What Are the Different Types of Frosting for Cupcakes?

A frosted cupcake.
Fondant frosting may be used for decorating cupcakes.
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  • Written By: Amber Eberle
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 07 August 2014
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Cupcakes are individual desserts that are usually topped with a sweet frosting. There are several frosting recipes that work well for icing and decorating these little cakes. Many types of icings can have flavorings or colorings added to them. Buttercream, cream cheese, whipped cream, ganache, and meringue options are all popular frosting options. The type of topping used is a matter of personal taste, but can also depend on how one plans to decorate the cakes.

Buttercream is a very popular frosting for cupcakes. This kind of icing has a rich, sweet taste that many people enjoy and can be used in many different decorating techniques. There are a number of recipes to make buttercream, but the main ingredients of this frosting are butter and sugar. Flavorings can be added and it can also be tinted with food coloring. Buttercream frosting can be piped onto cupcakes using a frosting or pastry bag, or it can be spread on to a cupcake using a rounded knife or small spatula.

Cream cheese frosting is made by mixing cream cheese and powdered sugar until it is smooth and fluffy. The flavor of the cream cheese usually makes this type of frosting less sweet than others and is a good frosting for cupcakes that are themselves very sugary. The frosting can also be colored and flavored as desired.


Whipped cream frosting is very light and creamy in texture and is easy to make by combining whipping cream and powdered sugar. Care must be taken to not over-beat the mixture, however. This type of frosting should be used immediately after it is made, and leftover cupcakes topped will this kind of frosting must be refrigerated. Coloring can be added to whipped cream frosting but the results are usually only pastel shades as opposed to vibrant hues.

Ganache is a rich frosting made by melting chocolate with cream and butter. When it is warm, it can be poured over the top of a cupcake, or it can be chilled until it thickens and then spread onto the cakes. This frosting for cupcakes has a shiny appearance.

Meringue frosting is also commonly called seven-minute frosting or cooked frosting. The main ingredients of a meringue version are egg whites and sugar, which are cooked in a double boiler while being constantly mixed. For best results, an electric mixer should be used to create a light and fluffy icing. When using meringue frosting for cupcakes, it is recommended that the treats are served or consumed on the same day because the topping may deflate if kept too long. A meringue powder, which can usually be found at baking supply stores, can be used in place of the egg whites.


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