Sweet Solutions: How to Make Buttercream Less Sweet

How to make buttercream less sweet

Buttercream frosting is a delicious and popular choice for decorating cakes, cupcakes, and other baked goods. However, some people find it too sweet for their taste. If you’re looking to make your buttercream less sweet without compromising its texture and structure, here are some tips and alternatives to try.

Methods to make buttercream less sweet

Increasing the fat content

One way to reduce the perceived sweetness of buttercream is to increase the fat content. Since buttercream is a mixture of fat (usually butter) and sugar, adding more fat can help balance the sweetness. You can try adding an extra tablespoon or two of softened butter to the buttercream and mixing until well incorporated. Alternatively, you can use shortening instead of butter for a more neutral flavor.

Add salt or lemon juice

Another way to reduce sweetness is to add salt or lemon juice to the buttercream. Salt can help offset the sugar and create a more balanced flavor profile. You can add a small amount of salt or even opt for salted butter. If you prefer a tangy flavor, adding a teaspoon of lemon juice can help cut the sweetness and add a refreshing kick. Be careful not to add too much lemon juice, as it can make the buttercream too sour and affect its consistency.

Add flavor

Instead of reducing the amount of sugar, you can use additional flavors to distract from the sweetness of the buttercream. This method doesn’t actually make the buttercream less sweet, but it does create a more balanced flavor. You can experiment with different extracts, such as vanilla or almond extract, or even add a little alcohol for a unique flavor. Dark chocolate is also an excellent option, especially if you’re making chocolate buttercream. Its slight bitterness can help balance the sweetness and make the frosting more palatable.

Less Sweet Buttercream Alternatives

If you’re looking for buttercream alternatives that are naturally less sweet, here are a few options to consider:

Ermine Buttercream

Ermine buttercream, also known as flour buttercream, is a French frosting made with flour, sugar, milk, and butter. Unlike traditional American buttercream, which relies heavily on powdered sugar, ermine buttercream uses a roux of flour and milk for texture. The result is a frosting that is less sweet, but still creamy and delicious.

Meringue Buttercream

Meringue buttercream, whether Swiss or Italian, is another alternative that is less sweet than American buttercream. These buttercreams are made by incorporating cooked egg whites and butter. The absence of powdered sugar in meringue buttercream makes it lighter and less sweet. Swiss meringue buttercream is made by beating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, while Italian meringue buttercream is made by pouring hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites.

Cream Cheese Buttercream

Cream cheese buttercream is a classic option that adds tang and creaminess to baked goods such as red velvet and carrot cake. The natural tang of cream cheese helps balance the sweetness of the frosting. You can use cream cheese, butter, and a smaller amount of powdered sugar, or even substitute condensed milk for a milkier, less sweet version. Adding a little dark chocolate can also make a delicious chocolate cream cheese buttercream.


If you find traditional buttercream frosting too sweet, there are several ways to make it less sweet without compromising its texture and flavor. Increasing the fat content, adding salt or lemon juice, and incorporating additional flavors can help balance the sweetness. Alternatively, you can explore less-sweet buttercream alternatives such as ermine buttercream, meringue buttercream, or cream cheese buttercream. With these tips and alternatives, you can create a buttercream that suits your taste preferences and enhances your baked goods.


Why is buttercream frosting often too sweet?

Buttercream frosting is made by mixing butter or shortening with sugar. The high amount of sugar used in traditional buttercream recipes can make it taste too sweet.

Can I reduce the amount of sugar in buttercream to make it less sweet?

While reducing the amount of sugar may seem like a solution, it can affect the structure and texture of the buttercream. There are alternative methods to balance the sweetness without compromising the end result.

How does increasing the fat content make buttercream less sweet?

Adding more fat, such as butter or shortening, to buttercream can dilute the sweetness of the sugar. The added fat creates a more balanced flavor profile.

How does adding salt or lemon juice help reduce the sweetness of buttercream?

Salt and lemon juice are known to counteract sweetness. Adding a small amount of salt or a teaspoon of lemon juice to the buttercream can help reduce the perceived sweetness and create a more harmonious flavor.

Can I use flavors to make buttercream less sweet?

Yes, incorporating different flavors can take away from the sweetness. Extracts such as vanilla or almond, as well as dark chocolate, can help create a more balanced flavor profile in buttercream.

Are there alternatives to traditional buttercream that are naturally less sweet?

Yes, there are alternatives such as ermine buttercream, meringue buttercream and cream cheese buttercream that are naturally less sweet. These variations use different ingredients and techniques to achieve a lower sweetness level.