How To Make Icing Less Sweet

How To Make Icing Less Sweet – The 4 Best Ways

Last Updated on April 9, 2022 by Zara R.

Today, you’ll be given some SWEET tips on how to make icing less sweet. We’ll also explain how to adjust the consistency of your icing and frosting.

This tutorial will help enable you to get the best possible icing each and every time! And, you can even apply these rules to other dishes and toppings too! So, are you ready to expand your knowledge on this essential culinary ingredient?

What Is Icing?

Icing (or frosting) is a sweet, sometimes creamy glaze made of a combination of sugar and liquid.

The liquid used when making icing is usually water or milk. Sometimes, other ingredients like egg whites or butter are also used to act as the liquid ingredient. These of course also have some other functions like adding flavor and developing texture in the icing. Even a simple extract or concentrate does help add moisture to your icings.

Furthermore, the dry ingredient used is almost always powdered sugar (confectioners sugar). Some recipes, for example, an Italian meringue icing, will be made using caster sugar.

Icing or frostings are typically used to coat and/or decorate baked goodies like cakes and cupcakes. Not only does icing make your baked goods look great, but it also adds flavor and texture. And, in some cases, it can even help preserve the item as well. A cake that is fully covered in an icing will hold its moisture extremely well because the icing traps it inside.

Below we have listed 5 different types of icing, their unique properties, and their uses. You will see that some of them you may know as a frosting, but in many parts of the world, the terms are used interchangeably.

Buttercream frosting

Buttercream frosting is probably the most common type of frosting. This is because it is very versatile. It can be used as a filling between layers of cakes and as a decorative ingredient to make piped details.

This frosting is very soft, airy, and spreadable. And, it is incredibly easy to flavor using simple essences or extracts.

Cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting is essentially the same as buttercream frosting, except it has added cream cheese. This makes the frosting a bit heavier, but it adds a wonderfully luxurious tart taste to the already rich frosting.

How do you make the perfect icing

Royal icing

Traditionally, this icing is used to cover and decorate Christmas cakes, wedding cakes, gingerbread houses, and sugar cookies. It is made from softly beaten egg whites, icing sugar, and sometimes lemon or lime juice.

You can create a wide variety of decorative details using different consistencies and techniques.

Meringue frosting

This type of frosting is very light & frothy. It is made by beating together egg whites, cold water, and sugar. There are 3 different kinds of meringue including French, Italian, and Swiss. The differences between each lie in how you beat the egg whites and whether or not they are cooked.

How To Make Icing Less Sweet

Now, while icing is an incredibly tasty treat that is meant to be uber-sweet, not many people love this. So, we have created a list of some of the best ways how to make icing less sweet. Let’s have a look at them!

1. Use more fat

This will only work for buttercream frosting and cream cheese frosting because they are fat-based frostings.

Adding more fat (butter, margarine, lard, shortening, or cream cheese) will help decrease the sugar content of the frosting and lessen the sweet flavor.

Piping Bag and Tips Cake Decorating Supplies Kit 

2. Add flavoring ingredients

One way to cut down on sweetness is to add a flavoring ingredient that counteracts the high sugar content.

There are a few different ingredients that can be used. But remember, that each ingredient will alter the flavor of the icing slightly. Before trying this technique, make sure that the new flavor you’re introducing doesn’t clash with the actual baked items’ flavor.

For example, if you baked a coffee-flavored cake, don’t go icing it with a lemon-flavored frosting.

You can use extracts, essences, or concentrated to add flavor to your icing.

Two other flavoring ingredients that you can add to lessen the sweetness include adding a touch of whiskey or adding a pinch of salt with some vanilla.

3. Add some cocoa or dark chocolate

One way to reduce the sweetness of a chocolate-flavored frosting is to add more cocoa powder to the recipe. This can deepen the chocolate flavor while reducing the sweetness at the same time.

And, by using semi-sweet or dark chocolates, you can also counter the sugar.

How do you fix too much sugar in icing

4. Counter the sweetness with salt or acid

This may be one of the easiest ways on how to make icing less sweet. Adding a touch of salt can balance the sweetness.

You could also simply use salted butter if you’re making buttercream frosting – this will automatically balance out the sweetness a bit from the get-go.

As mentioned before, you could also use lemon as an acid to counteract the sweetness. But, remember that it will give the frosting a slight lemony taste.

How To Adjust The Consistency Of Icing?

If you want to make your frosting or icing thinner or more “runny” then simply add more cream, milk, or water. Whichever is most applicable to the type of icing or frosting you are trying to thin out. Remember to only add about a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time depending on the quantity of icing you are making.

If you want to thicken your frosting or make your icing less runny, then add a tablespoon of sifted powdered sugar while mixing. Keep adding until you reach the right consistency. Remember though, that this will also sweeten the icing or frosting. So you will need to counteract the increased sweetness with one of the aforementioned techniques that don’t involve adding cream or milk.

Wrapping Things Up

Hopefully, we’ve given you some great tips on how to make icing less sweet that you can use in your kitchen from now on.

If anyone ever asks you how to make icing less sweet, now you’ve got no excuse NOT to sound like an expert! If you found this article interesting, please leave a comment in the comments section and share it with your fellow bakers!


How do you make the perfect icing?

The key to making the perfect fat-based icing is to keep beating it for a long time - between 10 to 15 minutes! And, for the regular icings, you should try to get the right consistency for how you need to use it. Just follow the recipe exactly and you should be fine.

How do you fix too much sugar in icing?

You can use a few techniques to make an icing less sweet. One way is to add some acid, salt, flavoring, or add more fat. You can have a look at our in-depth article for more information.

Why is icing so sweet?

Icing is so incredibly sweet because of the amount of powdered sugar used in the recipe. It is essentially all-sugar with a little bit of liquid to adjust the consistency.

Does icing have a flavor?

Unflavored icing is simply sweet and tastes like sugar. But, once you add a flavoring ingredient, if will naturally change. You can use cocoa powder, extracts, essences, concentrates, and syrups to add flavor.

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