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
Very very good!!
Vanessa Dalbec says
Make sure to use a whisk attachment and not the paddle, it made all the difference in trying to whip!
Kathleen Trepagnier says
This was delicious. Ran out of powdered sugar and tried this alternative. My husband loves it
Thank you! I’m glad it was a hit!
So good!!! I totally messed this up and was able to recover. I didn’t read the directions. I dumped all the ingredients in my mixer and turned it on, it got lumpy. I transferred everything to the saucepan and whisked while heating. Totally smooth but runny. I refrigerated until cool. It was great tasting but surprisingly still runny. I assed a smidge of powdered sugar to thicken and it was amazing! Thank you for this delicious and robust recipe
Thank you! I’m so glad that it worked out for you!
It is so yummy!!! We tried the recipe using half vanilla extract and half almond extract just for fun.
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!
I had this recipe it tasted so good but I might have make the milk and flour mixture a little to long to thicken as I’m finding little balls of flour and mixture but still great !
Thank you! I’ve heard from a few people who have blended the milk/flour mixture after cooking to smooth it out when that has happened. If you find that that happens again, maybe blending it would help!
Hey! I just tried this and the taste was great but i was wondering if it was supposed to be dense because the butter’s taste was slightly overpowering.
Hi! No, the frosting should be light and fluffy, not dense. Also, it shouldn’t have a noticeable butter flavor. Two questions – 1) what type of butter did you use? 2) did you make any changes or substitutions?
I used normal salted butter and I didn’t make any substitutions. I was wondering if it was because I may have put in the flour mixture early (I whipped the butter for 5 minutes but I’m not sure it was light and airy)
Never peaked beat for more than 10 min. I used organic pure granulated sugar.
Hi – were you trying to beat the frosting into stiff peaks?
Does the frosted cake have to be refrigerated? I have limited space in my fridge! Since this is December I’m hoping I can leave it out but what about summer months?
I recommend chilling anything frosted with this frosting because it has such a high dairy content.
Beautiful and a much lighter and less sweet version. A touch sweet than “whipped frosting” you usually get on store bought called and much less than buttercream. I really hate buttercream and especially when people put such larger amounts of it! Perfect and easy, butt I do recommend a hand mixer to using a stand mixer, and for heaven’s sake don’t do it by hand unless you have a true chef’s arm built from years of whipping! Lol.
Thank you so much! I agree! This frosting would be quite difficult to mix by hand!
I used your ingredients with someone else’s directions and got wonderful frosting, not supersweet like Wilton’s buttercream. I do have 2 comments:
1. The flour mixture is more like a thick creamy custard than a paste. I mixed for 40 min and ended up with a thick caramel. I tried the recipe again and cooked only to a thick custard and it was really good. I’m not sure why mine did not dry out to a pasty texture.
2. Your comments were very helpful and the taste was amazing. But I found it to be easier to add the sugar, flour and milk all at the beginning before putting it on heat. It blended very well and I didn’t have to worry about beating the sugar and butter so much. I just beat until it peaked and
did’t flop, but I haven’t tested how long it will keep its shape yet.
Thank you for a very thorough recipe.
I’m glad that it turned out well for you! I’d like to address your two points.
1) Unfortunately, there’s no description that I can give that will mean the same thing to everyone. I used to say thick pudding, and people weren’t cooking it long enough. So, I added photos showing what the mixture should look like, and I also added a video showing the process. Cooking it for 40 minutes is way too long, though, and it shouldn’t be completely dried out. Did you look at the photos in the post? I think that would have helped.
2) Beating the frosting also helps to make it light and fluffy, but it’s good that it worked well for you!
Amazing frosting. Worth the extra whipping time (so much easier with a stand mixer). Perfect!
Thank you so much!
This is the original red velvet cake frosting. it’s called Ermine Frosting. It is delicious! and IMO way better tasting than buttercream.
May be a silly question, but can this be used to frost sugar cookies?!
Absolutely! I’ve used it on my sugar cookies, and it worked well.
Hi, you covered a lot. A friend,gave me this recipe 25 years ago. It used powdered sug. So that does work and tastes the same. A trick to keep the flour mixture from forming a skin is to cover with plastic wrap touching the mixture as u do pudding or pie filling. Oh, one more thing…u can cook the sugar with the flour if afraid if grittiness. It’s basically thick pudding.the pudding mixed with fats is what makes the yummy texture. Sugar can be adjusted to taste.
Thanks for sharing those tips!
Hi, please could you tell me how long the frosting will last, if I refrigerate it, will I need to whip it again, can it be frozen ?
Hi! I have a FAQ section in the post that covers these questions. The frosting will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge. It sets up quite a bit, so you’ll have to let it come up in temperature. It shouldn’t need to be rewhipped if it’s properly incorporated before chilling. It can be frozen.
Lana moore says
Hey, would this cover a 2 layer of a 9 inch cake you think. Or should I double the recipe?
It should! I’ve used it to frost a 2-layer 9-inch round cake and have used it to frost 24 cupcakes. If you want to add some piping or detail, you could make a 1.5x batch, but this recipe makes a good amount of frosting.
about 40 years ago my mother used to make this same icing with the old fashioned block of margarine, the secret was to keep both the mixtures very cold then whip them for a long time she covered her hot water cocoa cake with it and kept it in the fridge until serving. Delicious !!
How interesting! I love the way food can bring back wonderful memories!
Hi Kate, I’m making a lemon cake and would like to try this frosting; would you know how I could make this lemon flavored? I’m not sure if I should use lemon juice because of the milk or if I should use lemon extract. Thanks
When I’ve made lemon buttercream, I’ve used lemon extract and grated a little lemon zest into it for a fresher lemon taste. I hope that helps!
Can you use gluten free flour or cornstarch
Hi! I’ve heard from several people who have used gluten-free measure-for-measure flour, and they’ve said that it worked well for them. I hope that helps!
I searched the internet for over an hour trying to find a perfect frosting. I HATE buttercream, store bought, or plain vanilla frostings. My favorite is a creamy Chantilly cream, but I didn’t think that would go good with the cake I am making. I needed something that was creamy, light, and sweet enough to be frosting but not give-you-a-stomach-ache- after-one-piece sweet. This was perfect. I followed the recipe exactly with timers for the mixing. It was not gritty at all and super light with just enough sweetness. This will be our go to recipe for cupcakes, cakes, or any other recipe requiring frosting. I would absolutely love to find out if there’s a way to incorporate cream cheese for a cream cheese frosting with this recipe.
Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it! Yes! I have a cream cheese version. You can find that recipe here.
Can I use a sugar substitute for the frosting? I am a cake decorator and have diabetic clients.
Hi! I haven’t used a sugar substitute in this recipe to say for certain, but I’ve heard from people who have successfully used Splenda in the frosting.
Sue Salas says
I have made this buttercream many times & everyone loves it. I came across another recipe that cooks the sugar, milk & flour together. I did that using your recipe. Game changer! I don’t have to worry about the sugar granules not mixing in well.
Best buttercream I’ve made or tasted! I’m very picky and always trying something new looking for the one. I had my reservations due to the flour milk paste but decided to trust the process. I did have one small issue though, I’m not sure what caused it, I mixed in my mixer for over 10 mins in total… but I had small texture pieces I believe came from the flour mix? Did anyone else have this problem and how did you solve it?
Thank you so much! I’ve heard from people who have put the mixture through the blender or a fine mesh sieve to make the milk/flour mixture smoother. If the pieces were from a skin (like a pudding skin), you can press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the milk/flour mixture, and that should prevent it from forming a skin. Hope that helps for next time!
Norma Bisulca says
So creamy and not too sweet!