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Vanilla French Buttercream

This wonderful vanilla French buttercream should be paired with Butter Lane's Chocolate Cupcakes.

  • Yield: Makes about 1 quart
Vanilla French Buttercream

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, January Winter 2009


  • 7 extra-large egg whites
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise


  1. In a large heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, whisk together egg whites and sugar until sugar is melted and mixture reaches 140 degrees on a candy thermometer, 7 to 10 minutes.

  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on high until stiff peaks form, 12 to 15 minutes. Add cream of tartar and beat for one minute more.

  3. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and scrape vanilla bean seeds into mixture; beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator; chill for 15 minutes before using.

Reviews (15)

  • lovebaker 2 Nov, 2014

    Between step 2 and 3 this should have been included: That the egg whites should be whipped to room temperature. If it's a bit warm, the added butter will melt and the cream will become a soupy mess.

  • Melanie Straub de Jesus 25 Aug, 2014

    ... this is actually a swiss meringue buttercream recipe. french buttercream uses egg yolks, not whites. the two types of buttercream that use whites are swiss and italian. swiss is cooked over a double boiler, italian is when hot syrup is added to whipped egg whites to stabilize them. so, this is swiss.

  • Shayancakes 29 Oct, 2013

    @MademoiselleDomi: Make sure you whisk the egg white at high speed immediately to rich a glossy effect (that was my mistake). The first time I made it, it was perfect, except a little runny which I add more butter but the 2nd and 3rd time it was disaster.

  • MademoiselleDomi 22 Oct, 2013

    I don't know what I did wrong, but every time I add butter, the egg whites are melting in to something that reminds buttermilk. I tried that recipe 8-10 times and it's always like that. I give up..

  • Mills12 13 Jul, 2012

    love the recipe..delicious... but beware.. falls flat if it is humid outside

  • Melina Valentim 7 Jul, 2012

    Seriously? This recipe is very easy and taste really sweet.I didn add the vanilla beans becouse where I live is hard to find.Put the eggs and all the suggar in a bowl and leave it until the suggar is completely dissolved.Forget about the minutes.Keep beating it só it wont cook the egg whites very much...

  • crohme 6 Jul, 2012

    I wish I could give this ZERO STARS it was that horrible...don't even the site should take this recipe down or at least put an asterisk next to the title so people check the reviews first!!!

  • geneva2011 8 Dec, 2011

    Don't cook this recipe, it is a waste of time and money, I tried to do it twice following each step carefully and it didn't work. The sugar didn't melt enough, and you can feel it after, so wrong texture. Very sadly I had to put it in the trash.

  • CleverBaker84 5 Dec, 2011

    Complete waste of time and ingredients. This is not French buttercream. I wish I had read the reviews before trying. The icing is way too runny to do anything with it except TOSS IT.

  • deepdelights 20 Sep, 2011

    This is not French buttercream.
    For an authentic recipe:

  • BriarRose101 18 Sep, 2011

    I'd agree with the earlier opinion that this recipe needs about twice the butter called for. Even at that, the tang from the cream of tartar is somewhat objectionable.

    It's also not a French Buttercream (which has egg yolks), but a Swiss.

  • ppwalshie 7 Apr, 2011

    This tastes more like marshmallow cream and by the time you add the butter, the consistency is too runny to actually frost a cake or cupcakes.

  • ZuccheroDolce 14 Mar, 2010

    I don't think this has enough butter in it. If you want a typical swiss meringue buttercream that you can pipe, you need 4 sticks of butter.

  • QueenFrostine 26 Feb, 2010

    Oops! it's actually neither french, nor italian. This is a swiss meringue buttercream. An italian buttercream involves adding a sugar syrup to whipped egg whites.

  • whoopiepies 20 Apr, 2009

    This isn't a French buttercream recipe, it's an Italian Meringue buttercream. A French buttercream is made with whole eggs

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