Rating: 3.55 stars
619 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 145
  • 4 star values: 200
  • 3 star values: 153
  • 2 star values: 92
  • 1 star values: 29

This all-purpose buttercream has an ultra-silky, stable texture that spreads beautifully over cakes and cupcakes, and can be piped into perfect peaks and patterns.

Gallery

Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

Yield:
Makes about 5 cups
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

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  • Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

  • With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day. If not, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

  • To tint buttercream, reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.

Cook's Notes

Chocolate variation: Using a flexible spatula, fold 4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled, into buttercream mixture in step 3, along with the vanilla extract.

Reviews (36)

619 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 145
  • 4 star values: 200
  • 3 star values: 153
  • 2 star values: 92
  • 1 star values: 29
Rating: 5.0 stars
07/02/2020
This worked amazing for me! Wanted to test it because of all the mixed reviews. I was looking for something less rich than traditional buttercream and I found it!! Would recommend!
Rating: 5.0 stars
07/02/2020
This worked amazing for me! Wanted to test it because of all the mixed reviews. I was looking for something less rich than traditional buttercream and I found it!! Would recommend!
Rating: 5 stars
10/14/2019
This is absolutely amazing. This is the best buttercream that I have ever made. I had to double the recipe to make my 2 layer ombre cake, but if you weren't doing the extra ombre layer, I think that you wouldn't need to double it. This buttercream is so light and fluffy, and not too sweet. It is also super easy to make. I will be recommending this recipe to everyone I know.
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Rating: 1 stars
03/24/2019
The recipe is too rich and irritated our stomachs. I would make it again using seven egg whites and 3 sticks of butter.
Rating: 1 stars
06/28/2018
The ratio of eggs to butter is out by a long way. I fixed what I’d made by whipping up an extra 4 eggs and just under a cup of sugar. Disappointed. Helenjzk
Rating: 5 stars
06/14/2018
This is the best ever frosting recipe. The frosting is not sweet and melts in your mouth.
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Rating: 5 stars
02/26/2018
Very smooth and creamy, and not too sweet- a huge hit. The texture was fantastic, and it piped beautifully. It's definitely less sweet than an American buttercream, but everyone (kids and adults alike) at my party loved it.
Rating: 4 stars
03/04/2017
Delicious and easy. Prefer the Swiss meringue over American buttercreams.
Rating: Unrated
02/28/2017
New to this, what is the difference between this and 7 minute frosting?
Rating: 5 stars
01/01/2017
Delicious... satin smooth... perfect amount of sweet. Received rave reviews. Easy to make, that seems to be foolproof. Absolutely a go to recipe! Cupcakes Note: I stumbled across a SMBC recipe for cupcakes after I made this one (for cupcakes) so I will make that one next time. The ingredients are the same, just increased here and there. So, just FYI in case you are making cupcakes, there is another recipe out there by Martha. It is not white-white because of the butter, obviously.
Rating: 2 stars
10/05/2016
Everything came together wonderfully BUT all I can taste is the butter. It's way too much and ruined it for me.
Rating: Unrated
08/20/2016
This is the first recipe of Martha's that has let me down. I followed the directions exactly and texture-wise, it looks fantastic, but it tastes as if the cake is frosted with pure butter; it has zero sweetness and feels like nothing but butterfat. Guess I will stick with my regular American buttercream.
Rating: Unrated
07/07/2016
Patience, patience ,patience...followed the instructions & it turned out fabulous ! Also watched the video & it helped tremendously .
Rating: 5 stars
06/12/2016
My favorite frosting so far! Very easy to make and it is not sickly buttery or sweet, very silky!
Rating: Unrated
04/30/2016
Made two batches both turned out excellent! This is my go to for frosting from now on!
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2015
Mine keeps separating at the last stages of putting in all the butter! !? why does this happen. Everything is cold and my kitchen is also cold. whats going wrong?
Rating: 5 stars
08/29/2015
