Bold Baking Basics

Make The Perfect Ermine Frosting

4.86 from 28 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

4.86 from 28 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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Marcela CS

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Lori S
6 months 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!!!

Bonnie Benham
Bonnie Benham
5 months ago

I am so pleased to find this recipe! The high school I went to (over 50 years ago) made a red velvet cake with this frosting they called Waldorf Astoria cake. It was my favorite and the only day I’d double down on the dessert! I’ll be making one very soon!!!
Thanks for Sharing

Sharon
Sharon
5 months 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.

Eileen B
Eileen B
6 months ago

I have been looking for a recipe like this for some time. Most icings are so sweet and if this is creamy and not so sweet, then I will sure be happy. Thank you ! I will comment in a few days and let you how it worked out. Hopefully, I won’t mess it up

Stephanie Magdiel
6 months 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!

Jen
Jen
6 days ago

Hi Gemma, I’ve been doing this ermine frosting for my previous cake projects it was really nice and crowd pleaser..👍😊 however,my problem was sometimes it becomes runny even I put it in the fridge for half to 1 hr before re-whipping it and ended up wasting the whole batch. Can you make a video on how to troubleshoot a runny ermine frosting especially like us living in the middle east..I really like this frosting coz I can’t stand the sweetness of classic buttercream 😅 I wanted to perfect this frosting that’s why I try to add shortening and cream cheese… Read more »

vina
vina
16 days ago

Hi Gemma,
I havent tried this recipe, but i have a plan to make it
I live in Indonesia that has hot temperatures sometimes (around 30 degree C)
I want to ask, does this buttercream can stand against hot temperature ? or they will easily melt ?
And which one do you prefer to use, salted or unsalted butter?
thank you

Last edited 16 days ago by vina
Agnes
Agnes
1 month ago

I have been making a variation of this recipe for about 40 years. My family loves it. But, I have always struggled to get a smooth consistency. There was always extra steps to take. Your recipe is wonderful! I get the right consistency every time. We enjoy this because it is not too sweet. Thank you for simplifying the process!

Lisa
Lisa
2 months ago

I made a red velvet cake last week for a friend’s birthday, and totally scoffed at this ‘ermine’ cooked frosting, stubbornly preparing a cream cheese frosting, which I insisted was ‘the only real way’ to frost a red velvet cake. My friend and her husband both loved it, but upon taking my first bite, I knew right away the cream cheese frosting a) overpowered the delicate flavors of the cake and b) was waaaaay too sweet (at least for my own taste). The disappointment stayed with me and , attempting to redeem myself, I baked another for my family over… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Lisa
Jemimah Orake
Jemimah Orake
4 months ago

Hi Gemma can this icing stand heat or it needs to be refrigerated?

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!