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Whipped Frosting

Just try not to lick the spoon when you make this basic whipped frosting.

  • yield: 5 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cook's Note

This frosting can be used atop our Versatile Vanilla Cake or Lemon Cake.

Directions

  1. Step 1

    In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and water. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved (or mixture registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until glossy, stiff peaks form (do not overbeat), about 3 minutes; reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and beat just until combined. Use immediately.

      In this step:

Source
Everyday Food, May 2009

Reviews (52)

  • 8 Mar, 2014

    This frosting is incredible! My husband requested a whipped frosting and having never made one from scratch, I found this recipe after an Internet search. I've never had a Martha Stewart recipe fail so this one was a natural choice. I made it exactly as the recipe states with no alterations. It was easy to make and very, very flavorful. The first sample I gave my husband earned a fist bump. In the future, I think I may replace the vanilla with lemon extract for a lemon cake.

  • 13 Feb, 2014

    I had the same problem others have with it not firming up. What might we be doing wrong?

  • 15 Dec, 2013

    This is not so much a review as a question. We recently moved and somehow my Martha Steward Baking cookbook got lost in the shuffle!!! I made this delicious icing a few years ago. It was very light and just right, but I added chocolate. This recipe seems familiar, but it doesn't allow for chocolate to be added. Any thoughts out there? Thanks for your help!

  • 26 Nov, 2013

    I'm unsure what Widow Rose is talking about as this is a very typical frosting recipe, and it is also NOT raw. This person neither tried the recipe or even read it! Perhaps this person assumed it was similar to royal icing, which is raw egg whites. I have a feeling people who rated this review negatively are not cooking or whipping it properly. Take your time, read before starting.
    This recipe turns out well each time I make it. It's quite versatile as I can add any flavoring I want!

  • 30 Oct, 2013

    Typically, when I see Martha Stewart's name on any recipe, I expect it will be a good one. Forgive me for being blunt, but the use of raw egg in frosting...is disturbing. This is not a frosting recipe, this is a RAW Meringue Recipe! I half expected to see whipping cream and confectioners sugar for a frosting recipe, not raw egg and granulated sugar...

  • 29 Aug, 2013

    I thought this "frosting" worked very well on the lemon cake. It whipped to stiffness and had a subtle sweet flavour (I did substitute lemon for vanilla), perfect for the already sweet lemon cake. Thank you!

  • 24 Aug, 2013

    This recipe was awful. It didn't work at all; it never stiffened. As far as taste goes, it was fine, but texture and consistency was not that of a meringue at all. It was a liquid, and very runny. I will not be using this recipe again. It was a complete waste of my time AND ingredients. I needed this for a birthday cake and it was a big let down. 0/5 stars.

  • 4 Aug, 2013

    This frosting was horrible. It is basically a meringue recipe minus the cream of tartar so it never even stiffened. I heated and beat on high but it never solidified.

  • 21 Mar, 2013

    This isn't frosting. This is meringue. Please make the distinction!

  • 15 Mar, 2013

    whipped frosting

  • 18 Feb, 2013

    this was horrible, i did everything it said to do and it just wouldnt thicken up, very dissappointed

  • 1 Jan, 2013

    This is a delicious frosting. It bubbles and looks funny but when you beat it and add the vanilla it comes out great. My 9 year old daughter who doesn't usually eat frosting on cupcakes or cake at a cupcake with this frosting on it...I will definetly use this again.

  • 1 Jan, 2013

    This is a delicious frosting. It bubbles and looks funny but when you beat it and add the vanilla it comes out great. My 9 year old daughter who doesn't usually eat frosting on cupcakes or cake at a cupcake with this frosting on it...I will definetly use this again.

  • 27 Nov, 2012

    I made this and as delicious as it is. Bubbles start to form and then it just looks funny. -_- was hoping to use it for a class surprise. Instead I'll just add powdered sugar to stiffen. Still yummy just not as light.

  • 20 Oct, 2012

    Enter your review...

  • 13 Aug, 2012

    I was all set to try this with the lemon cake, but after reading all the reviews I'm going to switch to the tried and true Seven-Minute Frosting instead. I've made it many times and it's worked perfectly every time.

  • 20 May, 2012

    This frosting will only work if you literally want to eat the cake you put it on within 2-3 hours. The steps and ingredients contribute to the frosting being unstable and unreliable. While it turned out fine at first, once the cake was frosted it lost air in the fridge and sort of melted. Anyway the steps for making it are essentially deficient italian meringue steps. Looks elsewhere for much better results.

  • 26 Sep, 2011

    I can't believe how great this turned out! I didn't see the comments below about how difficult this frosting was to make until it was too late to change my mind, so I was very scared about not succeeding, being an amature baker. But I took #brigitte1981 's advice, and was extremely careful about the heat from the simmering water getting in touch with the eggwhites, and held the bowl by the window while whipping. I didn't have a thermometer, but paid attention to when the sugar was disolved.

