Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

Swiss meringue buttercream comes together with just 5 ingredients and is amazingly delicious. The smooth and silky texture melts in your mouth but is stable enough to use for wedding cakes and birthday cakes. Add some fresh fruit puree, lemon extract, or chocolate to customize your SMBC and pair it with your favorite chocolate cake, vanilla cupcakes, or Funfetti cake.
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 25 mins
Serves: 8 cups
swiss meringue buttercream recipe

Extremely light, creamy, and not too sweet, Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect frosting. If you’re making Swiss for the first time or have tried and failed before, this recipe breaks down all of the techniques in easy detail and goes over all of the challenges and troubleshooting for making the best buttercream. If sweet frosting like traditional American buttercream is too sweet for you, you will love this recipe.

Making Swiss meringue buttercream frosting (also known as SMBC) is not hard, but it can be time-consuming. SMBC has a meringue base and is made by cooking egg whites and sugar, then whipping them to make a thick meringue, and whipping in butter. This recipe is the big sister of my mock-Swiss Easy buttercream frosting recipe, which skips the need to cook the egg whites by using pasteurized eggs.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

Swiss meringue buttercream ingredientsFresh egg whites will whip into a more stable meringue than carton egg whites. It’s a bit more work to separate the eggs yourself, but you can then use the leftover egg yolks for lemon curd, Boston cream pie, or creme brulee. Heating egg whites to 110°F is recommended for safe consumption, however, I recently learned that most raw eggs in the US are already pasteurized, so they’re technically safe to eat.

Vanilla is the main flavor of swiss buttercream, so it’s important to use good-quality vanilla. Vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, or even a vanilla bean would work perfectly. Nielsen Massey makes really great vanilla bean products and focuses on sustainable environmental practices.

How to MakeSwiss Meringue Buttercream Step-by-Step

  1. Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring it to a simmer.
  2. Place the metal bowl of your stand mixer on top of the pot of water to create a bain-marie (or double boiler). The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.picture of a metal stand mixing bowl on top of a pot of simmering water.
  3. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl. Pro-tip: Wipe your bowl out with white vinegar before making the meringue. A very clean metal bowl will work best for this as the meringue is easier to whip up in metal rather than plastic.hand adding salt to stand mixer bowl with egg whites and sugar.whisking the sugar, egg whites and salt in the stand mixer bowl.
  4. Cook the egg white mixture until it reaches 110ºF (43ºC) and constantly whisk the sides of the bowl to distribute the heat evenly. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, when you can no longer feel any sugar granules in the egg whites with your finger, it’s done.hand testing to see if sugar has dissolved.
  5. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer it to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You can use a hand mixer and a large bowl to mix your meringue, it will just take a lot longer to mix.bowl with mixture moved to stand mixer with whisk attachment.
  6. Whip the egg and sugar mixture on medium-high speed for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you reach glossy, stiff peaks. hand showing whisk attachment with glossy stiff peaks.
  7. Pour your meringue out into a shallow dish and refrigerate it for about 10 minutes to cool the meringue to room temperature. You can also put your entire bowl of meringue into the fridge, but it will take longer to cool. If you don’t cool the meringue it will melt your butter and then you’ll have buttercream soup.
  8. Once your meringue is cooled, put it back in your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. 
  9. Add the room-temperature butter, vanilla, and mix until it’s all combined. adding butter to stand mixer bowl. adding the vanilla to the swiss meringue buttercream mixture.
  10. Whip the buttercream on medium/high speed until it is white, fluffy, and doesn’t taste buttery, this can take 8-10 minutes. Pro-Tip: To counteract the yellow in your buttercream, add a drop or two of violet food color gel to make it whiter.spatula showing texture of buttercream after mixing.
  11. Switch to a paddle attachment and mix it on low speed for 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream very smooth and remove air bubbles. This isn’t required, but if you want really creamy frosting, you do not want to skip it!picture showing the texture of the buttercream after using the paddle attachment.
  12. This recipe is enough to frost and fill a two-layer 8″ x 2″ cake, or frost about 24 cupcakes. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months.vanilla cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

FAQ

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 them 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 involves boiling sugar to the hard crack stage and then drizzling it into your whipping egg whites. This makes the meringue very firm and more stable under high temperatures.

Will Swiss meringue buttercream melt?

Although Swiss meringue buttercream is more stable than using whipped cream, it is still susceptible to high heat. Its main ingredient is butter after all, and butter WILL become very soft at around 80ºF and will melt fully at 90º after about 30 minutes in the sun. 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 the 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 lose its 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 up to two days! 

Can you make this into Swiss chocolate buttercream?

Yes, and to do that you will add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite cocoa powder or melted chocolate. Just whip it in at the end. I have a great recipe for chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream you will love as well!

Can you color Swiss meringue buttercream?

You can add a few drops of gel food coloring to this buttercream to color it. It holds color well and gets darker overnight. Just be sure to not add too much food coloring or you’ll be able to taste it. To make darker colors, add a few drops of food coloring, remove about a cup and melt it in the microwave, then whip it back into your buttercream.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Moist Vanilla Cake and Easy Buttercream

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Italian Meringue Buttercream


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swiss meringue buttercream recipe

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

Swiss meringue buttercream comes together with just 5 ingredients and is amazingly delicious. The smooth and silky texture melts in your mouth but is stable enough to use for wedding cakes and birthday cakes. Add some fresh fruit puree, lemon extract, or chocolate to customize your SMBC and pair it with your favorite chocolate cake, vanilla cupcakes, or Funfetti cake.
4.90 from 95 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
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) granulated 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

