Italian Meringue Boiled Icing

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.

7 minute frosting with shredded coconut on a cakeIf you could see what the piece of paper that this fluffy boiled icing recipe is written on, you will know that it is used often and well-loved. As a result, it is stained and splotched and crumbled.

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

Italian meringue is one of my absolute favorite icings because it is light, fluffy, and pure white in color. This frosting is old-fashioned. Because of this, you can find it in old cookbooks under any of these names:

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

It is important to note that this cooked frosting is not the same as cooked milk frosting. The reason for this is, because there is no milk in this recipe.

Oh, and for those of you who may be wondering, “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 call it also call it 7 minute frosting.

Why do you cook 7 minute frosting?

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 love the 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.

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

Italian meringue 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

hot sugar syrup cooking in pan on stove topIn a saucepan combine the sugar and water with a pinch of cream of tartar.

making boiled icing in saucepanMake 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 meringueBoil the sugar until it reaches 245 degrees F.

fluffy white meringue in mixing bowlMeanwhile, 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 frostingSlowly 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 mixerBeat 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 attachmentIf you created the perfect 7 minute frosting, it will be light, fluffy, and have a glossy appearance.

adding vanilla extract to fluffy white frostingAdd the vanilla extract and combine on medium speed, just until combined

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 icing by mixing in 1/4 teaspoon of meringue powder on medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

fluffy white boiled icing on a cake

I hope that you love this Italian meringue boiled icing as much as I do.

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.
  8. Add the vanilla extract.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0 Total Fat: 0g
All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only.

This Post Has 136 Comments

  1. OMG Bree, what I wouldn’t give to have a piece of that cake right now!!! Yum! Looks absolutely delicious!

    1. Come visit and I will make you one!

      1. Hi Bree,
        Is there any way you can tell, if you don’t have a candy thermometer, when it’s done boiling?

      2. Bree,do you use corn syrup in this recipe . Thanks

        1. No I do not.

      3. Hello… Done my boiled icing, but the remainig icing in bowl looks like melting when doing my 2nd piping … What is the problem? Is it exposed in air? Or should I get it in ref? Thanks

        1. It isn’t really piping frosting, and it doesn’t have a long life after you frost it.

  2. Hi Bree,
    I found your blog while looking for a recipe for ice cream cone cupcakes. I am planning on using yours, and I was wondering if this icing recipe would work? My son is really picky about icing- he won’t eat buttercream. He is more of the store icing lover. Would this taste like that? I want to be able to use the icing bag to make them beautiful like the ones you made. Thanks for sharing and all your hard work!

    1. Hi Sarita, you can use this frosting, but I would make it the day that you are going to serve them. It tastes like marshmallow. I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t like it.

  3. i know that coconut cake is traditionally southern, but this Connecticut yankee is ob.sess.ed with it. that frosting looks good enough to just sit down with a spoon and eat! this has been starred in my reader & i can’t wait to try it!

    1. It is. And I speak from experience. I love coconut cake. It is an Easter tradition.

  4. I agree with you! Boiled Icing is my absolute favorite (although for awhile I was calling it wrongly Royal Icing and I’m not sure why). There are some amazing old fashioned frosting recipe’s out there!

    1. Caramel frosting is amazing too. I need to perfect that before I share it.

  5. This is my moms favorite icing– haven’t tried it yet, but you’ve inspired me 🙂

    1. mine and my grandmother’s too!

  6. I’ve always been intimated by boiled icing, but your instructions make it seem less scary. I’ll have to give this a try sometime. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. It really is not scary. Just make sure to get your sugar hot enough.

  7. I love white fluffy icing so much that I named my food blog after it. What a fantastic post and scrumptious pictures!! Wow.

    -Laura

    1. what a great name for a blog!

      1. I was actually thinking the same about Baked Bree. Ha!

        Are you on Twitter, by chance?

