Yes, desserts are meant to be sweet. But when they’re way too sweet, it’s a hard pass for me, and this is coming from a sweet-toothed person.
It’s a bummer when an overly sweet frosting lets down a perfectly baked cake. That’s when you notice people scraping the frosting off their cake until it’s all that’s left on the plate’s side.
But it won’t be long before you’ve mastered the art of balancing the sweetness of your frosting.
Until we get there, I’ll give you some tips in this article on how to make frosting less sweet, whether you make it from scratch or buy it from the store.
Frosting is that heavenly whipped, creamy topping found on many of your favorite desserts. Butter and powdered sugar are the stars of the recipe.
You can whip those ingredients with any of your favorite flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, lemon, etc., and voila!
Also, if you want your frosting to be a specific color, you can add food coloring to it; that’ll do the trick.
That’s why we love frosting; it allows you to be creative with how you decorate your dessert while still tasting delicious.
By using different piping nozzles, you can come up with infinite fun ways to decorate your cake or cupcake. It could be as simple as a flower shape or something a little extra; let your imagination run wild!
Are Frosting and Icing the Same Thing?
Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify something. There’s a common misconception that frosting and icing are interchangeable, which isn’t the case.
You can tell them apart just by looking at their texture.
The texture of the frosting is thick and marshmallowy. On the other hand, the icing is more liquid, which hardens after a while of being set on the dessert.
The main reason for the texture difference is that we make icing by mixing powdered sugar with liquid.
Whereas we make frosting by whipping sugar with butter or other similar ingredients that help thicken its consistency.
How to Make Frosting Less Sweet
The phrase “too sweet” is commonly heard in buttercream frosting or American buttercream frosting. It’s a butter-based frosting usually used in decorating cakes and cupcakes.
Butter, confectioners’ sugar, and sometimes milk are the main ingredients for this type of frosting.
It’s super easy to make because of the few ingredients and the fact that it doesn’t require any heat.
And, because those ingredients will certainly produce something sweet, it’s easy to overdo it on the sugar.
Besides, powdered sugar helps to thicken your frosting consistency. So you may add too much when attempting to achieve the perfect form.
Don’t worry, though; here are some quick fixes:
- Add salt. It’s one of the most well-known tricks for balancing the sweetness of your frosting when it’s too sweet.
Simply add a pinch at a time, tasting as you go and stopping when you feel the flavor is well balanced for you.
What I like about this trick is that it’ll get you there without significantly altering your recipe.
Take your time with this one, as adding too much salt to your frosting is a recipe for disaster.
- Add lemon juice to the mixture. This is another effective way to balance the sweetness.
This trick works like a charm, especially when paired with citrus desserts such as lemon cakes.
Start small and stop when you’re satisfied with the taste. You must also use caution, so you don’t end up with sour frosting.
Now, hear me out; what if we combined salt and lemon juice?
You will, believe it or not, achieve the ideal balance. For every four cups of powdered sugar, add one teaspoon of lemon juice and one-eighth teaspoon of salt. You’ll be very pleased with the results.
How Can Fat Help Your Too-Sweet Frosting
If you accidentally added too much sugar to your mixture, you can always fix that by adding extra fat products to it.
The fat will work on diluting the mixture to get a nicely balanced flavor.
- Adding Butter:
The butter must be soft and at room temperature for this trick to work. Check to make sure it isn’t melting.
Shortening is also a good option if you want a more neutral flavor.
Add the butter/shortening one to two tablespoons at a time, mixing at high speed. And once it’s well-integrated, you can begin to add more based on your preferences.
- Adding Cream Cheese:
Add four ounces of cream cheese for every stick of butter added to your regular buttercream recipe.
After doing so, you’ll notice that the cream cheese has masked the undesirable sugary flavor.
- Adding Heavy Cream:
Adding heavy cream can also help in balancing the mixture’s sugar ratio. However, be mindful of the amount you’re adding.
Since the heavy cream is a liquid fat, it can alter the consistency of your frosting.
How to Make Chocolate Frosting Less Sweet
This is a special tip for chocolate frosting. Start adding cocoa or dark chocolate to your mixture if you believe it needs to be less sweet.
Both ingredients won’t affect the consistency of your frosting. And their bitterness will help reduce its sweetness.
How to Avoid Making an Over-Sweetened Frosting
So, before you begin your recipe, try using salted butter instead of unsalted butter. That way, the salt will balance out the excess sweetness.
Another suggestion is to gradually add the powdered sugar to the mixture until it’s sweet enough for you.
Sometimes when we make the recipes we find, the amount of sugar they require can be too sweet for our taste.
That’s why I encourage you to create your recipe based on your personal preferences. However, you are not required to follow the recipe you found.
How to Make Store-Bought Frosting Less Sweet
If you’d rather use a pre-made frosting, but it’s too sweet for you, I’ll tell you how to balance it out.
But promise me you’ll consider making your own frosting. Aside from enjoying the process, it’s well worth it. As you’ll have frosting tailored to your preferences, and nothing can beat that.
Now, here’s how to make it less sweet. Empty the package into a bowl and microwave for about 15 seconds. Then stir in half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until well combined.
Then, chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, and you’re good to go!
How to change the consistency of store-bought frosting
Aside from being too sweet, canned frosting doesn’t always have the consistency we’re looking for. It’s either too thick or not fluffy enough.
If it’s too thick, slowly add liquids like milk, heavy cream, or whipping cream to the mixture. Keep whipping it till you reach desired consistency.
If you want to make it fluffier, you can either mix it on high speed to get more volume. Or add whipping cream to get this airiness form.
4 Types of Frostings That Aren’t Too Sweet
Luckily, we have a lot of frosting recipes, and some of them are relatively less sweet than buttercream frosting.
So, if you’re not a big fan of sugary frostings, here are four tasty options to consider.
It’s the perfect not-so-sweet substitute for American buttercream. The main ingredients for Ermine buttercream are butter, sugar, milk, and flour.
The key is to use milk and flour to achieve the desired consistency of your frosting without the need to add a lot of sugar.
Both types contain the same ingredients but are made with different techniques. Their main ingredients are cooked egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter.
Here the egg whites will help shape the smooth, silky texture, so you won’t need to add as much sugar to help with its form.
Name a better match than cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake. I’ll wait. Cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar are whipped together to make this frosting.
And, of course, the sourness in the cream cheese helps in making this frosting less sweet.
You can make this fluffy frosting by beating heavy whipping cream until it reaches the desired consistency. Then thicken it with powdered sugar if necessary.
Whipped cream frosting is so light. It’s best to pair it with desserts that are already quite sweet so that it can offset the sweetness.
Keep in mind that the fluffiness of the frosting may not stay intact—That’s why you’ll need to use a stabilizer to hold it together.
We can’t deny that what draws us to a cupcake is how well it’s decorated. Or how the creaminess found between the layers of the cake perfectly complements its flavor.
Frosting adds a special touch to desserts, so it’s definitely not meant to be left on the side of the plate.
If you’ve been having trouble with overly sweet frostings now, you know how to make frosting less sweet.
And you also have a variety of other types that don’t require a lot of sugar in their recipes. Frosting is for everyone!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.