7 Types of Buttercream Frosting

June 12th, 2019 by Desiree Smith

From classic American buttercream to the less traditional boiled icing, there are all types of buttercream frostings that will take your cakes and cupcakes up a notch. While most contain the same or similar ingredients (eggs, sugar, butter), these buttercream frostings are each prepared differently, yielding different textures, tastes and consistencies.

Whether you’re looking to ice, fill, decorate or just lick the spoon, there’s a buttercream here for everyone!

Traditional American Buttercream Frosting

Made with butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla, this is the buttercream you know and love. Quick and easy to make, this buttercream is well-loved for its flavor and versatility. It’s softer and more spreadable than most icings, but can also be stiffened to pipe flowers and roses.


  • Great recipe if you’re planning to tint your buttercream, as it holds color very well (especially blacks and reds)
  • One of the best buttercreams for piping decorations
  • Great base for adding flavor

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

If you’re looking for a light and delicious icing that won’t weigh you down, this Swiss buttercream is the way to go! Egg whites and sugar combine to create a warm mixture that’s then whipped into a delicious frosting that you can use on just about anything. Soft and fluffy, this buttercream is great for filling layers or icing cakes.


  • Since Swiss buttercream is so soft, it’s better used for icing cakes rather than piping or decorating
  • Make sure mixture is cool before adding butter, otherwise your butter will melt

Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

For something light but durable, try this Italian meringue buttercream. The ingredients are similar to Swiss buttercream but in different proportions, so this icing is a bit sturdier than its counterpart. Great for using between layers or icing your cake, this buttercream requires a little extra work, but it’s well worth it!


  • This buttercream is best the day it’s made
  • Pasteurized eggs may be used, but they will not whip up as well as regular eggs and will yield less icing
  • If using pasteurized eggs, start adding sugar syrup when eggs reach soft peaks

French Buttercream Frosting

Rich and creamy, French buttercream has a taste and consistency similar to custard or pastry cream. Made using pasteurized egg yolks and sugar, this buttercream is not as sweet as traditional American buttercream and makes a great topping for a dark chocolate cake.


  • This buttercream is easy to spread and also makes a great filling between layers
  • The high butter content makes this buttercream good for piping as well, especially if you’re looking for decorations with sharp definition
  • French buttercream will have a yellow tint (due to the egg yolks and butter), so keep that in mind if you’re planning to ice your cake

German Buttercream Frosting

If you like whipped cream icing, you’ll love German buttercream. Light yet decadent, this buttercream combines custard and butter for a tasty topping to your favorite cake recipe.  German buttercream is also less sweet than traditional frostings, making it a nice alternative to those who enjoy less sugary icing.


  • This frosting needs to be kept cold as it will melt at room temperature
  • Watch your time while making this icing to make sure nothing overcooks
  • This frosting works best with a flavorful base, like a rich chocolate cake

Ermine Frosting

Also known as boiled frosting or flour buttercream, Ermine buttercream is smooth, rich and tastes similar to cream cheese frosting (though it does not contain cream cheese). Made by first cooking the flour and sugar, this buttercream has great texture and taste that works best with red velvet or chocolate cake.


  • Take care to seal your buttercream before it cools to prevent a skin from forming
  • Make sure mixture is completely cool before combining with butter

Vegan Buttercream Frosting

Just because this recipe omits butter and dairy doesn’t mean it skimps out on flavor! For decorators who are looking for an animal product-free frosting, this buttercream tastes amazing and gives great definition to your decorations. Experiment with taste and texture by using flavored almond or soy milk.


  • Since this ‘buttercream’ omits butter, it is super easy to tint and holds color very well (especially black and red)
  • Vegan butter spread may be substituted for ½ cup of shortening
  • Different vegan spreads may yield a softer icing, so add liquid ingredients as needed when using vegan butter substitutes

Which of these buttercream recipes is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below or share a picture of your buttercream creations on Instagram and tag us @WiltonCakes.

Desiree Smith Desiree is the Public Relations Manager at Wilton. She spends her days monitoring media opportunities, working with newspaper, magazine and television contacts, collaborating with bloggers and handling a variety of other odds and ends. Desiree has a degree in journalism and experience writing for newspapers and television. Outside of Wilton, she enjoys running and planning outings with friends.

10 Replies

  1. Thelma Elerewe says:

    I like your ideas of the different buttercream. Thanks for the hints. I wish we can have the actual recipe and methods on how to mix each recipe, especially the Swiss. All of them are great. Thanks.

  2. Jen says:

    Great article!! I’ve learnt so much. Thanks for taking the time to also add the important tips. Very informative!!

  3. Cathy says:

    What icing would you suggest for a cake that will be in an outside, warm setting
    Don’t want the cake to slide!

  4. Iris says:

    Thank you for the wonderful article of different type of buttercream frostings i found it interesting and very useful.

  5. Laura says:

    Thelma, you’re in luck. The frosting name links directly to the recipe for each. 🙂

  6. Ariane says:

    As French, I thought mine was the French buttercream but as it doesn’t look like the one described above. Perfect for both icing and piping:
    Granulated sugar : 120gr / 4,24oz
    Water : 50gr 11,77oz
    Egg white: 50gr 11,77oz
    Butter: 180gr / 6,35oz
    Place the sugar into a pan, add the water and boil until it reaches 120°C/248° F. It will turn into a syrup. In the meantime : slightly whisk the egg whites (far from being a stiff peak)
    Pour this syrup onto the egg whites, almost drop by drop on a slow to medium speed.
    Once the syrup is mixed, increase the speed to maximum and whisk until it cools down to 20°C/68°F
    Then, on medium speed, add the butter that needs to be at the EXACT SAME T°.

    Always use first quality ingredients. Preferably organic.
    Take the butter off the fridge the evening before so it has the perfect softness.
    Use a thermometer. Indeed, both butter and mixed syrup MUST BE at the exact same T°
    When I add the butter, I add about 5 drops of lemon essential oil (organic). You can add any other essential oil but the acid of the lemon brings down the heaviness of the buttercream.
    When all ingredients have properly combined, I reduce the speed of the mixer to medium to high.
    To help cooling down faster, I use ice bags or cold clothes around the mixer bowl.
    Never put your buttercream in the fridge but in a cool place.
    Use small portions of butter cream into your piping bags. The warmth of your hands tends to destroy the texture of the buttercream. Bon appétit !

  7. Jessy says:

    I love Swiss buttercream but make vegan the most since we have dairy allergies in our house and I don’t want to make multiple icings!

  8. Floranet says:

    Very innovative work. Great utilization of resources!!

  9. Staci says:

    Which icing would be best for pound cake?

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