How to Make Boiled Icing

by zesty on September 2, 2008 · 90 comments

I have had a lot of people ask me – How do you make such great boiled icing?

So I thought I would share my simple yet effective technique.  As mentioned boiled icing does taste great especially with the older generation and it is very simple to make.

When you are making your next cake… give the following a try for your icing and let me know what you think.

I would love to hear other variations of the popular boiled icing.


1 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla


Step 1

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and the water in a quart pot.

Step 2

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they are stiff and hold a peak. Set aside.

Step 3

Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and then to 238 degrees F.

Step 4

Pour the hot syrup over the egg whites in a steady thin stream, beating constantly.

Step 5

Add the vanilla and beat until cool and of spreading consistency. If icing does not seem stiff enough, beat in 2 or 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff enough to hold its shape. Spread over your next cake and enjoy!

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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

1 giz

My first visit – nice to see a fellow Canadian. I’ve never made boiled icing. Does it harden up in the fridge? How long is it good for?


2 ZestyCook

Hey Giz, thanks for the comment. I usually always leave the cake with the icing on the counter – covered with a large bowl or
cake cover. I would say it would last 3-4 days roughly depending on the cake. I like to eat the cake within a couple of days to ensure
that it is fresh( usually not a problem here).

Let me know how you get along.


3 Annachestnut

Is this the shiny icing that used to be used on birthday cakes? it is hard and shiny on the outside and soft and fluffy underneath. Is this the icing?


4 ZestyCook

Anna, It is the shiny icing that is sometimes found on Birthday cakes….. it will being to stiffen on the outside if left uncovered. Yes I think this is the one :)


5 janet

hello i followed your recipe, but my boiled icing become watery, I added icing sugar to make it hard but nothing to make it stiff?


6 Dalla Mia Cucina

Yumm!! This is very similar to an Italian Buttercream icing.. omitting the butter though! :) I’m going to give this a try.. thanks for posting it!


7 ZestyCook

Thanks very much – I hope you like it.


8 Maggie

I love boiled icing. Thanks for the great instructions!


9 ZestyCook

Thank You Maggie!


10 kang

I love icing :D never realised it was this easy to make.. stumbled!


11 veronicaromm

this site is amazing.


12 Reeni

I haven’t made a cooked icing in a long time. I used to make a seven-minute one, do you know if this is the same? There was a cooked chocolate one too. Thanks for the post, you reminded me of an old favorite!


13 xarah

first time to search a recipe for boiled icing through net.., sounds intresting so gotta try one.., when i did.., i will tell you the results..,


14 emmie fr phils

hi.. thanks! now i know boiled icing is just very easy. merry christmas…


15 yellahfellah

Have you tried adding a little salt? Other variations of this recipe add about 1/8 teaspoon.

Also, have you tried lesser water (1/3 cup) and also adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar? Will the additional sugar make the icing hard(er) when exposed to the air long enough?

Great site! And it’s nice knowing that you reply to all the comments.


16 justine

This is my mom’s favorite type of frosting!


17 gus

this recipe pretty much got me out of the doghouse


18 michelle

can you tint a boiled icing? i would like to use this for my son’s birthday tom. thanks so much for the recipe.


19 ZestyCook

@Michelle – that is one thing i have not tried but I do not see why not. I would think it will still turn out. Give it a try and let me know.


20 michael

yes you can tint it its just like ordinary frosting


21 Sacha Barraca

Hi. Is that 1 cup of sugar granulated or confectioners? I think this is the icing I’ve been looking for that is like the one I love from my country. Will try it out soon…I’ll let you know.


22 ZestyCook

@sacha – that is granulated sugar


23 Sacha Barraca

I tried another recipe for fluffy boiled icing but yours tasted so much better. Thanks for sharing!


24 Anna Marie

finally i found it, this is the one im looking for… it sounds and looks yummy, im sure my pamangkin would love it… i’m gonna try this next week.. thanks and more power.. pls send me more recipes. thanks


25 vivian

an answer to my icing problem. How big is the cakethat can cover this recipe? Thanks.


26 Ceila L. Comboy


this is celia from philippines. thanks for sharing you ideas. i reallu wish to know more about your secrets in making boiled icing, coz this is always my problem, i want to be a successful baer someday though i am a woman. thank and god bless!


27 Ceila L. Comboy

another question, which is good to use in making boiled icing? is it confectioner or granulated sugar? i nees your reply pls


28 ZestyCook

@Ceila -Confectioner Sugar/Icing Sugar is what you will need to make it.


29 Gin

You previously told someone else to use granulated now you are telling Celia to use confectioner?


30 zesty

Hi Gin, it is granulated sugar… not sure where I said to use confectioner sugar but I aplogize


31 sheila

hi! can i leave the corn syrup out? i don’t have corn syrup right now..


32 ronilo

hi its me ronilo can you send some of the recipe of how to make different kind of icing for


33 chai Nucum

hi Thanks for the receipe..Just want to ask when i made my boild icing suddenly syrup start coming out? Is this normal?Pls,reply Thanks..chai


34 Connie

I’ve tried this recipe and it was amazing.. even the next day the icing still soft but chewy.. its like melted marshmallow.. it did not crust either.. I would definitely recommend this recipe.. thanks for sharing!!!


