This ancient 7-minute frosting recipe is light, delicious and easy to make. A bright white frosting that’s perfect for cakes, cupcakes, and more.
Your grandmother’s favorite frosting! But not like your grandmother used to…
thought I’d finished posting frosting tutorials for a while, but I keep listening/discovering new ones (thanks to you!) so I can’t help it.
Today, I share this classic 7-minute frosting.
What is 7-minute frosting?
The seven-minute glaze (or boiled icing) is basically a Swiss meringue. Cook the egg whites and sugar and beats. It’s called 7-minute frosting because that’s how long you need to cook/beat it.
The traditional recipe calls for beating the meringue over a double boiler with a hand mixer. This is too “practical” for my taste, so I’m doing it the same way I make meringue for my Swiss meringue buttercream.
How to make 7-minute
Making this frosting comes down to a few simple steps:
Clean your tools
- (don’t skip this)
- Beat for 7 minutes
- Add flavoring
Cook egg whites and sugar
Step #1 – Clean Your Tools Clean everything that will come into contact with
. Things like:
- Small bowls
- Bowl of the stand-up mixer
- Measuring cup
- Standing mixer
used to separate eggs
(to be used to collect sugar)
This will help ensure that your icing (also known as meringue) is prepared correctly.
Step #2 – Heat the Eggs and Sugar
Once you’ve separated your eggs (I don’t recommend cardboard whites, read on to find out why), place them, sugar and cream of tartar in your mixing bowl and place the bowl over a pot with 1-2″ boiling water. This is called a double boiler, or water bath.
If you don’t have a bowl mixer model, simply use a different bowl (ideally metal, better heat transfer) that you’ve cleaned and then transfer the mixture to your standing mixer bowl when it’s cooked so you can beat it.
Do not let the bottom of the container touch the water.
Stir the mixture constantly with a whisk to make sure the egg whites cook evenly. This process will take 2 to 3 minutes (sometimes longer) depending on the amount of egg whites you are working with and how hard the water simmers.
The mixture is ready when it is hot and no longer grainy to the touch. Use a candy thermometer to check that you have reached 160F. This is the most accurate way to make sure your whites are fully cooked.
Then, dip a (clean) finger into the mixture and rub it between your thumb and forefinger. If there is some granulosity, keep cooking it until all the sugar is dissolved.
Step #3 – Beat the Meringue
Remove the mixer bowl from the
pot, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and place it in your stand-up mixer (or transfer the mixture to your tilting head mixer
Attach the whisk attachment and start beating.
I usually start it at high speed (about 8-9 on my KitchenAid). You will see that it begins to thicken.
Beat for 5-7 minutes or until the meringue is stiff. You will know if your meringue was successful if it has a stiff beak. Here’s what it should look like: no fallen peaks!
If your meringue is droopy or soft, it has likely been affected by fat, yolk or cardboard whites. See Step #1. Unfortunately, if this happens, you will have to start over. There is no way to save the frosting at this point.
Step #4 – Add Flavoring
Stream in vanilla or another flavoring while the meringue is churning. If you’re adding an oil-based flavoring, I recommend folding it so you don’t deflate the meringue.
Can I use a hand mixer?
You can make this frosting in a couple of ways using a hand mixer.
- You can do it the traditional way and beat the frosting while cooking over the double boiler or
- repeat the steps above, but use a hand mixer instead of a standing mixer to prepare it.
It’s a bit more practical this way, but it will work totally fine.
Help! My meringue will not shake Meringue
is very susceptible to fat. If even a speck of fat comes into contact with egg whites, it could prevent the meringue from stirring completely, or not at all. You could be left with a soup mess.
This includes traces of egg yolk (fat). Separate the eggs one at a time and in a separate bowl before putting them in the bowl of the mixer. You don’t want a cracked yolk to ruin the whole group.
Yolk traces are the biggest culprits of a failed meringue. That’s why I don’t recommend using cardboard egg whites. It cannot guarantee that they are completely free of yolk. I, personally, have not had a successful and rigid meringue using cardboard whites.
Another important tip is not to use plastic tools, especially bowls. Plastic has a tendency to retain grease no matter how thoroughly it is cleaned.
Stick to metal (preferred, better for heat transfer) or glass bowls.
Cream of tartar cream
helps stabilize egg whites and make
a more resistant meringue. I
don’t usually use it when I make Swiss meringue buttercream, but since we’re making a simple meringue, it’s good to add it
However, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have any. The frosting will still turn out may not remain fluffy that long.
For an even more stable version of this frosting, you can make homemade marshmallow fluff. It uses an Italian meringue method that also helps stabilize whites. You can see the difference in stiffness of the two below.
Storage and perishable
For best results, frosting should be used immediately. It will start to curdle a bit and it might be difficult to work with, so I recommend icing your cake or cupcakes with it right away.
It should last a day or so on the cake/cupcakes, but it will soften over time and develop a crust. I’ve had more lasting success with meringue burning.
It holds up better in heat than a butter-based frosting, but may not last as long (softens/deflates) unless roasted.
This helps maintain the shape on the outside, but will remain a bit softer and more liquid on the inside as time goes on.
You can store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer (in a glass container, not plastic), but you will lose some stiffness over time. You’ll have to bring it to room temperature and beat it again, but it won’t have as stiff a beak as you initially had.
You can still use it though, in something like these Fluffernutter cookie cups, or even in good Krispie rice treats.
The seven-minute frosting is light and airy, like marshmallow fluff. It’s delicious! Perfect for those people who don’t like buttery frosting.
It’s a bit sticky and may not be the easiest to work with, but it tubes beautifully and looks amazing with a rustic icing technique.
Definitely a frosting recipe to have in your repertoire!
Looking for more frosting recipes?
- Ermine Frosting
- Meringue Buttercream
- American buttercream
- Homemade marshmallow fluff
Tips for this seven-minute frosting recipe: Clean
- all your tools with vinegar or lemon juice to make sure they are fat-free.
- Separate your eggs into a separate, smaller bowl so that if one of the yolks breaks, you haven’t ruined the lot.
- Do not use cardboard egg whites, they are not prepared so well.
- Use it immediately for best results. See Storage and Perishable for more tips.