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Seven Minute Frosting with Variations

This is the best of the traditional American fluffy white frostings, billowy and sweet - and miraculously fat free. For this recipe a stainless-steel bowl is recommended because crockery and glass are so slow to heat that the top of the meringue cools down before it is adequately heated. Be sure to rinse the stem of the thermometer in the simmering skillet water between readings to avoid contaminating the egg whites. Have the egg whites at room temperature.


  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts or shredded sweetened dried coconut optional


  • Whisk water, cream of tartar, sugar, egg whites and corn syrup together in a large stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat the egg whites on low speed until the mixture reaches 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet, or the egg whiles will be overcooked. If you cannot hold the thermometer stem in the egg whites while continuing to beat, remove the bowl from the skillet just to read the thermometer, then return the bowl to the skillet. Beat on high speed for exactly 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add the vanilla. Beat on high speed for 2 to 3 more minutes to cool. Stir in the nuts or coconut if desired.

    Use immediately.

    Seven Minute Lemon Frosting
    Prepare frosting , above, substituting 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for 2 to 3 tablespoons of the water and adding 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

    Seven Minute Orange Frosting
    Prepare frosting , above, substituting 1/4 cup fresh orange juice for all of the water and adding 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest.

    Seven Minute Penuche or Brown Sugar Frosting
    Prepare frosting , above, substituting 1 1/3 Cups packed light or dark brown sugar for the sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon maple, walnut, or pecan extract with the vanilla if desired.