Skip to Content

Buttercream vs Cream Cheese Frosting: What’s the Difference?

In the epic battle of frostings, two giants stand out. Buttercream and cream cheese. They slather our cakes, turning them from mere sponges to treats worthy of celebrations.

We’ve all been there. You’re staring at a cake, its frosting glistening under the party lights, and you think, “What magic is this?” We’re about to break it down for you.

Buttercream is the rich, fluffy king of frostings, beloved for its buttery goodness. Cream cheese frosting? Oh, it’s the tangy contender that makes carrot cakes sing.

I remember my first baking fail. Thought buttercream was just butter. Spoiler: It wasn’t.

Our cakes deserve the best. And so do we. Let’s dive in.

What is Buttercream Frosting?

Buttercream frosting is a rich and creamy frosting used to decorate cakes, cupcakes or other pastries.

It is made by combining butter, powdered sugar, cream or milk, and vanilla extract.

The butter gives the frosting its smooth texture, while the powdered sugar adds sweetness.

This type of frosting can be flavored in various ways by adding cocoa powder, fruits or other flavorings.

What is Cream Cheese Frosting?

Cream cheese frosting is a sweet yet tangy frosting that is typically used in desserts such as cakes and cupcakes.

It is made by combining cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.

The key ingredient in this frosting is the cream cheese which gives it its distinct taste and texture.

Cream cheese frosting is an excellent option for those who want a less-sweet flavor than Buttercream frosting but still want a decadent dessert.

Differences Between Buttercream and Cream Cheese Frosting

Buttercream and Cream Cheese Frosting differ in texture, taste, and ingredients.

Buttercream is lighter and fluffier than its counterpart and contains butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla.

In contrast, cream cheese frosting is denser with a tangy flavor due to the inclusion of cream cheese amid other common ingredients.

Ingredients Used

Using distinct ingredients in frosting can create unique flavors and textures.

Both buttercream and cream cheese frosting use butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.

However, cream cheese frosting uses cream cheese, while buttercream typically relies on milk or heavy cream.

Additionally, variations in ratios can lead to different consistencies; for example, a higher ratio of sugar to butter can result in a more stable frosting that is easier to pipe.

Texture and Consistency

The frosting texture and consistency play a crucial role in the overall taste and appearance of baked goods.

Cream cheese frosting is dense and creamy, while buttercream frosting is light and fluffy.

The difference in texture comes from the ingredients used, where cream cheese adds more richness and thickness than butter.

This makes cream cheese frosting ideal for tangy cakes like carrot cake or red velvet cake, while buttercream frosting complements sweet cakes like vanilla or chocolate.

Buttercream frosting usually uses softened butter mixed with powdered sugar and a small amount of milk to create the light and airy texture.

It is easy to spread on cakes due to its smooth consistency and can hold up decorations without sagging.

In contrast, cream cheese frosting typically uses icing sugar, softened cream cheese, and occasionally some added water or milk.

Its denser structure means that it is great to pipe around edges for more defined geometric shapes on cakes.

While these frostings have distinctive differences in texture, they can be interchangeable depending on the baker’s preference or recipe requirements.

It’s essential to consider the flavor combinations along with other factors like shelf life before deciding which one to use in your baking endeavors.

Flavor Profile

When it comes to frosting a cake, the choice between buttercream and cream cheese frosting can make all the difference.

Buttercream frosting is sweet and smooth, made with butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.

It has a rich flavor that complements most cakes without overpowering them.

On the other hand, cream cheese frosting has a tangy taste due to its inclusion of cream cheese.

It has a creamy texture that’s perfect for carrot cakes or red velvet cakes.

Both frostings have their unique flavor profiles, but choosing which one to use ultimately depends on personal preference.

However, keep in mind that cream cheese frosting has a much shorter shelf life than buttercream due to its dairy content.

Overall, whether you prefer the sweetness of buttercream or the tanginess of cream cheese frosting, both are delicious options for finishing your cake off in style.

Sweetness Level

The Difference in Sweetness Between Buttercream and Cream Cheese Frosting.

