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How to Make Frosting Less Sweet (Buttercream, Cream Cheese, & More)

How to Make Frosting Less Sweet (Buttercream, Cream Cheese, & More)

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A too-sweet frosting can ruin the greatest cake; you know that for sure. That’s why you’re looking for a way to reduce the sweetness of your frosting. 

Luckily, there are several methods to do so. In this post, I’ll teach you simple ways to make your frosting less sweet and get a perfect cake.

How To Make Frosting Less Sweet (Buttercream, Cream Cheese, &Amp; More)

What Is Frosting Made of?

Frosting is the thick, creamy glaze used to decorate or coat cake, cupcakes, cookies, and other baked goods. 

It tastes like sweet butter with a thick, fluffy coating and can take various colors. This glaze has a creamy and rich texture, which is the main difference between it and the icing. 

Frosting is made of sugar, butter, egg whites, cream cheese, and sometimes added flavors, depending on the recipe you’ll incorporate it into. 

Chocolate, vanilla, buttercream, or cream cheese are the most common frosting varieties. 

What Kind of Sugar Is in Frosting?

Most frosting recipes call for confectioner’s sugar – granulated sugar that has been processed into a fine powder. To prevent that sugar from caking up, you’ll need to add a bit of starch. 

But pay attention here: cornstarch is the perfect anti-caking agent for normal powdered sugar. However, tapioca is recommended for organic powdered sugar as it gives it a desirable caramel taste.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting Less Sweet

Now, let’s dive into how to reduce the sweetness of a buttercream frosting. The following are the easiest ways to accomplish this: 

Add a Pinch of Salt

To make your frosting less sweet, add a bit of salt to the recipe. Just a tiny amount of salt can balance the sugar taste in the frosting without significantly altering your recipe’s flavor.

Nonetheless, you need to use only a tiny bit. To ensure the extra salt won’t ruin your recipe, add it bit by bit while tasting the frosting. Keep adding until it reaches the desired sweetness.

Add Lemon Juice

An alternative to adding salt is using tangy ingredients such as lemon juice to reduce the sweetness of your frosting. 

Like salt, you need to add only a small amount, taste the frosting, and then put in more if needed.

Another option is to use a combination of salt and lemon juice for the recipe. To do so, I recommend using 1.8 teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of lemon juice for every four cups of sugar. 

Combine Buttercream with Cream Cheese

Fat and sugar are the foundational ingredients of any buttercream frosting recipe. By increasing the fat ratio just a tiny bit, you can alter the sweetness of the recipe.

Adding some cream cheese to the buttercream is one way to do so. Here’s how you can do this properly: 

For every stick of butter, use four ounces of cream cheese. By doing this, you’ll dilute the sugar content of the recipe. 

That said, I should mention that adding cream cheese to the recipe will likely make the frosting texture softer. 

Replace Some Sugar with Cornstarch 

Cornstarch can come in handy when decreasing the sweetness of a buttercream frosting. 

To use it for this purpose, you’ll need to replace some of the sugar content in your recipe with cornstarch. You’ll lower the sweetness level of the frosting while improving its “pipeability” as well.

How to Make Chocolate Frosting Less Sweet

Frosting A Cake

Chocolate frosting can be absolutely delicious, but only if it’s not overly sweet. Still, if it becomes too sweet, you can easily reduce its sweetness to restore its deliciousness.

Here are the best methods to do so: 

Add Some Unsweetened Cocoa

You can reduce the sweetness of the chocolate frosting by incorporating more unsweetened cocoa powder into the recipe. Not only will this lower the sweetness level, but it’ll also add depth to the flavor.

Sprinkle a Touch of Salt

Just like with traditional buttercream frosting, adding salt to chocolate frosting can adjust its sweetness. Still, you should pay attention to the amount of salt you use to avoid mistakenly turning the frosting salty.

Replace Frosting with Ganache

Ganache is considerably less sweet and richer in chocolate than traditional chocolate frosting.

So, it can be an excellent substitute for chocolate frosting if you prefer a glaze that’s not too sweet. 

Ganache is made mainly from melted chocolate and heavy cream. Don’t worry about the consistency; it has a frosting-like texture. 

Because you want to make a moderately sweet glaze, I recommend using semi-sweet or baking chocolate when preparing the ganache.

Alternatively, you might use unsweetened chocolate and add the appropriate amount of sugar based on your preference.

Use Sour Cream

Another excellent way to decrease the sweetness of frosting is to increase the level of sourness. Adding sour cream to the recipe is an easy way to achieve this. 

However, make sure you add the right amount of sour cream to get the appropriate sweetness level. 

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting Less Sweet

Cream cheese frosting is usually made with cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.

Additional flavorings, such as salt, lemon, vanilla, and whiskey, are also possible ingredients, depending on your desired taste.

The good news is that cream cheese frosting is naturally less sweet than other types. Its taste leans more toward tanginess. 

Nonetheless, if it turns too sweet for any reason, you can use one of the additional flavors above to easily adjust the sweetness level. 

For example, if your recipe calls for butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar, you can add salt and vanilla to reduce the sweetness. 

As an alternative, you can also add lemon or even a touch of whiskey.

How to Make Prepackaged Frosting Less Sweet

Powdered Sugar

Many people use prepackaged frosting instead of making frosting from scratch to save time.

Since they have no control over the ingredients in this case, they might find this prepackaged frosting too sweet for them.

If you experience this scenario, taking some of the sweetness away is pretty simple. Here are a few easy steps to do so: 

  1. Transfer the frosting from the can to a microwave-safe bowl. 
  2. Place the bowl in the microwave and turn it on for about 15 seconds.
  3. Once heated, add ½ teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the frosting.
  4. Stir the ingredients up well, and refrigerate them for about an hour. 

Congratulations, you’ve eliminated that excessive sweetness of the frosting!

How to Make Store-Bought Frosting Taste Better

Besides altering its sweetness, you can improve the taste of prepackaged frosting using simple tricks.

However, before applying any changes, you should first whip the frosting well using a mixer. This will allow the frosting to expand and be lighter and fluffier.

Next, depending on the recipe, you can incorporate freeze-dried fruit powders into the recipe to add flavor and color to your frosting. 

To do this properly, add about a fourth cup of the fruit powder as a starting point. Add more until you reach the desired flavor, color, and consistency.

You can also adjust the consistency of the frosting based on your preference. Here’s how:

If you need to thin out the store-bought frosting, add water or milk. Still, prioritize using milk if you prefer to get a richer flavor.

If you want to make the consistency fluffier, add a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and mix it up. Keep adding the sugar until you reach the desired consistency.

Final Thoughts

A perfectly sweet frosting can make all the difference in your baked goods. Given that, if it turns out sweeter than you prefer, the methods mentioned above can help you achieve its desired sweetness. 

You can add certain ingredients or slightly adjust your recipe to cut down on the sweetness. Experiment with these ideas to find the one that makes your ideal frosting.

Enjoy your baking!

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Maureen Gibson

Saturday 30th of July 2022

Hi Sarah, I just made a coconut cream cheese frosting for my coconut cake. I tasted the frosting and it was cloyingly sweet. I added salt and still very sweet. My thought initially was to add lemon juice.I'm waiting for my husband to bring me a lemon from the market. I like the hint that a stainless steel bowl will tone down the sweetness.I'm adding some lemon juice and Bourbon vanilla to the frosting... Can't wait to see the finished Coconut Cake. I'm making this for one of my very best friends who just turned 64 (yes we're singing the Beatles song along with the birthday song). Can't wait to taste the finished product! Thanks for the tips!!!