Best Cake Decorating Icing

When it comes to cake decorating, one of the most essential elements is the icing. The right icing can make or break a cake’s appearance and taste. In this article, we will explore the best cake decorating icing options available. From classic buttercream to indulgent ganache, there is a perfect icing for every occasion and preference.

No matter how beautifully a cake is baked, it is the icing that truly brings it to life. It adds color, texture, and flavor, making a cake look and taste absolutely delicious. Choosing the right cake decorating icing is crucial for achieving professional-looking results.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the different types of cake decorating icing available in the market today. We will discuss their unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages so that you can make an informed decision when selecting your ideal frosting.

Whether you are a professional baker or just someone who enjoys baking cakes on special occasions, this article will provide you with all the information you need to know about choosing the best cake decorating icing. So let’s dive in and discover the world of delectable icings that will take your cakes from ordinary to extraordinary.

Understanding the Different Types of Cake Decorating Icing

Cake decorating icing is an essential component in creating beautiful and delicious cakes. However, not all icings are created equal, and understanding the different types of cake decorating icings available can help you choose the best one for your needs.

Buttercream icing

Buttercream is a classic choice for cake decorating. It is made by whipping together butter or shortening with powdered sugar and flavorings such as vanilla extract. Buttercream icing has a smooth and creamy texture, making it easy to spread on cakes and pipe intricate designs. It is versatile and can be flavored or colored in various ways, allowing for endless creative possibilities.


Fondant is a pliable icing that can be rolled out into a thin sheet to cover cakes or shaped into decorative figures and designs. Made from gelatin, water, sugar, and glycerin, fondant gives cakes a sleek and professional look. It provides a smooth surface that makes it ideal for intricate detailing and sculpting impressive decorations.

Cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting adds a tangy and creamy flavor to cakes. Made with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract, it has a rich texture that pairs well with many cake flavors like carrot or red velvet. Cream cheese frosting is especially popular for its ability to create rustic and homemade-looking cake designs.

Understanding these different types of cake decorating icings is crucial when choosing the best one for your specific needs. Each type has its own unique qualities that make it suitable for different styles of cake decoration.

  1. Buttercream icing
  2. Fondant
  3. Cream cheese frosting

By considering factors such as taste preferences, desired level of detail in decoration, ease of use, and the type of cake being decorated, you can select the icing that will best complement your desired outcome. Whether you are aiming for a classic, elegant look or a fun and whimsical design, there is a cake decorating icing that is perfect for your needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Cake Decorating Icing

When it comes to choosing the best cake decorating icing, there are several factors to consider in order to achieve the desired outcome for your delicious creations. The right icing can make all the difference when it comes to taste, texture, and overall aesthetic appeal of your cakes. Here are some important factors to take into account when selecting the perfect cake decorating icing.

One of the key factors to consider is the consistency of the icing. Different types of icings have varying consistencies, ranging from thin and pourable to thick and spreadable. The consistency you choose will depend on the specific design or decoration you have in mind.

For intricate designs that require fine details, a thicker icing such as royal icing or buttercream would be more appropriate. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a smooth and glossy finish, a thinner consistency like ganache or whipped cream would be ideal.

Another important factor is the flavor of the icing. While some people prioritize aesthetics over taste, it’s always a good idea to choose an icing that not only looks good but also tastes delicious.

Buttercream is a popular choice for its creamy and buttery flavor, while cream cheese frosting adds a tangy and slightly sweet taste to complement certain cake flavors. Fondant offers a neutral flavor that can be easily flavored with extracts or oils, allowing for versatility in taste customization.

It’s also crucial to consider the stability and durability of the icing. This is especially important if you’re creating layered or stacked cakes that require stability in order to prevent collapsing or sliding off. Buttercream is known for its stability and ability to hold up well under different weather conditions.

Fondant, although firm and stable once set, can become soft in humid environments. Whipped cream has a light and delicate texture, making it less suitable for longer-term decorations as it may break down or deflate over time.

By taking into account these important factors – consistency, flavor, stability – you can make an informed decision when choosing the best cake decorating icing for your needs. Whether you’re aiming for a classic and traditional look with buttercream or exploring the possibilities of intricate designs with royal icing, understanding these factors will help ensure that you achieve stunning and delicious results for all your cake decorating endeavors.


