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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 refrigerated 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?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


Monday 20th of December 2021

If I use coconut milk will The frosting still need to be refrigerated?

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 21st of December 2021


Nancy Stevenson

Sunday 8th of August 2021

Looking through your frosting recipes, I found the Ermine & tried it & I love it but it's a tad 'soft'. Then just now I'm scrolling through the list of Buttercream frostings & I read this: "The process for making Ermine frosting starts with a "pudding" made from milk, sugar and cornstarch." The recipe listed does NOT include corn starch, so I'm wondering if this is why mine turns out 'soft' (my last batch was so soft the top layer of cake slid off to the side in transport....)

Eileen Gray

Monday 30th of August 2021

Hi Nancy, Sorry for the delayed response. I don't always see the comments right away. That note about cornstarch was a typo. I've corrected it to say the pudding is made with milk and flour. The frosting was likely soft because the butter was too soft when combined with the pudding, or the pudding was still a little warm. Generally, if you chill the frosting a little and then whip again you can correct the texture.

Nancy Stevenson

Sunday 8th of August 2021

Adding to my comment above, I have read through the whole description and see where you say that the 'pudding' may have been too warm. What temperature should it read on a thermometer?


Monday 7th of June 2021

I'm looking at making my wedding cake (three tiers) in advance and freezing. I've seen a method where you layer each cake tier with its fillings back in the tin, double wrap and then freeze. Would this work do you think, as I see the note if you freeze it to whip again, but obviously if it's inside a cake I can't do this. Any ideas, or do I just need to test and see if it works? I'm making a semi naked cake, so would just take the cake out the freezer and tin and smooth round the outside once filling is soft enough. Thanks


Wednesday 9th of June 2021

@Eileen Gray, Thank you for the reply, yes I may have to just wrap the cakes without the tin as I'll be making more cakes than I have tins. I just liked the idea of a sturdy outer to protect the cakes as they're not all going in my own freezer and the video showed an easy way (hot water bath) to get them out. Good to know the ermine frosting will survive then.

Eileen Gray

Monday 7th of June 2021

You can freeze an assembled and filled cake. No need really to put it back in the cake pan. I think that could mar the sides of the cake and it would be a pain to get it back out of the pan when it's frozen. If you double wrap the cake in plastic wrap and then wrap in a layer of foil it should freeze very well.


Thursday 25th of March 2021

Is this a good frosting alternative for macrons?

Eileen Gray

Friday 26th of March 2021

Yes, this would be great with macarons.


Wednesday 17th of March 2021

This sounds amazing! Is this stable enough to be able to decorate with edible images?

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Do you mean an edible image that is printed on edible paper? It is a very stable frosting.

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