Bold Baking Basics

Make The Perfect Ermine Frosting

4.82 from 22 votes
My perfected Ermine Frosting recipe is wonderful for cakes, as it's less sweet than buttercream yet not as thick as cream cheese frosting!
A red velvet cake topped with easy ermine frosting.

Hi Bold Bakers!

I’ll just say it — sometimes frosting can be too sweet. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a sweet frosting when what it’s on balances everything out, and my Ermine Frosting recipe is still sweet, it’s just not overly so! That’s why it pairs perfectly with things like my Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake recipe.

Made from a roux, my easy Ermine Frosting only has six ingredients to make such a classic and beloved frosting that you might have never had or heard of before — but you’ll never forget once you try it! Let me explain a little more about where it comes from and what sets it apart.

What Is Ermine Frosting?

Ermine frosting is the perfect frosting if you don’t like the thickness of a cream cheese frosting or the super sweetness of a buttercream frosting. It was used often in the early 1900s but has since seen a resurgence in popularity. You might be able to find it under other names in old recipe books, like Flour Frosting, Boiled Milk Icing, or Butter Roux Icing.

Ermine frosting, which gets its name from the expensive white fur that is made from stoats’ winter coats, is made by cooking flour and sugar with milk until it becomes a paste. Then, that paste is whipped with butter, and vanilla and salt are added. 

Ermine Frosting in a sauce pan after being freshly made.

What You Need To Make The Perfect Ermine Frosting

How To Make Ermine Frosting

Ermine Frosting is simple to make — and it all begins with an easy roux. It’s no wonder it’s becoming a popular frosting again. Here’s how you make it (and get all of the measurements in the written recipe, further down on the page).

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Cook for roughly 2 minutes — this is to toast the flour.
  2. Then, slowly add in the milk, whisking to combine. You’ll want to whisk continuously until the mixture simmers and has thickened and is the consistency of thick pudding. Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and set aside to cool completely for roughly 2 hours. (This mixture can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.)
  3. Next, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until light and fluffy, roughly 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slowly add in the cooled flour mixture one spoon at a time as you whip. Lastly, add in the vanilla and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. Set aside until needed.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Ermine Frosting

  • Allow the roux to cool before adding your butter to it.
  • If you are gluten-free you can use a gluten-free 1:1 all-purpose flour. Note: I don’t recommend nut flour.
  • Use salted butter for your frosting for added flavor.
  • Use your Ermine frosting to decorate my Best Ever Red Velvet Cake.

A slice of red velvet cake topped with my ermine frosting recipe.

How To Store Ermine Frosting

You can make this frosting up to 2 days in advance before you need it. Keep it in the fridge.

Make More Toppings!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Perfect Ermine Frosting Recipe

4.82 from 22 votes
My perfected Ermine Frosting recipe is wonderful for cakes, as it's less sweet than buttercream yet not as thick as cream cheese frosting!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 4 cups
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
My perfected Ermine Frosting recipe is wonderful for cakes, as it's less sweet than buttercream yet not as thick as cream cheese frosting!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons (7oz/199g) (granulated sugar)
  • cup (1 ½oz/43g) all purpose flour
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8floz/225ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) butter (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Cook for roughly 2 minutes to toast the flour.
  • Slowly add in the milk, whisking to combine. Whisk continuously until the mixture simmers and has thickened and is the consistency of thick pudding. Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and set aside to cool completely, roughly 2 hours. (This mixture can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.)
  • Next, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until light and fluffy, roughly 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add in the cooled flour mixture one spoon at a time as you whip. Lastly, add in the vanilla and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. Set aside until needed.
  • Decorate my Red Velvet Cake with this frosting.

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Stephanie Magdiel
23 days ago

This is the frosting that I grew up with, when my mother would make Red Velvet cakes. I had never even heard of putting cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake until I was an adult. I still much prefer this frosting to anything else, it is delicious and totally worth it!

Lori S
Lori S
23 days ago

Gemma, This is my favorite frosting and the only one I’ll use for red velvet cake (always my choice of birthday cake growing up!) My mom called it Peg’s Frosting as she got the recipe from a family friend of the same name. No one else I’ve met seemed to know what I was talking about when I described it, but everyone loves it. Thanks for sharing the history of the recipe! I highly recommend it to everyone; it’s delicious!!!

Laura
13 days ago

Hi Gemma
Is this suitable for piping?
Could it be made into a chocolate version somehow?
Thanks,
Laura

Sharon
Sharon
22 days ago

Thank you so much. Red Velvet with this icing was my favorite growing up! I got my mom’s recipe and used it often but lost it in a flood. None of the other family members remembered how to make it. I have looked and looked online but did not know what to call it so I had not found it yet. I am a happy camper to be able to make this again.

COLLEEN PATTEN
COLLEEN PATTEN
22 days ago

I received this recipe from a friend about 20 years ago and made it all the time. My children ate it out of the bowl. If anyone remembers :Whip & Chill”, it tastes just like that. I added Nestle’s QUIK to it and it was delicious.

terrie
terrie
22 days ago

my mom used to make this – she would add cocoa to make chocolate version – but my fav was when she would add drained pineapple tidbit

Pamela Dalton
Pamela Dalton
22 days ago

can this recipe be made using margarine instead of butter? I know butter tastes so much better but where I live the butter is really expensive!

Yvette
Yvette
23 days ago

This really is a wonderful frosting!
Normally I and my husband find frostings to sweet. This one we both love.
Thanks 💕

Sonia
23 days ago

Gemma- how does one store any leftovers of this icing ? How long will it stay fresh ? Thanks.

knittingkitty
23 days ago

Do you know if this can be made Gluten free? Thanks.

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!