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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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 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
    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💋

  18. Hi!! Thanks for the recipe! I have a question! Can I use pasteurized egg whites to make SMBC?
    Thank you🌸

    1. Hi! You can if you’d like, I know people do it all the time. However, I prefer to use raw egg whites because I’ve never been able to get pasteurized egg whites to whip into a strong enough meringue.

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