This easy homemade marshmallow frosting tastes just like marshmallow fluff! This recipe is a fun and simple alternative to buttercream, and this step-by-step tutorial will show you how to make perfectly fluffy frosting that doesn’t get grainy.
How to Make Marshmallow Frosting
Marshmallow frosting is super easy to make. First you mix your ingredients and then put them in a bain-marie or double broiler. Double broilers are used to gently heat food, so that it doesn’t cook too much. It is often used for chocolate and egg whites as they will cook too much when heating directly on a stove. The great thing is, it is super easy to make one yourself. All you need is a sauce pan and any heat proof bowl that fits on the pot.
First, put the pot of simmering water onto a stove and then heat the egg whites in a heatproof bowl on top the pan until they reach 165 ℉ on a candy thermometer. Then, mix with a whisk attachment until it is light and fluffy, and starts to cool down to the touch, about 5-7 minutes. That’s it. While it sounds simple, there are a couple tips and tricks to ensure the frosting whips up light and fluffy, and doesn’t get grainy.
Grainy Marshmallow Frosting
There are a couple reasons the frosting gets grainy. The first is the water is filled too high and touches the bottom of the bowl. You want to make sure the water is an inch or two below the bottom of the bowl. And, placing a large ball of aluminum foil in the bottom of the pan will help ensure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
The other main issue is the sugar has not completely dissolved before you start to whip the egg whites. Similar to making caramel, any undissolved sugar can cause the frosting to get grainy.
There a couple things to do that help. First, I like to mix the sugar and egg whites in separate bowl and carefully pour into the bowl I’m heating so there are no unmixed sugar crystals along the sides of the bowl. You can see here the difference:
Also, when heating the egg white mixture, I do stir it to ensure even cooking. But, use either a heatproof spatula to scrape the bowl and make sure there is no lingering sugar crystals on the sides. Or, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down any sugar that is on stuck to the sides of the bowl after mixing.
Tips for Making Marshmallow Frosting:
- Make sure the bowls and utensils you use to mix your eggs whites are very clean. Any oil can cause the egg whites to not whip up properly.
- Make sure there are no undissolved sugar crystals along the sides of the bowl. You can use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl or use a pastry brush dipped in water to wipe down the sides of the bowl if any sugar egg mixture gets stuck on the sides. Any undissolved sugar can make the frosting grainy so it’s important all the sugar is dissolved.
- Placing a gently rolled up ball of tin foil in the bottom of the pan can help keep the bowl from touching the water.
- You can test to see if all the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit between your fingers. If it still feels grainy, keep cooking. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, this is also a good way to tell when it is ready to whip.
- You can use a hand held mixer to whip the egg whites, but still make sure all the sugar has dissolved before you start mixing.
- This frosting is best the day you make it, but it will last up to a day in the fridge.
The difference between marshmallow and 7 minute frosting
Marshmallow frosting and 7 minute frosting are very similar, but 7 minute frosting has water. Because of the extra liquid it is thinner and you can not pipe it like you can marshmallow frosting and must use a knife or spatula to spread it. Here is a side by side picture of the difference:
You can see the 7 minute frosting is not as thick. It also forms a crust on the outside after it sits for awhile. But, the process for making the frostings is the same, and people often use them interchangeably, so I’m including both recipes.
Uses for Marshmallow Frosting
When you hear frosting you typically think of something for cupcakes and cakes, but this is actually a very versatile topping you can use a lot of different ways. Here are some fun ideas:
- Dip for fruits and cookies
- Topping for hot cocoa
- Macaron Filling
- Piped on lemon curd filled tarts
- Filling for cream puffs
You can also try adding some non-oil based extracts like lemon or coconut to change up the flavor profile. And don’t forget to try toasting the frosting! Both marshmallow frosting and 7 minute frosting toast up beautifully using a brûlée torch.
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- Standing or Hand-Held Mixer with Large Bowl
- Heat Proof Spatula
- Digital Thermometer
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp vanilla
7 Minute Frosting
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Set up a double broiler or a saucepan with an inch or two of water, making sure the water is at least 1-2 inches below the bottom of the bowl you will be placing on the saucepan.
- Mix all ingredients, minus the vanilla extract in a separate bowl.
- Pour the mixed ingredients into the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large heat safe bowl, being careful not to splash the mix along the sides of the bowl.
- Place the bowl over the prepared saucepan.
- Start to simmer the water and heat the mixture until it reaches 165 ℉ and all the sugar has dissolved, about 5-10 minutes from when the water starts to simmer.
- While heating, gently mix to ensure even cooking. If any sugar egg mixture has splashed on the sides you can use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash it down or use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Any undissolved sugar can cause the frosting to get grainy so it’s important all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
- The egg white mixture will be fairly warm to the touch, but you can check to see if the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit between your fingers. If it is still grainy, heat it longer until you can no longer feel any grains of sugar when you test it.
- Once all the sugar has dissolved and the mix is 165 ℉, remove from heat and place the bowl in a standing mixture and mix on medium high for 5-7 minutes until the egg whites whip up and the mixture starts to cool. Once it starts to whip up, add the vanilla. You can also use a hand mixer to mix it.
- This frosting is best used the day you make it but it will last up to a day in the fridge.
Other Frosting Recipes: