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Ermine Frosting

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

beauty shot of cake

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 frosting recipe that starts with a pudding base. Then you add the pudding to whipped butter to make a light, luscious and silky smooth 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.


ingredients for ermine frosting in bowls
  • All Purpose Flour – The flour thickens the milk to create the pudding base.
  • Sugar – Sugar sweetens the frosting.
  • Milk – Is the base for the pudding mixture.
  • Vanilla/Salt – Together they balance the flavor of the frosting.
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the recipe.

How to make Ermine Frosting:

pudding base for ermine frosting before and after cooking
  • Cook the flour milk and sugar together over medium heat in a small saucepan.
  • Cook the flour mixture until it is thick like pudding.
butter base for ermine frosting before and after adding pudding
  • Whip the butter until it’s light and aerated
  • Add the pudding and mix it until combined.
ermine frosting before and after whipping
  • Switch to the whisk.
  • Whip until the frosting is light and fluffy like whipped cream.


  • For best results, Ermine Frosting should be used to fill and frost your cake as soon as it’s made.
  • If you do make the frosting ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use. Bring the frosting back to room temperature then rewhip to aerate.
  • Because it’s made with milk, after 3-4 hours at room temperature a cake iced with Ermine frosting should be refrigerated.
  • Ermine frosting 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.

FAQs about Ermine Frosting:

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

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
Print Recipe
4.56 from 67 reviews

Ermine Frosting Recipe

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.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time5 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
16 servings


  • 12 oz granulated sugar (1 ½ cups)
  • 2 ½ oz all purpose flour (½ cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz whole milk (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 12 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)


  • Combine 12 oz granulated sugar, 2 ½ oz all purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon salt in a saucepan, whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in 12 oz whole milk until smooth. Heat the mixture over medium low, whisking constantly, until it begins to boil.
  • 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 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and cool to room temperature.
  • Cream 12 oz unsalted 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.
  • Use immediately to fill and frost your favorite cake.


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


Serving: 1each | Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 566IU | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

Recipe Rating


Thursday 13th of July 2023

I used this frosting on the buttermilk cake and it is delicious. this was my first time making this frosting and I will make it again and again. It tasted mousse like in texture and we really liked it. I frosted half the cake with the frosting, then added cocoa to give the second half a chocolate frosting.At first tasting, I didn't think it was sweet enough but then I realized that was why I liked it - not overbearing but sweet enough to satisfy the need for frosting. Due to a severe thunderstorm booming, I didn't give the frosting enough time to come to room temp before proceeding, but after putting cake in fridge, the frosting firmed a bit. Very good! Thanks for this easy and delicious recipe.


Sunday 25th of June 2023

Can I crumbcoat with ABC and frost and fill cake with Ermine??I am making 3 large cakes and hope to save time by crumbcoating with ABC so that I don't have to make so much Ermine with all the cooking time.

Eileen Gray

Monday 26th of June 2023

Yes, for sure.


Tuesday 20th of June 2023

Just made this for the first time. AMAZING!! What a terrific icing. Like that it seems less sweet than regular icing.


Friday 31st of March 2023

This is my favorite frosting. I first tasted it on a coconut cake and fell in love! I prefer it to cream cheese on a Red Velvet cake.

I have a recipe for a version which uses 2/3 butter and 1/3 cream cheese but have not tried it yet.


Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Dear Eileen, I live in Brazil. My region is so dry and hot. I made your Ermine and the result was won-der-ful. The vanilla taste made the difference. Please, if possible could you inform (in grams) the amount of cooked pudding resulted in this process? Thank You so much!!!


Thursday 30th of March 2023

@Eileen Gray, Sorry, this information is obviously. I would like to know the weight after cooking the Pudding….

Eileen Gray

Thursday 30th of March 2023

I'm not sure what you are asking. Are you asking how much the pudding weighs? Just add the weight of the sugar flour and milk and that's the weight of the pudding.