When it comes to frosting, sweetness plays a crucial role in determining the overall flavour.

Buttercream frosting is known for its sweetness level, as it comprises sugar and butter whipped up to fluffy perfection.

In contrast, cream cheese frosting has less sugar content than buttercream, resulting in a mellow sweetness that complements the tanginess of the cream cheese.

Moreover, the difference in sweetness levels can vary based on the recipe and personal preferences.

Some bakers may choose to reduce or increase the sugar content according to their liking.

However, it’s essential to remember that altering the amount of sugar used affects not only the sweetness but also consistency and stability of both frostings.

Similarities Between Buttercream and Cream Cheese Frosting

Buttercream and cream cheese frosting share some similarities.

Both are popular options for cake decoration, are made using icing sugar, and can be customized with different flavourings.

However, they differ in the main ingredient used – buttercream has butter as its base while cream cheese frosting uses cream cheese instead.

Both frostings need to be prepared well and stored properly to maintain their consistency and flavour.

Uses and Pairings for Buttercream and Cream Cheese Frosting

Buttercream and cream cheese frostings differ in texture, taste and usability.

They are two separate entities of sweet extensions that are used in multiple desserts baked goods.

Let’s explore the various uses and pairings for these frostings.

  • Buttercream frosting is lightweight and airy, which make it great for decorating cakes. You can add different flavors to it such as vanilla or chocolate.
  • Cream cheese frosting has a denser texture compared to buttercream frosting, which makes it an excellent choice for filling layers of cake. It has a tart taste with sweet notes, making it perfect for red velvet cakes and carrot cakes.
  • While both frostings can be piped onto cupcakes or cakes, buttercream holds its shape better while cream cheese frosting tends to be softer.

When selecting which frosting to use, you should consider the dessert being made, personal preference, climate and also storage conditions since the types of frostings require different handling instructions.

In summary, by understanding the differences between buttercream and cream cheese frosting, one can choose the best option according to their preference and suitable application.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Buttercream or Cream Cheese Frosting

For those looking to create the perfect frosting for their baked goods, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Whether it’s buttercream or cream cheese frosting that you’re after, there are certain tricks to ensure success.

  • Use room temperature ingredients.
  • Beat the frosting for at least 5 minutes.
  • Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that both buttercream and cream cheese frosting require patience and precision.

Take your time and don’t rush the process.

When making buttercream frosting, using unsalted butter can help reduce the risk of it becoming too salty.

Additionally, adding heavy cream or milk can create a lighter texture.

For cream cheese frosting, make sure not to overmix as this can result in a runny consistency.

By following these tips, achieving the perfect frosting is within reach – whether it be buttercream or cream cheese.

With some practice and attention to detail, your baked goods are sure to impress.


The difference between buttercream and cream cheese frosting lies in their ingredients and texture.

While both can be used to frost cakes and cupcakes, buttercream is made with a blend of butter, sugar, and milk while cream cheese frosting uses cream cheese as the base instead of butter.

The result is a tangy taste in contrast to the mild sweetness of buttercream.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference when choosing which frosting to pair with your baked goods.

Buttercream vs Cream Cheese Frosting: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Sweet tooth calling? Explore the world of dessert toppings by comparing buttercream and cream cheese frosting to tantalize your taste buds.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Buttercream
  • Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Choose between buttercream and cream cheese frosting based on your preference and desired flavor profile.
  • Prepare the frosting according to your preferred recipe, following the instructions and ingredient ratios provided.
  • Incorporate the frosting onto your cake or baked goods, spreading or piping it evenly for a smooth finish.
  • Adjust the sweetness or tanginess of the frosting by adding more powdered sugar or cream cheese, if desired.
  • Decorate your treats as desired using the chosen frosting, showcasing your creativity.
  • Enjoy the delightful taste and texture of either the buttercream or cream cheese frosting.
  • Experiment with different recipes and designs to enhance your baking skills and create stunning desserts.
Keyword Buttercream vs Cream Cheese Frosting
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating