Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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. 

Recipe

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

swiss meringue buttercream recipe
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! 
Servings: 48 oz

Ingredients

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

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 | Carbohydrates: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 34mg | Potassium: 11mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Calcium: 4mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: buttercream frosting, SMBC
Calories: 141kcal
Author: Liz Marek

84 comments on “Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. Can you use store bought egg whites in the carton for this recipe, and if so what would the measurement be on it?

    1. If you want to use store bought egg whites then use the easy buttercream recipe which does not require heating. This recipe is only for using fresh egg whites.

  2. Would I need to double this for a 1/2 sheet two tiered cake?

  3. help! why does my buttercream taste buttery? it was shinny white before adding the butter. i’m using hand mixer btw.

  4. 5 stars
    My favourite of all buttercreams. I learnt in patisserie school in the U.K., and have never looked back. Easy to make with a good stand mixer, and a Bain Marie (double boiler), is fine if you’re used to tempering chocolate as I am. Great, simple recipe, with good instructions.

  5. Help! I froze my leftovers and when I tried to reforst it again, it became all grainy and melted on the mixer. How can I fix it?

  6. Please help. My meringue looks yellow and greasy. It is not white and fluffy. I tried whipping longer and it just looks greasier. What can I do?

  7. Please help? Everything was gorgeous until I added the butter…. my frosting ended up separating, was really melty, and I couldn’t get it to be creamy. How long do you have to whip the frosting after adding butter?

  8. 5 stars
    Hi
    Is this enough for a half sheet (2- 9×13) cake? I am making an 80th birthday cake and am going to split the two 9×13 in half and fill, put side by side to make a half sheet size.
    Also, does this frosting mix well if I wanted to incorporate fruit into some for the filling?
    THANKS

  9. why is my buttercream suddenly bleed while im frosting my cake, i colored it purple and it suddenly sweating and the color purple is just like watering on the cake, please help. thank you.

  10. Tried the Swiss meringue buttercream recipe, it was fine till I started adding the butter. It curdled and had a very light paste consistency, then I tried to salvage it by adding powdered sugar. It swallowed up the sugar but remained in that consistency. Please, what could have gone wrong how do I avoid it next time?

    Thank you.

  11. Just keep whipping. It will become creamy in the end.

  12. I LOVE this frosting! 👌🏼 I used it on a 3 layers 8 inch round cake and there were quite a few bubbles in the frosting. It still looked okay, but I would prefer no bubbles. Do you have any recommendations on how to get rid of the bubbles before I use it? Thank you!

  13. Hi Liz,
    I would like to use this and color a batch yellow and one red. I have Rainbow Dust progel. How many drops of color should I use? Would a yellow buttercream go with the red velvet cake? Or would the white cake be better? And then how many drops of red?? Many questions I Know. Thanks so much in advance.

    1. I wouldn’t put yellow frosting on a red cake, it will look like ketchup and mustard IMO. There is no exact science to adding color to frosting. Just add until it’s the color you want it to be. Start with a few drops and keep going. SMBC doesn’t usually get very dark though

      1. Hi, I know this is old but add the food coloring to the meringue and it will change your life! The butter stops it from incorporating well. You’ll get richer colors by doing it this way.

  14. Hi,
    I know that swiss meringue becomes spongy when refrigerated and will need to be rewhipped to achieve that smooth consistency. Does the same apply if I refrigerate a cake that has already been frosted with swiss meringue? Or will it keep its smooth and fluffy texture

    1. It doesn’t have quite the same spongy texture on a cake because it’s a thin layer and you aren’t smoothing it. It’s already in place and smooth.

  15. Is this enough for 2 dozen of cupcakes or I need to double the amount ?

  16. I’ve tried your easy buttercream recipe and it was easy but tasted like I iced the cake with butter. The texture and color was nice but taste exactly like butter. Does the Swiss have a better taste ?

    1. Hi! I absolutely love this recipe. I was wondering if you had any tips on how I would turn this recipe into a chocolate SMBC xx

  17. Hi Liz! The recipe calls for fresh egg whites, can I use egg whites that are sold in the store (ie: All Whites)?

      1. I use pasteurized carton egg whites all the time for smbc. You just need to add some cream of tartar to the egg whites.

        1. Hi, thanks for the tip how much cream of tartar do you add and when do you add it please, if you are using the pasteurized egg whites ?

