Swiss Meringue Buttercream is one of my favorite frostings. It's smooth, creamy, and has a silky texture. Made with only 5 simple ingredients, it is so easy to make this ultra-creamy and smooth Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe. Stable, light, and fluffy, this is the best meringue buttercream you’ll make. It’s not too sweet and will melt in your mouth.
What You Need To Make This Buttercream
Here is what you’ll need for this delicious and creamy Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting (SMBC):
- Egg Whites: Egg whites and sugar form the meringue. It’s easier to whisk room-temperature egg whites but easier to separate cold eggs. So separate the eggs while they are still cold and let the egg whites come to room temperature.
- Granulated Sugar: Adds sweetness to the buttercream
- Unsalted Butter: Butter turns meringue into meringue buttercream. Don’t use salted butter because that amount of salt will produce an off taste. The butter should be at room temperature (65-68F) when it’s added to the meringue. Butter that is too warm (above 72F) will produce a buttercream that is kind of soupy. For accuracy, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature. Cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces before using.
- Vanilla Extract: Adds flavor. See the information below for other flavor options.
- Kosher Salt: Some Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipes don’t use salt, but I use a small amount to balance the sweetness of the meringue.
How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
One of the lovely things about Swiss Meringue Buttercream is that is a recipe of perfect proportions. For every large egg white (30 grams), use 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Before adding any ingredients to the mixing bowl get rid of any grease residue in the mixing bowl. Grease or fat prevents your meringue from setting up. If it looks like there might be any grease whatsoever, clean the mixing bowl with hot water and soap and wipe dry. You can also use a little vinegar to wipe out the bowl and the whisk attachment. Wipe all tools that will touch the meringue with a little bit of white vinegar or lemon juice. Grease or fat prevents your meringue from setting up.
The meringue is made by whisking a combination of egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until it reaches temperature. Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites and egg yolks in separate containers.
Place the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the metal bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk sugar and egg whites together then set the bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the mixing bowl touch the hot water. Whisk the whites and sugar constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thinned out.
The mixture will be thick and tacky at first, then thin out and appear frothy on top. You want a temperate between 165 and 170F. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature. The right temperature is important to ensure a stable meringue.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat the meringue on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the meringue has cooled to about 75F, at least 10-15 minutes. On really humid days, it will take longer. The bottom of the bowl will be noticeably cooler and if you taste the meringue it will be cool on your tongue.
Once the meringue has cooled, reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the butter 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time. Wait for the butter to fully mix in before adding the next butter. After the butter has been added and the buttercream is smooth and creamy, add the vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until it is incorporated about 20 seconds. One thing I've learned over the years is that sometimes the amount of butter may vary. You may end up using less butter than the recipe calls for to reach the desired texture and creaminess.
Adding Other Flavors to the Buttercream
You can easily add other flavors to this buttercream. Replace the vanilla extract, with 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, or another flavor extract such as lemon, coconut, or orange. For a stronger extract like almond add 1/2 teaspoon.
For a fruity buttercream, see my recipe for Blackberry Lime Cake which includes a blackberry Swiss Meringue. Follow the instructions and replace the blackberries with raspberries or strawberries.
You can also make chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream. For this amount of buttercream, place 8 ounces of dark chocolate in a bowl, then place the bowl over a simmering pot of water. Melt the chocolate, let it cool to room temperature, then beat it into the Swiss buttercream until thoroughly incorporated.
How to Add Color to the Buttercream
If you want to add color to your Swiss meringue buttercream the best option is Gel Food Coloring. I recommend either the Americolor brand or Wilton Food Coloring.
The best thing about using gel food coloring is that it doesn't take much to get vibrant colors and unlike liquid food coloring in which you may have a lot to get the right color, it won't ruin the texture of the buttercream.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- It is essential to have a clean and dry bowl for whipping the egg whites. The egg whites cannot contain any egg yolk whatsoever. If the bowl is not completely clean or there is egg yolk in the egg whites, it prevents the meringue from setting up.
- This recipe uses large egg whites. If you're using different size eggs use a kitchen scale to weigh the egg whites.
- Eggs are easier to separate when cold, but egg whites whip up easier when closer to room temperature. I recommend separating the egg in advance. In addition, allowing the egg whites to sit gives them a chance to relax, which improves their elasticity during the whipping process.
- For best results use room temperature butter (65-68F). If the butter is too warm, the buttercream will be soupy and not set up properly. If that happens, chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- It is entirely normal for the Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) to look soupy or curdled in the beginning after a portion of the butter has been added. That’s okay, just continue to whip it and it will soon firm up and become creamy.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Swiss meringue buttercream recipe involves using a double boiler, egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter. American buttercream is not cooked and only requires butter, powdered sugar, flavoring, and heavy cream.
The two buttercreams are very similar, but Italian Meringue Buttercream is made with cooking sugar to the hard crack stage (240F) and slowly adding it to whipped egg whites. Italian buttercream is more stable that Swiss buttercream, but the Swiss version is easier to make.
No, Swiss meringue buttercream does set hard nor does it form a crust or dry out like American buttercream can. That’s why SMBC is excellent for creating the smoothest frosting detail on cakes and perfectly piped (yet still fluffy tasting!) designs.
Yes, this buttercream can sit at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Can I freeze the buttercream?
Yes. Swiss meringue buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. If freezing, store it in an airtight container, then thaw it at room temperature on the counter. Once completely at room temperature, about 72°F (22°C), place into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy again.
If you make this delicious buttercream I would love to hear from you about how it went. Also please leave a rating and a comment below. And if you would like to be notified of the latest recipes, subscribe to the Baking Newsletter.
If You Like This Recipe, Try These Recipes
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Stand Mixer
- Large Pot
- 6 large (180 grams) egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups (300) grams granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 cups (564 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon pieces. The butter should be at room temperature, 65-68F. If the butter is too warm and is very soft, refrigerate it for 15 minutes to firm it back up. If the butter is too warm when it is added to the meringue the buttercream won’t set and will remain too soft.
- Half fill a 3-quart or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer over high heat. Once it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and set it over the pan of simmering water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.
- Whisk until the mixture by hand until reaches 170 degrees F. Once the meringue mixture reaches temperature, immediately put the bowl on the mixer stand, attach the whisk attachment and whip at medium-high speed until the meringue mixture is cool (about 75-80F).
- With the mixer on medium speed add the butter to the meringue one tablespoon at a time. Initially, the volume of the meringue will decrease dramatically. About halfway through the buttercream will begin to look curdled. Don’t worry it’s supposed to look like this. Continue to add the butter and eventually the buttercream will begin to look creamy and smooth.
- Initially, the volume of the meringue will decrease dramatically; it may even seem soupy along the way, but as the cool butter is added, the mixture will begin to thicken
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and mix on low speed until well incorporated. The buttercream can be made up to one day before you’re ready to use it. If making the buttercream in advance, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 2 months in an airtight container.
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