Monday, October 5, 2009

Which Store Bought Vanilla Icing Is the Best?

I'm a fan of the vanilla icing - I love the way it tastes on chocolate brownies, smooshed in the middle of a cookie sandwich, and especially slathered thickly on a chocolate cupcake. I like it because it is quick and easy to make - requiring, at its core, four simple ingredients: confectioner's sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla. Not to mention you can dye it any color of the rainbow to dress up any holiday treat (like pink for every day of the year!).

What happens when you don't feel like standing on your feet for another 10 minutes to whip up the delicious topping? You reach for the back-up icing... oh, you know what I'm talking about - the icing that you keep at the back of your cabinet or fridge for a rainy day... the day when you have company but decide to pass off the easy alternative as your own!

Good thing you have me here to tell you that when it comes to store bought vanilla icing, you're better off sucking it up and making your own. I'm not talking about other flavored white icings like buttercream or cream cheese or funfetti - I'm talking about plain ol' vanilla.

Here to take up spoons in the name of science is my sister, Kristie, ever the scientist and scholar, who insisted that a blind taste test be conducted! Hardcore, I know. This is what we found:

Betty Crocker "Rich & Creamy" Vanilla:
Cupcakin' It Up's choice!
Appearance - yellow tinge to color, smooth, moist looking
Texture - powderiness that held fast in the after-taste
Taste - buttery, mild, powder-taste
Notes - Although Betty Crocker beat out the others for taste, the texture seemed off to me.

Duncan Hines "Home-style Classic" Vanilla:
Appearance - whitest, least shiny
Texture - stiffest, lack of creaminess
Taste - bitter after-taste, plasticy
Notes - Kristie thought this was the worst!

Pillsbury "Whipped Supreme" Vanilla:
Appearance - smooth, slimy-looking
Texture - syrupy, sugar crunched in your mouth, and the texture seemed to stick in my throat
Taste - sweet, syrupy
Notes - I thought this one was the worst! As a side note, I also thought the Pillsbury chocolate was the weakest in the last taste test - this time it was a blind taste in which I didn't know the results to the end, so it's not the brand I'm repulsed by, it's the quality.

Overall, I was very disappointed. It's hard to believe that you could mess up vanilla icing. But that's the difference between making it with a machine and sitting on a shelf and making it with love and sitting in your tummy right away. Do yourself and your guests a favor next time you feel tempted to purchase "the backup icing" - make your own! It doesn't take long, and you'll knock the lids off of any commercial icing competitor.


  1. how interesting. i never thought about other brands, whenever i buy icing (haven't in forever) i get betty crocker

  2. I have to admit that I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to baking and cooking. I don't think I'd ever use pre-made icing :) Although I do love the frosting that you get on grocery store birthday cakes (which is probably the same thing).

  3. I hate the Whipped Supreme, any flavor. Homemade is best, although my daughter swears by and loves the ones with the confetti in it (which I hate also.) I love Costco frostings. Do they package that? That would work as a substitute for me.


  4. I prefer homemade to store bought any day, but I have been known to use Betty Crocker from time to time. Great blog post!

  5. Ok, so that means that you MUST post your very own vanilla icing recipe, since now using store-bought icing will only bring shame to me and my household :(

  6. Thank to your sharing now a have more experience about choosing the best store-bought vanilla. Sometimes the others taste too cloyingly sweet. Keep up giving more knowledge about them.