7 Canned Frostings To Buy And 6 To Avoid

Canned frosting is not only a timesaver but a real problem solver for home bakers who don't have extra minutes in their busy lives to whip up a bowl of homemade cake topping or might lack the confidence to produce frosting from scratch. When your baked creation calls for frosting instead of icing and you head to the grocery store or big-box retailer to find a solution in a can, you'll be faced with an overwhelming number of choices, and not all of them will be favorable. Depending on the cake you've made, you'll want the right type of frosting to suit your recipe, as well as a flavor that adds to the experience rather than detracting from what you've baked. Wouldn't it be nice to know which canned frostings will top your cakes best and which are better off staying on the shelf?

We chose a selection of canned frostings from the biggest names in the business — brands like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and Duncan Hines, plus a few "Great Value" choices from Walmart's home label. We peeled back the tops and tasted to see how each one measured up. To choose our cans, we peeped reviews on grocery stores and company websites, gauging reviews and ratings, then hit the stores to grab a baker's dozen. After tasting, we sorted them into which to buy and which to avoid. Here's the spread on the best and worst frostings we tasted.

Buy: Duncan Hines Creamy Lemon Supreme

There's something special about the singular flavor of lemon frosting, especially when it tops a yellow cake or poppyseed lemon loaf. Whether the recipe favors a lighter, floral lemon aspect or a zestier, zingier lemonade-like essence, it's always a fun surprise, especially for lemon lovers. Duncan Hines Creamy Lemon Supreme gives home bakers a quick and easy way to add a lemon crown to the best-baked gems on the dessert tray. There's even a pastel yellow tint that clues you in on the magic, an undeniable hue that sets it apart from the ivory tones of buttercream. But looking good doesn't necessarily translate to tasting good, so does the lemon flavor live up to its potential?

Resoundingly, yes. Duncan Hines has hit on something special with this chiffon-like lemon whip. A creamy spread and light lemon flavor means the base taste of your bake will shine through with an accent of lemon that enhances whatever you've added it to. It's a pure delight, and you could top plain vanilla cupcakes with it and pass them off as gourmet. Keep a can of this in the pantry for last-minute opportunities to spread a little sunshine.

Avoid: Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Strawberry

The Pillsbury Dough Boy stands proud on the label of Pillsbury Strawberry Frosting, a sure sign of confidence from the company that brings you Toaster Strudel and Pop'n Fresh Croissants. Strawberry is a unique offering in the canned frosting world, a stand-out among racier flavors that begs to be taste-tested. The trouble with a less-embraced flavor is the possibility of artificial flavorings turning the strawberry essence into something weird and unfavorable. 

Sadly, Pillsbury's take on strawberry spread fails to sidestep the strange-taste stigma. The initial notes are similar to Crunch Berries, our reviewer's favorite sugar-loaded breakfast cereal. The nostalgic essence quickly dissolves into something less delightful, however, with a dirty undertone that makes us sorry we gave this one a go. But living is learning, and in this case, we've learned that you should avoid Pillsbury Strawberry Frosting unless you have no other options. Making your own vanilla frosting and flavoring it with a spoonful of strawberry preserves would give you something simple and much more delicious to frost your finished cakes. This ill-advised pick should never make it out of the strawberry patch.

Buy: Great Value Chocolate

Walmart whips up its own take on canned chocolate frosting under the Great Value banner. It's an attractive choice for hurried bakers with a Walmart or Neighborhood Market nearby, as well as anyone put off by the higher-priced name-brand options with which it shares shelf space. You may be so familiar with the flavor of canned frosting, that opting for Great Value Chocolate doesn't faze you — whatever comes out of the can is sure to be better than eating plain cake, right?

In this case, Great Value gets the balance right with this passable product, providing a frosting that's surprisingly chocolatey and velvety-smooth. It's a soft spread that can glam up your mini-cupcakes and make a birthday cake sing with fantastic flavor. But don't just think of it as a smooth swipe for the top of your devil's food or butter sponge. It's also a great addition to your gingerbread house-building kit and would even be a solid choice for a pretzel or graham cracker dip in a pinch. The best thing is it's affordably priced, so you can stock up and have a can on hand for dessert emergencies and moments when you just need a spoonful of something sweet.

Avoid: Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Cream Cheese

Cream cheese frosting is like vanilla frosting's tangier risk-taking older sibling. It's versatile enough to fit on just about any flavor cake you can come up with while adding its punchy zing to make things feel a bit more special. It's great on carrot cake, perfect on rich chocolate cupcakes, and even makes a fun dip for fresh fruit and vanilla wafers. Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Cream Cheese attempts to package a formula that elevates the home baking scene, making simple work of adding smooth layers of something more flavorful than just another buttercream concoction. But real cream cheese is a complex blend of tasting notes, especially when incorporated into fresh frosting. Could it possibly come through as lusciously in a pre-made canned frosting?

