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Ermine or Boiled-Milk Frosting

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This frosting is so fluffy, creamy and delicious.  It tastes a lot like whipped cream and whipped cream frosting is what it was called when I was introduced to it. Now I know that it’s also called Ermine or Boiled-Milk Frosting.  No matter what you call it, it’s good!

cupcake with ermine frosting rosette and sprinkles

This frosting is fluffy and smooth and perfect.  It starts by boiling milk and flour together to make a paste and that is whipped into butter to make a frosting that isn’t super sweet, but is really light and airy. 

It is a lot like whipped cream, but more stable.  It is a classic topping for red velvet cake, but is great in a variety of applications!

Reader Kathy Commented: This was great! Had a very old family recipe for chocolate layer cake but the frosting recipe was lost. Creamy & not too sweet! ★★★★★

Reader Lorna Commented: How I have spent 34 years of life not knowing this frosting existed is beyond me. Technically I knew this frosting existed but had no idea it was not buttercream. I have been searching for a buttercream for years that tastes like this does to no avail… which makes sense since it is not in fact buttercream! Thank you so much for sharing, this will definitely be my go to frosting recipe for the rest of forever!! ★★★★★

It is hard to believe, but I have been making this frosting for 10 years now!  I was working with my friend Vicki and her birthday was coming up.  Of course I had to bake her a cake!

She requested red velvet cake with whipped cream frosting.   I had never heard of such a thing, other than the frosting some grocery stores call whipped cream.

Balloon whisk mixer attachment filled with fluffy white boiled milk frosting.

As far as I knew, red velvet cakes were topped with cream cheese frosting.  Apparently this is quite a point for debate, is it ermine frosting or cream cheese frosting that is the proper way to frost a red beauty.

Vicki was obviously on team boiled milk frosting and I am always happy to try a new frosting!  She searched for the recipe of the exact thing she was talking about.

I had certainly never made a cooked frosting like this!  I had melted chocolate for frosting before and made Marlene’s Fudge Frosting, but never something quite like this.

I instantly fell in love.  This frosting is not too sweet, it is just right.  

The flavor is subtle, a lot like whipped cream!  However it does have better holding time and you don’t have to worry about mixing it too long and turning into butter… it is already butter!

Whisk with thick paste of cooked milk, flour, and sugar mixture with remaining paste in saucepan below.

The key is getting the flour and milk paste correct.  It will still taste good even if it isn’t perfect, but if you don’t cook it long enough the frosting will be loose.

If you don’t stir it well enough, you could get small lumps.  If you scorch it, well then you better start over!

 It really isn’t that hard.  Just don’t be afraid to let it thicken and be sure to stand there stirring it while it happens.

The first time I made this for my family everyone loved it.  I made a couple of brownies, covered them in whipped cream frosting and topped them in berries.

Everyone was asking for the recipe.  Since then I have used the basic a idea for a number of other recipes.  I love the final texture it gets.

If made properly you could certainly frost a layer cake with it with no problem! You can also use it to pipe onto cupcake or do embellishments on your cake. 

I don’t think I would use it to do anything too detailed or small.  It is a softer frosting and likely wouldn’t hold a perfect shape.

However it is perfect for ruffly piles, borders and large rosettes.  If you want to do anything too detailed, I would chill the frosting before and after piping it to make sure it has its best shot at holding.

Slice of rolo poke cake with caramel, whipped frosting and candy bits, ready to eat.

Of course this frosting is great on red velvet cake and the brownies with berries as I described above.  I also used it on my Rolo poke cake and that was scrumptious if I do say so myself!

This frosting was also the perfect way to wrap a blackberry shortcake cake too! It really gives the feeling of whipped cream but with less worry!

close up of first slice of blackberry shortcake cake being removed from the cake.

Tips and Tricks for making Ermine/Boiled Milk Frosting

Getting the milk and flour paste just right is the key.  You want it to be a thick paste before you remove it from the heat.

Be sure to keep stirring it, especially as it thickens. You don’t want it to scorch on the bottom of the pan.

Originally I made the paste from just the flour and milk and added the sugar with the butter in the mixer. After a really long mixing period, it dissolves and isn’t grainy. 

Lately I’ve taken to adding the sugar to the milk and flour to make sure it is dissolved.

cupcake topped with boiled milk frosting and sprinkles.

If the frosting seems a bit loose when you are done, there is a chance your butter was over softened or your paste wasn’t all the way cooled.  Try placing the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for 15 or 20 minutes and whipping it again.

