Whipped Buttercream Frosting is the best frosting ever! This flour frosting (ermine frosting) is made without powdered sugar. It has the rich creaminess of a buttercream & the light, airy texture of a whipped cream frosting without being too sweet!
This Whipped Buttercream Frosting recipe pretty much blew my mind. I’m not a big frosting person; most buttercream frostings are just ok, and I can take them or leave them.
Well, this buttercream frosting is amazing, and it uses (are you ready for this?) granulated sugar!
Yep! Regular, old granulated sugar. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to make frosting without powdered sugar, this is it!
Don’t worry – it’s not gritty at all. In fact, this ermine frosting has the texture of a light whipped cream with the flavor of a sweet, vanilla buttercream.
It’s honestly the best frosting (buttercream or otherwise) that I’ve ever had. It’s sweet but isn’t overwhelmingly, make-your-teeth-ache sweet.
I’ve put answers to a lot of the questions I’ve received in the recipe notes. Please take a second to read through those notes before making the frosting.
How to make frosting without powdered sugar
Step 1 Whisk the milk and flour together in a small heavy saucepan before beginning to heat.
Step 2 Once combined, heat the mixture over medium-low heat until it has thickened. At this point, it should be the consistency of a thick paste.
Step 3 Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
Step 4 Let the mixture cool to room temperature before continuing. This step is key. If the mixture is warm, it will cause the butter to warm up, and you’ll end up with a thin, runny frosting.
Step 5 In a separate large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together on medium-high to high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides to avoid gritty frosting.
Step 6 Add the completely cooled milk/flour mixture to the beaten butter/sugar mixture, and beat on medium-high to high for 5 minutes. It may look separated at first, but keep whipping the frosting until it is light and fluffy.
This recipe has been posted for nearly 10 years. During that time, I’ve made and re-made this frosting countless times to be able to answer the thousands of questions that I’ve received. Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions.
The recipe will make enough to frost a 2 layer 9-inch round cake or 24 cupcakes.
I recommend chilling any unused or leftover frosting because of the high dairy content.
This recipe uses granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar to make frosting.
I’ve used almond milk to make this frosting, and it worked well.
I’ve tried this recipe with skim milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, whole milk, and nondairy milk. I’ve successfully made the frosting with all of those types of milk. However, using whole milk will give you a richer, creamier frosting than using skim milk.
I’ve tried the recipe with both salted butter and with unsalted butter + salt. I prefer the version with the salted butter because the unsalted butter + salt version tastes flatter.
You can. Clear vanilla doesn’t have as much flavor as pure vanilla extract, so you may find that you need to use more clear vanilla for the frosting to have as much flavor.
You can! Feel free to substitute another type of flavoring or extract for the vanilla.
You can! I’ve used both gel and regular food dye. Both have worked well. If you’re going to use a large quantity of food coloring, I would recommend a gel to avoid making the frosting runny.
I’ve doubled this recipe. It filled my 5 quart stand mixer, so be sure to use a larger mixing bowl.
I use regular granulated sugar. Using a larger grain (natural) sugar can give you gritty frosting. If you’re worried about the frosting ending up gritty, you can give the sugar a couple of zips in a blender or food processor to break it down.
Yes, you can use an equal amount of vanilla bean paste in place of the vanilla extract to make vanilla bean buttercream.
I’ve frozen cupcakes that were frosted with this frosting. They froze and thawed beautifully.
What flavors of cake go well with this frosting?
This frosting has a light, sweet vanilla flavor that works well with a number of cake flavors. Here are a few ideas!
- Red velvet – This type of frosting with the classic frosting for red velvet cake.
- Chocolate cake
- Carrot cake – Cream cheese frosting is the classic carrot cake frosting, but you could get adventurous and try out vanilla for a change.
- Zucchini cake
- Spice cake
- White cake
Can I make this frosting in other flavors?
You can! Here are some of the different flavors of this frosting that I’ve made.
- First, not cooking the milk mixture long enough. The mixture should be a thick paste. If it’s too wet, the frosting will be too loose.
- Second, the cooked milk mixture needs to cool completely. If it’s too warm, it will melt the butter, and you’ll end up with loose frosting that doesn’t come together.
- Third, using butter that’s too warm. The butter should be at cool room temperature. It should dent if pushed, but it shouldn’t be too warm and certainly not beginning to melt.
- Fourth, using other types of sugars. This frosting needs to be made with granulated sugar, not powdered sugar.
- Fifth, not whipped the frosting long enough. The frosting needs to be whipped to get the right light and airy texture. Cutting the time short could leave you with a grainy frosting or a frosting that separates.
