Difference Between Icing and Frosting

The majority of people believe that frosting and icing are two separate names for the very same item. Many people in the United States, for instance, refer to the frosting as opposed to icing. Nevertheless, most European nations, including the United Kingdom, prefer the term icing. This is one of the explanations why there seems to be just too much discussion regarding whether there is a distinction between the two or whether they may be used indiscriminately.

Nonetheless, an increasing number of specialists believe that there have been significant differences between the two terms and this article precisely highlights those differences for ease of understanding.

Icing vs Frosting

The main difference between icing and frosting is that icing is much more subtle and thinner than regular frosting. The texture of icing is slithery and soft which makes it easy for cake designers and bakers to use it in flexible designs and patterns for the cake top. The icing is usually made out of confectioners’ sugar and a fluid such as milk, buttermilk, or juices. Frosting on the other hand has a harder and stronger settling texture. It is thick and more flavor-rich when compared to regular icing.

Icing vs Frosting

At even the most foundational sense, icing is a homogeneous mixture of confectioners’ sugar and fluid (milk, buttermilk, lemon or lime, or liqueur) that’s thick enough just to apply a small amount of a cookie but thin enough then to expand into a fully perfect, nearly puddle-like coating. The much more common type of frosting for elaborate cookie decoration is royal icing. It also includes confectioners’ sugar and water, as well as egg whites or creme flour, which adds solidity and helps the icing to harden to a firm, polished coating.

The creamy and frothy covering around the outside of the dessert is generally cake icing. It has a creamy consistency and a buttery flavor. This covering can be colored to attract more people. It’s thick, sticky, viscous, and very plush. Icing, on the other hand, is a thin, sweet coating that solidifies as it cools. Regardless of the type of dessert cooked, frosting is a velvety icing created with sugar and enhanced with margarine, egg whites, mascarpone, or flavorings.

Comparison table Between Icing and Frosting

Parameters of ComparisonIcing Frosting
TextureThin and softer texture with subtle taste of lime or orange.Thick and glazy texture with strong flavors like cinnamon and coffee.
UsesUsed over cakes and pastries. Also, used as creme fillings inside biscuits and cakes.Used over cakes and Donuts as well as pastries. It can also be used as croissant fillings.
ComponentsConfectioner’s sugar, water, that is often enriched with ingredients like butter, egg whites and lime juice.Sugar or corn syrup, butter, flavor, chocolate chips and butterscotch chuks, cream cheese etc.
FlavorsLemon, Lime, Orange, Raspberries etc.Coffee, Chocolate, Pink berries, Cardamom and cinnamon.
Applying MethodUsing a piping bag and nozzle.Spatula or spoon, butterknife.

What is Icing?

Icing is a rich, typically velvety frosting created by combining sugar with a fluid, such as milk and water, and then adding cream, scrambled eggs, mascarpone, or flavorings. Baked products, such as cupcakes, decor cakes, and pastries, are coated or decorated with it. It’s called a “filling” when it’s put somewhere between layers of bread cakes.

A dough bag may be used to mold icing into forms such as blossoms or various symmetrical patterns. On anniversary and wedding cakes, such embellishments are prevalent. To produce a particular color, edible colors can be applied to icing mixes; this is typically due to the implications of additional components. On top of the icing, sparkles, liquid inks, and other embellishments are frequently utilized.

Icing is described as being lighter and shinier than confectioners’ sugar. The term “icing” is believed to be used in a more sophisticated meaning. It tastes like a combination of confectioner’s sugar along with white cream and milk.

Icing is more fluid at first, but as it dries, it just becomes brittle and rigid. In most cases, icing is used to decorate biscuits and butterscotch, and Choco chip cookies. For its fluid nature, the pumping procedure is the only way to employ icing. It’s too difficult to apply with a spoon since it’ll just stream off.

What is Frosting?

Conventional (or American) crème frosting, mascarpone frosting, Swiss meringue fondant frosting, and Italian meringue buttercream frosting are some of the most frequent types of frosting. The classic chocolate cake icing is conventional (or American) crème frosting. It’s prepared with just a frothy whipped butter base, confectioners’ sugar, a little quantity of fluid (typically wine or buttermilk), and a flavoring like coffee, hazelnut, or cherry. Mascarpone frosting is created in the same manner as for regular buttercream, but using sour creme fraiche in place of many of the butter.

Melting egg whites and sugars in the double burner is the first step in making Swiss meringue crème frosting, following that you whisk the batter to glossy peaks and fold in some subtle butter. This buttercream is smooth and sturdy, making it ideal for piping and embellishing. The Italian meringue crème frosting begins with beaten egg white American egg, which is then combined with boiling icing sugar and blend until smooth until the frosting is lustrous, frothy, and marshmallow-like.

Frosting, on the other hand, is considered to have existed for at least 200 years before the publishing of the book which first mentioned the term ‘icing’ in The Experienced English Housewife in 1769, this indicates that frosting came in prior to the sophisticated icing procedures. The frosting is placed on the cakes with a spoon or spatula, or by inserting it inside a piping bag with a tiny vent at the top for the frosting to flow through (pipe).

Main Differences Between Icing and Frosting

  1. Icing is much softer and flowy when compared to the rigid yet frothy frosting.
  2. Icing can be used as cookie or pastry fillings whereas frosting is used as a donut or cake embellishment ornament.
  3. Icing is usually used much more in European stylized desserts whereas frosting is preferred by Americans.
  4. Icing is known for its glassy and subtle texture and taste whereas frosting usually carries a rich taste and thick texture.
  5. Icing does not contain cream cheese whereas frostings contain cream cheese and richer fondant constituents too.


In conclusion, if you’re not really concerned with words and meanings, you may use both icing or frosting indiscriminately. In any case, the ‘correct’ usage of the two words is determined by your location. However, they diverge in the most scientific sense since icings are slightly thinner and softer than frosting. Frostings are more substantial than icings.

The usage of both is quite similar. The usage of icing is more preferred inside the cakes and cookies because of its runny and fluidic texture whereas frosting is preferred over donuts for carrying the general flavor and strong texture to make the edible product look more appealing.


  1. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cake-frosting-1718976
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/icing
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