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 video 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? 

Storage

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

    Ingredients

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

    Instructions

    • 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

    Notes

    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.

    Nutrition

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

     

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

    ~Grandmama

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    334 Comments

      1. I believed you used the wrong measuring spoon. Instead of the teaspoon (tsp)…I believe you used the tablespoon (tbs). Hope you’ll give this recipe another chance

    1. 4 stars
      I tried it without a double boiler and even though I had the burner on 4, eventually the sugar started to stick and made brownish flecks in the icing. Very unappetizing.

    2. 5 stars
      I just made this but mixed it in a glass bowl placed on a pot of boiled water on simmer rather than directly in a pot. Added lemon extract instead of vanilla. Worked great. Yum! Was also able to pipe it onto some lemon cupcakes.

    3. I followed the recipe with exact measurements to a T and ended up A) beating for 10 minutes but only getting soft peaks and B) being able to taste the cream of tartar… I’ve never made 7 minute frosting before but I use italian meringue quite a bit and it always turns out without that slight sour taste, though I do use less in that recipe. I definitely understand its importance but has anyone tried maybe halving the c/t and using corn syrup as well as shown in other recipes?

    4. Can this be made into lemon frosting with lemon juice or extract? My father in law talked about a chocolate cake his mom used to make with fluffy lemon frosting. I so want to try it for him! They are from the south so any advice would be appreciated- I cannot find a recipe for this!!!

      1. Hi Julie thanks for the question. I haven’t made it into lemon frosting but I don’t see why it couldn’t be!
        I would add in a couple tablespoons of lemon juice
        and maybe a tsp or so of lemon zest. That is where I would start. I haven’t made it with lemon though so please let me know how it turns out. Anyone else made with lemon, please chime in!

      2. I believe you can use ANY good extract. I used McCormick Coconut. Same amount needed in the recipe EXCEPT I used the coconut flavoring instead of the vanilla.My 96 year old Uncle wanted a coconut cake like his Mama made for him on his birthdays. Once I iced the cake I sprinkled coconut all over. It truly IS my Grandmother’s cake.

    5. 3 stars
      Easy enough. I selected it because I didn’t have a double boiler most recipes recommend. The problem was the sugar browned on the bottom ( I used medium as suggested) so the whole batch was cream colored with brown flecks in it. A problem that would not have happened with a double boiler.
      Not very appetizing… Wouldn’t use it again.

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