Whipped icing vs buttercream, which is better? Cakes, cupcakes, cookies… They may all be incredible and taste delicious. But, what are they without frosting? Frosting definitely elevates the quality and overall flavor of all baked goods. And isn’t it what we all remember about a cake? I mean, my favorite is carrot cake and it would be incomplete without its traditional tart cream cheese frosting.
In any case, it may be tasty but it is definitely not healthy. In our quest for a lighter option we found whipped icing, but is whipped icing healthier than buttercream? Or is it all just marketing?
Whipped Icing vs Buttercream: What is Whipped Icing?
Icing is made from a mix of wet and dry ingredients. Traditionally, lemon juice and powdered sugar. You could also use other liquids like coffee or maple syrup, or even just plain water.
This type of mix gives you an icing that dries hard really fast. It is commonly called “royal icing” and is usually used to decorate cookies or to construct gingerbread houses.
A “whipped icing” is made when you take that mix and you, well, whip it! This way, you incorporate air into it, making it lighter, but it will still dry hard.
It is perfect to create piped decorations such as sugar flowers, as it will dry hard but it still pipable.
Whipped icing may also refer, depending on where you live, to whipped cream. This is made out of heavy cream that is mixed at high speed with powdered sugar. A bit of meringue powder can be used to make it more stable.
This type of spread is different than whipped royal icing. It is not as strong and will deflate if put in between heavy cakes. So you cannot use it in the middle of, say, a carrot cake.
That is why buttercream is so widely used! It is soft enough to be used in between cakes but still holds its shape, so it is a perfect in between these two types of icing.
Whipped Icing vs Buttercream: Store-bought
But what if you are buying your frosting from a can? Well, brands often market both whipped frosting and buttercream varieties, in different flavors and colors.
We could not say exactly if one brand would be healthier than the other because you need to read the labels and compare them.
Take into account total calories as well as total fat and type of fat. We also recommend you check the list of ingredients and see which ones are at the top. If you see a lot of high fructose corn syrup, stay clear!
Whipped Icing vs Buttercream: Do they Taste the Same?
Definitely not! The texture, first of all, is completely different. Whipped royal icing is hard, while whipped cream and buttercream are smooth.
Buttercream is definitely richer. Butter has a higher fat content than heavy cream, making it heavier as well. Just looking at the consistency of the original ingredients gives you an idea of what I mean.
Whipped cream on the hand is lighter and fluffier but it is still very rich. It is also not as overpoweringly sweet as buttercream (which for us is a plus!).
We would not say you are compromising taste if you choose this option rather than buttercream, but they are not both suited to every situation.
You would need to take into account the baked good you are frosting or filling out in order to decide what is the best alternative regarding the taste and final look you want to achieve.
Whipped Icing vs Buttercream, Which One Is Healthier?
Well… We hate to break the news to you but all of these options have a ton of sugar and/or fat in them. There is no escaping that. But in any case, we could discuss which one is technically healthier, according to a few points.
We all love to eat sweets, even if they are very caloric. In the scientific community, it is discussed whether sugar is addictive and how this has affected our health in the last few hundred years since it has been available.
Let’s discuss what each type of icing we mentioned is made of, compared to the others:
Whipped royal icing is made out of mostly sugar and we only add a liquid, no fat. Buttercream, on the other hand, is made out of butter or shortening and powdered sugar. Whipped cream is similar, in the sense that cream is a fat, to which you add sugar and then mix.
So, in regards to calories, sugar has less total calories than butter per the same amount. 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar is about 60 calories in it, while butter has 100 calories.
Heavy cream, on the other hand, only has 51 calories in a tablespoon. Also, heavy cream doubles its original volume once whipped, making these calories are even less for the total frosting (although we would need to take into account the sugar as well).
So, regarding calories, we could say whipped frosting is healthier than its other alternatives.
Eating more fat can cause an increase in cholesterol levels, which can lead to several pathologies such as blocked arteries.
Buttercream and whipped cream both have fat in them that comes from the milk they are made of but not all fat is made the same.
According to new scientific studies, whipped cream may have less impact on cholesterol levels than butter. You can read the full report here.
Whipped Icing vs Buttercream: Pros and Cons
Choosing whipped cream as a healthier alternative is a good idea as it is fluffy and delicious while still being a little less caloric.
There are some issues, though. First of all, it does not hold its shape very well, so we cannot decorate as precisely as we would with stiff buttercream. If you beat it too much you will be left with butter, so be careful if you are trying to achieve a stiffer cream.
Another disadvantage is that it needs to stay refrigerated and cannot be kept outside for long periods of time, especially if it is hot. Buttercream is much more stable and you won’t need to be so mindful of how much time the cake has gone outside of the fridge.
So, what type of frosting will you choose for your next cake? Tell us below!