        Best,
        Laura

        1. why yes I am! @bakedbree

  8. Hi Bree, This sure looks good, But I am confused..
    The ingredients say 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
    the instruction calls for using a pinch?
    Did you mean ?for the pinch of salt to be boiled
    Sorry I just want it to be clear to me…thanks

    1. The pinch of cream of tartar goes in the sugar and the pinch of salt goes into the egg whites.

      1. Oh I put the cream of tartar in the egg whites, may I know the reason why it should be in the sugar ma’am ?

        1. Because Emeril Lagasse said to do it that way and he wrote the recipe. 🙂

          1. You can put it in the sugar and the clear vanilla too. Emerald is great but you can move things the way u like it.

        2. Cream of tartar helps to keep the sugar syrup from crystallizing. Most icings and candies that start with a cooked sugar syrup call for cream of tartar, corn syrup, or lemon juice to be added to the sugar and water. 🙂

  9. Just made a cake & cupcakes and topped them with this frosting. YUM! A new household hit. 🙂 Thank you, Bree.
    -Ann

    1. You are welcome Ann!

  10. Hey thank you for the recipe, I really would like to try it but I need to know if it stands up well in humidity I live in the Caribbean and humidity is always an issue for icings and frostings, how does this recipe hold up in heat.

    Look forward to your response.

    1. I am not sure to be honest with you. I do know that it should be eaten the day that it is made.

  11. I luv this icing and was raised on it…
    My grandmother used to make it from scratch and my mom use a boxed version of it and I think it was made by Jiffy which till this day i will never forgive for taking it off the market .I also se many people still looking for it and the box version was JIFFY …BRING IT BACK BRING IR BACK

    1. I had no idea that there was a Jiffy version.

      1. Actually, this recipe is over 150 years old. I have an original recipe written by my great grandmother that has the same ingredients and basic instructions. No candy thermometers back then. A cold water check was used. The recipe is stored in my family Bible that is also the same age.

  12. Grew up on both of scratch and Jiffy versions of this icing. I still make the cooked version for special occasions.

    And we always died it green at Easter one year we would have with green coconut and the next we wouldn’t but we always “hid” jelly beans in it on our Easter Cakes. I hated coconut but coconut was my sister’s favorite so our mom switched it out.

    1. What a cute idea! I have never had the Jiffy kind, I wish that I had, it sounds good.

  13. I’m making this right now, but without a candy thermometer! I’m just going to eyeball it… how long do you usually boil the icing for & at what temperature? I’ll make sure you link you up when I post it to my blog. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.

    1. I boil it over medium-medium high heat. Maybe 5-7 minutes?

      1. My family has been making this frosting for years. Here is a tip for those who do not have a thermometer to check the temp: when the mixture has been boiling for a few minutes (and you can see that the sugar is disolved) take a fork and give a stir of the mixture ( do not touch the sides of the pan) gently lift the fork straight up with the tines facing down (bring the fork up to about eye level over the pan). You will see drops of the mixture forming on the end of the tines. Watch as the drops release from the tines – when you see a fine thread form and hang from a tine the mixture is ready to add to the whipped egg whites. I usually do this a few times (quick stir and look for a thread) just to make sure that I have a good “thread”. They can be short threads or as long as 3 or so inches (very thin and delicate) I usually take it off the heat when it has a bit longer thread. If you don’t see a thread form it isn’t ready…

        Hope this helps somebody!!

        1. Thanks! This is an easy method!

          1. It’s my favorite.

  14. I’m making my daughter’s birthday cake and she wanted pink icing on her cake. Can I add food color to this icing? Also, you think it would go well with a red velvet cake? This recipe looks yummy. Thanks.

    1. Yes, it will be a pale pink and perfect on a red velvet cake.

  15. Hello Bree,

    I would just want to ask if I can use confectioner’s sugar instead of plain sugar? I had made an icing that just look exactly like this before in my baking class but it was called royal icing. but when i search of it now, royal icing seems to be the icing that turns very hard as candy. And before i remember we using a confectioner’s sugar for it. but the one we made before is not hard at all even after it cools it remained soft and like that in the picture and it tastes like marshmallow. So i am now confused which recipe to follow. the royal icing or this boiled icing. We used it before to cover a cake. Will the icing you made be able to cover a cake? and will not turn hard as candy ?

