Anyone who can conjure a frosting as angelic as this—puffy and white and billowy as clouds—can clearly talk to angels. Or at least channel them. Way to go, Momma Reiner. Never was a coconut angel food cake so perfectly smothered in cloudlike perfection and confection.–David Leite

*How do I separate eggs quickly?

You may want to try Wilton’s egg separator to obtain fast and easy egg whites with no mess. The egg yolk sits in a top cavity while the whites slip through slots into a bottom compartment. Even the kids will get a kick out of it.

Bowl of angel white icing in firm peaks on white marble, above is a whisk

Angel White Icing

5 / 5 votes
This angel white icing, made with sugar, cream of tartar, egg whites, and vanilla or almond extract, is soft, delicate, and billowy. Perfect for enveloping your favorite cakes and topping your cupcakes.
David Leite
Servings10 servings | frosts 1 cake
Calories122 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup egg whites*, (from about 4 large eggs, separated)

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract


  • In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and hot water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the liquid changes from cloudy to clear, 3 to 5 minutes. 
  • Cover the saucepan and boil for about 1 minute to wash down any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the saucepan.
  • Uncover and continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 240°F (115°C). Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool just a little.
  • When the candy thermometer reads 236°F (113°C), beat the egg whites with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. 
  • With the motor still running, slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites, beating on medium speed. Add the vanilla or almond extract and continue to beat until the frosting is cool and holds its shape, 5 to 8 minutes. Use immediately. Originally published March 22, 2012.
Sugar, Sugar

Adapted From

Sugar, Sugar

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 122 kcalCarbohydrates: 30 gProtein: 1 gFat: 0.1 gSodium: 50 mgSugar: 30 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Kimberly Reiner | Jenna Sanz-Agero. Photo © 2011 Mariela Naplatanova. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I tried this angel white icing recipe for a bit of nostalgia. It’s a version of the “7-minute” marshmallow frosting my Grandma always made to spread atop our family birthday cakes. The frosting is light, fluffy, and easy to spread.

Although the recipe is nostalgic, it’s also very modern since it makes the perfect base for decorating a cake with sprinkles, coconut, or anything else you want to adhere to your cake. I ended up with a generous amount of frosting – certainly enough for a three-layer cake or 24 cupcakes, provided you can stop tasting it right out of the bowl. I used it to frost a coconut angel food cake.

The recipe feels a little intimidating with talk of sugar crystals, candy thermometers, and stiff egg white peaks but the directions took me through the process with good results. Using a candy thermometer and stand mixer made the process easier than I thought it would be. I paid close attention to cooking the sugar syrup to 240°F and whisking my egg whites to the point where I lifted the beaters and got peaks that stood up straight and held their peaks without slouching down.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I will be traveling and was wondering if I can make the icing 2 days in advance of icing my cake. A comment suggested doing that, but wanted to confirm it would remain stable. Would I store it in the refrigerator? Once I ice the cake would it need refrigeration?

    1. Wally, this type of frosting is best if made the day you are serving it. You can store the frosted cake at cool room temperature, ideally covered.

  2. 5 stars
    My grand daughter would love a pink frosted angel food cake for her birthday. Wondering if I can tint this icing with beet powder? How far in advance can I frost the cake before it is served?

    1. Vickie, we haven’t tried this so we can’t say for sure, but it should work fine. You’ll want to mix the beet powder with a little water until you get the desired color, and then strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth so you don’t have any bits of beet powder in the icing. Ideally, you should frost the cake the day you’re serving it.