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Ermine Frosting

Have you ever tried Ermine Frosting? It’s a light, silky and cloud-like frosting similar to a buttercream, but not as sweet. Also known as “roux frosting,” “ermine icing,” or “boiled milk frosting” due to the style of preparation and ingredients.

This old-fashioned cooked frosting recipe is an incredible alternative to the overly-sweet American buttercream. Perfect for cakes, piped onto a cupcake or spread onto a sugar cookie. Ermine frosting is so light, fluffy and delicious, one taste and you’ll have a sweet spot for this beloved classic!

Cooked flour ermine frosting piped on a cupcake.

This old fashioned frosting also makes a great cake filling. It is light and fluffy and so so good in between layers of coconut cake or luscious chocolate cake.

What does Ermine frosting taste like?

Ermine frosting is ultra-light in texture, as fluffy as whipped cream but sweeter. Not as sweet as a thick buttercream, though.

A touch of vanilla and a dash of salt give ermine frosting a deliciously satisfying flavor. This vintage frosting is a wonderful choice for richly-flavored cakes like red velvet or chocolate. Plus, its firm consistency makes it easy to pipe, spread, and decorate with.

How to make Ermine frosting

The base of Ermine frosting is a roux. Surprised? Our Ermine frosting recipe only calls for six ingredients. The flour, sugar and milk are cooked together to form a sweet paste that is then whipped into butter. It’s creamy and rich, ultra luxurious and fluffy.

Here are the ingredients you will need to make Ermine frosting:

  • all-purpose flour. A strange ingredient to use in frosting but this is used to make a thick roux by cooking it with milk. The thick roux makes the buttercream light and fluffy.
  • granulated sugar. Using granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar will keep the buttercream from being overly sweet. We add the sugar into the roux so it dissolves easily. This will prevent the buttercream from having a granular consistency.
  • salt. Balances the sweetness and enhances the flavors.
  • whole milk. We recommend full-fat milk but reduced-fat milk will also work.
  • butter. Make sure the butter is room temperature.
  • vanilla extract. Flavor enhancer
Ingredients needed for cooked flour ermine frosting.

To make Ermine frosting, follow this simple process (and see all the full details at the bottom of the page):

  1. Make the roux: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the milk, stirring the mixture to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it becomes thick- the texture of pudding. Transfer it to a shallow dish, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to cool to room temperature. Cooling the roux to room temperature is KEY to success!
  2. Whip the frosting: Once the mixture has cooled, beat the softened butter until it is light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of the cooked mixture at a time, beating well after each spoonful. Repeat until all of the cooked mixture has been combined with the butter. Add vanilla and continue beating until it is fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Mixture of sugar, milk and flour for Ermine Frosting

Does Ermine frosting need to be refrigerated?

This Ermine frosting recipe will make enough of the old-fashioned, luxurious frosting to cover a 3 layer, 9-inch cake. It is ready to use once it’s made and it doesn’t need to be chilled beforehand.

However, any leftover frosting should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

To use stored frosting, simply bring it to room temperature and then rewhip it using a mixer.

Fluffy frosting on mixer whisk

More sweet details and tips

Ermine frosting is generally simple to make, even if you’ve never followed this vintage method before. Here are some tips for getting perfectly fluffy frosting every time!

  • The cooked mixture should be completely cooled to room temperature- that means not even a hint of warmth! To cool it even faster, you can spread it out on a plate or place it in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
  • To soften cold butter, place it on a plate unwrapped, then let it sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Room temperature butter will register 65°F with an instant read thermometer or leave an indentation when gently pressed.
  • A quick way to soften butter is to use a cheese grater. Grate the cold butter into small flakes and it will soften within a few minutes.
Layer cake covered with Ermine Frosting

This is a lovely, creamy and buttery frosting that you will gush over!

More flavorful than whipped cream but not too sweet, it’s easy to see why this old-fashioned decadence was once a part of most bakers’ frosting repertoire.

Let’s give it a proper comeback, shall we? 😉

Frequently asked questions:

Why is my Ermine frosting runny?

The frosting will be runny if you don’t let the roux (cooked flour mixture) cool down completely. Make sure it isn’t still warm when you add it to the whipped butter.

