Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
Swiss meringue buttercream is better in flavor and texture than American Buttercream. Once you try it, you will want to use it on all of your cakes, cupcakes, cookies, everything! It is silky, pipes beautifully, and is stable. Watch the easy video tutorial and you will be a pro in no time!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Video
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) is my favorite of the meringue frostings because it is not overly sweet or difficult to make, and this method pasteurizes the egg whites in the process – Hooray!! It is simple enough to use for everyday baking but the flavor is a special occasion worthy frosting (scroll down to see the fun design I made for my niece and nephew’s puppy-themed birthday party). This frosting makes me think of wedding cakes every time I make it!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream keeps really well overnight at room temperature without drying out or forming a crust as American buttercream will. You can completely assemble your cake ahead of time without taking up space in the refrigerator and it will look and taste just as good the next day. It’s also freezer-friendly (see instructions below).
Cook’s Tip for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Butter should be softened at room temperature for about 1 hour (more or less depending on your room temperature). You want it to be still slightly cool to the touch and not overly soft or warm. If it gets too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes at a time.
How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1. In a medium pot, add about 1-inch of water and bring to a simmer.
2. Thoroughly wash and dry the stainless steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer** (you don’t want any fat touching meringue). Add 7 egg whites and 2 cups sugar and whisk together. Place mixing bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, creating a seal over the pot (bowl should be over the steam, not touching water). Whisk constantly until sugar/egg white mixture reaches 160˚F (takes about 3 minutes). Sugar should be fully dissolved (you should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing the mixture between fingers), and the mixture will feel hot to the touch.
3. Wipe water from bottom of mixing bowl and transfer bowl to your stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 15-20 minutes) and the bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temperature and not warm (important: if meringue is warm, it will melt the butter).
3. Once bowl is at room temperature, switch to the paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it can be absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until the buttercream has reached a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquid at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped.
4. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt then mix on med-high until incorporated (about 1 min).
P.S. The tiny amount of salt at the end gives this frosting incredible depth of flavor.
For egg whites to become glossy and reach stiff peaks, it’s critical to make sure your mixing bowl and attachments are free of any grease, egg yolks, or water. You need to start with thoroughly clean and dry tools.
This is usually due to the mixture being too warm or adding the butter before the meringue has fully cooled down. Thankfully, it is easy to fix. Refrigerate the bowl for 15-20 minutes then continue mixing until the frosting thickens.
It is ok to use a high-speed electric hand mixer, but it may take 5-10 minutes longer of total mixing time. Also, a glass bowl will work but meringue may take longer to whip/cool down because glass retains heat longer.
Avoid using coarse sugar. Granulated sugar works best here. Also, make sure to heat your mixture over the water bath until it registers 160˚F on a thermometer.
Absolutely! See how we frosted our 9-inch, 2-layer Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
- Room Temperature – Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a stable frosting, meaning it will keep well covered at room temperature for 1 to 2 days in a low humidity environment.
- Refrigerator – cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bring back to room temperature to re-whip before piping.
- Freezing – SMBC can be frozen for up to 3 months. Transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag, squeeze out any excess air, and store flat for quicker thawing. Thaw at room temperature then re-whip for a few minutes to lighten it up.
More Frosting Recipes
We haven’t found a storebought frosting even comes close to homemade. If you love homemade frosting as much as we do, you’re sure to find some new favorite frosting recipes in this list:
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Vanilla Buttercream
- Cupcake Frosting
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
In a medium pot, add at least 1-inch of water and bring to simmer.
Thoroughly wash and dry the stainless steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer (you don't want grease touching meringue). Add 7 egg whites and 2 cups sugar and whisk together. Place mixing bowl over a large saucepan of barely simmering water, creating a seal over the pot (bowl should be over the steam, not touching water). Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160˚F (takes about 3 min). Sugar should be fully dissolved (you should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing mixture between finger tips). Mixture will feel hot to the touch.
Wipe water from bottom of mixing bowl and transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 15-20 min) and bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temp and not warm (important: warm meringue will melt the butter).
Once bowl is at room temp, switch to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it is absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until it reaches a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquidy at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped.
Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt and mix on med-high until incorporated (about 1 min).
*Butter should be softened at room temp for about 1 hour (more or less depending on your room temperature). It should be slightly cool to the touch and not overly soft or warm. If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes at a time.
Troubleshooting: If your frosting seems soupy, or won’t thicken up properly, this is usually due to the meringue or butter being too warm. See the Common Questions section above to troubleshoot.
And here are the puppy cupcakes I made using this Swiss Buttercream for my niece and nephews birthday party! The kids LOVED them!! Here is the vanilla cupcakes base that I used for these. I used mini M&M’s on the eyes, a Hershey’s chocolate drop for the nose, then used a rolling pin and my hands to form the ears out of tootsie rolls and the tongue out of a similar shaped pink candy (similar to an airhead candy).
If you make this frosting, let me know what you think of it in a comment below.