Fluffy vanilla frosting, the old-fashioned way

Vanilla frosting on vanilla cupcakes

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Here’s an old-fashioned recipe for a deliciously fluffy vanilla frosting that is the perfect counterpart for a classic homemade vanilla birthday cake!

The flavor comes from high-quality real vanilla extract, the sweetness from a combination of granulated sugar, powdered sugar and corn syrup, while the frosting’s light texture comes from whipped egg whites — not raw, but cooked in a double boiler.

The original recipe author cautions to be sure that the egg mixture is cooled completely before you fold it into the buttercream icing mixture.

Whipping egg white mixture for fluffy vanilla frosting
Photo by Arina Habich/Freepik
How to make a good old-fashioned fluffy vanilla frosting

Adapted from the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) December 2, 1955

Really good, old-fashioned frostings — this is one of the pleasant things of grandma’s day that can stand some re-creating today.

In flavoring, she knew that only the true, pure vanilla extract would give a cake the delicate flavor and freshly baked fragrance that would make her a prize-winner. 

Vanilla frosting on vanilla cupcakes

Fluffy vanilla frosting

Yield: Makes about 3-1/2 cups of fluffy frosting
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Here's an old-fashioned recipe for deliciously fluffy vanilla frosting


  • 2 unbeaten egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Place over boiling water.
  2. Beat with an electric or rotary beater until the mixture stands in stiff peaks.
  3. Remove from water and cool completely. (This is important.)
  4. In the meantime, combine the remaining ingredients.
  5. Beat until fluffy and fold into the egg white mixture.
  6. Spread over tops and sides of three 8 or 9-inch layer cakes.


Makes enough frosting for three 8 or 9-inch round cake layers.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 36mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 0gSugar: 65gProtein: 1g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

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