What Frosting Goes With Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is a delightful treat enjoyed by many. The soft and moist cake pairs perfectly with a warm cup of coffee, making it a favorite for breakfast, brunch, or any time of the day. While coffee cake is delicious on its own, adding frosting takes it to a whole new level of indulgence.

coffee cake
coffee cake

Understanding Coffee Cake

Before we dive into the world of coffee cake frostings, let’s first understand what coffee cake is. Unlike other cakes, coffee cake is typically not flavored with coffee.

Instead, it is a moist and tender cake that is meant to be enjoyed alongside a cup of coffee. Coffee cake often features flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla, and it may have a crumbly streusel topping.

Importance of Frosting

Frosting adds a layer of sweetness and decadence to coffee cake. It enhances the flavors and textures, transforming a simple cake into a luxurious dessert.

The right frosting can elevate the overall taste experience, balancing the subtle sweetness of the cake with creamy or tangy notes.

Classic Coffee Cake Frostings

There are several classic frostings that go exceptionally well with coffee cake. Let’s explore a few popular choices:

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a timeless classic that pairs perfectly with coffee cake. Its tangy and creamy nature complements the sweetness of the cake, creating a delightful balance.

The smooth texture of the cream cheese frosting spreads effortlessly over the cake, adding richness and a hint of tanginess.

Vanilla Glaze

For those who prefer a simpler approach, a vanilla glaze is an excellent choice. Made with powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a touch of milk, this glaze adds a glossy and sweet coating to the coffee cake.

The vanilla flavor harmonizes with the warm spices in the cake, resulting in a delectable combination.

Cinnamon Sugar

If you’re looking for a fuss-free option, sprinkle your coffee cake with a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar. The warm and comforting flavors of cinnamon perfectly complement the cake’s taste. The sugar adds a subtle crunch and a touch of sweetness, creating a delightful contrast.

Unique Frosting Combinations

For those who want to venture beyond the classics, here are some unique frosting combinations that will take your coffee cake to new heights:

Mocha Buttercream

Combine the rich flavors of coffee and chocolate with a mocha buttercream frosting. This luscious frosting adds a velvety texture and a burst of coffee-infused decadence to the cake.

The smoothness of the buttercream complements the tender crumb of the coffee cake, creating a match made in dessert heaven.

Maple Pecan Frosting

Indulge your taste buds with the delightful combination of maple and pecan in a frosting. The rich, caramel-like flavor of maple syrup paired with the crunchy texture of toasted pecans creates a wonderful contrast to the softness of the coffee cake. This unique frosting choice adds a touch of warmth and nuttiness to every bite.

Espresso Ganache

For coffee lovers seeking an intense flavor experience, espresso ganache is the perfect choice. This decadent frosting combines dark chocolate and espresso, resulting in a smooth and velvety texture with a strong coffee kick. The bittersweet notes of the chocolate complement the sweetness of the cake, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

Frosting Coffee Cake for Different Occasions

Coffee cake can be enjoyed on various occasions, and the choice of frosting can enhance the experience. Here are some suggestions:

  • Brunch Delight: Pair your coffee cake with a cream cheese frosting for a luxurious brunch treat that will impress your guests.
  • Holiday Flair: Add a touch of festive spirit by drizzling a vanilla glaze over your coffee cake during the holiday season.
  • Coffee Lover’s Dream: Indulge in the bold flavors of a mocha buttercream frosting, perfect for satisfying your coffee cravings.

Experimenting with different frosting options allows you to tailor the coffee cake to suit the occasion and your personal preferences.

Tips for Perfect Frosting

Achieving the perfect frosting for your coffee cake requires some finesse. Here are a few tips to help you:

  1. Ensure Proper Cooling: Let your coffee cake cool completely before applying frosting to prevent it from melting or becoming too runny.
  2. Consistency is Key: Adjust the consistency of your frosting by adding more powdered sugar for a stiffer texture or a little milk for a smoother, spreadable consistency.
  3. Get Creative: Feel free to add your own personal touch by incorporating additional flavors or toppings to make your coffee cake truly unique.

Experimentation and practice will lead you to discover the perfect frosting technique that suits your preferences and brings out the best in your coffee cake.


Can I use any type of coffee cake for these frostings?

Yes, these frostings can be used with various types of coffee cake, including plain, cinnamon, or nut-filled coffee cakes.

Can I make the frostings in advance?

Absolutely! Most frostings can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Just make sure to bring them to room temperature before applying them to the cake.

Can I substitute ingredients in the frostings?

Yes, you can customize the frostings to suit your preferences. However, keep in mind that ingredient substitutions may alter the taste and texture.

Can I freeze coffee cake with frosting?

While it’s generally best to freeze coffee cake without frosting, some frostings can withstand freezing. Cream cheese frostings and glazes tend to freeze well, while buttercream frostings may become slightly grainy after thawing.


Frosting adds an extra layer of deliciousness to coffee cake, transforming it into a delightful dessert.

Whether you opt for classic choices like cream cheese frosting or venture into unique combinations like mocha buttercream or maple pecan frosting, the right frosting will complement the flavors of the cake and elevate your taste experience.

I'm Jennifer Tirrell, a self-taught baker, and founder of CakeRe. As an experienced baker and recipe publisher, I have spent over a decade working in the kitchen and have tried and tested countless baking tools and products. From classic cakes to creative twists, I've got you covered. So grab your apron and let's get baking!

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