How Do I Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet?

How Do I Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet?

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If you know me, you know how much I like cakes and cupcakes. It wasn’t always the case, however. When I initially began baking cupcakes in middle school, I was so turned off by the richness of the icing that I gave up entirely.

It wasn’t until many years and numerous YouTube videos later that I became acquainted with the amazing world of buttercream and realized that American buttercream isn’t the only method to create buttercream frosting. There are other alternative approaches. Several of them have a more nuanced taste but, more crucially, are less sugary.

My name is Angie, and I’ve been a baker for almost ten years, specializing in cupcakes and unique celebration cakes. Half of the time when I get orders, a customer asks if I can make the buttercream less sweet. The answer is, of course, always yes. In this tutorial, I’ll also teach you how to make your buttercream less sweet.

Let’s get this party started!

What is Buttercream Frosting Made of?

Buttercream frosting is a sugar and butter mixture that is used as a topping for cakes and other sweet delicacies. There are many different forms of buttercream frosting, but the most common and well-known is undoubtedly the plain American buttercream.

American buttercream is produced by whipping butter and icing sugar at high speeds. The procedure aerates the mixture, making it light and fluffy. The icing sugar adds structure to the frosting and keeps it firm enough for piping, but since it is used in such huge amounts, American buttercream is exceptionally sweet.

Obviously, you can’t just remove the icing sugar, at least not by much; else, the hold of your buttercream would suffer.

So, if you want a less sweet buttercream frosting, what should you do?

Lessen the Sweetness of Buttercream Frosting

These are three methods for reducing the sweetness of your buttercream frosting.

Method 1: Increase Fat Content

While eliminating sugar isn’t an option, consider increasing the quantity of butter in your buttercream. When kept at room temperature, butter should remain soft without melting. For a more neutral flavor, use shortening.

Having a shortening on hand. Add them a spoonful or two at a time, mixing on high speed until thoroughly combined before adding more. You’ll need some softened butter for this procedure.

Method 2: Add Flavour

This one is a bit of a shambles. You are not reducing the sweetness of your buttercream, but rather adding something to distract people from it.

These may include extracts, lemon juice, alcohol, or even something as basic as a teaspoon of salt. Adding another flavor in your frosting that isn’t merely sweet can help balance out the icing sugar’s overwhelming sweetness.

Since sourness compliments sweetness, a sour or zesty taste is ideal. When used in a balanced way, your buttercream will taste lighter and more refreshing.

Method 3: Use Dark Chocolate

Following from my previous point, adding any additional flavor will assist to balance out the richness of the buttercream icing. Dark chocolate, of course, is only suitable for preparing chocolate buttercream frosting.

Dark chocolate is an excellent addition to buttercream frosting for two reasons.

  • It will smooth out your frosting without causing it to lose structure or hold. This is due to the fact that chocolate, like butter, is solid at room temperature.
  • Chocolates with more than 50% cocoa have a harsh cocoa flavor. Of course, the greater the proportion, the more bitter your chocolate will be. Sugar reduces the bitterness of chocolate, making it more pleasant, and vice versa.

Furthermore, if you’re already creating a chocolate buttercream frosting, using dark chocolate will ensure that it’s less sweet.

Less Sweet Buttercream Frosting Options

Although American buttercream is the simplest to prepare, it is without a doubt the sweetest. If you want something less sweet, try one of the following!

Ermine Buttercream

Ermine buttercream is a traditional French buttercream composed of flour, sugar, milk, and butter. Ermine buttercream recipes use flour and milk to give it structure without using too much sugar.

Begin by preparing a roux by mixing together flour and milk and bringing it to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in your seasoning after it has come together and thickened. Let it to cool fully before handling.

Combine the butter and sugar. When the mixture is light and fluffy, add the roux a spoonful at a time. You should have a light, silky frosting in the end.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on making ermine buttercream frosting. Absolutely give it a go!

Meringue Buttercream

Meringue buttercreams are the most often used in my recipes. I alternate between Swiss meringue buttercream and Italian meringue buttercream. Both are created using sugar, fried egg whites, and butter, but they are produced in a slightly different way.

A double boiler, often known as a bain-marie, is required to prepare swiss meringue buttercream. Sugar and egg whites are heated in a bain-marie until the sugar is completely dissolved, then whipped until glossy peaks emerge.

To create Italian meringue, first prepare a very hot syrup with your sugar and water. When the syrup reaches 235-240F, pour it into the beaten egg whites and continue to beat until firm peaks form.

