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Swiss Meringue Buttercream for Cupcakes

  • Yield: Makes about 9 cups, enough for about 28 cupcakes
Swiss Meringue Buttercream for Cupcakes


  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 large egg whites
  • 4 cups (8 sticks or 2 pounds) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.

  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.

  3. 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. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Reviews (29)

  • rainbowcanoe 16 Feb, 2015

    im not sure how big her 24 cupcakes are or what i might have done wrong, but i pretty generously frosted 24 cupcakes with this recipe and barely used half the batch.

  • cosmicfield 24 May, 2014

    may I know what sugar should I use for this recipe? Is it powdered sugar or castor sugar?

  • JodieAnne A 11 Jan, 2014

    This makes the best, most smooth, delicious buttercream out there. WAY better than the typical butter/shortening and powdered sugar recipes. But so totally worth it. I halve this recipe to generously ice 24 cupcakes with a little left over. As step 3 states, frosting will look curdled after butter's added. Just keep at it. It WILL come together. I have NEVER had luck with freezing/thawing the frosting. Save yourself the headache and just whip it up on the day of in 20 minutes or so.

  • AlannaPie 1 Jun, 2013

    Delicious! Just remember to keep beating it until it stops looking curdled. It's going to seem like it's getting worse - just stick with it and you will have glorious frosting. This recipe makes a huge amount of frosting. I halved the recipe and it was probably enough for about 36 cupcakes. The nice thing about this recipe is you can actually divide it into 5ths very easily, so you can taylor it to what you need.

  • Diana Navarro 12 Sep, 2012


  • Thea519 17 Jul, 2012

    First off, I can't decide if I like this recipe or not. It's extremely buttery and not sweet, at all. But somehow, it seems to complement the strawberry cupcakes I made. Weird! I will say that it came together perfectly. I love the texture- so smooth and silky. Also, this recipe, as is, would frost waaaay more than 28 cupcakes. I halved it and was able to frost 24 cupcakes with some leftover.

  • oper8sgirl 16 Jun, 2012

    Lovely frosting...
    I made this frosting for a layer cake (3, 8 inch rounds). I still had about 2 cups leftover. I had to use a hand mixer. It IS possible to do with a hand mixer! It just takes a lot longer. It took me about 25 mins to get to stiff peaks. I added the butter in one tbsp at a time and mixed until incorporated. It never really got to the typical soupy stage, it just slowly turned into frosting. I only used 5 sticks of butter. It took me 1 hr 15 mins total.

  • ashleygeddes 3 Nov, 2011

    This is the best frosting recipe I have ever made! Not too sweet, but just sweet enough, smooth, and buttery. Fairly easy, but you definitely want a stand mixer. You just follow the directions exactly like they are written. I used the Wilton gel food coloring and did not notice any bad taste from it. You will literally want to eat it by the spoonful. It makes A LOT of frosting.

  • TheHungryHousewife 27 Oct, 2011

    This my friends is the worlds best frosting.If you are looking for a bakery style cloyingly sweet frosting,this IS NOT IT! This frosting is sophisticated.It is silky smooth from the 2 pounds of butter and it just melts on your tongue. Yes it is sweet, but not TOO sweet. It is more time consuming than your average frosting, but well worth it. When I want to WOW someone with a cake, I always frost it with this frosting. FYI..I don't use food coloring w/this frosting, I think it adds a nasty flavor

  • kastolzm 7 Jul, 2011

    Wonderful!! Best homemade frosting I've ever had! You're going to need a kitchen aide for this. Unless you have arms of steel, there is a LOT of mixing. YUMMY!

  • HunyBadger 17 Jan, 2011

    aaleves> re: runny b-cream...I wonder if you did what I did at first. I put in 2 sticks of butter (not 2 lbs!). Couldn't figure out what happened til I re-read. 4 CUPS(!!) of butter. yikes.

  • irleshay 10 Jul, 2010

    Add melted

  • irleshay 10 Jul, 2010

    Add melted

  • irleshay 10 Jul, 2010

    I liked Martha's Baking Handbook recipe, which is very similar but yields about 4 cups, and I halve even that. That recipe says bring the egg/sugar mixture to 160 degrees; add melted

  • irleshay 10 Jul, 2010

    I liked Martha's Baking Handbook recipe, which is very similar but yields about 4 cups, and I halve even that. That recipe says bring the egg/sugar mixture to 160 degrees; add melted

  • JunebugsMommy 24 Apr, 2010

    Should the butter be room temperature when adding it to the sugar/egg white mixture?

  • thunderdragon 19 Sep, 2009

    Delicious!!! Perfect consistency for decorating too.

  • rockermom 9 Oct, 2008

    "Striping the bag" is when you add random stripes of gel food color or different colored icing to the inside of your piping bag before filling it with the icing you are going to use. When you pipe out your icing it will have "stripes of the color you put on the inside of the bag. However, the "stripes" are not literally stripes. It depends on how you do it.

  • sveaski 8 Oct, 2008

    I'm curious...what does "Stripe your piping bag" mean?

  • DeliciouslyYours 8 Oct, 2008

    This is SO clever and cute! Stripe your piping bag for added effects, and use any buttercream-based frosting you prefer. I've been looking for something "special" for Halloween treats, and these are perfect -- taste great with the "ugh" and "oh, yuck" effect that kids love!

  • mwatson 8 Oct, 2008

    I have used this type of recipe before - just smaller amounts and without the butter. you can half the recipe or even smaller if you want. Then it may not seem so overwhelming to make. remember that the egg whites expand when beaten so the volume of the raw ingredients will be much less than the finished ingredient.

    Excellent - and tastes like marshmallows:)

  • Angieboyd 8 Oct, 2008

    i have to say that buttercream is the toughest frosting to make!
    i hope this works, 2 pounds of butter and 10 egg whites are kinda spendy.

  • ShrineMaker 4 Oct, 2008

    I'd go with basic buttercream icing that does NOT use butter at all. It uses shortening (I know, using butter creates a more solid taste...but, adding butter flavor to the shortening is ok). It is stiff and it contains meringue powder, wich allows the icing to dry with a subtle crust (like a wedding cake)...thus, IDEAL for flowers and roses. Btw, using a hand mixer to make this, is possible, but incredibly difficult. They do have ready made "decorator" icing at craft stores.

  • Solangegreene 15 Sep, 2008

    Can you make this recipe a chocolote buttercream?

  • Kalika 30 Jul, 2008

    I don't have hand mixer,if I whisk by's will take more than 10 minutes..
    will be possible?

  • aalves5 8 Jul, 2008

    Has anyone had any problems with it being runny? i only have a hand mixer, could this affect the outcome? i am trying to make icing flowers with it and their is no way they will keep shape. i am new at all of this... please help with any suggestions. Thanks!

  • dirrtylaundryboy 26 May, 2008

    carmenid, it's regular sugar... you want to put the sugar with the egg whites in the bowl of your electric mixer and whisk over top of simmering water. It dissolves... took me longer than 3 minutes for the mixture to get warm, but when it does and is smooth... it's totally ready! and it's absolutely delicious

  • Carmenid 29 Apr, 2008

    is this regular sugar or confectioners sugar?

  • karenrsalo 30 Mar, 2008

    This is my favorite frosting. I can't imagine using 9 cups of it on just 28 cupcakes, though. I generously frosted 36 and only used about half of the 9 cups.

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