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Definition: Frosting vs. Icing

Definition: Frosting

Frosting is a sweet glaze used to cover or decorate baked goods like cookies or cake. It's made from sugar, butter, milk, and sometimes egg whites and is often flavored with extracts, chocolate, and/or fresh fruit. Some frostings are cooked, but most are uncooked and whipped together using a whisk or mixer. The consistency can range from a thin glaze to a thick spread.

But how, might you wonder, does it differ from icing? Icing is . . . frosting. As it turns out, the words are interchangeable. Whether you call it frosting or icing seems to depend on the region you reside.

What do you prefer to call the sweet, decorative glaze?

Photo: Sara Yoo and Nicole Perry
Join The Conversation
meatloafmamma meatloafmamma 8 years
Ever hear of "icing on the cake?"
lanilovespeaches lanilovespeaches 10 years
i usually say frosting and icing, depends i think
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
Yep, gateau is right...fat has many words. On the nutritional information on a box (like pasta) it's listed as Lipides, otherwise it is gras when it is masculine and grasse when it is feminine. I'm beginning to see why French is confusing LOL! Mind you, English has two words for the topping on a cake ;) Canadians tend to say icing and Americans say frosting, from what I can summise.
smeehle smeehle 10 years
Frosting is the stuff on a cake. Icing is a harder glaze, like royal icing.
dancemiadance dancemiadance 10 years
icing is the harder stuff on gingerbread men. frosting is the yummy stuff you eat straight out of the container with a spoon :)
riotgeek riotgeek 10 years
In my neck of the woods frosting has butter in it. Icing doesn't.
Marci Marci 10 years
I say both. And I didn't know that until I saw this question.
mrs_smith mrs_smith 10 years
I always say frosting- icing makes me think of a thinner glaze, like on cinnamon rolls.
ForgetMeNot ForgetMeNot 10 years
I'm Canadian and I always call it icing, but my American husband always calls it frosting!
3Sweeties 3Sweeties 10 years
For the gateau? haha- did I remember the right word? What it the word for fat? For some reason I think they were similar sounding words.
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
It's either le glacage or le glacé de sucre!
3Sweeties 3Sweeties 10 years
Too bad we can't edit previous posts!
3Sweeties 3Sweeties 10 years
Mme- what is the word in French?
3Sweeties 3Sweeties 10 years
oops! I meant to say Frosting" is the birthday cake stuff! haha
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
In English, I say
arianell arianell 10 years
For me, frosting is the fluffy stuff on a birthday cake, and icing is the sugary stuff on a cinnamon roll.
3Sweeties 3Sweeties 10 years
I say frosting. I guess, when I think about the two, I think of icing more as a thinner glaze, ie powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice to drizzle over lemon bread. And I think of icing more as a butter based, thicker, fluffy birthday cake topping.
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