Sweet magic

Not everybody loves frosting. It's full of fat and sugar, can be challenging to handle and sometimes melts in hot weather. Besides, sometimes you want to showcase the flavor of the cupcake that would otherwise be overwhelmed by a dome of buttercream. In that case, try one of these frosting alternatives instead. Or, dare to go bare and leave your cupcakes completely unadorned. With a flavorful cake, the toppings may never be missed.

Instead of frosting, try an alternative glaze or spread to top your cupcakes.

  • Drizzle the tops of your cupcakes with a simple sugar glaze. You can also flavor glazes with lemon or orange, ginger, vanilla, chocolate, coffee or even peanut butter.
  • Use fruit jam in place of frosting. 
  • Use lemon curd in place of frosting.
  • Use peanut butter or another nut butter in place of frosting. Sprinkle the cupcakes with crushed peanuts or chocolate chips if desired.
  • Spread cupcake tops with marshmallow cream
  • Drizzle caramel sauce or dulce de leche on top of your cupcakes.

Alternatively, sprinkle cupcakes with your topping of choice:

  • confectioner's sugar
  • unsweetened cocoa
  • nonpareils or other candy sprinkles -- before baking


Use simple stencils with either powdered sugar or cocoa to form shapes and designs on your cupcakes.

Use a glaze or spread to secure festive toppings to your cupcakes.

  • Drizzle cupcake tops with honey or your favorite glaze, then sprinkle them with colored sugar crystals or other candy toppings.  You can also dip cupcake tops in these toppings instead of sprinkling for a heavier coating.
  • After topping  the cupcakes with honey or a simple glaze, sprinkle slivered almonds on top of your cupcakes.
  • Paint cupcake tops with honey or glaze, then sprinkle sweetened shredded coconut on top.