- If your frosting is still a little gritty after beating it for 5 minutes, go ahead and add the cooled milk/flour mixture. That will usually smooth out any remaining sugar.
- A couple people have reported that a film has formed on their milk/flour mixture. I haven’t had this happen, but another person said that she’s had good luck with blending the milk/flour mixture with a blender before cooking it. She said that it removed any lumps and helped prevent a skin from forming.
If you’ve tried this whipped buttercream frosting recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!
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Whipped Buttercream Frosting
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups salted butter at cool room temperature1
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk together over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. It will be the consistency of a thick paste2. Make sure that you whisk the flour and milk together well before you begin cooking it to avoid lumps.
- Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. This step is key. If your mixture is warm, it will melt your butter, and you’ll end up with runny frosting.
- Stir in vanilla.
- While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy on medium high-high3, about 5 minutes4. Make sure that you scrape down the sides and really incorporate the butter and sugar to avoid gritty frosting.
- Then add the completely cooled milk mixture.
- Beat it for about 5 more minutes on medium-high to high until it looks like whipped cream. It may look separated at first, so keep beating it until it comes together and looks like a whipped cream.
- Make sure that your butter isn’t too warm! The butter should be at cool room temperature. You want it to dent if you press it, but you don’t want it to be so warm that it’s near melting.
- When cooking the milk/flour mixture, you don’t want it to look wet. It should be like a thick paste. If it’s wet and runny, your frosting will be too loose.
- If you’re using a hand mixer, beat it on high. This recipe work well with a stand mixer because it has the power to really whip the frosting.
- Please don’t cut the mixing time short! I know it’s tempting, but it’s important to beat the butter and sugar together for the time the recipe calls for to keep it from being gritty. If you cut the mixing times short, you won’t end up with the right texture of frosting.
- To get the best flavor, you’ll want to use real butter and pure vanilla extract.
- Want to try a buttercream made with powdered sugar instead? Here is my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting that’s made with powdered sugar.
- I recommend chilling any leftover frosted cake or cupcakes.
- Nutrition values are estimates.
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More frosting recipes that are made without powdered sugar!
This recipe was originally published on 12/22/12. It was updated with new pictures on 7/25/16. Updated again on 2/10/22 with additional information and tips.
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Comments & Reviews
Sue P. says
I used on a sweet maraschino cherry cake, 9″ two layer. One recipe amount is enough. Excellent flavor and texture. My only changes were almond extract and a smidgen of vanilla bean paste (excellent quality). Fabulous recipe, great flavor, will make again and again. Thank You, made for my granddaughters 20th birthday.
Thank you, and happy birthday to your granddaughter!
Yummy, yummy! I used amaretto coffee creamer instead of milk for the flavoring along with the vanilla, and it is SO good. I made a half batch and that was enough for what I needed. Did have a bit of sugar crystals still after extensive mixing, but we liked the little texture it brought when it was there.
Thank you! It’s great to hear that!
Hi – I am thinking about trying this recipe. Can I use unsalted butter instead of salted butter? Or will that have a negative effect on the outcome of the frosting? Thanks!
Hi! I’ve used unsalted butter + salt, and it didn’t taste quite the same as using salted butter. However, it’s really just a matter of taste.
This is the butter cream recipe I have been looking for for years. This will be the only one I ever make! Nicely done Kate! Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thank you so much! I’m glad you found it!
This is Ermine frosting! the (original) frosting for red velvet cake, that is decades old. it has been called other names. It goes with just about any flavor of cake. I’ve read on other blogs to cook the sugar in with the flour, milk mixture and you will not have the grainy texture in the end result. it needs to be cooked til thickened and almost paste like. hope this helps someone.
I thought I did it step by step..yet it looks a little runny..I just stuck it in fridge..any suggestions to help a non baker!!
Hi! There are (usually) two reasons why the frosting is runny. First, the milk/flour mixture didn’t thicken enough. There are photos above the recipe that show what the milk/flour mixture should look like. So, if you’re more of a visual learner, those photos may be helpful. Second, it was still warm when you added it to the butter mixture. If it’s warm, it will soften the butter mixture and make it runny. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Best. Frosting. EVER!
Thank you so much!
Mind-Blowing and Tastes amazing My Kids enjoyed it and they are picky eaters
Thank you so much!
Hi Kate – I’ve made this icing twice and the first time I had some tiny gooey like lumps in my end result. I love the taste so much I tried it again. I figured it’s because the flour and milk didn’t blend well? So I sifted my flour and shook it really well with a blender ball before heating. My end result drastically had less of those gooey lumps but I still have a few. Any suggestions? I really want to master this for a bridal shower cake I am making!
