Various Types of Icing (and What They’re For)

2014 Feb 15 |  Written by:  | Tags: , , , , ,

Various Types of Icing (and What They’re For), 2.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings We all love them, but I’m sure many of us out there have no idea that there are more than a couple of types of icing to choose from. For those who want to be baking masters, read on to feed your hunger for all things sweet and rich.

Here are the 6 types of icing, what they’re for, and how to enjoy them best:



Buttercream commonly comes pre-packaged and store-bought, but as we always preach here at Kitchenware Direct, everything is better if you make it yourself.

This type of icing is essentially made by creaming butter (hence the name) until it is pale, with milk, sugar and vanilla. Buttercream is best used for piping patterns over cakes, cupcakes, or muffins. This icing requires refrigeration because it melts easily. If you’re making buttercream, you may want to bring out your piping bag to decorate your treats.



Fondant is best known as the shiny and stiff icing used for covering mud cakes. The firmness of the icing helps keep the cake itself fresh, which makes it perfect for large wedding and birthday cakes, and cakes which require traveling. The biggest issue with fondant is that you can only get a perfectly smooth surface if your cake is perfectly shaped to begin with.

A trick some bakers use is filling the holes in the cake with a softer icing, like ganache, to ensure an even surface.

In addition to this step, you may need specialised baking equipment (modeling sets, cutters, smothers and rolling pins) to help you get your desired results.



Essentially made from whisked egg whites, water and caster sugar, meringue is commonly whipped then spread on cakes or pies using a palette knife. It is also used for topping key lime pie. The desired look is an edible looking icing which is often accentuated with flowers and other decorations.

Icing with meringue can be difficult for first-timers, since it can be hard to handle once it starts melting due to heat. This is why bakers and caterers usually perform this step at the last minute, especially when the cake has to be transported.



Made from dark or white chocolate and cream (2:1 ratio), ganache is rich and as chocolatey as it gets. Depending on how it is used, ganache can be either matte or shiny. Although it is more commonly utilised for covering cakes, it can also be piped into beautiful decorations.

Even though it is very lovely and decadent, the right amount of care must be observed when handling ganache. For instance, bakers should put off using it with sponge cakes (any light cake or bread). Ganache only works best with cakes that are strong – mud cakes or bundt cakes – and won’t be overpowered by such rich and thick icing. Also, always let the icing cool for a while before using to get a smooth consistency.

Cream Cheese


As we’ve used it before in one of our older recipes, cream cheese is perfect for muffins and cupcakes because of its fluffy look and light taste. This is achieved by beating cream cheese and butter until light and airy before mixing in the sifted sugar.

Traditionally, cream cheese is used for topping pumpkin or carrot cakes and cupcakes. Bakers can opt to spread it out as a smooth finish or to pipe it for a fluffed up decoration.

Royal Icing


Many bakers confuse and mistake royal icing with fondant, although the differences are quite prominent. Royal icing is more of a meringue-like icing. It is made from lightly beaten eggs whites, sugar and acetic acid (vinegar). This may be one of the easiest to whip up at home, and has a lot of uses.

Royal icing becomes rock-hard once rested and set, making it perfect for creating decorations on cakes. At the same time, it’s a top choice for piping over cupcakes.

What are your favourite types of icing? Share them with us in the comments below! Also, check out this video tutorial from Wilton on how to make the perfect buttercream icing:

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