    Thank you sorry for lots of questions.

    1. No, they are completely difference frostings. Royal icing gets rock hard, and is used for decorating cookies, etc… Boiled icing is a fluffy icing for cakes.

  16. Made this boiling icing but its a little brown when you say light corn syrup do you mean the colour as in white corn syrup.

    1. Yes, it is a clear product, so the frosting should be bright white.

  17. Do you think this would hold up well as a filling inside cupcakes?

    1. Absolutely!

  18. i do not have cream of tarter,now what….helpl!!!!!

    1. I am not sure, it stabilizes the eggs.

    2. You can use a small pinch of baking powder. It worked perfectly here in Ecuador.

      1. Good to know, thanks!

  19. Sooooo happy I found your recipe. I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to test a cookbook full of mistakes. Finally I found the proper way to make this type of frosting! THANK YOU 🙂

    1. You are welcome. I make this frosting all the time and it is fool proof. I made it 3 times last week!

  20. I want to try out this boiled icing, but am a bit intimidated.
    Is this icing thick enough to pipe roses onto cupcakes, will it hold it’s shape? I have to make rose cupcakes, but I wanted to try an icing that wasn’t as heavy as an American buttercream.
    Thank you:)

    1. It is just like marshmallow fluff. It will hold a soft shape, but for roses I would use something sturdier.

  21. Can we use it on Christmas cake??? & what will happen if we keep it to dry???

  22. Can we use it for the Christmas Cake??? & how will it look like when it dries.

    Regards
    Antoine Aswad

    1. What is Christmas Cake?

      1. Usually, Christmas cake, (fruit cake) is made with royal icing, and has a layer of marzipan underneath. Here in the states, we usually just have non-iced fruit cake. No reason this would not work for a Christmas cake, and would be a twist on most European versions. Just remember though, icing does not hold up as long as royal does, so eat that fruit cake fast.

  23. How many cups does this recipe make?

    1. I don’t know, 6? Enough to ice a 2 layer cake.

  24. i have tried to make this frosting but it comes out not too fluffy and also runny is it because an using a hand mixer in stead of a kitchen aid where did i go wrong

    1. If you are using a hand mixer, I would do it over a double boiler. Or your sugar is not hot enough.

  25. just like my granny made, thank you!
    kudzu

    1. You are very welcome! Love this recipe!

  26. Hi, I live i Houston where it’s pretty humid. I know you said that it’s best to make it the day that it’s served. Is it okay to refrigerate it for a few hours also and do you have any suggestions on how to get it to be more stiff to withstand Texas’ humidity?

    1. I would not refrigerate this, it might sweat. I don’t really think that there is a fix except for not making it when it is really humid.

  27. Hi Bree,

    I have a little problem here.. im using a hand mixer only and it doesnt have a wire whisk.. will the regular beater do for this kind of icing in beating the egg whites?

    1. I am not sure if this is the best method for this frosting. You probably should do the double boiler method instead.

  28. Hi, Bree! Uuhhmm.. How strong is the fire while boiling the syrup? Low, medium or high? I hope you reply..

    1. It doesn’t matter as long as it boils. I like medium-high.

  29. This is called ‘Snow on the Mountain” icing. My mother taught me how to make it years ago. It is her favorite and I made it for her birthday cake. Looked all around the internet to find recipe. Finally just took a chance on my memory. Turned out perfect! And the trick without the candy thermometer works. You have to boil mixture long enough and hot enough to candy.

    1. Glad you found it again.

  30. Hello bree!

    Is this good for countries where it is hot. Can it hold its form and not melt? And how long will it last?

    1. It is best eaten the day it is made. As for heat, I don’t know for sure.

  31. hi…i’ve tried this recipe and it really worked. I loved this fluffy icing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are welcome!

