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Meringue Buttercream


This buttercream holds its shape particularly well, making it good for decorating. If the buttercream becomes too soft while piping, stir it over an ice-water bath until it stiffens.This recipe can be used to make our Flower Cake.

  • Yield: Makes 3 cups, enough for one 2- or 3-layer cake or about 2 dozen cupcakes

Photography: Johnny Miller

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November/December 1991


  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer onto the saucepan. Boil the syrup, brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystallization, until the syrup registers 240 degrees (soft-ball stage).

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium high until stiff but not dry peaks form.

  3. With the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl (to prevent splattering) into the egg whites in a steady stream, and beat on high speed until the steam is no longer visible, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, piece by piece. Add vanilla; beat until smooth and spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes. If it looks curdled at any point during the beating process, continue beating until smooth.

Reviews Add a comment

  • adore4boys
    7 MAY, 2015
    I LOVE the flavor and texture of this frosting! My first time making it was a learning experience, but it still turned out great. A few more notes on what to expect would've been helpful, so I'll try to cover those. 1. Meringue mixture will deflate when you add the sugar syrup - this is normal. 2. You can add the butter cold or room temperature, it may get liquidy or curdled - JUST KEEP BEATING! It will come together magically and then you'll have the most buttery, not overly sweet frosting.
  • K k Rose
    13 AUG, 2014
    I followed this recipe very carefully and it was extremely difficult. Something is missing here because my "icing" turned into liquid. :(
    29 NOV, 2013
    Dear DIRECTIONS SUCK!!! I don't think Martha herself could follow them. Its like you left out alot. I am not an expert baker, but I know a few things. I had a hard time with this. No mention as to what speed to whip the butter into the sugar/egg white mixture. Oh, and that it will start to "deflate" once you add the sugar mixture! Unless your the "Next Great Baker", find another recipe, one that has better directions. If not, you'll just second guess yourself
  • cristhiane
    27 MAR, 2013
  • cristhiane
    27 MAR, 2013
  • Wetchman
    23 FEB, 2013
    Very delicious! I couldn't get the sugar to work without crystalizing, so I swapped out 1/4 cup of the sugar for corn syrup. Worked like a charm.
  • noelio
    15 SEP, 2011
    Delicious and beautiful!