Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Variations

This ultra-smooth buttercream is our go-to frosting, especially for piped designs.

  • Yield: Makes about 6 cups

Source: Martha Stewart Living Special Issues


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Whisk together sugar and egg whites in a heatproof mixing bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Whisk until warm and sugar is dissolved (mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingers), 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

  2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg-white mixture 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form and meringue has cooled (test by feeling bottom of bowl), about 6 minutes.

  3. Reduce speed to medium. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Buttercream can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth before using.

Cook's Notes

Brown Sugar Variation: Substitute 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar for the granulated sugar.


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