Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I get a lot of compliments on my buttercream - I've heard many people say that it's the best they've ever had! Swiss meringue buttercream is wonderful to work with, and has just the right amount of sweetness - it's by far my favorite type of buttercream.  It does take a little bit of work to make, but it is well worth the effort.  If you bake regularly, I highly recommend that you make large batches and freeze your leftovers - my 6-quart mixer whips up triple batches frequently.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: About 4 cups


  • Stand mixer: I love my 6-quart KitchenAid mixer so very much - so much that I have 2 of them!  You *can* make meringue based buttercream with a regular hand-mixer, but it's really, really not very fun.  I highly recommend a stand mixer for making buttercream.  As noted above, I can make a triple batch of buttercream in my 6-quart mixer (and I usually do).
  • Beater Blade: I also love my Beater Blade!  It continuously beats, scrapes, folds and mixes ingredients - which helps to ensure that your ingredients are mixed thoroughly, and cuts down on mixing time.  It also pretty much eliminates the need to constantly stop your mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl, which saves quite a bit of time.  They sell models to fit all different mixer sizes.
  • Digital thermometer: Making any meringue-based buttercream requires a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your egg white-sugar mixture (Swiss meringue) or sugar syrup (Italian meringue).  I prefer using a digital thermometer over a candy thermometer.


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups), room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer (or any heatproof bowl). Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture registers 160F on a thermometer.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and forms stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment.  Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Beat on medium speed until the butter is completely incorporated, and the buttercream looks thick and soft.  Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat for about 5 minutes, to eliminate any air pockets. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. If not using right away, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days (buttercream can also be frozen for several months). Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.


  • Chocolate: Follow instructions above, reducing sugar to 1 cup.  After butter has been incorporated, add 8 ounces of melted, slightly cooled, excellent quality chocolate (bittersweet, semisweet, or milk - your choice, depending on what flavor you're after).
  • Lemon creme: Follow instructions above, omitting vanilla extract.  After all butter has been incorporated, and buttercream is light and fluffy, stir in 3/4 cup of your favorite lemon curd.
  • Cappuccino creme: Follow instructions above, omitting vanilla extract.  Dissolve 1 T instant coffee in a small amount of warm water.  After all butter has been incorporated, mix in coffee mixture.
  • Vanilla bean: Follow instructions above, omitting vanilla extract, and mixing in the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean.

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Print Recipe

Now that you've made some delicious buttercream...time to make a cake - or cupcakes!


Christmas Tree Farms said...

The pink Mom's cake takes...the cake!

Englisch Übersetzung said...

Look beautiful and delicious, I hope I can make them as nice too ; )

Rosie said...

it this buttercream stiff enough to dimensional piping, like roses?

Kristen said...

Thank you @Christmas Treet Farms and Englisch Übersetzung! @Rosie - yes, this buttercream is stiff enough for piping.

Unknown said...

What is your stick measurement equivalent to? you said 3 sticks or 1.5 cups. That doesnt add up.

1 stick = 113gm
1 cup = 250ml or 200gram

any help would be great

Kristen said...

Hi Simon -

1 stick = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup. Your gram measurement for 1 stick is correct (113g), so the amount needed for 1 recipe of buttercream is 339g. Hope this helps! Also - the conversion that you posted for cups doesn't apply across the board. One cup of butter doesn't weigh the same as one cup of flour, for instance. Take a look here for a bit of conversion help:

Unknown said...

Thankyou, I actually used 339gm


Anonymous said...

This is my new favorite buttercream frosting recipe!

I've been trying several recipes for buttercream all with the same result, disappointment. No matter how much whipping or time I spend incorporating the sugar it always comes out with at least some graininess to it and is beyond super sweet. I like sweet. I just don't want my frosting to bury the taste of my cupcakes. This recipe is AMAZING! Not too sweet, stiff enough to stand on it's own, no messy confectioner's sugar to clean up. Best part, my husband loves it! That is saying something because he is not a dessert person and has hated every other frosting recipe I've tried.

Thank you so much!

Kristen said...

Hi Anonymous -

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'm so glad to hear that you (and your husband!) love the buttercream. It's my absolute favorite, and it's so versatile!

Chikako Sims said...

Wonderful recipe!!! I've tried so many icing recipes but none is stiff enough! But I'm not a big fan of raw eggs, so can I leave the egg whites out? Thanks!

Kristen said...

Hi Nirvana! So glad that you like the recipe! Unfortunately, the egg whites aren't optional. Heating them with the sugar to 160F pasteurizes the eggs, which kills/slows microbial growth, and makes them safe to eat. Buying high quality, super fresh eggs is the way to go. You may be able to experiment with pre-pasteurized eggs if you're worried, though I haven't tried it myself.