Not even a little bit. This so-called cream cheese frosting is just another vanilla poser, offering nothing but bland sweetness instead of the elegant composition so familiar to real cream cheese frosting. Maybe the idea of adding yet another vanilla frosting to the sugary landscape was too boring for Pillsbury, so they tinkered a bit to come up with this misstep. They should keep tinkering, and you should steer clear of this can of disappointment.

Buy: Duncan Hines Whipped Chocolate

What difference could a whipped canned frosting make when it comes to the taste and texture usually found under the foil seal? Duncan Hines Whipped Chocolate frosting aims to make it easier to transform your plain confections into sugary wonderworks. Keeping crumbs in place as you frost your finished bakes rather than them clumping under your spatula is a baker's dream. It would be nice to find a canned frosting that doesn't require extra stirring or a pass under the beater blades to fluff up properly.

This Duncan Hines offering passes the spreadability challenge and the flavor test. The can is a bit taller than its shelf mates, projecting the illusion of a greater quantity of frosting inside, but in reality, the net weight is 14 ounces, compared to the other frostings at about 16 ounces. The difference in can size accommodates the added volume, visible in the marshmallowy texture that reveals tiny air pockets. All this plus a bittersweet chocolate bite rather than the sickly super-sweet chocolate flavor in other frostings gives Duncan Hines a sweet advantage in the frosting wars. It might be a mistake frosting your cupcakes with anything else once you've tried this superior topping.

Avoid: Great Value Vanilla

Fans of vanilla frosting may find themselves drawn to Great Value Vanilla Frosting while perusing the choices in the Walmart baking aisle. A classic flavor that serves as a blank slate for a fancier cake underneath must be pretty difficult to flub, right? It's vanilla, after all, the plainest of the plain flavors, so much so that it's become synonymous with "bland". A store-label version made by the world's largest retailer should be a slam dunk. With a more cost-effective price point than the bigger names on the market, it should also be an exciting prospect when baking on a budget, shouldn't it?

Well, it is and it isn't. Sure, the price is enticing enough to draw your eye and keep you considering your options. But we cracked open the can to find a fully average, oily frosting that left an unpleasant mouth coating. If you're into vanilla, you'd be sure to notice the artificial flavor that sits on your tongue like a bad baking dream. But by the time all of that happened, you'd have already spent your frosting allowance on a mistake you can't take back. Aren't you glad we did the tasting for you and saved you the trouble?

Buy: Duncan Hines Dolly Parton Creamy Buttercream

Everyone's favorite ray of country music sunshine, Dolly Parton, lends her name and likeness to a collaboration with Duncan Hines baking products, including Dolly Parton Creamy Buttercream frosting. It seems as if everything Dolly touches turns to gold, and this canned frosting with her cartoon image on the label keeps her stellar reputation shining brightly.

Butter is the key ingredient in any proper buttercream frosting, and the recipe used to create Dolly's spread keeps the buttery flavor front and center. There's more than a whisper of vanilla harmonizing with the butter, too, and the texture is soft and spreadable, almost like actual whipped butter. The label makes no mention of butter flavor, just a reference to natural and artificial flavors. But the effect is so pleasing, that you'll be proud to put a dollop of Dolly's delicious frosting on everything from pecan cake to cornbread. Yes, cornbread ... give it a try!

Avoid: Duncan Hines Keto Friendly Chocolate

Keto-friendly foods have made their way into many sections of the grocery store, so it was inevitable that a keto-friendly frosting would hit stores at some point. Duncan Hines jumped into the mixing bowl and created Keto Friendly Chocolate canned frosting for sweet fans who love to indulge without veering off of their eating path. It's exciting to think there's a way to have desserts that stick to the rules of Keto. But unfortunately — if this product is anything to go by — the notion of a food-plan frosting falls apart when it leaves the drawing board and hits the baking aisle.

This is likely one of the worst attempts at canned frosting we've ever tried, and easily the worst of the ones we chose to sample for this list. It's hard to say which is worse: the texture that's hard and waxy and doesn't dissolve properly on the tongue, or the dirty chocolate flavor that feels like all the happiness has been drained away. It's difficult to imagine even strict Keto followers figuring out how to get this tough bucket of clay to spread evenly on anything soft, let alone a cake. Keto? More like Ket-no.

Buy: Betty Crocker Whipped Butter Cream

Betty Crocker may rule the canned frosting shelves, but that doesn't mean everything from this baking behemoth is created equal. Buttercream is the most basic of all frostings, the fundamental recipe you start with before experimenting with other flavors. So going back to basics like Betty Crocker Gluten Free Whipped Butter Cream does is a bold move. There's no fancy fudge or salted caramel razzmatazz to draw customers' attention away from the bare-bones base. If you're looking for simple, buttercream is as simple as it gets, but simple doesn't necessarily mean plain, especially when Betty Crocker does it.

