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. I remember holding that beater over an old double boiler thinking it would never be ready. This is the recipe my mom used. It was beautiful on her angel food cakes (also whipped to perfection) and after she frosted her banana cake with it she would swirl chocolate into it. Both were the most beautiful cakes. Thanks for the trip down memory lane

    2. Christy, I’m almost 80 years old and I grew up in TN near Memphis with my mother making this beautifully smooth and creamy 7 Minute Frosting for cakes. This was in the day when home cooks didn’t have an electric mixer. This frosting was made using a rotary hand mixer, which I thought was fun when I got big enough to help crank the handle of that rotary mixer making this scrumptious frosting. This was the perfect and go-to frosting used for most of her cakes, and was always a hit. It was used to make my mother’s famous Coconut Cake at Christmas, using freshly grated coconut. She never used packaged store-bought coconut, it had to be made using a freshly grated coconut, which my Daddy would crack open and get the coconut “meat” out of the hard shell. 7 Minute Frosting was the first frosting recipe I ever learned to make, and I continue today making this quick and easy frosting. For decades I’ve maintained making the traditional fresh Coconut Cake each Christmas. My family would revolt if I didn’t make it with 7 Minute Frosting piled high under the coconut!

      1. I’m so glad you mentioned this, because that’s the only kind of mixer I own. Now I won’t be afraid of trying this recipe!

      2. Coconut cake with seven minute frosting was a part of my Christmas many years ago. My Dad also fixed a fresh coconut for my Mom. Remember my Sis and I sharing the milk from the coconut. Daddy always grated the coconut and called it a fingernail cake! After I married just knew I had to make a fresh coconut cake for our Christmas. I did and it was my first and last fresh coconut cake. Just too much work fixing the coconut when frozen coconut was around. Always enjoy your blogs and the many good memories it brings. Thanks, and have a great Christmas!

      3. My granny used to make her coconut cake that way too! She made the cake from scratch fresh coconut and pineapple and bananas! I’ve never tasted a cake that good in my life!! I’ve got her recipe and have attempted a few times but it was never as good as hers!! It wasn’t an easy cake to make either!! I miss her so much and that cake! Thanks for this recipe. Hopefully it will turn out better than my others have. Mine is either grainy or it weaps real bad! We will see!

    3. We call this “White Mountain” Frosting. It is the BEST in the world and so simple. Just made it a couple of weeks ago for….what else…..a Cocoanut Cake my husband was craving.

    4. Love this frosting. However I do not have a hand mixer, help, what else can be done? I used to make something like this in my stand mixer long ago. You had to stream hot syrup into egg whites. This sounds a lot easier. Thanks for your super recipes and tales. Lord bless you

    5. We use to make this icing when I was at home. I had forgotten about it. Its a wonderful addition to any cake. Thanks for sharing. Love your style.

    6. Christy,
      Do the ‘tiny sugar granules” dissolve?
      I can make sugary frostings all day long but this recipe of your Granny’s sounds perfect as long as it has no grainy texture.

      Have a wonderful Holiday Season. Give your kids a hug from another granny

      1. I’m pretty sure the sugar granules are from cooking this over direct heat. I have always made mine in a double boiler (or diy metal bowl or pan on top of a pan). My mother told me about 40 years ago when I made it for the first time not to let the boiling water touch the bottom of the upper pot because it would make it grainy, instead of silky smooth.

        1. It’s still very much silky smooth, with a sweet granule from time to time. The heat is so low and it’s cooked the same time as in the double broiler that I don’t think that would make a difference, but you can certainly use a double broiler if you like. I think today’s stoves being able to regulate heat so well have made them unnecessary for the most part as opposed to when stoves were more difficult to have an actual low temp.

          1. Thanks, love your blog and all the most-implicit recipes that tell the WHY, not only the how……very important for all us intellectually inquisitive cooks.
            Anyway, I have a reconditioned Wedgwood stove from the 50s that I adore, but as you note, it is hard to delineate between settings on the burners. I so appreciate the hint about the double boiler since I got one when I bought my All-Clad set and it’s never been used. I’m anxious to try it when I cook this recipe, which is ever so much easier than my Godmother’s “old-fashioned” one, used when I was a mere ten years old. That’s how long I’ve been making scratch cakes.
            Warmest regards,
            Joyce Brown
            San Juan Capistrano, CA

    7. My standard birthday cake growing up was a made from mix angel food cake (confetti if I was extra lucky!) with 7-minute frosting and one of those hard candy cake decorations you bought at the store, soaked a bit in water to release from the paper and then put on the cake. My brother and I have tried to track down my mother’s 7-minute frosting recipe, but I’ve never been sure which one it was (even though I made it once or twice when I was still living at home). I’m happy to have a tried and true recipe to try! Thanks!

      1. I do remember rigging up two pans as a double boiler when I made it, but that’s apparently not necessary for this recipe?

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