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Ermine Frosting

Ermine Frosting is the Goldilocks of buttercream. It’s less sweet than American Buttercream and a little sweeter than Meringue Buttercream. This old-fashioned frosting is juuuust right!

a vanilla iced cake on a cake stand

All About Ermine Frosting:

Ermine frosting is known by many names; boiled-milk frosting, roux frosting, Heritage frosting and flour frosting to name a few.

Whatever you call it, this is an old-fashioned recipe that starts with a pudding base. Then you add the pudding to whipped butter to make a light, luscious and versatile cake frosting.

Because the sugar is cooked into the “pudding” base, there is no grittiness in this frosting. What you have is a creamy, airy buttercream with a lovely milky flavor.

Ermine is the traditional frosting for Red Velvet cake. I love to use it as the base for Malted Chocolate Frosting and to frost Malted Milk Blondies. Use coconut milk in the pudding to make Coconut Rum Frosting.

Scroll through the step by step process photos to see how to make Ermine Frosting:

pudding base for ermine frosting before and after cooking
Stir together the sugar, flour and milk. Cook until it is thick like pudding.
butter base for ermine frosting before and after adding pudding
Whip the butter, then add the “pudding” and mix it until combined.
ermine frosting before and after whipping
Switch the to whisk and whip until light and fluffy

FAQs about Ermine Frosting:

Does Ermine Frosting need to be refrigerated?

Yes, because it’s made with milk, Ermine frosting should be refrigerated.

Can I freeze Ermine Frosting?

Yes, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap in a double layer of plastic to prevent it from picking up off-flavors in the freezer. After defrosting, rewhip to revive the buttercream.

Can Ermine Frosting be tinted?

Yes, add food coloring to the pudding base or to the whipped buttercream.

How long does Ermine Frosting keep?

The frosting will keep up to a week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

How do I thicken Ermine Frosting?

If your Ermine frosting is runny either the butter was too soft or the pudding was warm when added to the butter. Chill the frosting briefly and then re-whip.

Why is my Ermine Frosting curdled and runny?

The pudding was probably too warm when added to the butter. Chill the frosting briefly and then re-whip.

Is Ermine Frosting a crusting buttercream?

No, Ermine frosting will not form a crust. It will firm up a bit in the refrigerator. For a true crusting buttercream make American Buttercream.

a spatula dropping frosting onto a cake
a small spatula icing a cake with ermine frosting

If you’d like to try a slightly richer version of this frosting, here’s a recipe for German Buttercream. German Buttercream has an egg custard base instead of a pudding base.

An if you love chocolate, try this Malted Chocolate Frosting which is a version of Ermine Frosting.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a spatula dropping ermine frosting onto a red velvet cake

Ermine Frosting

Yield: Enough to fill & frost an 8" cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ermine Frosting is the Goldilocks of buttercream. It's less sweet than American Buttercream and a little sweeter than Meringue Buttercream. This old-fashioned frosting is just right! Because the sugar is cooked into the “pudding” base, there is no grittiness in this frosting.


  • 1 1/2 cups (12oz, 336g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 oz, 70g) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 360 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 sticks (12 oz, 336g) unsalted butter, room temperature


  1. Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a saucepan, whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Heat the mixture over medium low, whisking constantly, until it begins to boil.
  2. Continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until it thickens to a pudding-like texture. Immediately remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl. Add the vanilla and cool to room temperature.
  3. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the pudding, a little at a time, until completely incorporated. Switch to the whisk attachment and whip the buttercream until it’s light and fluffy.
  1. Use immediately to fill and frost your favorite cake.


One batch of frosting is enough to fill and frost a 9" round cake.

Did you make this recipe?

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Saturday 15th of October 2022

I'm just wondering can you add alcohol for flavouring? I know Swiss butter cream hold up to a fair amount of alcohol cam ermine as well? If so how much do you think I could get away with?

Eileen Gray

Saturday 15th of October 2022

Well, I haven't tried it. But I think it could take a couple tablespoons. I would add a tablespoon at a time until you get a flavor you like and keep an eye on the texture.


Saturday 16th of July 2022

Hi! I recently made ermine frosting using a different recipe and it worked great but started to crust and became slightly grainy as I used it to frost a cake. Does this recipe tend to crust and thicken up like this or change in texture soon after making it? Do you know if I might be doing something wrong that’s causing this? Thanks so much


Sunday 17th of July 2022

@Eileen Gray, Thanks so much! I’ll give it a go for sure then. No the recipe didn’t have cornstarch or powdered sugar, but it was cold when I made it. Anyways, I’m excited to give this a second try!

Eileen Gray

Saturday 16th of July 2022

I have not had this recipe crust. Did the recipe you used have powdered sugar or corn starch in it? Those would cause crusting.


Friday 29th of April 2022

I have to make a 3 tiered cake and it will be frosted with your Italian Meringue Buttercream. Each tier is a different flavor which I plan to fill with different flavored fillings. My question is will Ermine frosting one flavored Mocha, one Strawbberry (freeze dried) and one will be Caramel hold up as a filling. It will be in an air conditioned room as I live in Florida. The cake is a 10”, 8” and 6” each being three layers so I will need to frost and decorate I would think 2 days before delivery?? Will Ermine filling break down? I really didn’t want to continue to use IMBC for the filling. Thank you for any advice!!! Pam

Eileen Gray

Friday 29th of April 2022

Yes, I think it should hold up. I would pipe a dam of IMB around each layer before filling in with the Ermine. Ermine is softer and having that dam of IMB should keep it in the cake.


Saturday 16th of April 2022

Hey, if I wish to make the frosting a little more firm, then what can I do? I’ve noticed that it becomes soft quite soon after I take it out of the refrigerator. And if I use any fondant accents, they just slide right off! Thanks in advance! :)

Eileen Gray

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Yes, this is a softer frosting. Maybe not the best for fondant decorations. I generally use a Meringue Buttercream when I'm working with fondant decorations. As far as making it firmer, you could try adding some powdered sugar but I'm not sure that would work since powdered sugar can just end up absorbing moisture and making the frosting runny.


Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hi Eileen.. Youve been such a wealth of knowledge for a homebaker like me! Thank you..

Ive been going over your frosting recipes for a couple of days now in search of a stable sandwich cookie filling for our hot summer weather. It needs to be able to not crust, not melt and definitely take being out of the fridge for a 24-48 hours atleast. And I plan to blend some cardamom powder in with the sifted icing sugar or granulated sugar to get some cardamom flavour as well. Do you have one you recommend? I was thinking of trying cream cheese frosting but I worry it would spoil. ABC then? With water instead of milk? Thank you so much for all your content! XX

Eileen Gray

Thursday 7th of April 2022

If you want a frosting that can be left at warm temperature for 1-2 days I recommend making ABC with vegetable shortening rather than butter. ABC will crust though. What type of cookie is this and why does it need to be left out so long? Just asking about the situation so I can make other recommendations.

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