From classic vanilla buttercream to a billowy meringue, there are many ways to frost a cupcake.

By Kristin Donnelly
Updated May 23, 2017
Angel Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Swirl
Credit: © Dana Gallagher

From classic vanilla buttercream to a billowy meringue, there are many ways to frost a cupcake.

1. Meringue
For a marshmallow-esque frosting, whip egg whites with sugar and cream of tartar. You can doctor it up with espresso or lemon juice and zest.

2. Upgraded cream cheese
Cream cheese creates a light, fluffy frosting that’s delicious with carrot, red velvet or even chocolate cakes. For a tangy, citrusy frosting, add lemon zest. Or, for a more elegant version, try blending the frosting with caramel or substituting mascarpone for the American-style cream cheese.

3. Peanut butter
Peanut butter chips create the world’s fastest frosting for chocolate, banana or vanilla cakes.

4. Strawberry
To create a pretty pink, fruity frosting, mix strawberry jam with vanilla buttercream.

5. Glaze
If you prefer a thinner layer of frosting, a simple glaze (like what you’d find on a doughnut) might be your best bet.

6. Chocolate and vanilla
Can’t decide which of these classics you like best? Use both on each cupcake.

7. Spicy chocolate
Love Mexican hot chocolate? Why not turn it into a sweet-hot frosting with chile powder and cayenne? Or just add sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

8. Lemon curd
To create an extra luscious lemon curd for frosting cupcakes, double the usual amount of butter.

9. Coconut-pecan
This chunky, coconut milk-based frosting is great on its own or as part of a German chocolate cake.

10. Boozy
To make cupcakes a bit more grown-up, spike the buttercream with bourbon or rum.

Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.