What is Ermine Frosting?

August 14th, 2019 by Desiree Smith

If you’re looking for a not-so-sweet alternative to traditional icing, try your hand at ermine frosting. This French-inspired icing is one of the classic early 20th-century recipes being lovingly rediscovered by bakers who want to add a deliciously nostalgic je ne sais quoi to their iced treats. Firm enough to hold its shape when used with a decorating bag and tip, it also makes a tasty, airy filling.

Smooth, rich and with a flavor similar to cream cheese frosting (minus the cream cheese), ermine frosting is as firm as classic buttercream but much less sweet, with a great texture and taste that works best with red velvet, butter, chocolate or other richly flavored cakes. If a light bite is more your speed, try it on white cake for a uniquely simple flavor combination.

No matter what you call it (there are dozens of names – boiled milk frosting, ermine buttercream, roux frosting, flour buttercream, among others), making a next-level frosting is more successful with experience, so here are a few of our hints and hacks for you to consider before you get your saucepan out:

  • Our Ermine Frosting recipe makes about 2 fluffy cups of icing, enough to cover a two layer 8-inch round cake
  • Cook your milk and flour roux to a thick consistency; to test done-ness, run a spoon through the middle of the pan—mixture should stay separate for a beat before slowly merging back together
  • Take care to seal the above mixture with plastic wrap before it cools to prevent a skin from forming; make sure the wrap touches the entire surface of mixture
  • Make sure above mixture is cooled to room temperature before blending in butter; you can speed it up by putting it in the fridge, but don’t forget to take it out
  • Store any excess frosting in the fridge and rewhip before using

Traditional boiled icing should not be confused with Homemade Marshmallow Icing, which is also fluffy and delicious but totally different!


Ready to roux? Let us know how your treats turned out in the comments below or tag us on Instagram @Wiltoncakes.

Desiree Smith Desiree is the Public Relations Manager at Wilton. She spends her days monitoring media opportunities, working with newspaper, magazine and television contacts, collaborating with bloggers and handling a variety of other odds and ends. Desiree has a degree in journalism and experience writing for newspapers and television. Outside of Wilton, she enjoys running and planning outings with friends.

72 Replies

  1. Sharyl says:

    Hi I would like to try making the boiled icing but the measurements are in cups, I’m in the uk and don’t really understand the measurements in cups. Could you convert the measurements in to grams for me please? Thanks for your help.

  2. Jane Kirkham says:

    What is the recipe for the ermine frosting?

  3. Tessie Pharris says:

    Can you send me a white cake recipe that won’t crumble apart while icing it? Not sure what ingredients to include so that it binds together to make a sturdy, substantial cake to decorate? Thanks 7

  4. Do you need to refrigerate the cake then? says:

    Where is the recipe?

  5. Rachel says:

    Couple things: make sure the cake is 100% cool, you can freeze most cakes if you really struggled with this. They will maintain moisture if you plastic wrap them tightly after they are totally cool and frost them straight out of the freezer. Works well if you’re making the cake a day or two early.

    If you don’t want to freeze the cake (or don’t have time), make sure the cake is totally cool. Take a small amount of your frosting (1/2 cup-1 cup for smaller cakes), and use liquid to thin slightly. Do a teaspoon of liquid at a time and fully mix before adding more. You’re looking for a base layer here, so it can be thinner, but you don’t want it runny. Use a flat or offset metal spatula to apply the thinner frosting in an even crumb layer. Give it a moment to dry a bit on the cake and then apply the regular frosting a section at a time.

    If you’re still getting pulling, try applying less frosting at a time or thinking the frosting slightly. You’ll need to apply more pressure to spread out a mound of super firm frosting, so work with smaller amounts and layer up. Work up to about a 1/4-1/3″ layer. Good luck!

  6. Cyndi McGehee says:

    I think you have been misunderstood and are receiving the Frosting Recipe instead of the cake you are asking for. The highest rated white cake is the Classic White Cake Recipe, which I know is great for frosting without crumbling. I hope this is what you are looking for and that you have as much luck as I have had with it!
    Happy Baking!