Buttercream icing is a classic and widely used choice for cake decorating. It is versatile, easy to work with, and loved by many due to its delicious taste and smooth texture. Buttercream is made by combining butter, powdered sugar, flavorings, and sometimes milk or cream. It can be flavored with various extracts such as vanilla, almond, or lemon to add extra dimensions of taste.

One of the advantages of using buttercream icing is its ability to hold its shape well. This makes it ideal for piping decorations like borders, flowers, and intricate designs onto cakes. Buttercream can also be easily colored using gel food coloring to create vibrant and eye-catching designs.

There are two main types of buttercream: American buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream. American buttercream is made by creaming softened butter with powdered sugar and flavorings until light and fluffy. On the other hand, Swiss meringue buttercream involves heating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the mixture reaches a specific temperature before whipping it into a meringue consistency. Both types result in different textures and taste profiles.

When using buttercream for cake decorating, it is important to consider the temperature of your environment. Butter has a tendency to melt when exposed to heat, so if you are working in a warm room or transporting your decorated cake in hot weather, it’s best to keep it refrigerated until just before serving.

Overall, buttercream icing provides both aesthetic appeal and delicious taste when used for cake decorating. Its versatility allows for an array of designs while still providing a delectable finishing touch to any cake creation.


  • Easy to work with
  • Versatile
  • Can be flavored and colored
  • Holds shape well


  • Can melt in warm environments
  • Sensitive to temperature changes
  • May not hold up well in high humidity


When it comes to creating cakes that look professionally decorated, fondant is a popular choice among bakers and cake decorators. Fondant is a versatile icing that can be rolled out and draped over cakes to create a smooth, flawless finish. This makes it an ideal option for creating intricate designs and achieving a professional look.

One of the main advantages of using fondant is its ability to provide a clean canvas for decorating. Unlike buttercream, which can be difficult to smooth and often shows imperfections, fondant creates a smooth foundation that allows for precise detailing and decorations. This is especially important when working on elaborate cake designs or when aiming for a sleek and polished appearance.

Another reason why fondant is worth considering for professional looking cakes is its versatility in terms of shapes and textures. Fondant can be easily molded into various shapes, making it suitable for creating three-dimensional decorations such as flowers, bows, or even figurines. Additionally, fondant can also be textured with various tools to create patterns or simulate the appearance of fabric or other materials.

While fondant does offer many advantages for creating professional-looking cakes, it’s important to note that it does have some drawbacks as well. For one, fondant has a distinct taste that not everyone enjoys. Some people find the texture of fondant too chewy or sweet, which can affect their overall enjoyment of the cake.

Additionally, working with fondant requires some skill and practice to achieve the desired results. It takes time and patience to roll out the icing evenly and apply it smoothly without any air bubbles or tears.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a popular choice for cake decorating due to its creamy texture and tangy flavor. It adds a deliciously rich and decadent touch to cakes, making them even more enjoyable. In this section, we will explore the characteristics of cream cheese frosting and why it is worth considering for your cake decorating needs.

The Creaminess and Tanginess of Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is known for its smooth and creamy consistency, which makes it easy to spread on cakes. It has a slightly tangy flavor that complements the sweetness of cakes, creating a balanced taste. The cream cheese in this icing adds a distinct richness that many people love.

Best Uses for Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting pairs well with a variety of cake flavors, particularly those that are not overly sweet. It is commonly used on carrot cakes, red velvet cakes, pumpkin spice cakes, and banana cakes. Its tanginess helps cut through the sweetness of these cakes, enhancing their overall flavor profile. Additionally, cream cheese frosting works well as a filling between cake layers or as a topping for cupcakes.

Tips for Working with Cream Cheese Frosting

When working with cream cheese frosting, it’s important to consider its softer consistency compared to other types of icing. To achieve the best results, make sure that both the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before blending them together. This will result in a smoother texture without any lumps. If the frosting seems too soft or runny after mixing, refrigerate it for about 15-30 minutes before using it for decorating your cake.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is a light and fluffy option for cake decorating that is perfect for certain occasions. It adds a delicate touch to cakes and pastries, creating a beautiful presentation. Whipped cream icing is made by beating heavy cream until soft peaks form, then adding sugar and vanilla extract to sweeten and flavor it.