35 ZestyCook

@Connie – Thanks Connie, that is great to hear! I am glad you liked it.


36 Cindy

What do you mean when you say ‘whip the egg whites until they are stiff and hold a peak’?

What do you mean by holding a peak?



37 ZestyCook

Cindy – Using your whisk, beat the egg whites until they become stiff. You could hold the bowl upside down and nothing would drip down. They usually form a peak ( a mountain peak for example). Hope this helps.


38 Oz Cook

Is there a substitute for corn syrup please?


39 ZestyCook

@Oz – You may be able to use agave nectar. I have not tried it but it is an option.



40 Tonya

will using regular corn syrup instead of light make a difference? and about how many cups of icing does this recipe make?


41 Joe

Hi really love the reviews. I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat eggs. Is there any suitable method for veggies??


42 susi

yay. I tried to do this 4 years ago and it was a disaster. I guess I couldn’t tell if the syrup’s ready. what the heck, I’m trying it once more for my daughter’s birthday on Friday :) wish me luck!


43 sandy

Yum, thank you. Just like my grandmother made.


44 David

Wow, this stuff tastes like marshmallows! At least when I made it lol! Anyway, great recipe! Thanks! :)


45 Kevin joseph

What are the materials needed in making boiled icing? Pls. Reply. Thanks.


46 Tammy

Looking at your picture of your boiled icing, it looks like you are using the paddle attachment instead of the wisk attachment. When do you switch to the paddle attachment? Before you pour in the syrup?



47 ZestyCook

@Tammy – You are exactly right


48 Tammy

Awesome! thanks!


49 Nicole

I got this recipe from my grandmother (with a few variations). I don’t have a candy thermometer and neither did Nanny. She told me to boil the sugar, water, corn syrup mixture until it is stringy in a glass of cold water when drizzled in from a spoon. Works every time. I use this recipe with the most amazing and easy chocolate cake recipe. I kid you not folks, this is the best combo!


50 prella

not working!!!


51 zesty

@prella – what is not working? Are you having problems getting the icing to come out as you expect it?


52 Stacy

I dont have a thermometer either. Approximately how long do you boil it to get to the stringy syrup stage?


53 Sweet Tooth

The icing looks so snow-white beautiful! I think my grandmother did the same but there always were little bubbles in it and your’s looks perfectly smooth. I just wonder if it’s good for a moist chocolate cake? I’d love to try it out next time. Thanks!


54 Vicky

What is the difference between this kind of icing and the kind you make with a white rue of flour and milk, let it cool while you whip butter adn sigar then add in the white sauce. What d o these taste like, the texture?


55 Emsky

What if I don’t have a thermometer? How should I know if the syrup is ready?



I have a question , if you double the egg whites do you nalso double the syrup, when making this recipe. I have made this recipe and it is delicious . But i need to double or triple it. let me know.


57 zesty

Maggie – I would have to say Yes… simply double or triple everything on the recipe and you should be fine


58 cindy vogan

This is FABULOUS……………..just found it and wanted to let you know it came out perfect!!!!!!!! Thanks so much!


59 zesty

Cindy, this is great news! I am so glad you like it.


60 Akeille Danss

hi,u have a very nice blogsite! i would like to know if this icing too sweet?thanks and good day!


61 Sheryl

I loved my mom’s boiled icing. Funny, I never realized it’s so much better for you than the icing I was taught to make in the cake decorating classes, with all of the shortening! I cannot wait to try to make this. Thank you!


62 Laurie

I saw 2 different answers as to what kind of sugar:
Sacha Barraca July 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm
Hi. Is that 1 cup of sugar granulated or confectioners? I think this is the icing I’ve been looking for that is like the one I love from my country. Will try it out soon…I’ll let you know.


20 hugecooking July 20, 2009 at 9:54 am
@sacha – that is granulated sugar

Ceila L. Comboy October 19, 2009 at 1:07 am
another question, which is good to use in making boiled icing? is it confectioner or granulated sugar? i nees your reply pls


26 hugecooking October 19, 2009 at 9:22 am
@Ceila -Granulated Sugar is what you will need to make it.


63 Barbara Boyer

boiled icing-years ago from the newspaper I got a receipe for this
ingr. were cream of tartar, gradulated sugar,egg whites beaten, and a small amount
of boiling water, & vanilia. I do not remember the measurements of each, can you
help me.


64 beth

hi…how can i make this icing appear smooth on the cake?…thanks


65 zesty

Cream of tarter will help you Beth


66 Karen Hearn

Hi Cooking.
Are you still answering questions? Tried to make this twice today and much of the boiled sugar mixture ended up splattering on the sides of the mixer and hardening there. I slowed the mixing speed down the second time I made it, but still the same problem. I used the wisk attachment on my KitchenAid both times. Do you think it is because I did not switch to the paddle? Found your post after the second failure.


67 zesty

Karen, I am actually not quite sure. I have not experience that ever. What type of bowl were you using? How slow was the speed you were mixing?



