7-Minute Frosting (Foolproof Recipe)

This failproof 7-minute frosting is deliciously light, fluffy, and the perfect topping for almost any cake. Enjoy the icing’s marshmallow cream-like smoothness that will make you and your family and friends smile.

7-minute frosting covering a whisk and cake.

If you’ve never had this old-fashioned 7-minute frosting, I’d like to apologize. I am so sorry that you’ve missed out all these years, seeing as it’s been around since the early 1900s. This is a fluffy, glossy, and light-tasting icing reminiscent of meringue… only better and spreadable. It’s commonly found atop coconut cakes or other holiday cake treasures but goes just as easily with a simple pound cake or chocolate cake too.

There are many reasons to love this recipe, but most importantly it’s quick to make, easy to spread, and doesn’t include a double boiler like so many others. Unlike most 7-minute frosting recipes, this one is also not dependent on the weather or you crossing your pinky toes and perfectly reciting the magic word with five extra-large marshmallows in your mouth. No siree, this one comes out perfect every time. So if you’re a beginner baker looking for a foolproof frosting recipe, you’re in the right place.

Whenever I make this 7-minute frosting, there are tiny sugar crystals mixed amid the fluffy velvet cream. It’s just perfection. So don’t think you did anything wrong. Just dip your spoon in again and pop it in your mouth.  Close your eyes, and enjoy the smoothness of this marshmallow fluff-like icing as it melts in your mouth.

I’d recommend watching our quick Youtube tutorial before you start your recipe so that you can get a nice visual! 


If you’re looking for other foolproof frosting recipes, check out my creamy chocolate frosting or royal icing recipe.

Recipe ingredients for 7-minute frosting.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Sugar
  • 2 eggs (for the whites only)
  • Cream of tartar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How to Make 7 Minute Frosting

Place sugar in saucepan.

 Place all ingredients into a thick-bottomed sauce pot, starting with the sugar.

You just want to use a good stainless steel pot for this, definitely not one with a nonstick coating because we are going to beat it for several minutes and all that mess would flake off and get in your icing – so don’t do that!

Add salt to saucepan.

Add salt.

Add cream of tartar to saucepan.

Then the cream of tartar.

Add egg whites to saucepan.

And the egg whites.

Tip for separating egg whites and yolks

When separating your eggs for this recipe, it is a good idea to do so in a separate bowl rather than the pot you are going to combine all ingredients in. The reason for this is that you need only the egg whites and if you get any of the egg yolk mixed in, your icing won’t turn out. By separating them beforehand, you can throw out anything that gets a yolk in it (or dig out the egg yolk if you can without combining it with the white) rather than having to throw out your entire pot of ingredients.

Add water to saucepan.

Finally, add the water. We don’t add the vanilla extract until the end.

Place over medium-low heat and beat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Place this mixture over medium-low heat (in between low and medium, so about a four on my stove) and turn that electric mixer on.

Beat this constantly for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form. I use this mixer for mine. 

Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

A word of caution

Now listen, right about now you’re going to be thinking “Okay, this is crazy. This is never going to form stiff peaks. I’m sure this is as good as it will get. I might as well give up and just ice the cake.”

Note about following this recipe: The pattern on the internet these days seems to be taking a recipe, making fifty thousand substitutions and alterations to it, and then getting your tinsel in a tizzy when it doesn’t turn out exactly like the original recipe said it would. I’m not saying you would ever do that, mind you, but I do want to issue a word of caution that this is one of those recipes which really must be followed to the letter. If you go rogue, you get rogue results. Maybe those will be good, maybe those will be bad, but they won’t be on me either way.

Stiff peaks in icing.

 Look! We have stiffness! You can see how the frosting reaches and maintains the trail left by the beaters rather than sliding back into a glop. This is what we want.

Add in vanilla extract.

Now add in your vanilla extract.

Mix in the vanilla extract.

 Fold in the vanilla extract. Maintain that perfect trail left from the beaters and keep from having any of the icing sliding back down to smooth. Remove this from the heat and have a little taste of it – pure marshmallow heaven.

Icing sheet cake with 7-minute frosting.

Ice your cake with this 7-minute frosting and you’re good to go. I enjoy using a long frosting spreader to spread the icing. 

Cake covered in 7-minute frosting.

Oh my goodness, how light and fluffy does that look? 


