Need a frosting that’s fluffy, sweet, and light as can be? Look no further! This quick marshmallow frosting recipe is perfect. You can even toast it!

Marshmallow frosting on a cupcake with a whisk in the background.

Today I’m so excited to be bringing you this marshmallow frosting recipe! I know how much you love frosting recipes.

My whipped cream frosting is one of the top recipes on this site, as is my royal icing recipe. And Swiss meringue buttercream isn’t far behind!

And now we have marshmallow frosting, aka: Italian meringue. Another great one to add to the collection!

I think you’re going to love it because it is SO light and fluffy, and it tastes just like a marshmallow.

You can even toast it!

It’s pretty simple to make, with just 5 simple ingredients (plus water), and it whips up stiff and pipable, so it’s great as a filling or topping for cakes, whoopie pies, brownies, cookies, or tarts.

A chocolate cupcake topped with a tall swirl of Italian meringue, with a text overlay that reads "Marshmallow Frosting."

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Why you’ll love this marshmallow frosting recipe

Light and airy texture: This icing has a light and airy texture that’s just like marshmallow!

Stability: It is more stable than other types of frosting, such as French meringue. It holds its shape well, making it perfect for piping onto cakes and cupcakes or creating intricate designs.

Long-lasting: This frosting is more stable and long-lasting than a lot of other frostings. It holds up well at room temperature and can be refrigerated without losing its texture or flavor. This makes it a great choice for make-ahead desserts.

Glossy sheen: A shiny finish adds an elegant touch to any dessert. Whether you’re frosting a birthday cake or decorating a special occasion dessert, the gorgeous look of Italian meringue is sure to impress.

Simple ingredients: There’s no marshmallow creme, corn syrup, or actual marshmallows in this recipe. You don’t even need powdered sugar. This fluffy marshmallow frosting is made with simple and wholesome ingredients.

Chocolate cupcake topped with marshmallow frosting.

Marshmallow frosting ingredients

Ingredients for making marshmallow frosting in small bowls on a dark blue background.

You only need a few pantry staples to make this delicious topping!

Egg Whites: Egg whites are the main ingredient in Italian meringue. They provide the structure and stability needed for the frosting.

It’s best if the egg whites are at room temperature, but it’s not completely necessary.

Sugar: Sweetens the frosting and allows it to brown when toasted. It also helps to create the right texture and gives it that beautiful glossy sheen.

Cream of Tartar: The cream of tartar is there just to make the frosting more stable. You can buy it at the regular grocery store, in the spice aisle.

Or you can order it online here: Cream of Tartar.

And if all else fails, a few drops of lemon juice or white vinegar can be substituted.

Salt: Salt carries the flavors and intensifies them.  The end result won’t taste salty, but it will make everything so much more flavorful!

I like kosher salt best because it doesn’t have any additives (table salt usually contains iodine and that can leave a bitter taste), so the flavor is pure, and it’s very inexpensive and easy to find.

Vanilla Extract: Adds a subtly sweet flavor without being at all sugary. 

The vanilla adds that signature marshmallow flavor to the frosting.

If you like, you can change up the extract you use to give this meringue a different flavor. Consider almond extract, peppermint extract, or lemon extract.

For a more pronounced flavor, try using vanilla bean paste.  You could also split a vanilla bean down the center lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add those.  

Water: Water is used to create a sugar syrup that is then incorporated into the whipped egg whites.

How to make marshmallow frosting

There are two main steps to making this frosting recipe:

  1. whipping the egg whites, and
  2. making the sugar syrup.

Step 1: Whip the egg whites

Place the egg whites in a large bowl, along with the cream of tartar and salt. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a handheld electric mixer.

Egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large glass mixing bowl.

Whip this mixture together until it starts to look foamy.

Foamy egg whites in a glass bowl with a whisk.

Then, take one cup of the sugar, and start adding it very slowly, while continuing to whip. I’m talking about a few granules at a time.

If you add it too fast, it will deflate your whites, so be sure to go nice and slow.

Adding sugar to whipped egg whites

When all the sugar has gone in, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip the heck out of it.

Add in the vanilla once it’s stiff enough to hold a stiff peak.

Bowl of stiffly whipped meringue with vanilla extract.

Keep the mixer going on low speed while you get started on the sugar syrup.

Step 2: Make the sugar syrup

The rest of the sugar goes into a small pot, along with the water.

Sugar and water in a small stainless steel pot.

Heat this mixture on the stove until it’s boiling.

You don’t have to stir it! In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t (it could cause it to crystallize).

If your sugar doesn’t want to dissolve you can just swirl the pot gently to encourage it a bit.

Boiling sugar syrup in a small pot with a candy thermometer.

Once the sugar syrup reaches 235 degrees F, it’s go time.

Here’s a link to the candy thermometer I like to use: Candy Thermometer. It only costs a few dollars, and it’s really useful to have.

With the mixer still going at low speed, pour the hot syrup into the whites slowly and steadily. Be careful it doesn’t hit the whisk, or it could throw hot sugar out of the bowl and burn you. Just aim for that sweet spot right between the whisk and the side of the bowl.

Pouring hot sugar syrup into egg whites to make Italian meringue.

Once all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer up to high and whip it like crazy. You’ll see it get thick, glossy, and stiff.

That’s all there is to it!