  • 13 Aug, 2011

    I just added a little cream of tartar and then whipped it until it became thick (about 5 minutes). It turned out perfectly!

  • 10 Jul, 2011

    Other similar recipes call for a small amount of cream of tartar and also include the water. Cream of tartar is used to stabilize egg whites and add stiffness.

  • 3 Jul, 2011

    i tryed this frosting using no water
    it tasted really sweet
    not adding water is a good idea.

  • 24 Jun, 2011

    Hey Martha! You'd better revisit this recipe. I tried it 3 tiimes today - and it doesn't work. Wasted a whole bunch of good eggs. Somewhere, there's a glitch in the procedures. I finally just eliminated the water and added a bit more sugar - then put the whole thing in the freezer (after mixing) and it was a bit better. More like icing than frosting. Someone goofed when putting this recipe together.

  • 24 Jun, 2011

    If you make this frosting.. do not add the water.. it will turn out runny... won't set up .... just add lemon juice... or vanilla..
    and a little cream of tartar..

  • 1 Mar, 2011

    iT IS NOT A DIFFICULT RECIPE, THE ONLY THING IS THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR TOOLS LIKE MIXER BOWL, BEATTERS, SPOONS, ETC, IN OTHER WORDS ANTHING THAT YOU USE MUST BE GRASE FREE. IF YOU HAVE JUST ONE TINY SPOT OF GREASE AND IT GETS IN CONTACT WITH YOUR EGG WHITES, IT WILL NOT RISE.

  • 20 Feb, 2011

    it worked after my 4th attempt (in the past week) and many thanks to all the contributors below. i used a thermometer to get to the temp as per recipe and when it came to whip it, i went to an air conditioned room to escape the heat and humidity in the kitchen. i also added cream of tartar just in case. it became stiff peaks under 5 mins of beating with a handheld beater. thanks everyone!!

  • 14 Feb, 2011

    Rule #4 if youre able to beat mixture in an area other than your hot kitchen -do so! I took my bowl outside in the Canadian winter to hand beat! Sore arm after 6minutes of beating, but great results! Also, if you want to practice, you can do so with 1 egg, 1/4 sugar and a tad of water (less waste while you're perfecting your method!) good luck! My main secret was that egg whites hate moisture/steam/humidity

  • 14 Feb, 2011

    Eureka! I found the answer: follow these tips for no fail results. Take a small pot to boil the water. Take a much larger pot to place on top (with the eggs sugar and water in it) make sure the pot covers the whole surface of the smaller pot, so no steam can escape. #2, do this frosting with the thermometer. It's a rule! #3 if your blender has an enclosed top to it, you may consider beating by hand. Steam trapped in the blender will lead to failure. TO BE CONTINUED:

  • 12 Feb, 2011

    Wow, thanks for the help. The first time I did this, it went perfect, but every time after, I have failed. Thanks for the tips!

  • 28 Dec, 2010

    This recipe is the base for Swiss Meringue butter cream without the butter. If it is not coming out for you it is most likely because your syrup is not reaching temperature. A candy thermometer is a great investment if you like to bake. Once the syrup has reached temperature, pour it in the mixer and let it run. It will fluff up beautifully. Once the cake is iced, you will want to put it in a covered container (whether it is left out or put in the refrigerator).

  • 1 Nov, 2010

    hi, can someone advise how long maximum can i keep the frosted cake without keeping it in the fridge?

  • 26 Sep, 2010

    This recipe worked really well for me! I am definitely a novice baker. It tasted great, kind of marshmellowy. I made it for some friends and everyone loved it. They licked the bowl clean too!

    I think the people having problems just aren't whipping long enough. It's like making meringue, you really have to keep whipping until you get the stiff peaks.
    It takes well over 3 minutes! Don't worry about overwhipping too much either, you'll know when to stop when the mixture is thick.

  • 16 Jul, 2010

    I've made this twice already and it didn't come out. I guess I'll have to read the comments below for pointers!

  • 11 Jul, 2010

    I followed the recipe exactly and made the perfect whipped icing! So much lighter and flufflier than buttercream

  • 11 Jul, 2010

    I followed the directions exactly and it just turned foamed and then to liquid :( I did some more research and found another way to make this that worked! Boil the water, sugar, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy. When the sugar is totally dissolved add the syrup to the egg white foam and beat for about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and then beat again until you get a thick creamy texture.