If it is still loose, the paste probably wasn’t thick enough.  A bit of powdered sugar or heat treated flour can help tighten it up this time.

Just cook your paste a little longer next time! 

Have you ever made a boiled milk frosting? What is your favorite cooked frosting?

Frequently Asked Questions

Does boiled milk frosting get hard?

Boiled milk frosting does not form a crust. If you need to set the frosting, using the refrigerator is the way to go.

The frosting will get soft again once it is at room temperature. If you need a frosting that crusts, try crusting buttercream.

Does ermine frosting pipe well?

Yes, ermine frosting can be used to pipe simple decorations. If you find the frosting is too soft to pipe, chill it for 10-15 minutes and try again.

If you are a frosting fanatic like me, check out my Frosting 101. It goes through the different types of frosting and links to all sorts of delicious recipes!

cupcake with ermine frosting rosette and sprinkles

Ermine Boiled Milk Frosting

Servings: 12 Servings (3 cups)
Author: Carlee
This frosting is fluffy and smooth and perfect. It starts by boiling milk and flour together to make a paste and that is whipped into butter to make a frosting that isn't super sweet, but is really light and airy. It is a lot like whipped cream, but more stable. It is a classic topping for red velvet cake, but is great in a variety of applications!
4.80 from 43 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter softened (must be real butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • This first step is the most crucial part to this frosting turning out. In a saucepan, whisk together the flour and sugar. Add the milk a few tablespoons at a time to get started. Stir until there are no lumps. Once you have a smooth paste, add the remaining milk and stir until combined. Turn on the burner to medium heat. Continue to whisk and cook until the mixture thickens to a paste consistency. You want it to be pretty thick. It will be tempting to walk away and so something else, but don’t. Once it starts to thicken it will go really quickly and it is important you don’t get lumps or scorch the bottom. Place paste in the refrigerator to cool.
    5 Tablespoons all purpose flour, 1 cup milk, 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Once paste is room temperature or cooler, add butter and vanilla to mixer bowl. Turn on low and stir until smooth. Add flour/milk paste and whip on high for about 10 minutes. Don’t try to cut the time short, you really want to whip a lot of air into it.
    1 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Spread on cakes, cupcakes, cookies or whatever scrumptious treat you are making!


This recipe makes about 3 cups of frosting, which is plenty for a 9×13-inch cake. It can also frost 12-18 cupcakes depending on how generous you are with the frosting. It will cover an 8 or 9 inch layer cake with a thing coating of frosting, but you may want to make a little bit extra if you want extra to decorate it. 



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 149kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 1gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 88mgSugar: 11g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.80 from 43 votes (36 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Tuesday 16th of July 2024

Should the frosting get hard in the fridge? I’ve made some before and when I refrigerated my cake the frosting got quite hard and fell off the cake.


Tuesday 16th of July 2024

It will definitely get more firm in the fridge. The butter is soft at room temperature, but much harder when chilled. It shouldn't fall off the cake though. Most butter based frostings get firm in the fridge, but bakers usually use that to their advantage. I haven't seen it cause those kinds of issues.


Sunday 31st of March 2024

How many cups of frosting does this recipe make? The "18 servings" amount isn't clear.

When I frost a layer cake, I use 3/4-1 cup frosting in the middle, and about 2-1/2 cups around the sides and top.

Thank you for sharing this recipe!


Sunday 31st of March 2024

It makes about 3 cups of frosting. So, it will do a light coat on a layer cake but you can scale it up a bit if you want a little more.


Saturday 30th of March 2024

This was great! Had a very old family recipe for chocolate layer cake but the frosting recipe was lost. Creamy & not too sweet!


Friday 15th of December 2023

Thank you for this recipe! My mom used to make Red Velvet Cake with a similar frosting that used Crisco (I refuse to use Crisco). I'm thrilled to find one that doesn't use Crisco or Cream Cheese. Can I use whipping cream in place of milk.


Friday 15th of December 2023

Yay! Yes, I prefer butter to shortening as well. Whipping cream should make it even more creamy and delicious.


Sunday 3rd of December 2023

Can this frosted cake be frozen. I’m planning to make a red velvet checkerboard cake for my daughter’s birthday. I’ll have to travel 2 1/2 hrs with the cake and I think it will travel better if it is frozen.


Monday 4th of December 2023

I think that's a great idea!