Hi! I’m guessing that the milk and flour weren’t completely incorporated before the mixture began cooking. I heard from one person who said that she put the milk/flour mixture in a blender and blended it get it smooth. If you have a blender or food processor, I’d give that a try! I hope that helps for next time!
Hello, can this be made with shortening?
Hi! I haven’t tried using shortening in it, but I’ve heard from people who have used half shortening. I’m just not sure how it would turn out with all shortening.
Is this frosting stiff enough to make flowers to decorate a cake? Thanks!!
Hi! I’ve used it to pipe rosettes, but I haven’t used it for more intricate piping.
Thank you! I’m making it right now for my daughters birthday cake. I am creaming the butter and sugar and I just can’t get rid of all the grittiness! Will that go away when I add the flour mixture do you think?? I’m panicking!!
Hi! Yes, I have a section that addresses this in the post. If you’ve used granulated sugar and beaten it for 5 minutes with a stand mixer or 10 minutes with a hand mixer, then go ahead and add the milk/flour mixture. That should smooth out any remaining grittiness. Hope that helps!
This was the best frosting I have ever made. ❤ thanks
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!
Just made this having never made frosting before. Turned out great! I added about 2 Tbs cocoa powder since I didn’t have any vanilla extract. Very nice chocolate flavor. If I make it again I’ll probably double the cocoa for a darker color and a bit richer chocolate flavor. Consistency was really nice, was just a bit too light brown. Anyone who’s worried about having a grainy texture before you add the milk/flour mixture, don’t worry it smooths out considerably after adding it.
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!
Hello, I’m wondering if this frosting would work adding fruit puree, like strawberry. Do you think it would be too runny adding puree?
Hi! I haven’t tried using fruit puree, but I would think it would leave you with runny frosting. If you want to make a fruit-flavored version, I know people have added freeze-dried fruit, jam, and different fruit-flavored extracts.
Can I use earth balance non dairy butter?
I haven’t tried it to say for certain, but I’ve heard from people who have successfully used vegan butter.
Patty Shoua says
I have been baking ever since I can remember and like to do everything from scratch, including frosting. I make a lot of cakes and this is by far the best frosting ever. Everyone loves.
Thank you so much for putting all your recipes out there for the rest of us to use.
Thank you so much! That’s such a nice compliment!
Patricia Geisenburg says
I made this frosting for a strawberry cake because it was not so sweet and it was amazing. Is there a chocolate version of this frosting?
Thank you! Yes, I have a few other versions. I have a chocolate frosting, cinnamon frosting, brown sugar frosting, and Oreo frosting.
Can you use brown sugar with this recipe?
Hi! You here you’ll find the brown sugar version.
Does the cake have to be refrigerated with this frosting ? I want to make it for a Chruch meeting.
Hi! Yes, I recommend chilling the frosting due to its high dairy content.
All I can say is WOW!!!
Went looking for a frosting recipe with no powdered sugar because I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to go to the store.
This is by far the best icing I’ve ever had. Went perfectly on the homemade cinnamon rolls but I can easily see me using it for many other recipes from here on out. This is my new favorite frosting!
Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it!
okay, so I NEVER leave replies for online recipes I’ve tried. Partly, because they always FAIL. lol. (I am a horrible cook so that might be the problem!) But this recipe is SO amazing. Honestly, I can’t believe that the ingredients listed resulted in this fluffy, buttery, whipped cream-like icing. Like others have said – follow the instructions carefully and the results will astound you. Thank you so much for this recipe!
Yay!! I’m so glad that it worked out well for you!
Laurel A Polinske says
How many cupcakes can I frost with this recipe?
The recipe will frost 24 cupcakes.
I was really scared to try this recipe but I was out of powdered sugar and didn’t have time to go to the store. I was patient with the recipe and followed it exactly as it was written and it came out amazing!!! Everyone said it was the best frosting they’d had. Great recipe!
Hi there, I just attempted to make this recipe. My good mixer stoped working so I had to use a not good one.
I had a question so after mixing the sugar and butter I had to mix it for more then the 5 min because my mixer isn’t the best. Does the sugar need to melt away? I mixed it for a good 15 min. To get to where I got it fluffy but still feels little gritty is that ok?
Hi! If it stills feels a little gritty at that point, go ahead and add the milk mixture. That should smooth out any remaining grittiness.
Follow the directions and the frosting will turn out just right!
I’m glad that it turned out well for you!!