Expert tips

  • I like to use whites from fresh eggs, but you could also use pasteurized egg whites from a carton. I’ve never tried making this with powdered egg whites, so I can’t say if that is a good option.
  • Add the sugar to the egg whites very slowly. Adding it too quickly will cause the egg whites to deflate.
  • Don’t add the vanilla until stiff peaks have formed.
  • When making the sugar syrup, don’t stir the mixture. Allow it to dissolve on its own to prevent crystallization.
  • Be very careful when adding the hot sugar syrup to the egg whites. If the syrup hits the whisk it can cause hot syrup to fly out of the bowl and burn you. Instead, aim for the spot between the whisk and the side of the bowl.

Recipe variations

This marshmallow frosting is versatile and can be flavored in various ways. Instead of vanilla extract, you can add almond extract, peppermint, citrus zest, or other flavorings to enhance the taste.

It can also be tinted with food coloring.

How to use marshmallow frosting

If you are thinking about making any kind of s’mores-related dessert, this marshmallow frosting will make the perfect topping. It toasts beautifully, as you can see here:

Toasting marshmallow frosting with a brulee torch.

Frosting for cakes and cupcakes

This makes an excellent frosting for cakes and cupcakes.

Its light and airy texture gives a beautiful and delicious finish. You can spread it over the cake using a spatula, or pipe it onto cupcakes with a piping bag and fancy tip for a more decorative look.

I especially love it on chocolate cake and chocolate cupcakes.

Pie topping

It is often used as a topping for pies, particularly lemon meringue pie. The meringue is piped or spread over the pie filling and then browned lightly in the oven or using a kitchen torch.

The result is a sweet, whisper-light topping that balances the tartness of the pie filling in the most wonderful way.

Baked Alaska

This classic dessert consists of ice cream covered with a cake layer and then topped with meringue.

The meringue acts as an insulator, preventing the ice cream from melting when the dessert is quickly browned in the oven or torched.

The meringue forms a toasty golden crust that’s a perfect complement to the ice cream and cake.

Filling for pastries

This can also be used as a filling for pastries, such as cream puffs or éclairs.

It’s so nice to bite into a crisp, somewhat savory pastry and find such a sweet, light filling inside!

Recipe FAQ’s

Can marshmallow frosting be colored?

Yes, it can. If you’d like to tint this frosting, you can do that with just a drop or two of gel paste color. This type of food coloring is highly concentrated so it won’t water your marshmallow frosting, like a liquid food coloring might.

Can this frosting be flavored?

Yes, it can! I’m not sure I’d recommend adding chocolate or fruit puree to this frosting, as it could weigh it down. But you may get away with adding a little freeze-dried fruit that has been ground to a fine powder in a food processor, or changing the flavor of the extract.

Can this go under fondant?

While this frosting would work well as a filling between layers of cake, I don’t know that it would be a good idea to put it under fondant. It doesn’t really “set” or crust over, so moving the fondant around might be difficult once it has touched the marshmallow frosting. If you’re looking for a good option to go under fondant, I recommend frosting your cake with Swiss meringue buttercream, American-style buttercream, whipped ganache, or cream cheese frosting and then chilling it before covering it with fondant.

Is marshmallow frosting stable?

Because of the addition of cream of tartar, this frosting is relatively stable. It can be piped, as seen in the pics here, and it holds its shape well. However, it might lose a little of its volume over time.

Removing the whisk from a bowl of stiff, glossy Italian meringue.

Toasting instructions

I like to use a brulee torch for this type of application. Here’s a link to the one I have: Brulee Torch. It’s easy to use and so much FUN!

But if you don’t want to buy one, this can be toasted under the broiler. Just be careful and keep a close eye- it can burn fast!

How to keep the frosting from becoming runny

Nine times out of ten, if you’re having trouble getting your meringue to whip up properly, it’s because a trace of fat somehow made its way into your bowl. Egg whites WILL NOT whip up right if there is any grease or fat present, no matter how microscopic it might be.

So make sure your bowl and whisk are REALLY clean, with no trace of greasiness whatsoever. It’s best to clean them in very hot, soapy water and rinse them well, then dry them with a clean towel.

Egg yolks also contain fat, so be really careful not to pierce the yolk when you are separating your eggs. It’s a good idea to crack each egg into a separate bowl first, before adding it into the mix, just in case this happens accidentally. That way, you don’t contaminate ALL the eggs at once.

If you’re looking for more info or troubleshooting on making a meringue, be sure to read this post: Meringue Cookies.

How to store and keep

Can you make it ahead of time?

You can get away with making this frosting, putting it on your cake, and serving it a day or so later. The marshmallow holds its shape very well.

But if you are looking to make it and store it in a container, then use it later, I’m not sure that would be your best bet. I have tried this, and often, when you stick your scoop into it, it deflates a bit.

Your best bet is to apply it immediately while it’s nice and stiff.

Can you leave it at room temperature?

It’s fine to leave it at room temperature for a few hours, but any longer than that, it should be refrigerated. The hot sugar mixture will cook the egg whites, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

How to store leftovers

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, after that pop them into the freezer.

Whisk attachment with marshmallow frosting with egg shells and cupcakes in the background.

A few more of my favorite filling recipes

  • No-Bake Cheesecake Filling
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Whipped Cream Frosting/
  • Lemon Curd