple-gingerbread layer cake with candied pecans, buttery mile-high chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, a spiced torte with chocolate buttercream and white chocolate ribbons, and banana cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate chips.

19 Cake Frosting Recipes So Good You’ll Lick the Bowl (2024)


What frosting do professionals use for cakes? ›

Swiss meringue buttercream is probably the most standard buttercream for pastry professionals. It is incredibly smooth, making it an extremely popular choice for icing cakes. Compared to American buttercream, it has a much stronger butter flavor, but is considerably less sweet.

What are the 5 most commonly used icings for cakes? ›

5 Types of Cake Icing
  1. Royal icing. Royal icing is the most traditional of all icings. ...
  2. Glace icing. Glace icing is made with only two main ingredients: icing sugar and water (or other liquid like juice). ...
  3. Fondant. Fondant is a type of icing that, unlike others, is much thicker in texture. ...
  4. Buttercream. ...
  5. Frosting.
Jan 26, 2023

Which is the best frosting for cakes? ›

Buttercream is the most popular type of frosting largely because of its few ingredients and easy application. Classic buttercream requires beating butter into icing sugar until you reach a frosting consistency. It's not possible to over beat this type of frosting, so the longer you beat it, the fluffier it gets.

What frosting holds the best? ›

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Butter and flavorings are beaten into the meringue to create the buttercream. Because of its stiff meringue base, the frosting holds up well, will not crust and is great for piping cupcakes and decorating cakes.

What is the most stable frosting for cake decorating? ›

Italian buttercream is the most stable of all the buttercreams. While American buttercream uses mostly powdered sugar and butter, both Italian and Swiss buttercreams are meringue-based and use egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter.

How do you make frosting taste like bakery? ›

Whip the frosting with half a block of cream cheese and an extra cup of powdered sugar and a few drops of the appropriate flavoring extract. If you're using chocolate, add cocoa powder. If you want a richer buttery flavor add a few tablespoons of butter as well.

Should I refrigerate cake before frosting? ›

"Prepare, bake, and cool the cake completely. Then, wrap each cake layer in cling film, nice and tight, and place in the fridge for at least two hours," he says. That's right, you won't be frosting your cake at room temperature; a chilled cake is essential before applying any frosting. "This step is the most important.

What is a cake without icing called? ›

Cake fanatics, try this new frosting technique: the naked cake. With barely-there icing, you can see all the goodness you're about to slice into.

Which frosting is best for beginners? ›

Best frosting for: beginner cake bakers

If you're a cake baker just looking for the basics, American-style buttercream is a good place to start. No need to worry about syrup temperature or whipping meringue: just cream together butter (or shortening) and sugar, and you're basically set.

What's the difference between frosting and icing? ›

Frosting is the thickest of these confections and is ideal for spreading or piping on cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Icing is a little thinner than frosting and is often poured or piped over coffee cakes, pound cakes, doughnuts and cookies—and it usually hardens when it dries.

What is the best flavor of frosting? ›

Some of the most popular frosting flavors are chocolate, vanilla and buttercream. Other people enjoy more exotic frosting flavors like white chocolate raspberry, strawberry shortcake, or orange cream.

What frosting is the best for decorating? ›


It is then transferred to a mixer and whipped into a meringue before adding butter and flavoring. Pros – It is soft, smooth and not too sweet. SM buttercream is arguably the best frosting in terms of cake decorating because it is the easiest way to get those smooth clean lines.

Which icing is better Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker? ›

For the best taste and texture, go with Duncan Hines. For a slightly cheaper, and almost equally good alternative, Betty Crocker is your best bet.

What type of buttercream do most bakeries use? ›


Soft and fluffy, this buttercream is great for filling layers or frosting cakes. Hints & Tips: Since Swiss buttercream is so soft, it's better used for frosting cakes rather than piping or decorating. Make sure mixture is cool before adding butter, otherwise your butter will melt.

What kind of frosting does Buddy Valastro use? ›

Buddy Valastro, host of Food Network's "Buddy Vs. Duff," shares his easy, go-to buttercream recipe for foolproof cake decorating.

What frosting is used for most wedding cakes? ›

Fondant Icing

Fondant is a very popular choice for some, but misunderstood by many others. Let me explain, fondant (or sugar paste) is almost the default choice for wedding cakes, it's very popular in terms of design ideas and all the possibilities it opens up.

Do bakeries use shortening in frosting? ›

But, this ingredient is now more commonly used in cakeries for cake icing. Why Do Bakers Use Icing Shortening? Icing is typically made by whipping sugar and fat. Unlike common fat sources like butter, shortening is completely white, so it's very useful if you want to achieve a bright white color for your icing.


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