Cornstarch Frosting

Today’s recipe is from Stephanie, who sent it to me after reading my review of the icing for Quick Chocolate Cupcakes with Flour Type Icing:  a mixture of flour and milk that is cooked and then whipped into a mixture of butter and granulated sugar.  The texture, after you beat it enough so that the sugar dissolves, is supposed to  be similar to a rich buttercream and less sweet than typical powdered sugar icing.  I liked it, but it was a definitely a change from the type of icing I’m used to.

cornstarch frosting on a cupcake

So this recipe,  which was passed down verbally by her father, is one Stephanie has been using on cupcakes for years, and while it’s similar to the other recipe it calls for a mixture of milk and cornstarch rather than milk and flour.  It  seemed a little smoother and fresher tasting than the icing made with flour — slick,  buttery, and deeply vanilla.  I still think I like powdered sugar frosting best, but if you’re looking for a less sweet icing or you just happen to be out of powdered sugar, this  is another good alternative.

Cornstarch Frosting

3/4 cup milk (whole, reduced fat and skim all work)
2 T cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter — salted
1/2 t vanilla

Cook milk & cornstarch until thick. Cool. Cream together sugar & butter until light & fluffy. Add cooled milk mixture & vanilla. Whip until mixture resembles whipped cream. Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes.

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  1. says

    This is a good one to know about so thanks to you and Stephanie for sharing it. I’ve made the flour frosting before and thought it was good for the times that you go to make frosting and realize you don’t have powdered sugar, but this one sounds better.

  2. corinne says

    I made the flour one and a bunch of old (well, older than me anyway) people loved it, but my sugar tolerance/desire is so outrageously high I think I need to stick to standard powdered sugar ones.

  3. says

    I really enjoy the taste of flour frosting – but, you right, the texture is less than pleasant sometimes. I’m glad to see this recipe come along – it looks like it’ll have the same less-sweet taste with a much better texture. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. says

    I really enjoy the taste of flour frosting – but, you right, the texture is less than pleasant sometimes. I’m glad to see this recipe come along – it looks like it’ll have the same less-sweet taste with a much better texture. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Cheryl says

    I like the blog design makeover too! Glad to see a print button that is easy to find. Hats off to showing off a dog to adopt in your area!

  6. says

    Cheryl, thanks! I like to sit here and re-load the page so I can see the parade of dogs. Our shelter is striving to be a no-kill shelter and came really close last month.

  7. Louise says

    Roughly, how long does it take for the milk/cornstarch mixture to cool down? Sounds like something I should start right after I put the cake/cupcakes in the oven.

  8. says

    Anna, how does this compare to the cooked frosting you pointed me to for the Red Velvet cake? I really enjoyed that one.

    Louise, I would imagine that you could aid the cooling by popping it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.

  9. says

    Well what do you know, my 7 yo, whose turn it is to pick a treat to make for snack tonight just decided on cupcakes and I thought I’d look to see about frosting. Since my husband really doesn’t like sweet frosting, I think we’ll give this a try.

  10. says

    Louise, it takes a while. I’d give it at least 30 minutes.

    Adam, I wrote you a long comment on your blog but I don’t think it went through. Of all 3 versions that I’ve tried, the recipe I gave you is my favorite (it’s almost the same as this one and the one I made last week but with less flour). So this one’s my favorite. I guess the key is less flour plus some salt.

    Katrina, I can’t wait to hear what you think.

    BTW, I never posted the recipe because I didn’t love it at the time, but some people swear by this version made with marshmallows. There are a few versions floating around including one which uses marshmallow cream, but the one I made used actual marshmallows. It was something like this.

    I remember it was slick and not nearly sweet enough for me. I think I “fixed” it by dumping powdered sugar in. It’s worth a try for those of you who don’t like sweet.

  11. says

    Strange. I just checked the spam filter in case for some reason it got flagged, but I don’t see the comment there either. Isn’t technology wonderful :)? Thanks for trying :). And thanks again for the frosting, it’s probably going to be making a bunch of appearances in the future 🙂 since there are so few that I like.

  12. says

    I love this!!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made something that needed icing and I didn’t have any powdered sugar!! Of course I could be more prepared… but this will save me!

  13. says

    The frosting turned out perfectly. It definitely wasn’t too sweet. I personally think I like a sweeter frosting. This one has quite the butter flavor. It’s good and the kids like it. Kevin decided he just doesn’t like frosting. I made him put a little on a mini bundt cake and he spread about 2 teaspoons as thin as possible over the whole thing. (I don’t get him–he ate the whole little cake and then had a bowl of chocolate ice cream after the kids went to bed. That’s sweet. Whatever. 😉
    The method for making the frosting was very easy which was nice.

  14. Sofia says

    I think this might be my new favorite frosting recipe! Loved the buttery texture, and it definitely wasn’t too sweet.

  15. says

    Hi – I just discovered your blog and I have to tell you I’ve been looking for this recipe for a long time. I knew this as Ice Cream Icing because it seems to remind one of the flavor of ice cream. I lost my recipe and had been searching for one like it and this is as close as I’ve come so Thank You so much. I’ll keep reading your blog for other good recipes. Yes, I’m older (someone said this appeals to older folks because it’s not so sweet as regular buttercream – lol) and I like it exactly for that reason. I guess I was raised by European parents who did not make terribly sweet desserts so I think this is just perfect. Again, thanks for posting!

  16. Lynn Jankiewicz says

    I’ve made this recipe every year for my lamb cake, but this year for some reason, i had to throw away 2 batches…they never thickened up and don’t know why…any reason you can think of?? What could I have done differently?

  17. Jean Cotner says

    My mom made this frosting for red velvet cake. She called it Mock-whipped cream frosting. I’ve found it’s wonderful for making interesting cakes for kids parties since it looks and tastes like whipped cream but doesn’t break down. I made my son a fantastic castle cake with this frosting and it was a great hit.

  18. Mary says

    I just made this frosting. I made it with strawberries. I did not have a fine granulated sugar, so I used about 1/2 cup of brown sugar and that’s it! This tasted wonderful! It was just sweet enough! Wow..I am SOO impressed. This was my first time making it. I’ve also colored it a beautiful pink color to frost my strawberry cake. I used fresh strawberries to help give it the nice pink color. *sigh* This is a keeper. So happy you shared this!

  19. says

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the review! I’m glad you liked that one since it is definitely less sweet than traditional American style buttercream. If you get chance, look for a German Buttercream recipe. German Buttercream is also quite a bit less sweet but has a great, smooth, texture.

  20. Michelle D. says

    This is wonderful! I too always made the flour version, but just didn’t love it. I use it for cream filling. It adapts wonderfully for chocolate (make strong chocolate milk with unsweetened cocoa before cooking), coffee (espresso granules in the milk), add coconut flakes and coconut extract for coconut, orange oil for “creamsicle”, and my favorite on banana cupcakes…chai!! Steep 4 chai tea bags for 10 minutes in warm milk, remove and let cool, then proceed as usual. Yum! 🙂

  21. Carolyn says

    I think this frosting is excellent…hardly ever have powdered sugar but always cornstarch..use it a lot to thicken stuff I make too thin lol.

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