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How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar Four Fabulous Ways?

Light, fluffy, creamy, silky, whipped – there are many words that describe frosting, the beautiful topping on a delectable cake, tasty squares, yummy cookies, or scrumptious cupcakes.

Some people would rather eat just the icing, and forget about what is underneath!

You decide which icing you would like to make for your baked confection. I am sure you will be pleased with whichever topping you choose.

So don’t let the fact that you have run out of powdered sugar stop you from baking up something wonderful! Select from one of the four following recipes, and you’re on your way.

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

When I was a child, one of my most favorite desserts was angel cake with Seven-Minute Frosting. This is just one of the icing recipes you will read about here.

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Seven-Minute Frosting?

Seven-Minute Frosting is thick, rich, fluffy and gooey. Granulated sugar and corn syrup are the sweeteners here. The mixture is put in a double boiler and beaten with a hand mixer until it reaches the desired stiff peaks.

This icing is totally decadent on angel cake – I speak from a lot of taste-testing experience – but it may be used on other cakes as well such as red velvet or German chocolate. It is very rich, so a swirl to top cupcakes works beautifully.

Be careful around the boiling water. You may wish to wear an oven mitt while you are holding the hand mixer so that your hand does not get too hot.

If you find the frosting is creeping up the sides of the pot or bowl, use a spatula to wipe down the sides.

Have a hot pad on the counter near the stove so that you can place the hot saucepan or bowl there easily when you remove it from the heat.

RELATED: How To Identify Brown Sugar And Cane Sugar

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Million Dollar Icing?

Million Dollar Icing has a cooked base to which is added creamed butter and sugar. The result is a light, somewhat custard-like frosting which is a wonderful pairing with banana cake.

If you’re like me, you don’t always want a rich, super sweet frosting. Million Dollar Icing has a mild flavor. What’s more, this allows the flavor of the cake to stand out.

When I was a teen, I had a friend whose mother loved to bake. Once when I visited, she had made a banana cake and the frosting was something I had never had before. It was delicious.

I asked for the recipe for the cake and icing. I now wish I had asked where the name Million Dollar Icing came from. I enjoy making this cake and frosting still, and it is a favorite of my family.

This icing cooks up quickly. Be sure to let it cool before putting it on the cake or the icing will melt and disappear into the cake.

Stir the milk and cornstarch constantly as it will thicken quickly, and you do not want to over-cook it or it will become too thick and lumpy.

To avoid this, as soon as the mixture just starts to thicken, I remove it from the heat and continue stirring off the heat until the whole mixture has become thick.

This recipe makes just enough for an 8 x 8 cake. Double the recipe if you want more icing.

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Brown Sugar Frosting?

The addition of brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar creates a lovely caramel flavor in this recipe for frosting.

It is particularly good on date cake or apple cake, and is also nice on cottage pudding – which isn’t a pudding at all, but rather a cake somewhat like pound cake.

Unlike most frostings which must be spread on a cooled cake, this brown sugar frosting is put on when the cake is warm, and then it goes in the oven to broil briefly, giving the frosting a delicious caramel flavor.

Imagine the wonderful aroma from the oven. This is a lovely frosting to make on a crisp fall day. My mother used to make this icing when my sister and I were young. I could hardly wait to get a piece of that wonderfully-scented cake. What a treat!

The broiler is very hot, so be sure to place the cake 6” below the broiler so as not to burn the icing.

Watch the cake closely when it is under the broiler as the frosting can go from bubbly and brown to overdone very quickly.

Since this frosting recipe requires a warm cake, you will need to make the icing shortly after the cake is out of the oven. Make sure you plan enough time to make both the cake and the frosting in the same morning or afternoon.

RELATED: How To Soften Hard White Sugar? Your Ultimate White Sugar Guides

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Ermine Frosting?

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Ermine Frosting?

Ermine Frosting is made completely without icing sugar. The base is a roux made from milk, sugar and flour that you cook briefly on the stove. Butter is the other main ingredient in ermine frosting.

The roux is combined with butter that has been whipped, and voila, you have a smooth, silky buttercream perfect for spreading on cakes.

This frosting is sometimes referred to as flour buttercream. You may also have heard it called heritage frosting or boiled frosting. Ermine frosting has actually been around for a long time. 

The fact that ermine frosting does not use powdered sugar, means that it is less sweet than some other frostings. It has a pudding-like quality, though it is much thicker for spreading.

It also pipes well which makes it a good choice for icing cupcakes and cookies.

With minimal ingredients and no powdered sugar required, ermine frosting is an easy icing to whip up.