One of the main advantages of using whipped cream as a cake decorating icing is its lightness. Unlike buttercream or fondant, whipped cream icing is airy and not overly rich. This makes it an excellent choice for lighter desserts or for those who prefer a less heavy icing option. Whipped cream also complements fruit-based cakes or tarts exceptionally well, as its mild flavor allows the fruit flavors to shine through.

However, there are some considerations when choosing whipped cream as your cake decorating icing. Firstly, it is important to note that whipped cream does not hold up well in warm temperatures or for extended periods of time. It tends to soften and may even melt if exposed to heat or left out for too long. Therefore, it is recommended to keep whipped cream decorations refrigerated until just before serving the cake.

Secondly, whipped cream can be challenging to work with compared to other icings such as buttercream or fondant. It requires careful handling due to its delicate texture. Additionally, piping intricate designs using whipped cream can be more difficult as it does not hold its shape as well as firmer icings.

Light and fluffy textureDoes not hold up well in warm temperatures
Complements fruit-based cakes and tartsRequires careful handling
Less heavy compared to other icingsNot suitable for intricate designs


When it comes to cake decorating, there’s one option that stands out for chocoholics – ganache. Ganache is a rich and decadent icing made from chocolate and cream, which creates a velvety smooth texture and an intense chocolate flavor. It’s the perfect choice for those who want to create indulgent and luxurious cakes that will satisfy even the most discerning chocolate lovers.

How to Make Ganache

Making ganache is surprisingly simple, requiring only two main ingredients – chocolate and cream. To make ganache, start by chopping your desired chocolate into small pieces. Next, heat the cream in a saucepan until it reaches a simmer.

Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the heat of the cream to melt the chocolate. Then, gently stir until the mixture becomes smooth and glossy. Depending on how you plan to use the ganache, you can adjust its consistency by adding more cream to make it thinner or more chocolate to make it thicker.

Strawberry Cake Decorations

Uses of Ganache

Ganache has versatile uses in cake decorating. It can be used as both an icing and filling for cakes, cupcakes, or even as a glaze for pastries. When used as an icing, ganache can be applied smoothly with a palette knife or piped using a piping bag fitted with different tips for decorative designs. Ganache also makes an excellent filling between cake layers because of its creamy consistency that adds an extra layer of flavor and richness.

Furthermore, ganache can be poured over cakes or desserts as a glaze for a glossy finish. This works particularly well when making mirror glazes or creating drip effects on cakes. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using ganache in your cake decorating creations, making it a must-try option for any chocoholic looking to elevate their dessert game.

Royal Icing

When it comes to intricate designs and cookie decorating, royal icing is the go-to choice for many bakers and cake decorators. Its smooth and glossy finish, combined with its quick-drying properties, make it ideal for creating delicate details and elaborate patterns on cakes and cookies. In this section, we will explore why royal icing is a popular choice for these types of decorations and how to use it effectively.

What is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is a type of cake decorating icing that is made from a mixture of powdered sugar, egg whites or meringue powder, and water. It gets its name from its use in creating decorative details on wedding cakes and other grand occasions fit for royalty. Royal icing has a thick yet fluid consistency that can be piped onto cakes or cookies using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.

Why Choose Royal Icing for Intricate Designs and Cookie Decorating?

One of the main reasons why royal icing is favored for intricate designs and cookie decorating is its ability to dry hard. When royal icing dries, it forms a strong outer shell that holds its shape well. This allows decorators to create fine lines, intricate lacework, delicate flowers, and other detailed designs that would be difficult to achieve with other icings.

Another advantage of royal icing is its versatility in terms of color options. It can be easily tinted with food coloring to achieve vibrant shades or subtle hues. Additionally, once dry, royal icing can be painted or airbrushed to add more depth and dimension to the design.

For cookie decorating, royal icing creates a smooth surface that sets firmly enough for stacking or packaging without smudging or losing its shape. This makes it perfect for creating beautifully decorated sugar cookies for any occasion.

