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Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting

4.75 from 4 votes
My Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting recipe is bright, fluffy, and loaded with lemon flavor that you cannot resist.
A plate of cupcakes with lemon ermine frosting.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHAT YOU GET: A fluffy, bright, lemony Ermine frosting recipe that’s perfect for any lemony dessert lover.

My homemade lemon ermine frosting is the perfect cake topper for those who want a dessert that isn’t incredibly sweet — and it’s just as easy as making traditional buttercream. This flour buttercream is made by making a roux and flavored with fresh lemon juice, a bit of lemon extract, and lemon zest for both color and to really make the frosting lemony and pack a good punch. It’s all the lemon flavor but without the pucker! 

Ermine frosting is great for those who don’t like the thickness of cream cheese frosting or the sweetness of American buttercream. Try making my delicious Lemon Cake using this frosting! 

Cupcakes with lemon ermine frosting on a plate.

What Is Ermine Frosting?

Ermine frosting, which is also called flour frosting, boiled milk icing, and butter roux icing, has been used since the early 1900s, and it has since had a resurgence in popularity. You’ve likely had traditional Ermine frosting on a red velvet cake

How Do You Make A Roux For Ermine Frosting?

To make Ermine frosting, you first have to make a roux by whisking the milk, sugar, and flour in a saucepan over medium-low heat. It should become a pudding or paste-like texture. Then, once cooled, you whip in the butter and lemon ingredients. You end up with a super light frosting that is smooth and creamy — and you can’t taste the flour, trust me.

Tools You Need To Make Lemon Ermine Frosting

A close up of lemon ermine frosting.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Lemon Ermine Frosting

  • Whisk your sugar, lemon juice, and flour mixture thoroughly before heating to ensure no lumps.
  • Keep the heat to medium-low and whisk constantly for even heating and a lump-free end result.
  • Don’t skip the straining step. Even with medium-low heat and constant whisking, some of the cooking flour can get lumpy, and you want to make sure that your frosting is nice and smooth.
  • It is best to let the milk mixture cool to room temperature on the counter. Do not try to speed this up in the refrigerator. If you are pressed for time, you can whisk the hot mixture with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes until it cools down.
  • Make absolutely sure that the flour mixture is cool before you add the butter or you will end up with a soupy mess! Add the butter gradually to allow the frosting to emulsify.

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Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting Recipe

4.75 from 4 votes
My Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting recipe is bright, fluffy, and loaded with lemon flavor that you cannot resist.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 4 cups
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Chill for 1 hr
My Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting recipe is bright, fluffy, and loaded with lemon flavor that you cannot resist.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (16floz/480ml) whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups (12oz/340g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (2½oz/71g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (12oz/345g) unsalted butter (softened and sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan whisk the milk, sugar, and flour until smooth and then place over medium-low heat.
  • Heat and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Continue cooking and whisking for about just one or two more minutes, until the mixture thickens but not browned.
  • Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a medium bowl. Place some plastic wrap over the surface of the mixture and let cool completely to room temperature (about 1 hour).
  • Place the milk mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer) and whisk on medium speed.
  • Gradually add in the softened butter, a few slices at a time, until fully incorporated.
  • Once the butter is whipped in, whisk in the lemon juice, extract and zest.
  • Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Let come back up to room temperature and re-whisk before using for the best spreading consistency.
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Mary
Mary
1 month ago

Is there a way to substitute corn starch for the flour in this ermine frosting?

Joli
Joli
1 month ago

This must be new to you. I learned from my grandmother. She always used fresh lemon juice, zest, extract, until she found the lemon oil. I also make orange same way using orange juice, zest, and oil. And lime. I get the oils from King Arthur in a 3 pack. So 3 generations I know have made this for lemon cakes. I never heard of using cream cheese to make frosting till about 10 years ago. I thought all frosting made this way. Then you add flavorings. Even chocolate.

Craig
Craig
3 days ago

While I was reading this recipe, I thought about surprising some family members for Mother’s Day, this past weekend. I did notice that the pro tips stated to “whisk sugar, lemon juice, and flour”. Thought that was a very small amount of liquid to make a roux. So I used the method in the directions. With one small change. I started warming the milk, and whisked the sugar in simultaneously. I slowly added the flour in tablespoon measures while whisking. In 15 minutes the roux stiffened in 60 seconds. Amazing!! My goal was to present a new frosting idea. I… Read more »

Nicole Desaulnier
Nicole Desaulnier
1 month ago

Looks amazing! What cupcake/cake recipes would work well with this?

Quinn
Quinn
1 month ago

I like the vanilla version. If I just leave out the lemon and add a little vanilla paste would that be the vanilla version? OR do I need anythin else? My Mom always made the red cake with this frosting

Brigid
Brigid
1 month ago

Can’t wait to try this! My Aunt Lorraine made a vanilla version of this (many years ago!) and it was my favorite frosting.

Brenda Ferraro
Brenda Ferraro
1 month ago

I’ve been looking for lemon recipes to use up my husband’s Meyer Lemons. I’ll definitely be trying this.

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!

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