7-Minute Frosting (Foolproof Recipe)

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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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    340 Comments

    1. I have made fluffy white frosting my whole life first with a glass double boiler and with Betty Crocker’s mix. My birthday cake always had to be angelfood cake with fluffy white frosting a those hard candy letter/designs that you had to peel off a paper backing. I haven’t had this for a long time since I don’t have a double boiler (so expensive)and the Betty Crocker mix not being made. But now I can try your recipe I just want to know if this makes enough to frost an angelfood cake-I do love a lot of it–thanks

    2. 5 stars
      I have no idea why others had problems. I’ve always been scared to death to try making 7 minute frosting. This turned out absolutely perfect!!! NO SUGAR GRANDULARS..And so easy. Easy clean up. I used duck eggs instead of chicken eggs.

      I am a chef…but not a baker…in baking one has to follow directions exactly. So that being said. I have a few recommendations.

      For the baker who said it didn’t peak in her double boiler…I don’t believe the double boiler was hot enough.

      For the baker who said it browned in the pot…the burner was to hot.

      And the baker who said it was to salty…I’ll bet she used the wrong measuring spoon. Instead of the 1 TSP (teaspoon) she used the 1 TBS (tablespoon).

      I’ve attached a pic of my first try…thank you so much for posting. Marianne

    3. I read this and was amazed at how you cook it totally on the stove. I will definitely try this since I like a light frosting and my hubby loves marshmallow, so is a win win. I agree with some recipes must be followed to the tee and I will do just that. Will let you know how mine turns out, I think it will be perfect….

    4. 5 stars
      After feeling that I, too, was genetically unable to make 7 minute frosting, I made this today for a birthday cake, and it was fantastic! So, on my and my husband’s birthday, we had angel food cake, with a lemon curd filling, topped with your wonderful 7 minute frosting! Thank you so much for sharing this! I love the little bit of sugary crunch throughout, too. <3

      1. Deb I am so happy to hear that! The angel food cake sounds amazing and it warms my heart to know that you successfully make the 7 minute frosting to top it off. I knew you could do it 😉
        Thanks for letting me know about your experience. It made my day 🙂

        1. Just made 3 X this recipe for two large cakes. I tried it first with egg whites sold in a carton, but guess what? They heat the egg whites and they’re no good for a merengue or angelfood cake. Had to throw out a whole pot full of goo. Second time with real egg whites came out fine. I’m going to beat some whipped cream into it for the butterfat.

    5. 4 stars
      Is it frosting or icing down “South?” 🙂 Just kidding!

      “Frosting” is “widespread, but chiefly North, North Midland, West“.

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