Evaporated milk frosting is a velvety, ultra-smooth boiled milk icing made with just 5 ingredients. It has a rich vanilla flavor and soft fluffy texture, perfect to frost cakes and cupcakes. The frosting is less sweet than traditional buttercream, making it an excellent choice for those who don’t like things too sweet.
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What is evaporated milk frosting?
Evaporated milk frosting is an old-fashioned boiled milk frosting. It’s made by cooking evaporated milk and sugar with cornstarch to make a soft, sweet paste. This mixture is then whipped into softened butter until you have a smooth and creamy icing.
What does evaporated milk frosting taste like?
Evaporated milk buttercream is quite light and has a silky-smooth texture. It has a lovely vanilla flavor with milky notes and reminds of Swiss meringue buttercream. The frosting is very delicious and makes a tasty alternative to sweet American buttercreams.
Reasons to make evaporated milk frosting
- Not too sweet: Classic American buttercream uses lots of powdered sugar to give it volume and structure. If you find that too sweet, this cake frosting is for you. It needs less sugar and only has a mild sweetness.
- Perfectly smooth: Since this is an evaporated milk icing without powdered sugar, the texture is incredibly soft, buttery, and smooth without any graininess.
- Easy to work with: The frosting can be colored with food colors just like any other buttercream and works great for piping and icing cakes.
- Egg-free: Another great thing about buttercream frosting with evaporated milk is that it doesn’t contain egg whites like meringue frostings. So it’s a great icing for those who can’t eat eggs.
I love this cooked evaporated milk frosting because it’s easy to whip up and uses only standard pantry staples I already have in my kitchen. Measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Evaporated milk is shelf-stable, unsweetened canned milk where 60% of the water content has been removed. It lends the cream a wonderful creaminess and subtle milk flavor.
- Sugar: You need white granulated sugar, not powdered sugar. The sugar will dissolve as we cook it with the milk on the stovetop, so your frosting will be velvety and smooth.
- All-purpose flour thickens the milk when we cook the pudding base on the stove.
- Butter: I prefer unsalted butter here, but salted butter will work too. The butter should be softened but not too melty or greasy or your evaporated milk frosting can turn out too soft.
- Vanilla extract lends the frosting a delicious vanilla flavor. You can substitute vanilla bean paste or the seeds of a fresh vanilla bean.
How to make evaporated milk frosting
Let’s go over the simple steps to make this creamy frosting recipe with evaporated milk. It’s so easy to make from scratch!
#1: Combine ingredients
- Mix the sugar and flour in a medium saucepan until well combined and you no longer see lumps of flour.
- Pour in the evaporated milk and whisk until everything is well incorporated.
#2: Cook pudding mixture
- Heat over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture is thick and pudding-like. Don’t cook over high heat, or the sugar won’t properly dissolve and the mixture might burn to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Take off the heat.
#3: Cool to room temperature
- Pour pudding into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Let cool to room temperature or refrigerate for 1 to 2 days before using. If you refrigerate the pudding base ahead of time, let it return to room temperature before proceeding.
#4: Beat butter
- Once the mixture has cooled, place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
#5: Incorporate pudding
- Add the room temperature pudding mixture, 1 heaping tablespoon at a time. Mix on medium speed until fully combined before adding the next spoonful.
#6: Add flavoring
- Add the vanilla extract and stir in well.
#7: Whip fluffy
- Whip the frosting on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Your evaporated milk frosting is ready!
While evaporated milk frosting is easy to make, there are a few things you want to keep in mind, so you end up with a bowl of billowy smooth frosting and not a gloppy mess.
The evaporated milk frosting is too soft
There are a few possible reasons why your frosting might be too soft and melty:
- The pudding wasn’t cooked properly and is too thin: Cook the evaporated milk, sugar, and flour over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a thick, pudding-like consistency and the sugar has dissolved.
- The pudding wasn’t cooled completely: Heat isn’t a friend of buttercream. Adding warm pudding mixture to the butter will soften (or even melt) it. The frosting won’t whip up well and will be softer than intended. Fix: Wait until the pudding has cooled to room temperature and no longer feels warm to the touch.
- The butter was too soft: Remember, the butter should be soft, but not to the point where it becomes oily or melty. If the butter is too soft, the frosting might end up runny (this happens quickly in the summertime). Fix: Put your butter out of the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before whipping the frosting.
If the frosting isn’t runny but still relatively soft and hard to work with, it might be just too warm. Pop it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up a bit before using.
The frosting is too hard
The frosting hardens in the fridge. Fix: If you find it too firm to handle, simply let it warm up to room temperature and re-whip it if needed.
The frosting looks curdled
Curled, split, or grainy frosting means that your butter or pudding mixture was too cold. Fix: Continue whipping and let it come to room temperature. The frosting will eventually come together.
There are a few ways you can customize and perfect icing with evaporated milk and granulated sugar. You’ll love how it turns out and want to use it on all your favorite baked goods!
- Other extracts: Instead of vanilla, try different food extracts like almond, butterscotch, coffee, lemon, orange, or maple.
- Brown sugar: You can substitute brown sugar for white sugar to create a richer, slightly caramelized flavor.
- Chocolate: For chocolate evaporated milk frosting, whip 1/4 to 1/3 cup cocoa powder into the frosting until well combined.
- Spices: Adding 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice is a delicious choice for your fall and holiday bakes.
- Fruit powder: Freeze-dried fruit powder is a great way to add a fruity note to the frosting. Try strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or mango.
- Food colors: You can also tint the frosting with food colors. Since evaporated milk gives the frosting a light cream color, yellow, orange, red, pink, and green food dye will work best. Blue colorants may end up turquoise.
How much does this frosting recipe make?
The recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups, which is enough to frost 10 to 12 cupcakes or a 6-in layer cake.
I recommend increasing the recipe by half to frost a two-layer 8-in or 9-in cake. For a 3-layer cake, double the recipe.
Can I use evaporated milk frosting under fondant?
No, this creamy cake frosting isn’t suitable to be used under fondant. It’s fairly soft, and the moisture in the frosting might melt fondant. I like to use it to fill and garnish cupcakes and cakes without fondant.
Can I use another type of milk?
Yes! Half-and-half or whole milk are good alternatives for evaporated milk. Lower-fat milk will probably be okay as well. However, sweetened condensed milk will not work in this recipe.
Can I make evaporated milk frosting in advance?
Yes, you can prepare the frosting up to a week ahead of time. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
When it’s time to use, let the frosting sit on the counter to soften for at least 15 to 30 minutes. You may need to whip it briefly to return it to a soft consistency.
Can you freeze evaporated milk icing?
Yes, you can freeze the creamy frosting in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then let sit at room temperature and whip before using.
How long does evaporated milk frosting last?
Once you’ve frosted your cupcakes or cake, the frosting will last up to 24 hours at room temperature. Beyond that, I suggest refrigerating.
And as with just any icing recipe, this evaporated milk frosting doesn’t hold up well to heat and is prone to melting outdoors at high temperatures (above 75°F / 24°C).
More tasty frosting recipes
Once you start using homemade frosting for your baking needs, you’ll never go back. Store-bought icing just won’t cut it. Here are a few more delicious recipes to try next!