Equipment

  • 1 stand mixer with the whisk and paddle attachments

Instructions

Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring it to a simmer.
  • Place the metal bowl of your stand mixer on top of the pot of water to create a bain-marie (or double boiler). The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  • Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl. Pro-tip: Wipe your bowl out with white vinegar before making the meringue. A very clean metal bowl will work best for this as the meringue is easier to whip up in metal rather than plastic.
  • Cook the egg white mixture until it reaches 110ºF (43ºC) and constantly whisk the sides of the bowl to distribute the heat evenly. If you don't have an instant-read thermometer, when you can no longer feel any sugar granules in the egg whites with your finger, it's done.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer it to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You can use a hand mixer and a large bowl to mix your meringue, it will just take a lot longer to mix.
  • Whip the egg and sugar mixture on medium-high speed for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you reach glossy, stiff peaks. 
  • Pour your meringue out into a shallow dish and refrigerate it for about 10 minutes to cool the meringue to room temperature. You can also put your entire bowl of meringue into the fridge, but it will take longer to cool. If you don’t cool the meringue it will melt your butter and then you’ll have buttercream soup.
  • Once your meringue is cooled, put it back in your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. 
  • Add the room-temperature butter, vanilla, and mix until it’s all combined. 
  • Whip the buttercream on medium/high speed until it is white, fluffy, and doesn't taste buttery, this can take 8-10 minutes. Pro-Tip: To counteract the yellow in your buttercream, add a drop or two of violet food color gel to make it whiter.
  • Switch to a paddle attachment and mix it on low speed for 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream very smooth and remove air bubbles. This isn't required, but if you want really creamy frosting, you do not want to skip it!
  • This recipe is enough to frost and fill a two-layer 8" x 2" cake, or frost about 24 cupcakes. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Notes

  1. Bring all your unsalted butter to room temperature.
  2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
  3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it’s place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
  4. Chill your cakes or whatever you are decorating with your buttercream before you begin frosting and filling. 
  5. Making this buttercream is not hard, but it can be time-consuming. This buttercream requires heating egg whites with sugar over a double boiler until the sugar dissolves, and then whipping the egg whites into a meringue (and then whipping it into butter). If you want an easier recipe that skips heating the egg whites, check out my mock SMBC recipe for easy buttercream.

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
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179 comments on “Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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

  2. 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?

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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Please can I use mergerine in place of butter?

  8. 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.

  9. hello,Can I add cream cheese and pastry cream.?

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

  11. 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?

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 5 stars
    Hello. I am a home baker, second career in my mid life. I have only used Italian meringue buttercream which took me a while to master, but have realized that most bakers use Swiss meringue buttercream. Why do most bakers prefer Swiss meringue buttercream ? Is it easier or does it taste better? I love your instructional videos, you make it seem easier. Thanks

    1. I personally don’t enjoy cooking sugar because it requires me to pay attention to the sugar instead of doing other things. I do love the taste and stability of IMBC.

  16. For the unicorn cake, would I need to double his swiss meringue recipe?

    1. It depends on how big the cake is. You can definitely make a double batch and freeze the leftover but I think a single batch is enough for a 6″ unicorn cake

  17. Is cream cheese frosting okay to use for cake decorating? I find it less sweet.

  18. Hello Liz:
    I apologize if my comment posts twice, i cant tell if my first attempt posted.
    I could really use your help, I am trying to decide if I should use your SMBC or your flour frosting recipe. I am looking for a frosting that is not as sweet as AB and has a more whipped consistency. My dilemma is, I need the frosting to be Red-Red (using gel dye) and also need a frosting that I can re-whip to use over a few days. I tried the flour frosting a few years ago and loved it, but after I refrigerated it and went to finish the cake and cupcakes the next day I couldn’t get the consistency back, it was just curdled and flat. My “customer” really wants a whipped frosting that is not sweet, but whipped cream just will not work for this project.
    Thank you so very much for your help and all of your amazing recipes and videos, your page is my GO TO.. YOU ROCK!!! \,,/ \,,/

  19. 5 stars
    I made the SMBC and it is amazing!!! It wasn’t difficult thanks to your video. I will never make AB again!! Thank you so much.

  20. 5 stars
    Thank you so much Liz! This is now my official go to recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Always had issues until today when I followed your recipe and that’s when I knew where I was going wrong all this while- I should actually cool my meringue in the fridge because the whole “cool to touch” never works…Thanks🤗🤗

  21. Swiss meringue buttercream hardens when refrigerated. What is the best way to soften Swiss meringue buttercream?

    And if I decorate a cake with it, will the buttercream get hard if I refrigerate it? do you recommend that I serve the cake right after decorating it?

    1. Yes if it gets cold it will harden. Depending on the temperature of the room, it will soften at room temperature. So I usually bring the cake out a few hours before serving the cake or it can be left at room temperature if there isn’t any fruit inside.

  22. 5 stars
    Hi Liz,

    Can I color SMBC bright red, black and blues like ABC? Love this recipe. It’s so silky lol

  23. Hi Liz,

    Would you recommend swiss meringue buttercream for frosting cake and then placing fondant on top? Also I am trying to make a lemon swiss meringue should I just put lemon zest or lemon curd if I am making the filling be a lemon curd? lol hope my questions are not confusing

    1. SMBC is great under fondant. Just chill your cake first to harden the buttercream before putting fondant on top. Lemon curd is better for flavoring buttercream, zest will make it lumpy. I would use the lemon buttercream for filling as well.

  24. Wow! Made this for the first time today. Amazing recipe thank you for sharing 😍I’ve had so many issues with wrist pain when piping with AB but this… this piped like a dream and omg so stable. Never ever will I use AB again.

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