Different Types of Frosting for Cakes and Cupcakes

Buttercream Frosting v. Frosting Made with Hydrogenated Oil

Buttercream Frosting v. Frosting Made with Hydrogenated Oil

Unlike Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book we have some very strong opinions about butter and buttercream frosting. We often get the question as to what is the difference between Sweetology’s Frosting and other types of frosting. Sweetology’s frosting uses real butter and almond extract.

There are two distinct groups of frosting: one made with butter and one made with hydrogenated oil or shortening. Each has  its own set of characteristics. At Sweetology we are very proud of our buttercream and have opted for taste and quality over dexterity or stability in decorating. 

We have outlined the comparisons of the two primary types of frosting. 

Buttercream Frosting:

  • Ingredients: Buttercream frosting is primarily made from butter, confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar), and flavorings. It can also include a small amount of milk or cream to adjust the consistency. The key ingredient is butter, which gives it a rich and buttery flavor.
  • Texture: Buttercream has a smooth and creamy texture. When properly whipped, it becomes light and fluffy, making it easy to spread or pipe onto cakes and cupcakes.
  • Flavor: Buttercream frosting has a distinct buttery flavor, which many people find appealing. The sweetness comes from the confectioners' sugar, and additional flavorings like vanilla extract can be added for variety.
  • Consistency: Buttercream can be adjusted in terms of consistency by adding more or less liquid (usually milk or cream) to achieve the desired thickness for spreading or piping.
  • Stability: Because of the high fat content of butter, Sweetology’s buttercream frosting is stable at room temperature.

Frosting Using Hydrogenated Oil or Shortening:

  • Ingredients: Frosting made with hydrogenated oil or shortening typically uses hydrogenated vegetable shortening (like Crisco) as the main fat source, combined with confectioners' sugar and flavorings. It often does not contain butter.
  • Texture: This type of frosting can have a smoother and somewhat firmer texture compared to buttercream. It tends to hold its shape well, making it suitable for decorating and piping.
  • Flavor: Frosting made with shortening or hydrogenated oil has a neutral flavor. It lacks the distinct buttery taste of buttercream and can sometimes taste slightly greasier.
  • Stability: Shortening-based frostings are known for their stability in warm weather conditions. They are less prone to melting or becoming too soft compared to butter-based frostings, making them a popular choice for outdoor events.


  • Flavor Preference: The choice between buttercream and shortening-based frosting often comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the rich taste of buttercream, while others prefer the neutral flavor and stability of shortening-based frosting.
  • Texture and Decorative Use: Shortening-based frosting can be preferred for intricate cake decorations and piping because it holds its shape well. Buttercream, on the other hand, is softer and more delicate.
  • Dietary Concerns: Some individuals avoid hydrogenated oils or shortening due to health concerns associated with trans fats. In such cases, buttercream may be a more desirable option.

In summary, the choice between buttercream frosting and frosting made with hydrogenated oil or shortening depends on factors like flavor preference, texture, and the intended use of the frosting. Both types have their own merits and can be used for different purposes in baking and cake decorating.

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