Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Icing and Frosting

icing-cook-pdIcing vs. Frosting

Most people think that frosting and icing are two different terms used to describe the same thing. In the U.S., for example, many use the term frosting rather than icing. However, in most European countries, including the U.K., the word icing is preferred. This is one of the reasons why there has been much debate about the two either having a difference, or whether they can be utilized interchangeably. Nevertheless, more and more experts agree that there are really some important disparities between them.

It is not a mere case of semantics. Icing is indeed different from frosting. For one, it is said to be thinner, and has a glossier appearance than the latter. Icing is said to be the term used in a more professional sense. It is like confectioner’s sugar combined with milk.

Frosting is more of a thick, usually fluffy layer, like buttercream. Because of this, it is preferably used to cover the outer surface of the cake. The confusion sets in when the frosting is applied in such a way that it is purposely coated thinly on the cake. It is also spread on cakes as a topping, or as an overall outer coating that provides an added layer to the cake. Hence, frostings can be mounded as opposed to icing that just slips, or runs off the cake by nature.

In terms of texture, frostings usually remain soft. They are also a lot creamier, and that’s why people often get the idea that it tastes better, most likely attributed to its buttery flavor. Icing is more fluid, but once it becomes dry, it appears thin and hard.

Frosting is applied either by using a spatula or knife to make a mound over the cake, or by placing it inside a decorating bag with a small outlet at the tip for the frosting to pour (pipe) out. The latter is what’s usually seen in decorating cookies. In the case of icing, the piping approach is the only method to be used, because of its fluid consistency. It is too hard to apply by using a spatula, for it will just run off too easily.

In summary, if ever you’re not that particular with word definitions, it is still okay to use either icing or frosting interchangeably. The ‘right’ usage of the two terms depends on where you are located anyway. but in its most technical sense, they differ because:

1. Icings are runnier in nature compared to frosting.

2. Frostings are thicker than icings.

3. Frosting is the term more commonly used in America, whereas icing is often used in Europe to pertain to the exact same thing.


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7 Comments

  1. “Most European countries”? Actually, in most European countries, people don’t speak English, you know.

    • Everett, That was an ignorant thing to say. Do you have an education at all? Other languages have the same words. You should delete your comment.

      • Actually, Everett is making a plea to not be ignorant.
        Ignorance is a LACK of understanding, meaning, one makes an “ignorant” comment when one’s comment lacks any knowledge on the subject.

        Stupidity, is when someone with understanding on a subject makes a comment that’s contrary to the accepted knowledge of a subject.
        Example of ignorance:
        “Cucumbers don’t taste very good”, from a person who has never even tasted a cucumber.

        Example of stupidity:
        “Cucumbers taste like chocolate”, from a person who has tasted both cucumbers and chocolate. It can be a funny statement, but the point here is that if one argues that cucumbers taste like chocolate even after having eaten both, then they are just being “stupid”.

        Back to the point at hand. Everett is correct in that MOST European countries do NOT have English as their official language. Thus, in MOST European countries, there are different words for “icing” and “frosting”.
        The different words may have the SAME meaning, but they are different and different sounding words.
        I don’t see that Everett is being either ignorant or stupid.

        • Your commenting on something that happened two years ago. Lol so am I. …but your comment was ridiculous and unnessecary. Are you going to make a long speech on how I spelt unnessecary wrong. No? You just have to be mr.smart guy over something so little. Some things I guess are just better off left unsaid

          • Next topic: Thin skin.
            Which onion will make you cry more, thin skinned or thick?

            Bri or Stacey, or whoever you are,

            If you truly feel some things are better off left unsaid, then why did you feel the need to “say” something?

            Listen to your inner voice if it told you to not post that comment.
            It was correct.

            I am a smart guy. :)

        • My lord, I think I love you.

  2. Wouldn’t icing be made on a stove (melted butter…warmed milk…and sugar, of course…lots and lots of sugar), while frosting is made at room temp, with simply whipped butter or cream cheese (or whatever other base one might use of which I am not thinking)?

    That seems like the easiest distinction to me.

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