There are lots of options for creating different flavors as well – just beat in orange zest, caramel syrup, melted chocolate, or lemon curd at the end. Experiment to find flavors you love.

When adding the milk to the flour and sugar be sure to do so gradually, and whisk constantly. Do not step away from the saucepan and stop whisking as the mixture will stick easily and become lumpy.

It is ideal to let the roux cool on the counter, but if you don’t have the time to wait, you can speed things up by putting the bowl in the fridge. Keep checking, and remove it when it has reached room temperature.

How To Make Your Own Powdered Sugar

While there are obviously great options for making frosting without confectioner’s sugar, there may be times when you really want to make a particular frosting recipe that calls for powdered sugar.

If you don’t have any on hand, and don’t want to make a trip to the grocery store, don’t despair. You can make icing sugar at home. It takes a little while, but it’s totally doable, and the result is excellent.

Powdered sugar is actually just finely ground granulated white sugar. You can make your own by using a heavy-duty blender, a food processor or even a coffee grinder, though this might result in your powdered sugar tasting slightly of coffee.

If you have a mortar and pestle you can also grind the sugar this way, but this method will require more time and considerable patience.

As you grind the sugar, stop and put it through a sifter which will leave you with any larger bits that you can then blend some more.

Simply repeat this loop – grinding and sifting until you have the amount of powdered sugar you need for your recipe.

You can also make up a larger quantity of icing sugar to have on hand when you need it. Your newly made confectioner’s sugar may be stored in an airtight container.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Chocolate Ermine Frosting?

Yes, you can easily make chocolate ermine frosting by adding 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder before you add the vanilla.

How Do I Store Leftover Frosting?

Any leftover frosting, including ermine frosting, may be kept by putting it in an airtight container and storing it in the fridge. When you want to use ermine frosting again, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

What Is Icing Sugar Made Of?

Powdered sugar, also called confectioners icing sugar or sugar, is a finely ground sugar produced by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state.

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Seven-Minute Frosting

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Seven-Minute Frosting?

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Put all of the ingredients into a double boiler and blend well. Over a pot of boiling water, use a hand mixer to beat the mixture until it stands in stiff peaks.


  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. Water
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  • Double boiler or heat-proof bowl to sit on top of bottom of saucepan
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large spoon
  • Hand mixer
  • Spatula


  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the vanilla, in the top of a double boiler, or a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Stir to blend the ingredients well.
  3. Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of the double boiler.
  4. Place the top of the double boiler or heat-proof bowl over the bottom of the double boiler.
  5. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until the frosting stands in peaks. 
  6. Remove the frosting from the heat, and fold in the vanilla.
How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Million Dollar Icing

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Million Dollar Icing?

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Milk and cornstarch are cooked briefly on the stove, cooled, then added to creamed sugar, butter, and vanilla.


  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla


  • 2-quart saucepan
  • Large spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Butter knife
  • Hand mixer


  1. Measure the milk and cornstarch into a 2-quart saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat until just thick.
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool, stirring from time to time so that the mixture doesn’t go lumpy.
  4. With a hand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
  5. Add the cooled mixture and beat until smooth.
How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Brown Sugar Frosting?

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Brown Sugar Frosting?

Active Time: 13 minutes
Additional Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Brown sugar and flour are combined, then added to a mixture of butter and water. After blending thoroughly, the icing is put on a warm cake and put under the broiler for 2 minutes to become bubbly.


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup melted butter or margarine
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans if desired


  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Butter knife
  • Hand mixer


  1. Using a hand mixer, combine in a medium-sized bowl the brown sugar, flour and salt.
  2. To this add the melted butter or margarine and water.
  3. Add nuts if using.
  4. Spread the frosting on a warm 8” or 9” square cake.
  5. Place the cake 6 “ under the broiler in a preheated oven.
  6. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is bubbly and brown.
Ermine Frosting

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar: Ermine Frosting?

Active Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 1 minute
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 21 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

A roux is made of flour, granulated sugar, salt and milk. After coming to room temperature, this is gradually added to whipped butter. Vanilla is added after the roux and butter are combined.


  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  • Hand or stand mixer
  • Medium saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Plastic wrap


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt.
  2. Gradually whisk the milk into the dry ingredients.
  3. On medium heat and whisking constantly, cook the mixture until it is very thick - about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the roux to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  5. Press plastic wrap onto the roux to keep it from developing a skin.
  6. Let the roux cool to room temperature - 1-1 ½ hours.
  7. When the mixture is cooled, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes.
  8. 1 tbsp. at a time, add the flour mixture to the butter, beating thoroughly after each addition until smooth.
  9. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting has a consistency of whipped cream.
Jess Smith

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