Seven-Minute Frosting

This traditional frosting is fluffy, white, and almost meringue-like in texture. It’s easy to make and takes 7 minutes to cook.

A large stand-mixer beater covered with white, fluffy seven minute frosting.

Seven-minute frosting is named for the length of time it must be beaten in the final stage. Made with beaten egg whites, it’s similar to meringue, but is more stable and sturdy enough for piping yet still has a delicate flavor and lighter-than-air texture. The frosting will harden quickly, so have the cake you are going to frost already prepared before making the frosting and spread it on while the beaten egg whites and sugar are still pliable. Once frosted, the cake may sit out for up to several hours before being served, but no longer than that.–Martha Stewart

IS 7-MINUTE FROSTING THE SAME AS MARSHMALLOW FROSTING?

Yes, technically speaking, this is Seven-Minute Frosting, although we prefer the more whimsical nickname of Marshmallow Frosting. It’s easy to understand how this came to be, given the luscious, billowy, lick-the-batter inducing photograph above from the indubitable Smitten Kitchen. And, of course, there’s always the recipe’s trademark sweet, sweet, sweetness. No matter what its name, though, you can rely on this frosting to lend a sophisticated edge to many a made-from-scratch-baked good. It can even double as a pastry filling for–and we say this in all seriousness–homemade Twinkies.

Seven-Minute Frosting

A large stand-mixer beater covered with white, fluffy seven minute frosting.
This traditional frosting is fluffy, white, and almost meringue-like in texture. It’s easy to make and takes 7 minutes to cook.
Martha Stewart

Prep 5 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 10 mins
Dessert
American
4 cups
175 kcal
4.88 / 8 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook cookbook

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Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
 

  • In the metal bowl of a standing mixer set over (but not touching) a saucepan of simmering water, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, egg whites, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on high speed until glossy, thick, and billowing peaks form, about, well, you know, 7 minutes. (Although truth be told, sometimes it doesn't take quite that long. When in doubt, just look at the picture above; that’s what you want.) Beat in the vanilla. Use to frost a cake or cupcakes immediately. Best when consumed within several hours.
Print RecipeBuy the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 175kcal (9%)Carbohydrates: 42g (14%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 1g (2%)Sodium: 118mg (5%)Potassium: 42mg (1%)Sugar: 42g (47%)Calcium: 3mgIron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The grandchildren asked me for cupcakes they could take to school in their lunches, so I decided to try this frosting recipe as a filling. I used my KitchenAid to mix this with and it didn’t quite take the full 7 minutes.

I put the frosting in a pastry bag and squirted a generous amount into each cupcake as a filling. Then I sealed each cupcake in a resealable plastic sandwich bag to make the cupcakes easy to pack in their lunches. They were a big hit.

This is a lovely frosting. I used it on a coconut cake and it was perfect in combination with the rich and coconut-y cake and as the base for the sprinkling of coconut atop and all the way around the cake. There was more than enough frosting for the pair of 2-layer, 4-1/2-inch cakes the recipe yielded. I

cannot stress enough the seriousness of the sentence in the instructions that read, “Use immediately.” We baked the first two layers of the cake, cooled the cake, frosted it, and then baked the second two layers of the cake because we had two, not four, 4 1/2-inch cake pans. By the time the second two layers had cooled and were ready to be frosted, the frosting was not in the optimal state for spreading that it had been when first made. Next time, we would make all of the cakes first, cool them, and then frost both at the same time.

Originally published March 12, 2011

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Comments

  1. Just a tip to those wondering if they are doing it wrong because it isn’t fluffy after 7 or even 10 minutes: “Seven-minute Frosting” ALWAYS takes 13 minutes for me. Always. So, don’t lose heart, just keep whipping!!

    I have not made this particular recipe, but all seven-minute frosting recipes are the same basic thing. And it pretty much is the same as a recipe for marshmallow fluff (which is to say, almost the same as for making homemade marshmallows but with egg white instead of gelatin as the stabilizer.)

    If you want something similar but that won’t get dried out overnight, you can start with seven-minute frosting and then whip butter into it for Swedish Buttercream. (I have not yet tried this myself. You can find tons of recipes out there. You could probably use shortening instead of butter if you have allergies.)

    1. Magnificent advice, JenP! You just never know exactly how long it may take. Greatly appreciate your reminder to understand it’s not the home cook doing something wrong, sometimes it’s just the variables involved! Thanks for taking the time to share your advice. As with most things in life, don’t lose heart, just keep going!

  2. I have yet to make this, but as I cannot eat corn syrup what can I substitute? Also is the frosting firm enough to use in a pastry injector or will if deflate under pressure?

    1. Corn syrup is called for in many baking and candy recipes as it is an invert sugar that prevents crystallization and adds a glossy finish. Probably the closest substitute would be Lyle’s Golden Syrup. As we didn’t test this variation, you might have to give it a trial run to see how it behaves in a pastry bag.

  3. Hi David, I made this icing last night and after 7 minutes it looked beautiful. However when I started spreading and frosting the cake the texture seemed off? It didn’t seem smooth as I when I was whipping it. I was also wondering if there’s a way to keep it’s texture whilst I’m still filling the cake. After whipping it, do I immediately put it in a piping bag and seal with a rubber band? I was hoping to use the rest of the icing for decoration and piping. 🙂

    Last question! I kept the cake in the fridge for 7 hours served it after and the icing had a clear pool of water at the bottom of my cake. Is it possible that I overbeat the icing?

    Over-all, my brother, who is a marshmallow fanatic, liked this icing! Also my co-teachers appreciated the authentic marshmallow taste. 🙂

    Thanks in advance.
    With love from the Philippines.

    1. Hi Mariella, so glad that you like the frosting. Several things come to mind, it is very important that the simmering water not touch the bottom of the bowl and make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Both of those could impact the texture and weeping of the frosting. Also, this frosting is at its best when used right away so I would pipe the decorations as soon as the cake is iced.

  4. Is this frosting stable enough for mix-ins, like Oreo cookie crumbs for a cookies and cream type frosting? Or would the mix-in need to be fat-free to hold its consistency?

    1. Erin, we haven’t tried doctoring up this frosting with mix ins, so I can’t say from experience that it will work, but I think that if you add the mix ins and frost the cake as close to serving as possible, it should be fine.

  5. 4 stars
    Came together super easy and looked beautiful. Definitely need to frost right after. I left for ~15 minutes and it started to lose its smooth texture so I whipped it for another few seconds and went back to icing- worked like a charm and was beautiful and light. I didn’t love the flavor, it was a little too obviously egg-y for me.

    1. Hi Noelle, I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the frosting. It is a very meringue-y flavor. I wonder if a dash more vanilla might help it be a bit more palatable to you?

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