This icing is very stable and keeps well for up to a week on an icebox cake stored in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • There’s no substitute for cream of tartar for this recipe.
  • If you want to jazz up your frosting, here are some fun additions:
    • Use brown sugar instead of white sugar.
    • Fold about 3 ounces of melted chocolate chips into the finished frosting. You want both products to be at the same temperature.
    • Use a different extract flavor rather than vanilla, like peppermint or almond extract.
  • You can also torch the frosting like you would meringue.
  • You’ll need two recipes of this icing to ice a layer cake. Fortunately, this recipe doubles beautifully, so there’s no need to make two separate batches, just double it and make it all at once.

    Recipe FAQs

    What’s the difference between this frosting and Swiss meringue?

    The main difference between these frostings is that Swiss meringue buttercream frosting is cooked but mixed off the heat. Meanwhile, this frosting is mixed as it cooks on the stovetop.

    Here are more delectable cakes with frosting:

    Grandmama’s Coconut Cake with No-Fail Seven Minute Frosting

    Rolo Cupcake Recipe with Brown Butter Frosting

    Peanut Butter Cake (From Scratch!) with PB Cream Cheese Frosting

    Yellow Cake with Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Icing

    Pumpkin Praline Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

    Vegan Sweet Potato Cake With Maple Cashew Icing

    7-minute frosting covering a whisk and cake.

    7-Minute Frosting

    This failproof 7-minute frosting recipe is a light, smooth, and fluffy cake topping like marshmallow cream that melts in your mouth.
    Cook Time: 7 minutes
    Total Time: 7 minutes
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: icing
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 278kcal


    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 2 egg whites
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    • Combine all of the ingredients except the vanilla in a stainless steel heavy-bottomed saucepan.
      1 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 2 egg whites, 3 tablespoons water
    • Place mixture over medium-low heat and beat with an electric hand mixer constantly for 5-7 minutes, or until icing is fluffy and stiff peaks form when the beaters are removed.
    • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Ice the cooled cake.
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Note: You'll need two recipes of this icing to ice a layer cake. Fortunately, this recipe doubles beautifully, so there's no need to make two separate batches, just double it and make it all at once.


    Calories: 278kcal
    Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


    “Peoples s’posed to be nice. That’s just the way you do things.” 


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    1. Just to correct a slight typo:
      “Place over medium low head” should read “Place over medium low heat”

      I know, I know..I do that sort of typo ALL THE TIME!

    2. This recipe sounds great! I’m going to try it on a coconut cake for Christmas. I’ve made 7 Minute Frosting before but this sounds easier.
      I started following the blog recently and have been enjoying it very much.

    3. Well, you made me smile, and cry all in just a few second. 1959, “Mom I need a cake for school, so we can sell it piece by piece, and make money for the school” So Mom, reading the Boston globe that had a section for Homemakers, which they don’t have anymore. So a reciepe for white cake with pink frosting dosed with coconut. I brought it on the bus,subway, and then another bus, short walk up the street., and arrived at school. I walked in put it down with at least 10 other Pink coconut cakes! The Nun thought, it was very funny, we had never seen her smile. Apparently, all the Mother’s had read the paper! What we didn’t sell, we ate! I remember it like it was yesterday. Same frosting reciepe. I wish I was 10 yrs old again., but I’m not Peter Pan. Thank you so much for all the nice things you say and do, for all of us here on the Internet. A Merry Christmass to you and your lovely family. Mary Paquette

      1. I loved your story! And I remember the recipes in the Boston Globe and still have several clipped-out copies from ages ago.

      2. is there any way to keep the icing from getting sugary (crystallizing) and getting a sugary shell after it sits overnight covered?

    4. Christy, is this a recipe you can double, or do you recommend making two separate batches to frost a two-layer cake? Sometimes doubling works, sometimes it doesn’t, and I really don’t want to mess this up.

      Many thanks,


    5. Oh, this stuff is just wonderful. And in my family, it is not a coconut cake unless it has been iced with this and then completely covered in coconut. And you’re right about not messing with this icing.

        1. I’m so thrilled. My mom always made 7 minute frosting for my birthday cakes. She’s passed and didn’t keep recipes. This is delicious and my daughter was thrilled

    6. Ahhhh, the memories of my mom, aunts, and grandmas waiting on the perfect weather for making icings and candies. lol My mom bakes a ten layer cake that needs the perfect weather for the icing to turn out good. I have recipes handed down with notes about making it only when the weather is nice. lol Thanks for this recipe, I look forward to trying it out. Also, thanks for the tips of following it exactly. Merry Christmas!!!