  32. Hi Bree,
    Can you please suggest egg substitute for this frosting recipe? Thanks!

    1. I would substitute the eggs. The egg whites are the base of this recipe and what stabilizes the icing. I’d probably use a buttercream if you are avoiding eggs.

  33. Hi Bree,

    I’ve been trying to make this icing with a recipe which adds coffee granules at the sugar syrup stage, and I’ve tried substituting the water at the sugar syrup stage with black coffee, however when it boils, it forms a skin on top. Do you think it would be better to add flavours at the end, or it’s fine to do it during the syrup stage? Have you experimented with this at all?

    Thanks! I’m hoping to use this coffee frosting for my sister’s wedding cake!
    Liz

    1. I have not experimented, but I would add flavor at the end.

  34. Hi Bree,
    Can i use this icing to make roses ? if yes , do you think the flowers will hold it’s shape?Thanks!!

    1. No I don’t. This is not a decorating icing at all. It is the consistency of marshmallow fluff.

  35. Similar to my grandmother’s recipe. 1 Cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Stir these ingredients then heat on med on stove. Leave alone until mixture reaches soft ball stage. Meanwhile beat 2 room temp egg whites until peaks form. Quarter 8 regular marshmallows ( 1 cup miniature). As soon as mixture reaches soft ball stage, remove from heat and throw in marshmallows. Immediately pour slowly in rotating egg whiles. Marshmallows will melt while beating with egg whites. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat till icing holds its shape. Could be 3-5 min. I never needed to beat 7 minutes . You can pour on cake or cupcakes immediately. Makes great frosting for 2 layer coconut cake or 13×9 sheet.

  36. Hi Bree, Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been using this frosting lately on a gluten free coconut cake I make for my extended family. Yes your directions have made it seem a lot less daunting. Comes out perfect every time and just enough to cover the three layer cake. My husband loves it! Thank you!

    1. I am so glad! I love this frosting too. It is my favorite on chocolate cake.

  37. Hi Bree. I make boiled frosting every year on a lemon poppy seed cake for my own birthday because it is my favorite. Couldn’t figure out why it turned out sometimes and not others. I never used a thermometer, just the thread test. I think it is the stirrring issue. Actually making it today!! Happy Birthday to me!!! Thanks for clearing that up for me. Will also use the thermometer.

    1. I’m happy to help. If you stir the sugar it will crystalize and not give you a smooth syrup. I hope that is works for you.

  38. Hello Bree,
    I came across with your site while searching for ideas for my son’s birthday cake, and absolutely fell in love with your funfetti cake and this fluffy boiled icing! Both of them! Do you think the two will get along well if I put the boiled icing over a funfetti cake? Thank you for all the great postings, I will be visiting often!

    1. Absolutely!

  39. Hi Bree

    I was searching the web for this icing my aunt used to make for me as a reward before I was even old enough to go to school! 🙂 I love this icing, it’s so versatile and very good for decoration too. I am now compiling recipes of everything my aunt taught me which I have been doing blindly all these years.

    Thank you, Bree. I can now pass this on to my son who’s soon off to uni! Yes, both my kids love cakes as I do, and the little girl begs to leave her some to lick clean from the mixing bowl. Just like I used to do!

    1. That is so sweet! Love family recipes. This is my absolute favorite frosting ever.

  40. hi Bree…so thankful i hit this page…been looking for it awhile…i’d been using this kind but forgot…now i have it again…oh yes..it can form flowers but not for long…needs perfect timing on the sugar….tnksss….

    1. You are welcome! This is my favorite frosting.

  41. try your 7 minutes frosting, and I just love it. I am using it on my cake that I do for birthday and wedding. Thank you so much

    1. You’re welcome. It is my FAVORITE frosting. I haven’t made it in awhile, I need to.

  42. Is this good for chiffon cake?

    1. It would be perfect. It’s super light and fluffy.

  43. Hi Bree! Thanks so much, I wish I can send you a pic of what I did, thank you for your recioe, it turned out so good, first time I did it. But may I ask, how many days will it last if I make it day before my son’s baptism, will it still be okay the next day?

