Whipped Icing vs Buttercream? That Is The Question

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Last Updated on December 5, 2022

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 is still pipable.

Whipped Icing vs Buttercream: What is Whipped Icing?

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 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!

Check this Wilton Whipped Icing Mix Vanilla or this Sugar-free and low-carb Good Dee’s Vanilla Frosting.

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 Icing vs Buttercream: Do they Taste the Same?

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 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.

Whipped Icing vs Buttercream, Which One Is Healthier?

So, in regards to calories, sugar has fewer 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 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, Which One Is Healthier? Cholesterol

Does Buttercream Need Heavy Cream?

When it comes to buttercream, heavy cream is usually used because it helps to make the buttercream thick, creamy, and absolutely delicious. However, it’s not necessary. You can easily replace your heavy cream with an ingredient like milk, but just keep in mind it may not taste as good.

If you’re looking for direct substitutes for heavy cream, you can use any one of the following combos: milk and butter, soy milk and olive oil, milk and cornstarch, cream cheese and milk, or even Greek yogurt and milk.

Does Whipped Cream Frosting Go Bad?

It absolutely can. All foods go bad eventually. When it comes to whipped cream frosting, the two main tell-tale signs it’s gone bad are appearance and smell. If it’s giving off a strange odor, or there is any color change, or any mold appears, it is no longer safe to eat and should be discarded immediately. Eating this may make you ill or cause health problems.

What is the Best Frosting For Vanilla Cupcakes?

I find vanilla buttercream frosting works best for vanilla cupcakes and I have a fool-proof recipe to share with you. All you need is 1 cup of softened butter, 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream (or whole milk). Now all you need to do is beat the butter until it becomes creamy.

Once creamy, slowly add the powdered sugar, beating as you go. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the vanilla extract and heavy cream (or whole milk) one tablespoon at a time. Keep mixing until you have reached a buttercream consistency.

What Kind of Buttercream is Best For Piping?

The three most common types of buttercream are usually best for piping, and they’re super easy to make. Those types are American buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, and Italian meringue buttercream. All work well at creating perfectly piped buttercream.

Which Buttercream is More Stable?

When it comes to stability, Swiss meringue and Italian meringue are the best choices. However, my preference is Italian meringue buttercream. It’s by far the most stable and isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. It’s made by whipping egg whites, along with hot sugar syrup. And then flavoring, salt, and butter are then added.

How Do You Make Buttercream Frosting Taste Better?

You may be trying to find a way to make your buttercream frosting taste better; whether homemade or store-bought. Here are some top tips to make your buttercream even better:

  • try adding a pinch of salt
  • add flavorings such as vanilla or almond extract
  • add in whipped cream or cream cheese to enhance the flavor
  • add frozen dried (but ground) fruit to add texture and flavor
  • whip the frosting (that makes any frosting taste better)

What’s the Best Buttercream Recipe?

This vanilla buttercream recipe is the tastiest for me, as well as the easiest. You just need 1 cup of softened butter, 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. First, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy.

Once you’ve achieved this, gradually add your sugar; beating continuously. Once mixed, add your heavy cream and vanilla extract, along with a pinch of salt. Continue beating until you have reached the consistency you require.

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, 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.

Whipped Icing vs Buttercream: Pros and Cons

So, what type of frosting will you choose for your next cake? Tell us below!


What is whipped frosting made of?

Essentially, whipped frosting is made of water, sugar, salt, pure vanilla extract, and egg whites. However, it significantly relies on the whipped frosting recipe you are using. 

In some cases, whipped frosting comprises flavorings, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. The whipped frosting is perfect for cookies, cupcakes, shortcakes, and cakes. Thus this type of frosting requires refrigeration. 

With regards to the flavorings, most recipes use vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste. However, you can use alternatives like peppermint extract or mint, lemon extract, and lime or lemon zest.

How do you make whipped frosting from scratch?

Before anything else, prepare a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Then, begin by mixing the egg whites, salt, water, and sugar in a heatproof bowl. After that, set it over a saucepan of simmering water.  

Afterward, cook over medium, stirring continually till the sugar dissolves for around two to three minutes likewise, if the mixture registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. 

After that, transfer to a bigger mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high for approximately three minutes till stiff peaks form, and it is flossy. Keep in mind that you should never overbeat it.

Then, lessen the speed to low, and put the vanilla extract. Afterward, beat till it incorporates well. Hence, use the whipped frosting as soon as possible.

Whipped Cream Frosting  

Moreover, when dealing with whipped cream frosting, whip the sugar, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla till soft peaks develop. Then, microwave for ten seconds to dissolve the gelatin water. Afterward, stir it. After that, repeat two more times till completely dissolved. 

Next, once moderately cooled, put the gelatin into whipped cream. Then, whip till stiff peaks form. Lastly, please put it in the fridge for about twenty to thirty minutes. After that, it is ready to pipe onto a cake or cupcake. 

Does whipped frosting harden?

Yes, it can harden in two ways. The first one is by lowering the temperature of the refrigerator. With that, chilling the whipped frosting helps harden it temporarily. 

The other approach is by increasing the dry ingredients’ quantity. As a result, adding dry ingredients like sugar helps harden the frosting permanently. Hence, one way or the other, it hardens the whipped frosting. 

Does whipped icing need refrigerated?

Yes, it does need refrigeration since it is made from heavy whipping cream. Likewise, you must eat the baked good, especially if it is a cake within two days if you placed whipped icing on it. In addition to that, please put it in the fridge as a whole. 

Because of this, put the cake in a covered cake display and store it in the fridge. It is important to cover since it will prevent the whipped icing from absorbing refrigerator odors. 

Furthermore, ensure to maintain the temperature of the fridge at about 36 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, the whipped icing would harden on the cake at this temperature. 

Moreover, it would be best to store the unused whipped cream in the fridge for approximately two days.  

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