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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    334 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      Wow! This was so delicious! I’ve only made this type of frosting one other time 10 years ago & it still came out great. And so easy to make, I didnt have cream of tartar so I replaced it with lemon juice

    2. I didn’t have a hand mixer, so I put my egg whites in my stand mixer and started whipping them as I boiled the sugar, cream of tartar and water. I waited until the sugar was dissolved and the mixture was simmering around the edges then slowly poured the hot syrup into the egg whites. I turned up the speed and the mixture started stiffening up pretty quickly. I had seen this technique on a cooking show where they were making marshmallows. It turned out quite nicely!

      1. Am sorry to hear that Dana. It may have been that it wasn’t heated up well enough. Some people use candy thermometers and make sure it heats up to 165 degrees. The room temperature can effect things as well and every stove is different. Also you have to make sure none of the egg yolk gets in. Sometimes you have to give a new recipe, especially one like this, a few tries before the final run. Hope you will give it another shot.

      2. Hi Dana,
        am sorry to hear you had this experience! There are a few things that could have gone wrong. If any yolk got in the mix, that would cause an issue. The temp in your kitchen can influence it but often it’s the temp on the stove eye or burner that just didn’t get hot enough. Hope you give it another go. Good luck!

      3. I know from making this with a different recipe that there are details that are important but not mentioned. You need to start with a completely clean bowl and beaters. That’s fine if you are only making this recipe. But if you didn’t know that was important, you might rinse off the beaters you just used for the cake mix, or use a measuring spoon you used for butter or oil. This will be a problem because there can’t be any fat in this recipe- including any hint of egg yolk. It is even recommended to wipe down the bowl and beaters with vinegar to ensure there is no residue. If you subbed milk or coco milk for the water, like I did, that will be a problem, too. 🙂 The water needs to be water. I usually use a different recipe and it explained the process in more detail, but this recipe does work well provided you keep this in mind. Also, cream of tartar is yucky, so don’t accidentally add more, and don’t plan on skipping the extract. This recipe uses more tartar than my previous one, but it also whipped up faster. It was light and creamy looking a couple of minutes in, but, I still beat it until I got stiff peaks, so it wouldn’t droop on my cake. This recipe also uses a bit of salt which I find a great way to reduce what can be overpowering sweetness in frostings. You don’t taste the salt, but it is good to have it there. 🙂
        Another thing worth mentioning is that eggs cook quickly and you don’t want scrambled frosting, so make sure you combine the sugar and egg well before you heat the pan. And if you are not sure about cooking it this way, just set a metal mixing bowl over a pot of water and let the steam heat it while you beat. It is the more traditional way and you still only have one bowl to clean.
        This is a good recipe and worth making. The little extra effort is worth it. Cakes come out beautifully glossy and the frosting is light-not greasy. It is perfect for special occasions. The only downside is the need to refrigerate for storage.

    3. 5 stars
      This year I tried this slightly different version of my grandmother’s seven minute frosting recipe. From now on, I’ll be using this one and I know my grandmother would have agreed 🙂 !

    4. I love this recipe as a cherished memory of my mother in law. She was an excellent ‘from scratch ‘ cook. This was the icing for her popular coconut cake. Thank you for posting this! Merry Christmas and God Bless! ❤️❤️

    5. I’ll have to try this recipe I’m only used to making buttercream frosting. It sounds and looks so delicious. I can’t wait to make this an order to put on a cake. I am very excited to get back to baking. Personally, my family handles desserts during Thanksgiving so I’ll use this recipe to frost my next cake probably for Thanksgiving. This frosting looks super soft and looks very easy to spread on stuffing like cupcakes. I enjoyed reading this and I hope you have a fantastic day. I hope you get to make many enjoyable foods this holiday season.

    6. Can I freeze a coconut cake w 7 minute frosting ? Want to bring one to my Dad. He’s in Montana I am in Kentucky

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