Swiss meringue buttercream is not as sweet as regular American buttercream, very light and creamy
Swiss meringue buttercream is made from whipping up egg whites with sugar to make a thick meringue and then whipping in butter. This buttercream is extremely light, fluffy and not very sweet and goes really well with chocolate cake or vanilla cupcakes.
Swiss meringue buttercream was the first buttercream I learned to make in pastry school and I wish I had a photo of my face when I had my first taste. Up until that moment I had only experience American buttercream made with shortening (yuck). I could never get the buttercream smooth and wondered what I was doing wrong!
After trying Swiss meringue buttercream I was totally hooked! I used it as my main frosting for all cakes, cupcakes and wedding cakes in my cake decorating business. It was my secret weapon to hooking brides who had husbands who “didn’t really like cake”. That and my homemade marshmallow fondant recipe.
How do you make real Swiss Meringue Buttercream?
Making Swiss meringue buttercream is not hard but it can be time-consuming. It requires heating egg whites with sugar over a double boiler until the sugar dissolves. Then whipping the egg whites into a meringue and then whipping in butter. If you’re in a hurry, try out my easy buttercream frosting recipe which does not require any heating of the egg whites because of the pasteurized egg whites (already heat treated). Leave a comment below if you JUST learned what pasteurized means lol
- Mix together egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. About 2 inches. Water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Whisk egg whites every 30 seconds or so to distribute heat evenly. Mixture is ready when it reaches 110ºF or when you can no longer feel any grains of sugar in the egg white.
- Remove from the heat and attach to your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip on high for 10-15 minutes or until you reach stiff glossy peaks.
- Pour your meringue out into a shallow dish and pop into the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool the meringue. If you don’t cool the meringue it will melt your butter. Then you’ll have buttercream soup.
- Once your meringue is cooled, put it back in your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment.
- Turn the mixer onto med/low and add in your (softened) butter in chunks until it’s all combined.
- Add in your vanilla and salt. If you’re flavoring your buttercream or making it chocolate, now is the time to add those flavorings.
- Bump up the speed to med/high and whisk until your buttercream is WHITE and fluffy. It shouldn’t taste buttery.
*note: you might have a slight yellowish tinge depending on the brand of butter you use. You can counteract a yellow tint by adding in a drop or two of violet food color gel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Can you use Swiss meringue buttercream under fondant? Yes you can! Swiss meringue is very stable and makes a great base for using under fondant. I always refrigerate my buttercream cakes first before covering to prevent bulging.
What’s the difference between Italian buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream? Italian buttercream is very similar to Swiss meringue but it is more stable. It’s more stable because it involves boiling sugar to hard crack stage and then drizzling it into your whipping egg whites. This makes the meringue very firm.
Will Swiss meringue buttercream melt? Although Swiss meringue buttercream is more stable than using whipped cream, it is still susceptible to high heat. It’s main ingredient is butter after all and butter WILL become very soft at around 80ºF and will melt fully at 90º. So it WILL melt but so will any buttercream.
Can you put Swiss meringue buttercream in the fridge? Yes, absolutely. You can refrigerate cakes with buttercream on them, you can store buttercream leftovers in the fridge for up to a week and you can freeze leftover buttercream for 6 months. Make sure you bring buttercream back to room temperature and re-whip to get it nice and fluffy again before you use it.
How long can you leave Swiss meringue buttercream out? Swiss meringue buttercream is ok to be left out for hours and hours. After about 8 hours it can get spongy though and loose it’s smoothness so it’s best to refrigerate if you’re not going to use it and then re-whip it. Cakes that are frosted in Swiss meringue buttercream can be left at room temperature for two days!
Can you make Swiss meringue buttercream chocolate? Yes you can by adding in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite cocoa powder. Just whip it in at the end.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
- 8 ounces fresh egg whites about 8
- 16 ounces sugar
- 24 ounces unsalted butter room temperature. You can use salted butter but it will affect the taste and you need to leave out additional salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
How To Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Fill a medium pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer and place the bowl over the simmering water. Bowl should not touch the water.
- Whisk mixture to combine and continue whisking every 30 seconds or so to distribute the heat evenly. If you don't whisk you could scramble your egg whites so be vigilant.
- Once the egg whites reach 110ºF or you can no longer feel any granules in between your fingers when you touch the egg whites, it's done. Be careful, the mixture will be hot.
- Move the mixing bowl to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high until you reach stiff glossy peaks of meringue
- Place your meringue into a shallow dish and place into the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool quickly
- Add your meringue back into the mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. On low, start adding in your softened butter in chunks until combined. Bump up to med/high and let whip until your buttercream is WHITE fluffy and creamy.
- Add in your vanilla and salt. Switch to the paddle attachment and let mix on low for 10-15 minutes to remove air bubbles (optional)