Reader question… “Do you have a good recipe for frosting that can be made without using confectioner’s sugar? I’ve been looking for one for a while but I haven’t found one I’m happy with but I’ve enjoyed so many of your recipes on this site that I thought you might have a special frosting recipe too. Thanks!” –Natalie J.

Whenever I frost a cake… and that is usually only for birthdays or other special occasions because we actually prefer cake without frosting… this is the frosting that I always make. It’s light and fluffy, sweet but not TOO sweet, and it doesn’t form a hard crust like many other boiled frostings do. And before someone asks, no, you will not taste any vinegar in the finished frosting… and yes, the boiling syrup will fully cook the egg whites.

A good candy thermometer will take the guesswork out of knowing when the sugar syrup reaches 238°F… but it’s more fun to test for “doneness” by dropping a bit into cold water… it is easy to tell when the syrup is ready because it will actually “spin a thread.”

1 cup fine granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Boil together the sugar, water, and vinegar to 238°F (or until the syrup spins a long thread when it is dropped from the tip of a spoon into a glass of cold water). Note: Do not stir the sugar syrup while it is cooking. Stirring will make the syrup and frosting grainy.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Gradually add the boiling syrup, beating constantly, until the frosting holds its shape. Add the vanilla extract.

This frosting makes enough to fill and frost two 8-inch cake layers.

To make a chocolate frosting, follow the directions above and add 1 1/2 squares of melted unsweetened chocolate with the vanilla.

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Laryssa @Heaven In The Home

Looks great! I’m pretty sure that my Grandma used to make this kind of frosting. :-)


Oh, I can’t wait to try this! I always make the seven-minute frosting from The Joy of Cooking, but it is such a pain to beat it on the stove while keeping tabs on the temperature. (Especially because I don’t have an outlet near my stove, so I have to use an extension cord on my hand mixer, trying not to catch the whole thing on fire…) This seems a ton easier. I think some “just because” cupcakes might be in order later on today…

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Meghann, try the mix-in-the-pan chocolate cake and this frosting, as filled cupcakes or squares of cake cut in half and filled with this frosting. It’s like a quick and easy whoopee pie!

Laryssa, this is an old recipe, so it is probably the same as your grandmother made. My mother always made this too.


Just tried this recipe and is it ever awesome! I was a little afraid of the vinegar, but you can’t taste it. Even my husband likes it!


The boiled icing turned out great but I made a batch using chocolate which did not turn out as it lost its consistency. Quite runny when chocolate added. Loved the white boiled icing. Easy to make.