68 christina

what is the substitute for the corn syrup.. and it is really okay if you add confectioner sugar???? I am going to a competition but I still dont know yet how to make a good icing..My icing is always a failure please help me……..please…


69 Alma Taylor

Your recipe sounds delicious … have you ever made it chocolate? I’d like to have a chocolate boiled icing but don’t want to take a chance on ruining it. Thanks.


70 zesty

I actually never made chocolate….. If you added the melted chocolate it should still be ok… you may have to be careful on the amount of other sweetener you use though


71 Mehgan Drake

Hi! I saw a boiled icing recipe on TV and wanted to try it. Then I found yours and decided it looked better. I do have a question. I know I should stir the sugar/syrup mixture while I’m trying to get it to dissolve, but when it starts to boil, are you supposed to leave it alone?
I am actually going to toast my icing with my torch after I ice my cake….I’m excited to try it!
Thank you!


72 zesty

Meghan, you are ok to leave it alone or gently stir it.


73 laine

why is it that the boiled icing i made was melted after 10 hrs leaving on the counter? is it really very necessary to placed it inside the refrigerator?


74 zesty

That is possible that it would have melted depending on the temperature. If you are keeping it in a warm environment, I would recommend you place it in the refrigerator.


75 dalica

Does it harden up in the fridge?


76 zesty

Dalica, yes this will firm up in the fridge. Both on the cake or just in a bowl it will firm up once in the fridge.


77 Yen

Hi! Just want to ask if it’s a confectioner sugar or the white sugar? Thanks!


78 Gem


Can we add butter to this kind of icing? I saw a similar recipe on-line, but it has butter in it, to be added last to the icing mixture. Is this possible?
Is this the same as Italian meringue buttercream?


79 zesty

Hi Gem, I honestly never tried adding butter. I do think that it would transform itself into a butter cream type of topping. I would ensure you have the icing complete and well mixed prior to adding the butter. I would also make sure the butter is soft. Hope this helps. Let me know how you get along


80 Catherine

I just made this…it turned out beautifully. I have a friend who remembers his mother always made a caramel boiled icing for his birthday. Of course, he does not remember anything about how it was made…just that it was a boiled frosting, like yours. Do you think you could substitute light or dark brown sugar and come up with a caramel frosting?


81 zesty

Catherine, I am not sure if brown sugar alone would create a caramel frosting. I h ave never tried. But it sounds like it just might work. I will have to give it a try. Of if you do first, let me know.


82 Robert H

Great icing. My mother taught me how to make it nearly 50 years ago when I was a young boy. Here are a few hints and variations that may help:

Make sure your bowls and utensils are oil- and grease-free. Either will ruin the egg whites and they won’t whip up.

Drizzle your hot sugar mixture VERY SLOWLY into the whipped egg whites after they have formed stiff peaks. Continue whipping them as you drizzle the hot syrup in. Pouring it too quickly will “cook” the egg whites; they’ll lose volume and your icing will be lumpy.

For an excellent caramel/marshmallow flavor, try “burning” sugar. Put 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and put it over medium heat, stirring it constantly. The sugar will melt, then scorch, turning a warm golden color with a rich taste. As you continue to cook it, it will turn darker and the taste will develop to a caramel, and eventually a slightly burnt flavor. The lighter colors (think beige and tan) will taste like toasted marshmallows, the darker colors (think dark wood) will have a bittersweet flavor. When it reaches the desired color/flavor, remove it from the heat and VERY SLOWLY pour in 1/4 cup of boiling water (for thicker syrup, 1/2 cup for thinner syrup) stirring vigorously. Careful because it may splatter. Cooled syrup will store indefinitely in the cupboard. Use it like any other flavoring.

Flavors can be added, however, do not add oil-based flavors as they will deflate the egg whites. For flavorings, I add the needed amount to the measuring cup, then add the water until it reaches 1/2 cup.

Try adding:
3 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice and/or 1 Tbsp lemon zest, or,
1/4 Cup orange juice and/or 1 Tbsp orange zest, or,
4 Tbsp burnt sugar syrup (above) or,
1 Tsp peppermint candy (dissolve several Altoids in a few Tbsp of water)
2 Tsp vanilla (this can be added to the egg whites just before adding the syrup

Chocolate contains oil, so must be added very carefully. Melt the chocolate and let it cool until it’s just runny. Fold the chocolate carefully into the finished icing using a rubber spatula. Try to avoid “stirring” or “mixing” it as it may deflate the icing. An alternative is to use dry powdered cocoa.

The variations are endless. Just make sure you aren’t adding anything with oil in it.



83 Kez

Yummmmmm… just made this. Great recipe.


84 Daisy

I was wondering if the corn syrup is a must in this recipe ?! Is there any way to avoid it and will it affect the recipe if it’s not used?! Thanks! :D


85 zesty

HI Daisy, I have not tried it without but you could likely use another sweetener such as honey


86 Raul

I am very much happy and thankful finding the recipe of this boiled icing. Am having trouble with my class on how am i going to teach them to make icing. A million cakes to you madam!


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