From this point on, the steps for both Italian and Swiss meringue are the identical. Wait until the meringue has fully cooled to room temperature before adding softened butter a spoonful at a time and mixing until everything is emulsified.

The addition of egg whites enhances the taste and texture of your meringue buttercream. The absence of powdered sugar ensures that your buttercream is not grainy and is not too sweet.

Check out Preppy Kitchen for my all-time favorite Italian meringue and Swiss meringue buttercream recipes, as well as a more extensive guide to producing the ideal meringue buttercream.

Cream Cheese Buttercream

Cream cheese buttercream is a traditional accompaniment to carrot and red velvet cakes, but its acidic taste and added creaminess work nicely with a variety of other cakes. By incorporating a little amount of dark chocolate into your cream cheese buttercream, you may create a delectable chocolate cream cheese buttercream.

Cream cheese buttercream is traditionally produced by combining cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. The tanginess of the cream cheese contributes to the buttercream tasting less sweet.

But, instead of powdered sugar, I use cold, sweetened condensed milk in my flawless cream cheese buttercream frosting. As a consequence, the frosting is even more delectable, smooth, milky, and less sweet in my view.

Here’s how to make a condensed milk cream cheese buttercream.


The following are some often asked questions about the sweetness of buttercream frosting.

How do you fix sugary icing?

By sweet I’m guessing you mean gritty. While creating buttercream using icing sugar, the sugar granules may not melt completely, resulting in grainy or gritty buttercream.

You may fix this by adding a little additional liquid, which will aid in the melting of the sugar. Instead, you may set your buttercream aside for a few hours to rest. When you’re ready to use it, re-whisk it until fluffy, and it should dissolve more easily.

What is the least sweet buttercream?

In my ten years of creating buttercream, I’d say that cream cheese buttercream, notably the one listed above, is the least sugary. To make it even less sweet, I just halve the quantity of condensed milk in the recipe, which has no effect on the buttercream’s smoothness.

How can I thicken buttercream without icing sugar?

Adding extra fat will help your buttercream thicken. For further information, see Method 1 above.

Final Thoughts

Cakes and cupcakes would be incomplete without a generous dollop or swirl of buttercream. That is what distinguishes them! If you dislike extremely sweet buttercream, I hope this post has taught you how to minimize its sweetness and provided you with some alternatives.

Have you tried any of the techniques I suggested? If yes, please tell us which ones are your favorites!

Angie’s Bio


What is the least sweet buttercream frosting?

Swiss meringue buttercream has a silky smooth texture and is less sweet than American buttercream. Due of the cooked sugar, it does not produce a crust and is a very stable buttercream type. It’s also a very delicate white tone, making it ideal for adding color.

How do you reduce the sweetness in cream cheese frosting?

Finally, if you find the cream cheese frosting to be overly sweet or heavy, add a dash of lemon juice. The lemon taste will be subtle, but the acidity will cut through and temper the richness.

How do you make buttercream taste less like butter?

A dash of vanilla essence to sweeten and cut through the fat, and a dash of milk to loosen and soften the icing. I make my buttercream using a 4:1 icing sugar to butter ratio and a generous quantity of vanilla extract (to taste).

What can I add to frosting to make it less sweet?

Add a sprinkle of salt to taste.

When it comes to store-bought frostings, they are often too sugary. Since the sweetness makes it evident that the frosting is not handmade, a simple tip that I sometimes do is to add a bit of salt to balance the sweetness.

How do you make frosting less sweet and thinner?

How can I make store-bought frosting taste less sweet? Store-bought frosting is notoriously sugary. Adding dairy, such as milk, whipped cream, cream cheese, or softened butter, is a simple method to make it less sweet. A pinch of salt will also help to counteract the sweetness.

How do you neutralize sweetness?

If your meal is too sweet…

For savory meals, use lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar; for sweet dishes, use liqueur or instant espresso; and for savory foods, use chopped fresh herbs, citrus zest, or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

How do you reduce sugar sweetness?

The addition of lime juice to your meal might help to balance out the sweetness. If you don’t want the meal to be too tangy, you may add vinegar, such as white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.

Does shortening change the taste of buttercream?

Shortening does for texture and stability what butter does for taste. Shortening contributes to the light and fluffy texture of the frosting while also giving a neutral taste to balance out the richness of the butter.

What happens if you whip buttercream too much?

Excessive whipping might result in air bubbles in your buttercream frosting. It’s a small issue that won’t affect the flavor or texture, but it may make the dish seem less appealing when decorated. If you don’t want air bubbles in your buttercream frosting, don’t let it whipping indefinitely.

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