Can you make this frosting in advance?

Absolutely! You can make this frosting several days or even months in advance. Store it in the fridge for one week or in the freezer for three months.

Make sure you let it come to room temperature before using it. For best results re-whip it with an electric mixer to revive the ‘fluffiness’

Is Ermine frosting stable in hot weather?

It is more stable than traditional American buttercream but it will still get pretty soft if the weather is too hot.

Cooked flour ermine frosting in a bowl next to some cupcakes and a piping bag.

Go ahead and use this as a cake filling too. It is especially delicious with red velvet cake.


  • Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: Who doesn’t love chocolate! Our Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting gives you a double dose of intens chocolate that whips up into a rich, creamy frosting.
  • Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream: A smooth, creamy American Buttercream frosting made with butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. The consistency of this frosting is easily adjusted to cover a cake, pipe on cupcakes or as a stuffing for sandwich cookies.
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting: A moist and tender chocolate cupcake topped of with a smooth and creamy peanut butter frosting and a garnish of mini Reeses’ peanut butter cups.


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Fluffy frosting on mixer whisk

Ermine Frosting

Yield: 4 to 4-1/2 cups of frosting
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ermine frosting is an old-fashioned cooked frosting recipe that is light, silky and fluffy as a cloud. A great alternative to the overly-sweet American buttercream frosting.


  • 2/3 cup (80 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together.
  2. Add the milk, stirring to combine.  Cook over medium heat, stirring continually until the mixture becomes thick and pudding-like.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a shallow dish. Cover with plastic wrap, set on the countertop or the fridge, and allow to cool to room temperature (or to about 65°F).  
  3. Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the cooled cooked mixture a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition until all of the cooked mixture is incorporated into the butter. Add the vanilla and continue beating the frosting until it is creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  
  4. This recipe will cover a 3 layer, 9-inch cake with a luxurious, awesome frosting to die for.  Store any leftover frosting in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature and re-whip.


  • The key to a perfectly fluffy ermine frosting is having the cooked mixture at room temperature without even a hint of warmth. To cool it quickly you can spread it out on a plate to bring it to room temperature. Alternatively, you can place it into the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
  • Let the butter come to room temperature before you start beating it.
  • Room temperature butter will register 65°F with an instant-read thermometer, or leave an indentation when gently pressed with a finger.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 64 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 10Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Kris Marie

Friday 11th of March 2022

Yay! I found it! Thank you!

Dahn Boquist

Friday 11th of March 2022

Hooray! Glad you found it.


Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Just a question. Can margarine be used instead if butter. Have you tried this?

Dahn Boquist

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

I haven't tried it but it should work if you use stick margarine. I don't think it would work if you use the soft margarine that comes in a tub for spreading.


Thursday 29th of April 2021

My mother made this frosting using cornstarch rather than flour. Ever hear of that?

Pat Nyswonger

Thursday 29th of April 2021

Hi, Pamela...No, I have never heard of using cornstarch for this recipe but it really sounds interesting and I just may have to give it a try....thanks for your feedback!


Tuesday 13th of April 2021

I made this recipe. It was so easy to follow your instructions. However, it looked like my frosting split. What do you think would have caused that? Everything was room temp as instructed.

Dahn Boquist

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

That will happen when there is an issue with the temperature. "Room temperature" probably isn't specific enough since temperatures will vary from household to household. If you have trouble with buttercream in the future then the best temperature for the butter is to be between 65°F and 70°F. I will clarify the temperature in the recipe. It's easy to fix broken or curdled buttercream. If it is curdled and chunky then it is too cold and you can hold the bowl over some steam while you whisk the buttercream. On the other hand, if the buttercream is loose and thin then it is likely too warm and you can stick it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes then re-whip it. I hope that helps, thanks for the question.


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

I searched tons of recipes for Ermine Frosting and this one was the most clear with the video and step by step pictures! I made this for a bridal shower and everyone loved it! Will definitely be making this again! Thank you for a great recipe!

Pat Nyswonger

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Hey, Sara...thank you for this great review. This is one creamy, delicious frosting and a video is "worth a thousand words" when describing the 'how-to make it'. Happy to hear that it was a hit at the bridal shower.

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