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 91 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. 5 stars
    Before trying your SMBC recipe I could not make it successfully, now with your help it comes out perfect every time!!! It tastes so delicious I find myself eating it with a spoon, who needs cake, it is that good! I also like that it is not too sweet.

    I appreciate your tips like putting the meringue in the fridge to cool down before adding the butter. I believe that is part of the success of this recipe.

    Another one for my permanent collection. Thank you, Liz!

  2. 5 stars
    I used your SMBC recipe for my husband’s birthday cake yesterday and I am in love with this icing! Not sure if I’ll ever use ABC again. 😄
    Thanks so much for the great videos and tips. They make everything so much easier for me to get it right the first time around. 😉

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for sharing your skills and most especially your recipes! I’ve never been to culinary school, but I bet your tips, tricks, and recipes are way far better than paying thousands of $$$$$. I have done the Swiss meringue buttercream before, but mine has never turned as silky as yours, for that thank you 🙏🏽 however, why is that mine didn’t turn as stiff as yours? Some says that using European butter is way better than American, do you think that contributed to my “not so” stiff buttercream? And why does my buttercream melt at room temperature, when you’ve mentioned that this can stay out at room temperature for about two days? Man, if my buttercream can withstand room temperature for a couple of days out, my macarons would love that 🙌🏽.

    Thanks Liz!

    1. It depends on how warm your room temperature is? If your butter can stand at room temperature and not melt into a puddle then that is how your buttercream will be. It will be softer or firmer depending on the temperature of the room.

  4. Hello! How would I go about turning Swiss into Strawberry Swiss?
    Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Hi just want to know how long can I leave this in fridge for? Buy the way fabulous recipe. 😋

  6. 4 stars
    I taste the salt in my buttercream, is it necessary to add this?

    1. Yes, buttercream needs salt. Did you by chance use salted butter instead of unsalted causing your buttercream to be over-salted?

  7. 5 stars
    Hi. I love SMBC. It’s been my go to BC for years. I’ve used my kitchenaid for it until recently. I have switched to Bosch Universal (stainless bowl). Have you made SMBC using your Bosch? If so, are there adjustments with speeds, whips paddles etc? Love your videos. Any videos using this with the Bosch?

    1. Yep, I use it all the time and I usually make a triple batch of buttercream in it. No adjustments to time except sometimes it whips up a lot faster, not complaining haha

  8. I am so excited!!!! This was amazing to taste best buttercream ever. I was so afraid because of the boiling thought I would totally ruin the eggs, but it was a snap. I was very vigilant with the mixing and followed all the steps and came out perfectly, I will never make another butter cream again.!!

  9. Hi can you use the SMBC as the filling? Sorry I am new to it🤷🏻‍♀️

  10. Can the eggs ever be over whipped? can it be over whipped after adding the butter? When should we stop whipping?

  11. 5 stars
    I’ve tried to make SMBC 3X now and I’ve been obsessed watching at least 10 how to make SMBC videos including Martha’s and find your video to be an easy to follow example of excellent SMBC. I’ll report back with my results. Thank you! 😊

  12. Hey Elizabeth,
    You say to put the mixer on a med/low speed when adding in the butter. I noticed in your video you have it on high while doing this. I just wanted to make sure I do all the steps right because I failed BIG time with SMBC in the past haha. Thanks😂😊

    1. It doesn’t matter what speed you add it at. The most important part is that your meringue is totally cold before adding butter.

  13. 5 stars
    Beautiful,delicious icing. Now I need to make another batch to ice the cake! Hide the spoon!

  14. Could I halve the recipe? Or would this affect the outcome/ whipping process?
    Thanks !😊

  15. Hey Elizabeth,
    OMGGGG this buttercream was soooo gooood. Super fluffy and not too sweet. Like super silky whipped cream! I may have over whipped the meringue, as it became droopy even after 12 – 15 mins of whipping but it was still great! Now that I’ve made that mistake I’ll be sure not to make it next time.This will be my go to from now on!

    1. You really cannot over-whip the meringue. If it’s droopy then its not mixed enough, even after 15 minutes of mixing. It depends on your mixer. Good to know for next time 🙂

  16. Please I tried dripping on my SMBC with royal icing , but the drip won’t stay? What’s wrong with it?

    1. I don’t use royal icing for drips, I use chocolate. I check out my water ganache recipe for drips or my perfect drip recipe

  17. 5 stars
    I’ve tried this recipe so many times, and as always, the buttercream tastes great, never disappoints. But I have one request though. Can you prepare the recipe of FRENCH BUTTERCREAM using the estimated amount of leftover egg yolks from the SMBC recipe?

  18. 5 stars
    Hey,

    Thank you for posting this recipe and the tips, I made it this week to go with a chocolate cake, and it was DELICIOUS, and super smooth. I do have one question though. You say we can cover it with fondant, but SMBC is best kept in the fridge and then can stay out of the fridge for a few hours. If I make a cake the day before it is needed using SMBC and cover it with fondant – would I then put that into the fridge, for delivery the following day? I thought it was best not to put cakes with fondant into the fridge because it might melt? Should we put the cake in the fridge, or not? What would you advise?

    1. All cakes can go in the fridge. A little sweating on fondant does not ruin it. I take the cake out of the fridge a few hours before eating though to give the cake time to come to room temperature which tastes better

  19. 5 stars
    Hi Liz! I have a silly question… what brand of butter do you use? I bought a local organic unsalted butter with 84% milk fat and it had a funky smell, but tasted great! I also used another brand, Kate’s Creamery which tastes ( and smells) great, but it is salted. I have heard a lot about French butter, but can’t find it due to COVID. Do you have any ideas on what is the best?

  20. 5 stars
    I love this buttercream! It’s smooth and tasty. I was wondering if I can add some different flavors. For example, if I want to add peanut butter, should I reduce the amount of butter or leave everything like it is and how much peanut butter would you add? Also would you still use vanilla? Thanks 🙏🏻

    1. You can add any flavor you want either with extracts or by just adding things like ganache or peanut butter straight to the buttercream and mixing.

  21. Hi,
    A follow up question, when using a hand mixer, does one just continue mixing to remove air bubbles? (as there will be no paddle attachment?)

    Thanks

  22. Hi again,

    Sorry another follow up question: you mention adding a few drops of violet food colour to make the icing more white, would Wilton Ivory be a good substitute if violet is not at hand?

    Thanks again

  23. I have made this one before and absolutely loved it!!! It’s amazing it’s not too sweet it’s like a light whipped cream frosting it’s great!!! I am curious if the easy buttercream has the exact same flavor! I was nervous to try the easy one for cakes due to I love the taste of this one!! Can you compare them!? Thanks

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