Thankfully, Betty does buttercream beautifully, even separating the butter from the cream in the name to let you know you're getting both. The whipped texture gives you an edge in your spreading work, and the flavor is evenly split between butter and vanilla. Fancier home bakers have a great starting point for adding cocoa powder, almond extract, or any other mix-ins they might use in homemade buttercream — even for piping their designs — but without having to pull out the mixer.

Avoid: Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Coconut Pecan

Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Coconut Pecan uses buzzwords that give an instant impression of superior quality. Who could resist a canned frosting that labels itself in such a confident manner? We couldn't, which is why we added it to our shopping list. We know our frostings from top to bottom, and coconut pecan is a specialty flavor reserved for German chocolate cake, spicy autumn sponges, and even carrot cake on occasion. The texture is so much a hallmark of the frosting that it can be a love-hate situation for dessert fans who favor a smoother spread on their sweet treats.

It's not a clear win for this can, due in large part to the excessive sweetness surrounding the coconut and pecans. A less sugary iteration might allow the nutty flavor to shine through more and push the caramel-like brown sugar glaze further back. But the off-kilter components come up short and too sweet, overwhelming any taste buds that might be hoping for something more subtle. It turns out a frosting can be too rich and creamy for its own good, and you might do better with a less syrupy canned frosting with coconut flavoring and some crushed pecans added by hand.

Buy: Betty Crocker Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Cinnadust

Cereal lovers might be thrilled to know that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is also a flavor of canned frosting, thanks to the clever food creators at Betty Crocker. The concept is so obvious: a vanilla frosting base is loaded with the same grainy happiness found sprinkled all over the cereal, called Cinnadust. It's a magical ingredient that should imbue whatever it touches with the same enchanted essence found in the cereal box. Desserts take on a whimsical dimension when topped with a frosting that replicates Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, whether you use it on chocolate loaf cake or as a filling for gingersnap sandwich cookies — that is if the taste works in canned frosting form. 

Based on this, it does sort of work. Though the cinnamon shows prominently in the frosting, the flavor is very light. Not that this is a bad thing. It favors a cinnamon roll more than Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it's different enough from other frostings to make an impression. In fact, topping actual cinnamon rolls might be one of your best bets for putting this can to proper use.

Avoid: Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip

With so many versions of canned frosting on the market, a flavor like Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip might seem overly simple or tailor-made for a younger crowd. But who doesn't love finding multi-colored flecks of sugary joy topping a birthday cupcake or cut-out cookie, even if there's no special occasion to celebrate? The fun visual kick of having a spectrum of chip-like candies embedded in the frosting also means less decorating work. Sprinkles and frosting mixed should be an easy win for home bakers looking to jazz up their repertoires.

So what goes so wrong with Rainbow Chip that we tossed it directly into the "avoid" category? It isn't the frosting necessarily. This recipe is a perfectly passable vanilla cream, no better or worse than any other vanilla frostings we tried. However, the chips are absolutely the downfall of this festive spread. There's no discernable flavor, and the texture is so waxen and sticky, it's like eating broken crayons sprinkled throughout the can ... only crayons would have more taste than this. Our advice: go with another vanilla frosting and take an extra 30 seconds to throw on some sprinkles instead.

Buy: Duncan Hines Creamy Dark Chocolate Fudge

It may seem like chocolate frosting is chocolate frosting no matter what twist a food producer gives it. But when you stand before the cans preparing to make a choice, a flavor like Duncan Hines Creamy Dark Chocolate Fudge is bound to catch your eye. Sure, you can get something with a fudge-forward flavor, and you might even find a dark chocolate frosting in your neck of the woods. But to have both flavors together in a single creation, ready to glide across your sugar cookies or turn your pretzel rods into magic wands for the holidays, is a temptation few chocolate fiends can resist. 

With such promising prospects lying within reach, this sensational-sounding frosting more than rises to the occasion. Duncan Hines picks another winner with a gooey frosting that feels as close to ganache as we've ever found in a canned frosting. It's glossy and decadent, the kind of frosting you won't be able to resist eating straight off the spoon before the decorating work begins. You could even warm up a dish and swirl strawberries in it for a romantic makeshift dessert. Put this one at the top of your list.

How we chose and classified our canned frostings

To gather our selections for this feature, we looked into the product ratings on store sites where the frostings are sold to get a sense of what consumers thought were some of the best and worst options from the many that are available. Then, we purchased flavors we thought would provide the greatest variety of quality and taste-tested them personally to decide for ourselves. We considered a few elements in the testing process, including taste, texture, versatility, and how easy they are to use on your home bakes.