  18. Hi Liz! I made some SMBC then refrigerated the iced cake overnight. When it came time to cover it with fondant it was 60F rainy NY weather … it softened even before I could finish applying the fondant. So it bulged and looked horrible. I was so afraid of this happening that I cooked the egg whites longer until 175F and even added cream of tartar while whipping and meringue powder in the end . What did I do wrong? Help please!

    1. why did you cook the egg whites for longer? 175 is pretty hot. Im not sure why that happened but I only warm my egg whites until the sugar melts. About 110ªF

  19. Hello Liz,
    I made a batch last night(which looked fine) and left it at room temp on the counter. This morning it looked firm and separated, so I re-whipped it before piping on my cupcakes. It didn’t look as fluffy and felt a bit dense. After piping, the frosting became firm, kinda like butter. Is it due to temperature? My room temp is around 66-68F. What did I do wrong?

  20. Hi Liz, I am making a birthday cake with Your Swiss Meringue Butter recipe. After frosting and decorating the cake, is it safe to leave it on the table at room temperature in a cake box overnite? As I am travelling with the cake on a train for 2 hours. Shall I refrigerate the cake or just leave it out on table. Will the cream crack after refrigerate?

    1. Yes you can, the meringue is safe to be at room temperature but I would travel with the cake refrigerated because it makes it more stable. You can even insulate a box with thin foam to make it like a little fridge

  21. Hi! I did it with pasteurized egg whites and came out perfectly 🙂

  22. Planning to use my buttercream to decorate cupcakes like Santa hats. Every looked good thickness wise until I added the gel food coloring. It seems a bit thin to hold the shape of the Santa hat. Anything I can do to thicken it up more?

  23. Hi there,
    Can i use this recipe to pipe rosettes around the side of a cake? Im worried it will slide off?

  24. Hello! I have made this recipe before it’s the best, love it. My question was this, I’m doing my first wedding cake and want to use this recipe but I will need to set up the cake the day before, I am aware that the texture changes a bit as it sits but I was wondering if u had any recommendations? Would it help texture and stability if I added a little ganache? Keep it refrigerated? Or do u have good results leaving it for a day? Any opinions would be very helpful! I apologize for the long comment! Haha

    1. I would definitely keep it refrigerated until the day of the event to prevent sagging and other problems then bring it to room temperature a few hours before it will be cut

  25. Could I use SMBC on cake pops? to make into flowers?

    1. Grainyness comes from the sugar not being fully dissolved and crystalizing during the mixing process. Make sure all your sugar, even the grains up around the edge of the whites is fully dissolved before whipping.

  26. Hi, Making This Swiss icing for the first time..
    When I took it out of the fridge at the tiniest bit of colour mixed it thoroughly. Then moisture started dripping out of it.
    I refuse to ditch this icing.. It is terribly expensive to make icing not only for the products but also the time that is invested in Making icing.
    Please give me the advice to how to fix this problem.
    Regards Jude..

    1. I dont think your swiss meringue buttercream is “dripping” It’s most likely just condensation from the cake going from the fridge to a warm room which is perfectly normal and goes away as soon as the cake comes to room temperature.

  27. Hi Liz,

    Thank you for the tutorial. Do you have to scoop the meringue into shallow dish to be place into the fridge to cool? Could you not just put the meringue with the mixing bowl into the fridge instead?

    Thanks

    1. Yes you can definitely do that, it just takes a bit longer for it to cool down because the cold air cannot reach the center of the meringue.

  28. Hello!
    How much buttercream does this batch makes? The 48oz written on top is that by weight or volume?

  29. I’ve been watching your videos and reading your blog some, I’m trying my first decorated cake for my grand daughter’s birthday. Do you use the easy buttercream frosting between layers and for the crumb coat?

  30. hello, can i substitute margarine for butter, butter is quite expensive in my country.

  31. Is it possible to cool down the egg mixture before whipping it up? Just wondering if that works too

    1. I know lots of people who do it this way but for me it’s just much quicker to take the meringue out and cool it down in the fridge.

  32. Hello I made this for the first time this evening. While I like that it isn’t as sweet as American buttercream it still is a bit buttery for me. I’m looking for a good recipe to use in macarons. Another fellow baker uses your easy buttercream but I’m afraid it would still have the same taste. Do you have any recommendations to a less buttery taste that works well with macarons or perhaps a different recipe to try. I know I can do ganache but I’m looking for a buttercream or good alternative to right now. Thanks!

    1. The easy buttercream is sweeter than the swiss meringue so you should give it a try. You can also add another cup of powdered sugar in if you want it sweeter.

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