What Is The Difference Between Frosting and Icing?

Frosting Vs. Icing

Frosting vs. Icing


What is the difference between Frosting and Icing?  Even I get jumbled up in the difference.  While researching a product called Rich’s Bettercreme, which I will share with all of you soon, I noticed that they used the word “icing” in the name of the product.  But my experience with the Bettercreme lead me to believe that it was otherwise.  When something confuses me or I am unsure of something, related to cake decorating or not, I search the web.  So in this particular case, I headed online to find the difference between Frosting and Icing.



Cupcake White Frosting

When I think of frosting I think of thick, sweet, sometimes fluffy, goodness that is used to cover cakes and fill in the layers.  The stuff that my middle daughter licks off the tops of cupcakes like an ice cream cone and the stuff my niece and mother-in-law could eat by the cup full.  It is what binds the cake together to give your cake pops the shape that you desire and what helps fondant stick to a beautiful wedding cake.  When researching the definition, I was happy to know that I wasn’t far off.  Below is Dictionary.com’s definition of Frosting.

Frosting Definition




Christmas Cookies with Icing

When I think of icing my initial thought is the simple powdered sugar and milk mixture that I used to make as a kid to decorate Christmas cookies with.  A thin, runny layer that would be hard to spread  and would harden into little drips off the side of the cookie.  It was really sweet and had no real flavor but sugary.  I later learned for that recipe you are supposed to add vanilla but that is for a later post.  So when looking up Icing on Dictionary.com, this is what I found.

Icing Definition



Not A Huge Difference

As you can see, there is not a huge difference between the two.   The words are even mentioned in the others definition as an alternate term.  Both can be used for covering cakes and cookies and though it may not give a full list of ingredients, both are mostly made with confectioners’ sugar, butter, and flavoring.   One difference in the definition is that the frosting definition says that it can be cooked or uncooked but a quick search on Google will show you that icing can also be cooked.

Main differences

  • Frosting usually has just shortening, just butter, or a combination of the two because it is meant to be soft.
  • Icing on the other hand is mostly meant to harden and so in fact does not usually contain shortening.

What it really comes down to is preference.  I prefer to call the thick, fluffy mixture that I cover my cakes with Frosting and the thin, runny mixture that I would coat cookies with Icing but that is my own personal preference.  The way that I define the two.  So whether you prefer calling your sugary mixture Frosting or Icing, it really doesn’t matter because they are basically interchangeable terms.  At least according to Dictionary.com.  In later posts I will share several recipes that I have used in the past and you will see that using the word Frosting or Icing really doesn’t matter.  What matters is, will there be enough to cover your cake after you’ve finished “tasting” it to make sure it is perfect? 😉


Which do you prefer?  Frosting or Icing?  Share your comments below and let me know your preference.  Feel free to share any Frosting or Icing recipes that you love and maybe I will try them out and share them here on Cake Decorating Mommy.  Please let me know of any questions you may have.

God Bless,






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  1. Stu says:

    Hey I love cake! I work in a bakery and was thinking of making little tutorials for my next art website on how to make those themed topper cakes. I figure I make so many of them why not!?! Lol, I get super bored lately and have taken all kinds of step by step pics with my phone. My manager is always like what the heck are you doing?! Haha.

    Anywho, great website, we use Rich’s bettercreme as well as the buttercream frosting.

    I had always wondered if there was a difference! Now I can tell my customers.. Lol.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks Stu. I would love to see your work. Maybe we can collaborate on a guest post of that tutorial. I would love to learn how to do the themed cake toppers. Always looking to learn something new 🙂

  2. Samantha says:

    Thanks a lot Amanda, I didnt know the difference between frosting and icing:) You have lot of helpful info there to help us make awesome cake decorations:)


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