    7. Christy: I have never had “7-Minute Icing”. I tried making it one time, and it didn’t work. Afterwards, my mother told me that we were genetically incapable of making it. She had never been able to make it and quit trying. She was the best cook I’ve ever known, so for once, I gave up. I may give your recipe a shot. Thanks for the tar note. I will try to wipe as I go because neatness, especially when stirring, mixing, and beating is not even close to being one of my strong points.

        1. your so very right. It was a great recipe that we all enjoyed. will make it again.

          Thank YOU For THE RECIPE

          1. OH My! Thank You! I lost my mother on my birthday 10/14/2018 and my dad decided he wanted a Chocolate cake with 7 min. icing. I dig through my mommas recipes and couldn’t find it. I literally stood in Walmart crying because I was unsure of Devils Food or Chocolate Cake Mix ( I couldn’t remember) and I didn’t have the recipe. While driving home and talking to my sister I said “ I wish Siri could find mommas recipe for 7 min icing” Lo and behold you popped up. I can’t begin to thank you enough. I Followed the recipe it looked liked it turned out. But the tears in my Daddy’s eyes told me it was like my mommas. Thank you once again.

            1. I made the 7min frosting followed directions it looked beautiful when it was done but I stirred it and it became the scariest icing I ever seen it looked like it had lumps all through the frosting but it tasted good what happened can you tell me?. I love to bake and try lots of your receipes

            2. Did you mix it a little before putting it on the burner? I got brown flecks of cooked sugar, so it wasn’t very appetizing, but tasted ok. Next time I’d use a double boiler like other recipes call for.

            3. Momma working magic through Siri. It’s amazing how those messages from our loved ones get to us.

          2. Loved reading your recipe and directions . Can you please tell me if this frosting stays good and sticky? My grandma used to frost her angel food cakes with an egg-white frosting that kept peaks and was good and sticky. I want to make it for my mom’s birthday as a gift since she was an only child (she’s gonna be 85soon) and never got her mother’s recipe.

        1. Hey Mary Ann!
          Great to see you here! All of my recipe posts have the full recipe in printable format at the bottom of the post. If you’ll just scroll up a bit from where you typed this you’ll find it there.

          1. I’ve made this in a double-boiler and used clear
            Kayro syrup. I wonder if this taste the same.
            Emilie in NC

          2. I attempted my first SOGGY COCONUT CAKE from my xmomnlaw I just remembered how heavenly it was… so created my own version since Google couldn’t meet my fancy… and one was 7 minute iceing.. and remember a double boiler..it was smooth sugar grained heaven..it was scary..ok. Doubled the recipe for a whole 2 layer cake and so I began.. something went bad wrong..7 minutes??? Uh…I got so tired.. and my mixer was blowing hot air!! Lol… after..I don’t know.. mabe 20. + Minutes it started trailing.. another 10 minutes.. almost.. getting better every second.. another 5. Bam ..tasted better than anything I’ve ever tasted..had to pour water in the bowl because I couldn’t stop spoon to mouth…as I frosted and began pressing coconut..it had surface hardend .. the consistency was messed up….to scared to even attempt unsupervised… Lord I miss my mom…

          3. My first experience with eating 7 minute frosting was on Devils Food Cake. I loved it. I noticed most used it on coconut cake.

        2. My seven minute frosting turns to mostly liquid after about the 4th day. Makes the cake soggy. But when I first make it its very fluffy and tastes delicious. Wish I could get it not to weep. What am I doing incorrectly?

          1. Will this frosting hold up for a few days? I have read other recipes tend to fail and the frosting dissolves. I need one that holds up for a party.
            Thanks so much

          2. Hi, im very keen on trying this recipe is it ok to hold up a 3 tier cake each tier having 4 layers.

        1. Yes, I have the same question. I make a recipe that calls for Karo syrup, sugar, water, egg whites and vanilla and it is SO good!! How is this recipe different in the end?

      1. 4 stars
        Christy, I tried, really I did. I beat what felt like forever and those trails would not come! I kept running that part through my head where you said you were not crazy, stick with it, it will suddenly become something else. What I ended up with was what we shall call Toasted Marshmallow frosting. Yup, stuff began to stick and burn on the bottom, so I tried to keep the beaters off the bottom. Eventually I got peaks-ish frosting, our in the vanilla and slapped it on the cake. I hope the chill in the fridge will help it set enough to stay in place. I don’t blame you….maybe unseen forces were at work. 😉

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