    1. I like to eat this the day it’s made. It doesn’t stay marshmallowy, it gets sort of a crust on it. I’m glad that it worked for you!

    2. After mt first boiled icing, made it several times already. In my observation, when the sugar is cooked longer it it will have crusts on it the following day. However, if the sugar is cooked just right, it will stay marshmallowy longer but do not undercooked it as it will gets watery. 🙂 Those are just my observations.

      1. Thanks for sharing that!

  44. Hello, is it possible to mix this icing with a blender if I don’t have a electric mixer? I wanted to make sugar cookies with this icing on it, but didn’t want to mix it by hand as it takes too long.

    1. No, I don’t think that it will work.

  45. In your recipe you have it where you add the Cream of Tarter to the sugar mixture and the salt to the egg whites. I believe it is the other way around.

    1. Ok. I’ve been making this recipe for years and years. It is an old Emeril Lagasse recipe, and I double checked, this is how he makes it, so I’m going to say that it’s right.

  46. If I do NOT have a candy them. how long do I cook,or Hoe Else can I tell it’s ready ?

    1. I think that you can do the ball test. But truthfully, I don’t think that I would make this without a thermometer.

  47. Dose this recipe (boil frosting) need to be refrigerated ?

    1. No, I would not put it in the fridge.

  48. Hey bree,
    Can we use gelatin instead of cream of tartar, because where i live, i cannot get cream of tartar but i get unflavoured gelatin

    1. I have never tried that substitution, so I can’t say for sure. Sorry!

  49. All my aunts and my mother called this recipe Boiled Frosting, with the boiling syrup poured onto the meringue while continuing to run the mixer on high. It can be cranky especially if cooked too long, or if it is too humid. It can get hard but not as hard as royal. If cooked past soft ball, you end up with divinity candy, which is wonderful stuff. Sometimes, it is runny then you just ladle it on the cake slowly. The version with the sugar, water and corn syrup in the double boiler and whipped for 7 minutes is Seven Minute Frosting and is more like marshmallows. Very. fluffy and shiny.

    Cream of tartar is essential to get a good meringue with lots of shine. I always just put the salt and Cream of tartar in the egg whites. Egg whites of course should be at room temp before beating them.

  50. Mine turned to soup when I poured it in.. no saving that and I followed exact directions.

    1. I would check your candy thermometer. I’ve made this recipe hundreds of times and have never had that happen. Sorry!

    2. The instructions don’t say it but you need to keep beating the egg whites on high while pouring the hot syrup slowly into the bowl. This might be where things went wrong for you.

  51. Would I be able to use Splenda Granuals in place of sugar?

    1. I am doubtful that it would work.

  52. Hi, this icing sounds great. Could you make it chocolate flavour and if so which would be best to add, melted chocolate or cocoa powder?
    Looking forward to trying it.

    1. I’d try a little cocoa powder, maybe 2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup tops.

  53. Cups you double this batch and it still turn out ok?!

    1. I don’t know to be honest, but it wouldn’t in my mixer. It would not fit, it gets pretty big.

  54. Also known as Italian meringue 😉

  55. Pingback: A Dozen Uses For Leftover Egg Whites

  56. Now I will have to make a cake to put this on or just eat it by its self.

    1. Yes you do! And I’ve also just eaten it straight from the bowl.

  57. This icing came out perfectly! I topped fresh strawberry cupcakes with it for a birthday celebration. And had enough left over to give someone a bowl of it to eat as well as top a coffee with some. No adjustments were necessary for the recipe at all.

    1. I’m so glad!

  58. So bree you really don’t have to use 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar just a pinch will do, please clarify thank you.

    1. Ok, use a pinch.

  59. Can this icing be placed between two cake layers? Would it hold up, or just squish out the sides? Thanks!

    1. It’s like marshmallow fluff, it’s very light, it will probably squish out the sides.

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Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

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