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Italian Meringue Boiled Icing

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Italian meringue is one of my absolute favorite cooked icings because it is light, fluffy, and pure white in color.

chocolate cupcakes with italian meringue boiled icing

What is Italian Meringue (or Boiled Icing)? //

Italian meringue (also known as boiled icing or boiled frosting) is a fluffy, white frosting for cake and other desserts. It is an incredibly easy 7 minute frosting, the snow white color makes it perfect for wedding cakes and desserts for winter holidays.

If you could see what the piece of paper that this fluffy boiled icing recipe is written on, you would know that it is used often and well-loved. As a result, it is stained and splotched and crumbled.

7 minute frosting with shredded coconut on a cake

What’s the difference between Italian meringue and boiled icing? //

They are the same thing. Italian meringue frosting is old-fashioned. Because of this, you can find it in old cookbooks under many different names, for example:

  • Italian meringue
  • boiled icing
  • boiled frosting
  • seven minute frosting
  • cooked vanilla frosting

However, boiled icing is not the same as boiled milk frosting. Indeed, there is no milk in this recipe.

What is difference between icing and frosting? //

The answer is pretty simple. For the most part, frosting is thicker and fluffier than icing. Frosting is typically stable enough to use in between cake layers, whereas icing is too thin.

The thing is, this Italian meringue boiled icing IS thick and fluffy! As a result, you will understand why I also call it 7 minute frosting or boiled frosting.

Why do you Cook Italian Meringue Boiled Icing? //

The reason that this frosting is cooked is because there are raw egg whites in it. Cooking them over high heat will remove any risk of illness from the bacteria. Additionally, adding hot sugar syrup to whipped egg whites creates a strong, stable, fluffy frosting!

I need to thank my friend Amanda for introducing me to boiled icing, I think of you every time I make it.

Italian Meringue Boiled Icing ingredients //

ingredients to make Italian meringue boiled icing recipe

The ingredients for this 7 minute boiled icing are simple, basic pantry items. Plus, it’s an old fashioned frosting recipe, so you won’t need any special equipment to make it.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking Steps //

hot sugar syrup cooking in pan on stove top

Step 1:

In a saucepan combine the sugar and water with a pinch of cream of tartar.

making boiled icing in saucepan

Step 2:

Make sure that when you are cooking the sugar that you do not stir the sugar mixture. It will cause the sugar to crystallize and you don’t want that to happen.

cooking sugar syrup in saucepan for Italian meringue

Step 3:

Boil the sugar until it reaches 245 degrees F.

fluffy white meringue in mixing bowl

Step 4:

Meanwhile, put the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat until the egg whites are peaked.

pouring hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites for 7 minute frosting

Step 5:

Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. I mean slowly, this sugar mixture is 245 degrees, you do not want it to splash.

whipping Italian meringue boiled icing in stand mixer

Step 6:

Beat the Italian meringue on medium-high speed for about 7 minutes (hence the name seven minute frosting) or until the sides of the bowl cool down.

Important note: Do NOT over mix Italian meringue! It is possible to beat the egg whites too much. As a result, the frosting will lose its glossy appearance and then start to thin out.

fluffy white icing in mixing bowl and on stand mixer attachment

Step 7:

If you created the perfect 7 minute frosting, it will be light, fluffy, and have a glossy appearance.

Add the vanilla extract and combine on medium speed.

adding vanilla extract to fluffy white frosting

How do you fix runny Italian meringue boiled icing?

If you notice that your icing isn’t as thick and fluffy as you would like it to be, you may have over beaten the egg whites. You can attempt to stabilize and thicken the boiled frosting by mixing in 1/4 teaspoon of meringue powder on medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

chocolate cupcake with piping bag of italian meringue icing in it

How to Store Italian Meringue Boiled Icing? //

You cans store Italian meringue boiled icing in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

Other Tips //

I love this icing on chocolate cake, yellow cake, or underneath a layer of shredded coconut. Sometimes I get crazy and add some coconut extract to really bring out the coconut flavor.

It is the perfect frosting to color because the base is so white. I also love it because it is not buttery. Basically, this is marshmallow, without the gelatin, it is the best fluffy frosting that I have ever put in my mouth.

You can use a kitchen torch and burn the outside like a marshmallow to get the s’mores effect. It is absolutely delicious.

kitchen torch burning italian meringue icing on a chocolate cupcake
Italian Meringue Boiled Icing

Italian Meringue Boiled Icing

Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Italian meringue (also known as boiled icing) is a fluffy, white frosting for cake and other desserts. It is an incredibly easy 7-minute frosting, The snow white color makes it perfect for wedding cakes and desserts for winter holidays.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan combine the sugar and water with a pinch of cream of tartar.
  2. Make sure that when you are cooking the sugar that you do not stir the sugar mixture. It will cause the sugar to crystallize and you don’t want that to happen.
  3. Boil the sugar until it reaches 245 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, put the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat until the egg whites are peaked.
  5. Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. I mean slowly, this sugar mixture is 245 degrees, you do not want it to splash.
  6. Beat the frosting on high speed for about 7 minutes (hence the name seven minute frosting) or until the sides of the bowl cool down.
  7. The frosting will be light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 cups Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 204Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 51mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 0gSugar: 50gProtein: 2g

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Did you make this recipe?

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italian meringue boiled icing chocolate cupcakes on a platter with white flowers and pink sugar decorations

Leah

Monday 24th of January 2022

Just made this for the first time. Just curious, if by 7 minutes the frosting hasn't cooled but otherwise it looks correct, what is more important, stopping at 7 minutes or beating until it cools? Mine is shiny, thick, spreadable, and looks like fluff... its just still warm. Thanks :)

Joanne Iovine

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Bree, I want to use this icing for cupcakes. Did you run into any problems piping it? Did the "swirls" hold their shape?

Bree Hester

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

I can't really say. It is essentially a whipped marshmallow, but if it's hot it could melt.

Becky T

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

Hi Bree,

I made this frosting on Sunday and now today (Wednesday) it is all crystallized. Is there anything that can be done to fix it? I'm going to scrape it off the cake and repurpose the cake into truffles, I'm just wondering if there is anything that can be done with the frosting. Any help would be appreciated. I just read above that it is not a good idea to refrigerate the cake after it is frosted, could that have caused the crystallization?

Becky

Bree Hester

Sunday 13th of June 2021

No. This is not a frosting that is designed for longevity. If you need something like that, use a buttercream. It will crystalize because it's cooked sugar - humidity, temperature, all of these things will break it down.

grilled pineapple with italian meringue icing - The Culinary Chase

Tuesday 4th of May 2021

[…] instructions from Bree’s website or use your own […]

Sheng

Friday 19th of February 2021

Hello! Is there any other ingredient to use if I don't have cream of tartar?

Bree Hester

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

Try a little lemon juice or white vinegar.

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