Comparing the Pros and Cons of Each Icing Type

When it comes to cake decorating, choosing the right icing is crucial in achieving the desired look and taste of your creations. Each type of icing has its own unique characteristics, pros, and cons. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of cake decorating icing and compare their advantages and disadvantages.

Buttercream: Buttercream is undoubtedly one of the most popular choices for cake decorating due to its versatility and delicious flavor. It can be easily tinted with food coloring to create vibrant designs and pipe beautifully onto cakes. However, buttercream tends to soften quickly in warmer temperatures, making it less suitable for outdoor events or in hot climates.

Fondant: Fondant is a rolled icing that creates a smooth and flawless finish on cakes. It is perfect for creating intricate designs, covering larger cakes, and achieving a more professional look. Fondant also provides added protection from drying out, making it ideal for multi-tiered cakes. However, some people find fondant too sweet or dislike its chewy texture.

Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream cheese frosting is a popular choice for carrot cakes or red velvet cakes due to its tangy and creamy flavor profile. It spreads easily on cakes and pairs well with various flavors. However, cream cheese frosting can be quite soft, limiting the design possibilities and making it less suitable for intricate decorations.

Icing TypeProsCons
ButtercreamVersatile; delicious flavor; easy to pipe onto cakesTends to soften quickly in warm temperatures
FondantCreates a smooth and flawless finish; perfect for intricate designsCan be too sweet; chewy texture
Cream Cheese FrostingTangy and creamy flavor; pairs well with various flavorsSoft consistency limits design possibilities

Remember, the best icing type for your cake decorating needs will depend on the specific requirements of your project. Consider factors such as the climate, design complexity, desired taste, and personal preferences when making your choice. Experimenting with different icings and techniques can help you discover your own favorite combinations and achieve stunning results.

Personal Recommendations and Expert Advice for the Best Cake Decorating Icing

When it comes to choosing the best cake decorating icing, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the specific requirements of your cake design. However, there are some personal recommendations and expert advice that can help guide you in making the right choice for your creations.

Personal Recommendations:

  • Buttercream: Buttercream is a classic choice for cake decorating due to its versatility and ease of use. It can be flavored in various ways, such as vanilla, chocolate, or fruit flavors, and it is perfect for piping designs and creating smooth finishes.
  • Fondant: Fondant is worth considering if you want a sleek and professional-looking finish on your cakes. It rolls out easily and can be molded into intricate shapes and designs. Fondant also provides a smooth canvas for painting or airbrushing techniques.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: If you’re looking to add a touch of creaminess to your cakes, cream cheese frosting is an excellent choice. It pairs well with flavors like carrot cake or red velvet, adding tanginess and richness to the overall taste.

Expert Advice:

  • Know Your Design: Before choosing an icing type, consider the complexity of your design. Some icings may work better for intricate details, while others are more suitable for simple designs or covering larger areas.
  • Taste Matters: Don’t forget about flavor. While aesthetics are important in cake decorating, taste should not be overlooked. Consider how the icing will complement the flavors of your cake.
  • Consider Climate: Take into account the climate where the cake will be served. For example, buttercream may not withstand high temperatures well, while fondant is more heat-resistant.

Remember, these recommendations and advice are just a starting point. It’s essential to experiment with different icing types and techniques to find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with your cake decorating endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cake Decorating Icing, Answered!

Cake decorating icing can be a tricky subject, with various types and techniques to consider. To help clear up any confusion, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about cake decorating icing and provided answers to each one.