  • 4 Jun, 2010

    have followed directions (i think) to the letter, but cannot get liquid to beat to peaks. just liquid. what did i do wrong?
    3 large egg whites
    3/4 cup sugar
    Pinch of salt
    1/3 cup water
    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 18 May, 2010

    Best for use on same-day cakes. I've made this frosting three times since seeing it on the Today show and it's been delicious each time. A great change from the ubiquitous--and also yummy--buttercream. I'm not an experienced baker (even by home cook standards) but the directions are quite good. It does deflate after a good while on or off the cake, which is why they encourage immediate use I figure.

  • 17 Apr, 2010

    The frosting was delicious. I used a flat bottom colander to sit the bowl on top of, because when I re-read the recipe it said to sit on TOP of simmering water not into the water. I also got a speck of yolk into the whites, so I saved that batch for omelets and started over with new egg whites.

  • 12 Apr, 2010

    I'm almost always disappointed when I try another frosting ( we call it "icing" in Pittsburgh --- at least on the North Side ) besides regular butter with powdered sugar, so I'll just stick with that. It's never disappoints.

    Anyway, I don't have a mxer, or even an egg beater. Only a fork, so I wouldn't even think of trying to whip it into a meringue. (It works fine for whipped cream, though.)

  • 5 Apr, 2010

    The cake is delicious, but the frosting didn't work out so well. It is not really a thick frosting (like it appears in the photo) but a light meringue. It does not keep - I had to make it twice. My first batch I made in advance and it fell flat within hours. My second attempt I put on the cake immediately, but it still deflated after a while. The taste is great, but it is not really functional as a frosting.

  • 3 Apr, 2010

    This is my favorite frosting. It works beautifully and is very easy to increase for larger cakes. I have memorized it and when I use it for a large catering event, it make a sheet cake look and taste much better than store bought, unless one prefers a shortening based icing.

  • 31 Mar, 2010

    For those of you having difficulty getting the egg white/sugar to whip up into stiff peaks, try separating the egg yolks from egg white when the eggs are still cold. Also, there can't be ANY yolk, not even a speck, or a wisp of yolk or else the egg whites will not form. The recipe is easy, you just have to be careful at the 'egg separation' stage. You'll know when you've whipped it enough when you are able to turn the bowl upside down and the frosting doesn't slide or drip out of the bowl.

  • 5 Mar, 2010

    it's not quite like the picture. mine didn't beat up in 3 minutes, either. more like 13 minutes. it's looking like meringue though- not the whipped frosting i expected. i piped it onto cupcakes

  • 24 Jan, 2010

    ...and just perfect if done correctly!

  • 24 Jan, 2010

    this frosting is amazing. fluffy

  • 30 Dec, 2009

    i followed it perfectly and i got mushy blech. so i put in cream of tartar, three times, and it came perfect. it took a long time to whip but it won't be like egg whites. think of marshmellowy peaks. my husband, who hates anything not chocolate, ate two huge pieces. the frosting won't be thick like a regular one, heavier consistency. pain to make but the cake does look and taste good.

  • 9 Oct, 2009

    Is this really 3 egg whites? How can 3 produce all that frosting?

  • 11 Sep, 2009

    I wasn't a fan of this recipe, either. I used the lemon variation and was able to get the stiff peaks,but I don't know...it' still tasted really 'eggy' to me, if that makes any sense. Didn't like the taste or consistency at all. I'll still make the cake again, because it truly was delicious, but will definitely search for an alternative frosting recipe.

  • 4 Jun, 2009

    I had no trouble with this. If you are expecting this to be 'hard' like frosting, it will not be - it is meringue. Egg whites will not whip up if there is ANY fat (a speck of yolk) in them. I was afraid that it wouldn't be stable when I frosted the cake since it was soft, but it was fine! In fact, I stored leftover cake in the fridge and it was fine 3 days later. I think this is a unique, tasty "frosting" and will use it again - I think it would be especially yummy on a chocolate cake.

  • 30 May, 2009

    I tried it too and it did not work! I wasted a lot of eggs trying it three times. Glad that I am not the only one- I was thinking I was crazy! Leave this one to Martha.

  • 11 May, 2009

    this recipe is terrible. you really have to be martha stewart in order to get it right. i had to do it twice and it still didn't turn out like it was supposed to. the consistency is that of whipped egg whites, not frosting. it never got to the "stiff peaks" stage while beating. and the double boiling is way too much work for frosting.

  • 8 May, 2009

    This is really yummy, but takes some practice to whip it just right. Also, you MUST use PURE vanilla, or it will not be good at all. The vanilla is the key to the taste.

  • 6 May, 2009

    This frosting is terrible. I spent all afternoon making a chocolate cake with raspberry creme' filling mixed in the layers. I saw this recipe on the today show this morning and made the mistake of thinking it would be good. It is too sweet, melts, and is in general, awful

    DO NOT USE. I am tempted to throw out the whole cake at this point.