We’ve done a more specific buttercream versus pastry cream Difference Between, but we haven’t actually looked at frosting and icing yet – let’s pin down the differences.
- Frosting: a sweet mixture, cooked or uncooked, for coating or filling cakes, cookies, and the like; icing.
- Icing: a sweet, creamy spread, as of confectioners’ sugar, butter, and flavoring, for covering cakes, cookies, etc; frosting.
From the definitions, we can see the words can basically be used interchangeably.
- Has a cream or butter base; like buttercream.
- Coats the outside or inside of a cake.
- Has a thick and gooey consistency.
- Has a fluffy appearance.
- Can hold shapes better for decorating.
- Has a sugar base (but can have an egg white, butter, or cream base).
- Glazes cakes, cookies, pastries.
- Has a thin, more liquid-y consistency (hardens up as it dries).
- Has a glossy appearance.
In conclusion, frosting is thicker and more malleable to work with, being used for cakes and sometimes cookies and other treats. It tastes almost buttery.
Icing is more of a glaze, is less dense, and is used on pastries as well as cakes and etc. It tastes very sugary.