  • Q: How do I know which type of cake decorating icing is best for my needs?
  • A: Choosing the right type of cake decorating icing depends on several factors. Consider the look you want to achieve, the flavor preferences of your guests, and the weather conditions. Buttercream is versatile and easy to work with, making it a popular choice for most occasions.
    Fondant provides a smooth and professional finish but may not be as tasty as other options. Cream cheese frosting adds a rich creaminess to cakes, while whipped cream creates a light and fluffy texture. Ganache is perfect for chocolate lovers, while royal icing is ideal for intricate designs and cookie decorations.
  • Q: Can I make my own cake decorating icing?
  • A: Yes, you can absolutely make your own cake decorating icing. Homemade icing allows you to customize the taste, consistency, and color according to your preferences. Basic buttercream recipes usually involve beating together butter or shortening, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and a small amount of milk or water until creamy.
    For fondant, you will need marshmallows, powdered sugar, water or corn syrup, and flavoring agents like extracts or food coloring. Keep in mind that homemade icings require practice to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Q: How do I store leftover cake with different types of frosting?
  • A: Storing leftover cake depends on the type of frosting used. Buttercream-frosted cakes can be stored at room temperature for up to two days if necessary precautions are taken to protect them from drying out. However, if refrigerated or frozen within an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, buttercream-frosted cakes can last up to five days or four weeks, respectively.
    Fondant-covered cakes should be stored at room temperature in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Cream cheese frosting and whipped cream frosting both require refrigeration due to their perishable nature. It is best to consume cream cheese frosted cakes within three days and whipped cream frosted cakes within two days.

By understanding the different types of cake decorating icing, considering the factors involved in choosing the best one, and addressing common questions, you can confidently select the right icing for your cake creations. Remember to experiment with different icings to find your personal favorite and always seek expert advice for any specific concerns or challenges you may encounter along the way. With a little practice and creativity, your cakes are sure to impress.


In conclusion, finding the perfect cake decorating icing is essential for creating delicious and visually stunning cakes. Understanding the different types of icing available is the first step in making a decision. Factors such as taste, texture, and ease of use should all be considered when choosing the best icing for your needs.

Buttercream icing is a classic choice that offers a rich and creamy texture. It is versatile and can be easily flavored or colored to suit any occasion. Fondant icing, on the other hand, provides a smooth and flawless finish that is perfect for professional-looking cakes. Cream cheese frosting adds a touch of tanginess and creaminess to your baked creations, while whipped cream offers a light and fluffy option for those who prefer a lighter taste.

Ganache is an indulgent option that chocolate lovers will appreciate. Its smooth and glossy texture adds elegance to any cake. Royal icing is perfect for intricate designs and cookie decorating with its ability to harden quickly. Each type of icing has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to consider what you value most in an icing.

In the end, personal recommendations from bakers and expert advice can be helpful in choosing the best cake decorating icing for your specific needs. Experimenting with different types of icings can also lead to discovering new favorites. Remember to consider factors such as taste, texture, ease of use, and appearance when making your final decision.

With this comprehensive guide on cake decorating icings, you are now equipped with the knowledge needed to create delicious masterpieces in your kitchen. So go ahead, let your creativity soar, and enjoy the process of finding your perfect cake decorating icing for delicious creations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of icing is best for cake decorating?

When it comes to cake decorating, the type of icing that is considered best can vary depending on personal preference and the desired outcome. However, one popular and versatile option for cake decorators is buttercream icing. Buttercream is made by creaming together butter and powdered sugar, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture that holds its shape well when piped or spread onto cakes.

It can be easily tinted with food coloring and flavored with various extracts or flavorings to suit different tastes. Additionally, buttercream icing can be used for both crumb coating and intricate designs, making it a favorite choice for many cake decorators.

What frosting do professionals use?

Professional bakers and pastry chefs often use a variety of frostings depending on the specific requirements of a cake or dessert. One frosting that professionals frequently use is Swiss meringue buttercream.

Made by heating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler before beating them into stiff peaks, this type of frosting has a light and silky texture that pairs well with cakes of all flavors. Swiss meringue buttercream provides a smooth finish when applied to cakes, allowing for effortless decoration and creating an elegant appearance overall.

What icing do cake shops usually use?

Cake shops typically use commercially produced icings that are specifically formulated for their needs. These ready-made icings often come in large tubs or buckets in order to accommodate the high volume of cake production found in cake shops.

While different shops may prefer different brands or types of icing, some commonly used options include fondant, ganache, or pre-made buttercream frostings with added stabilizers to enhance shelf life. These types of icings provide convenience and consistency in taste and texture across multiple cakes while still allowing room for customization through additional flavors or decorations as per customer requests.

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