Bold Baking Basics

Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting

4.29 from 21 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.

More Recipes!

If you loved this recipe, you’re going to love these, too.

Check out my new cookbook, Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day, for more delicious cake, cupcake, and frosting recipes!

Classic Lemon Ermine Frosting Recipe

4.29 from 21 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 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chill for 1 hour
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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DonnaCollins
DonnaCollins
1 year ago

In the photo of these cupcakes, the icing looks curdled… It is not smooth. Is there any way to make it smooth?

Mary
Mary
1 year ago

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

Joli
Joli
1 year 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
1 year 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 »

Paula
Paula
8 months ago

I’m sorry but this is not the way ermine frosting should look. It should be smooth and fluffy. In this picture the frosting looks grainy. All of the recipes that I am familiar with require beating the room temperature butter until fluffy and then adding the room temp pudding mixture in small amounts at a time to the butter and beating thoroughly between additions of the pudding to the butter.

Betty M.
Betty M.
10 months ago

Made this today. Not sure I like the greasy mouth feel.
I notice you do not include any salt in your recipe as some others do, which surprised me, as you are a big believer in the role of salt in sweets. Was the omission an oversight? I tried adding some and I think it definitely improved the taste.

Pamela Stoliker
Pamela Stoliker
1 year ago

Hi, this sounds wonderful. Does cake/cupcakes need to be refrigerated??

Nicole Desaulnier
Nicole Desaulnier
1 year ago

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

Quinn
Quinn
1 year 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 year 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.

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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