  7. Cyndi McGehee says:

    I think your question is being misunderstood. The highest rated white cake recipe is the Classic White Cake Recipe. I have never had any trouble with crumbling while decorating. I hope you have as much luck as I have!
    Happy Baking!

  8. Cyndi McGehee says:

    I think Tessie Pharris (above) is looking for the Classic White Cake Recipe, not the icing recipe. I have attempted to reply to her twice and it’s not allowing me to. Perhaps you could help?

  9. IRAJ LOTFI says:

    Hello there,

    I really appreciate it if you send me the “Ermine Frosting Recipe” to my email address.
    I couldn’t get it directly from its original web site.

    Many thanks

  10. Lynn says:

    can this be made vegan?

    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hi Lynn – We haven’t tested this recipe with vegan ingredients. It seems like it would work. Just note, some vegan butter substitutes are softer than regular butter, so that might be a problem when preparing the icing. Let us know if you find something that works!

  11. denise says:

    This is the traditional icing for red velvet cake! I learned to make it years ago. It’s a great go-to.

  12. Loretta says:

    Frosting looks great. The cake looks great too. This reminds me of the old fashioned white wedding cake. No one makes this cake anymore and I’d love to find that recipe

  13. Emily says:

    Does this require refrigeration?

  14. Debra Vance says:

    I would like the Classic White Cake also, along the Ermine Frosting recipes. I have been looking for a successful white cake recipe that does not come out dry. Thank you

  15. Rebecca Leon says:

    is there a video tutorial for this?

  16. Etta Foster says:

    The question was asked, but not answered,

    With this frosting/icing would it be necessary to refrigerate the cake once iced/frosted?

  17. Sharon Harris says:

    Yes, due to the high butter content, it will melt after a while

  18. Elise says:

    Does this work with gluten free flour? I have Celiac Disease but would love to try this. I will check with some of my GF Baking sites but thought you may know the answer. Thank you. Elise

  19. Vikki McNeir says:

    This recipe will not let me print it off and does not say how much of anything except for the two cups of butter or 2 sticks, whatever it was. 🙁

  20. Leslie M Kennedy says:

    No sugar or vanilla in this?

  21. Suzanne Lucas says:

    Here is a link to a conversion chart you can use to convert US measure to UK measure.

  22. could someone please print the ermine frosting, classic white cake, and the red velvet frosting I am disabled and have been teaching my caregiver slowly how to make some desserts but like the one lady said some have gotten lost. I mostly type with one hand so it would help me soo much if I could just print it for her and me.
    thank you,
    Grammie B

  23. Marty Skagen says:

    I have used this icing for over 30 years. It is a great icing.

  24. Kirsten says:

    Is it possible to use gluten-free flour blend with the same results? Or arrowroot or cornstarch? Thank you.

    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hi Kristen – We haven’t tested this recipe with different flours. If you do, be sure to share your results with us!

  25. Erika C. says:

    My grandmother and great grandmother called this cooked frosting. I loved it as a kid, my grandma would make chocolate mayonnaise cake with cooked frosting and it was the best. It definitely took me a few tries to get it right when I started making it myself. Worth the effort tho.

  26. Gail Goldberg says:


    I have a grandchild who can’t have milk. Will this work with oat milk?
    I would also love to have the Classic White Cake recipe.

    Thanking you in advance.

  27. Rebecca S. says:

    Here is the Classic White Cake Recipe from this webpage: https://www.wilton.com/classic-white-cake/WLRECIP-483.html#start=1

  28. Jenny Pepper says:

    Sharyl – I’m also in the UK. It sounds very much like a ‘ mock cream ‘ recipe. You could Google the weight that is used in US cups.

  29. Carolyn Crawford Todd says:

    Is this the same type of icing once referred to as cooks like my mama in the 1950’s caller “divinity” boiled icing?

