Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

Swiss meringue buttercream is a very stable, light and fluffy buttercream that is not-to-sweet. It's made by dissolving sugar in egg whites and then whipping them to a stiff meringue. Then you add in butter and vanilla and whipping until it's super light and fluffy! It's easy to make and amazingly delicious! The texture is smooth, silky and melts in your mouth. The perfect compliment to your cakes and cupcakes! 
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Print Recipe
Total Time: 25 mins
Serves: 8 cups
swiss meringue buttercream recipe

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 recipe

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

swiss meringue buttercream on cupcakes

  1. Mix together egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. About 2 inches. Water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. Once your meringue is cooled, put it back in your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. 
  7. Turn the mixer onto med/low and add in your (softened) butter in chunks until it’s all combined. 
  8. Add in your vanilla and salt. If you’re flavoring your buttercream or making it chocolate, now is the time to add those flavorings. 
  9. 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. 

Swiss meringue buttercream is made with egg whites, sugar, vanilla which is heated, whipped into a meringue and then cooled before adding in butter and whipping until light and fluffy. This buttercream is not as sweet as American Buttercream
Swiss meringue buttercream is made with egg whites, sugar, vanilla which is heated, whipped into a meringue and then cooled before adding in butter and whipping until light and fluffy. This buttercream is not as sweet as American Buttercream

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. 

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Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

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swiss meringue buttercream recipe

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

Swiss meringue buttercream is a very stable, light and fluffy buttercream that is not-to-sweet. It's made by dissolving sugar in egg whites and then whipping them to a stiff meringue. Then you add in butter and vanilla and whipping until it's super light and fluffy! It's easy to make and amazingly delicious! The texture is smooth, silky and melts in your mouth. The perfect compliment to your cakes and cupcakes! 
4.91 from 60 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
cooling: 10 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 141kcal

Ingredients

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (227 g) fresh egg whites about 8
  • 16 ounces (454 g) sugar
  • 24 ounces (680 g) 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

Instructions

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)

Nutrition

Serving: 4oz | Calories: 141kcal (7%) | Carbohydrates: 9g (3%) | Fat: 11g (17%) | Saturated Fat: 7g (35%) | Cholesterol: 30mg (10%) | Sodium: 34mg (1%) | Potassium: 11mg | Sugar: 9g (10%) | Vitamin A: 355IU (7%) | Calcium: 4mg

177 comments on “Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. 5 stars
    Hi! Great recipe, super easy to follow, and the video is such a help in getting consistency correct! I had an issue however in that I made the BC (it turned out awesome, great fluff, colour, and consistency) then refrigerated it overnight, but when I thawed it the next day it was quite flat and greasy. I whipped it for a while but that didn’t seem to help. Any suggestions what I did wrong?

  2. 5 stars
    Made this today and it turned out perfect! Light, not too sweet and doesnt taste buttery! Amazingly delicious! Thank you so much! Will never ever go back to making ABC again! xxx

  3. 5 stars
    Hey Liz! If you add more or less butter in SMBC, does that affect the consistency and flavor? I’ve noticed most SMBC recipes have 1:2 ratio of egg whites to sugar, but the butter amount varies. Thanks for the help 🙂

  4. Hello I am making a fondant Cake with smbc for the first time for a party. Can you please advise on when I should start icing and putting the fondant on? I am thinking this-
    Day 1: Make cake and smbc, refrigerate
    Day 2: layer cake, crumb coat and put icing on as a second layer refrigerate for a few hours
    Day 2: put fondant on and edible glitter
    Day 3 am: add the toppers, etc
    Day 3 pm: cake is ready for the party

  5. Can i use oil based colouring? Any side effect to the item texture?

  6. Hello, I checked that tutorial that but wanted to clarify a few things-
    -Can I make smbc, store in the fridge and use it next day for crumb coat and final layer?
    -If I make a fondant cake one day in advance with smbc how I need to store it for 24 hours? Do I need to keep it at room temp if yes would my smbc stay fine? What day I should add the fondant toppers?

    1. You do not need to put the SMBC in the fridge if you’re going to use it the next day. Just whip it so it’s fluffy and smooth again before you use it. Chill the cake until it’s firm before covering in fondant. Store the cake either in the fridge or at room temperature. It doesn’t matter.

  7. 5 stars
    You’re a superstar. I normally make 6 inch cakes and needed to scale up for an 8. Your scaling tool made it so easy. It’s currently on the final smoothing stage in the mixer and it tastes like a dream. Thank you. ❤️

  8. 5 stars
    Liz thank you for this brilliant recipe my Swiss meringue tasted gorgeous however when I filled my vanilla 3 layer cake with SM and frosted it round it and left it overnight and the next day when I cut it the sponge It was soggy and a bit dense and no longer fluffy this does not happen when I use American butter cream.

    My sponge was cold when I put the frosting on it.

    Please help I don’t know how to solve this.

    Also when you cover The sponge with SM can I store it in the fridge overnight without putting it in an airtight container as I would like to decorate it the following day?

    Thank you Liz

    1. The frosting is just cold. No need to refrigerate your cake after it’s been frosted unless you plan on traveling. Chilled cakes travel better. Always let the cake warm up a few hours before you cut into it.

  9. This site is very informative. Thanks! I am planning on making a sheet cake for a wedding. The bride wants a pink champagne cake. Will this SMBC be a good choice? Also I am looking to bake, frost, and decorate 2 days before the wedding. Storing in a bakery box. Should I refrigerate or freeze it?

    1. SMBC would be great and definitely refrigerate it!

  10. 4 stars
    Great recipe except I couldn’t put the fondant on top of it because it was too creamy. How do you put the fondant for this butter cream? Or this is just for butter cream lovers only.

    1. Hi, I use this recipe under fondant all the time. I always chill my cakes until the buttercream is firm before applying fondant.

  11. 5 stars
    Hi Liz,

    Hope you are all well, I think you’re awesome by the way. I have some questions. I made the smbc last night followed your every step even with adding the purple gel color worked wonderfully however the top portion of the cakes buttercream had an after taste of butter like i spooned butter into my mouth why is that. Is it cause its at room temp? Also when you say chill is it freezer or just fridge I have two cakes to make this weekend if I make cakes in advance to save time can i freeze them after they are cooled from the oven?

    1. Hi thanks so much! Sounds like with the smbc that you just needed to whip the butter for longer, I always whip it on high and taste it after a few minutes. If you’re still getting that buttery taste, just whip for longer. You can chill in the fridge or the freezer, I’ll often wrap my cakes in plastic wrap and will freeze them before decorating. Either will work!

  12. Hi there! I plan on using this recipe under fondant in a few weeks. How would you recommend storing the cake after the fondant if I do it a day or two ahead?

  13. 1 star
    Had to throw out it look curdled I followed the recipe exact kept whipping and also weighted ingredients on a scale I don’t understand 😞

    1. Sounds like you scrambled your eggs while cooking them in the bain-marie. Make sure that your bowl isn’t touching the water and that you’re heating it very slowly while stirring. Or your butter was too cold when you added it in with the meringue

  14. For your chocolate swiss buttercream recipe I want to use chocolate rather than cocoa powder. Do you use bittersweet chocolate?

  15. 5 stars
    I love the recipe it’s super easy because the introduction are made really good! If you haven’t tried till now do it as soon as possible!!!

  16. 5 stars
    Shouldn’t you heat egg whites to 140f to pasteurize?

  17. Oh my God. I love you. I have struggled with SMB. And one try of this and it was excellent. I use all your recipes for my new cake business and you have been a blessing. Thank you💋

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