  30. Brett says:

    Yes, with this frosting you must refrigerate the whole cake

  31. Leonora says:

    Would love this icing and white cake teecipe

  32. Carol says:

    I would like to print out the ermine frosting recipe but don’t see a print link.

  33. Mary O'Brien says:

    Back when I sold decorate cakes, this was my frosting. I found it unsatisfactory for decorating.
    I would NEVER use artificial vanilla.
    The idea of stirring constantly put me off at first until I thought of the success of the microwave with cream sauces. I cook the blob for 2 minutes then whisk, then 1 minute, whisk and then 1 more minute. A double batch cooks for 2, 2, 1.
    I have never used plastic wrap but I always cool at room temperature, never in the fridge.
    Years ago Wilton called this French Buttercream.
    I am a butter lover but this was a bit too buttery for me. So, I cut back the butter to 1 1/2 sticks and added 1/4 cup Crisco.

  34. Deb Dougan says:

    I would like the recipe to the Classic White Cake also. I remember my mom making a cooked milk icing for a red velvet cake back in the early 1960s. I’ve taken down your Ermine Icing but would appreciate having the white cake recipe. It’s difficult to find one that’s not too dry.

    Deb D

  35. Herminia says:

    I would appreciate it if you could sent me the “Ermine Frosting Recipe” to my email address. Thank you.

  36. Herminia says:

    I would appreciate it if you could sent me the “Ermine Frosting Recipe” to my email address. Thank you.

    This is the first time I send a comment so how can I have a duplicate request.

  37. Julie Williamson says:

    I learned this as the traditional frosting for Southern Red Velvet cake and was surprised to learn most people consider cream cheese frosting to be the standard. I have won over many, many converts to this recipe!

  38. Emily… If you read the blog again, it is obvious to me that this frosting recipe is to be used just like buttercream. Therefore no, don’t keep a cake, once started and cut, in the fridge as it will go dry. I always firm up my cakes in the fridge, but once cut no. And it says to keep any excess frosting in the fridge just like you would with buttercream? Hope that helps.

  39. Please could Wilton publish imperial alongside cup measurements, or better still metric as well? In the UK we use both and cannot easily make Wilton recipes when you publish cups and ‘sticks’ only. Many thanks.

  40. Debbie says:

    Classic White Cake Recipe
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 cups sifted cake flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine (, softened)
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    3/4 cup milk
    5 egg whites
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Step 1
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9 in. round pans with vegetable cooking spray.
    Step 2
    In medium bowl, sift together flour and baking powder with salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy; add vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk; beat well after each addition. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; gently fold into batter. Divide evenly into prepared pans.
    Step 3
    Bake 33-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on rack; remove and cool completely before decorating.

  41. Nicole says:

    Can this icing be used to on decorated cakes that will be covered with fondant?

  42. Have you doubled the recipe? Or do you need to make single batches? How does this icing do for piping flowers?

    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hi Pat – Doubling the recipe should work but it will take longer to cool. The icing is softer than traditional buttercream so it may not hold up very well for piping flowers. Let us know how it turns out!

  43. Heather says:

    I will be trying out this recipe for the first time. My family doesn’t like the sweetness of traditional American buttercream and I’m excited to see if this one will be a hit. Can I use the Color Right system to color this frosting?

  44. Heather says:

    Desiree, thanks so much for answering so quickly! Trying this out tomorrow!

  45. Heather says:

    One more question, can the milk/flour mixture be cooled in the refrigerator overnight then brought to room temp for whipping into the butter? Also is this frosting pipeable? I was planning on using the grass tip.


    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hi Heather – As long as you warm the milk/flour mixture to room temp, it should be fine. Ermine frosting would probably be ok with a grass tip, but it is a softer icing, so that’s definitely something to be careful with. Let us know how it turns out!

  46. Lisa says:

    Here is the:


    1/4 Cup = 55 grm

    1/3 Cup = 73 grm

    1/2 Cup = 110 grm

    1 Cup = 220 grm

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