I have made this recipe for my sister's wedding. I use it on cupcake.. i have never a fan of this type of icing. It has a lot of butter in it. But my sister request for it. I have to look for a recipe online. I found this recipe and looks easy.. and turn out great and I cant believe im loving it. And my cupcakes were a hit. This recipe is the best. You should try it.
Rating: Unrated
05/19/2015
I have always been afraid of making a meringue buttercream. Until now. I used very good ingredients, and followed the recipe/instructions to the letter. I was rewarded with a beautiful, not too sweet, spreadable, and easy to pipe frostin. As with every other recipe from Martha, it came out perfect! This is now my "go to" buttercream!
Rating: Unrated
04/20/2015
Metric conversion charts are provided in many cookbooks. Conversion calculators are also available on line. Some basic information: 1 stick of butter = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup 1 cup = 240 mL = 8 fl. oz. 1/2 cup = 120 mL = 4 fl. oz. Hope this helps!
Rating: Unrated
04/20/2015
I want to make this icing what a oh t 1 cup in grams please.
Rating: Unrated
12/29/2014
I've used this recipe many, many times. In order to be successful, you MUST beat the egg white/sugar mixture until it is TOTALLY cool, or the butter may melt as you add it. If that happens, you are doomed to an irretrievable mess. The other possibility that may cause the buttercream to separate is if your kitchen is too hot. Otherwise, it's beautiful and tasty! Don't give up - the end result is totally worth the extra time!
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2014
Great recipe. I use about a third less sugar because I found it was still too sweet; I also add about 8 oz of whipping cream towards the end to lighten it up. If you run into a problem - DONT throw it out! If its too runny, refrigerate for 15 min. If it gets too cold (like when I add the whipping cream) - it will separate into solid curds. Just take about a third of mixture and warm it up (microwave, or I prefer double boiler) then add it back and continue beating. It really does work!
Rating: Unrated
11/01/2014
The first time i try this is perfect. But the second time that i try this it become watery and i tried it again but it becomes watery again. Please help me i'm so confused. I don't know where i went wrong. :(
Rating: Unrated
07/12/2014
I love this frosting, made it last month for the first time for my youngest Granddaughters birthday cake. Making it again tonight for my oldest Granddaughters cake but it doesn't seem to make 5 cups either time. I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. I'll keep making it but maybe in double batches, I think my family would kill me if I made anything else...
Rating: 5 stars
05/09/2014
I have been making this frosting for years, and it never disappoints. It is incredibly smooth, and not overly sweet. Love it!
Rating: Unrated
03/19/2014
This recipe worked perfectly for me, although the whites took upwards of 20 minutes to whip with a hand mixer.
Rating: 5 stars
02/26/2014
This is a great swiss buttercream recipe! It yields a very creamy, soft and not overly-sweetened buttercream with a great texture. I tried the chocolate variation too and it is very good as well, although the product's final colour is brighter than what i have anticipated. If you are looking for a dark-brown chocolate colour I'd recommend adding more chocolate or altarnatively adding some cocoa powder to it. In summary, wonderful!
Rating: Unrated
02/07/2014
Best Swiss Meringue buttercream ever! If yours starts to look sloppy, wet and separated, crank up the mixer and let it beat for 5-10 mins. It will come back together after more mixing. It is fabulous!
Rating: 1 stars
01/26/2014
I just made this and I have to say it was just horrible! I followed the instructions exactly and it amounted to nothing more than a sloppy wet mess! No consistency, no texture, no peaks, just a liquid mess! Complete waste of eggs, butter and sugar! I will not be using this "frosting" recipe ever again!! Terribly disappointed!
Rating: Unrated
12/01/2013
I love this recipe and it's worked out beautifully every time. I want to try it with the chocolate but am unclear about where in step 3 to fold in the chocolate? Do I fold it in and then beat with the paddle attachment or wait until after the buttercream has been completely beaten with the paddle and then fold in the chocolate?
Rating: 5 stars
02/11/2013
This recipe is awesome! I made 2 batches for a party and it came out perfectly. Everyone kept commenting on the frosting. Very silky and stable. We accidentally left one of the cakes out overnight after the party and it was still perfect. I followed the directions exactly. You do need to make sure the bowl has cooled down. The first time I made it, I think it was a little too warm. So the second time I wiped the outside of the bowl with cold wash cloth.
Rating: Unrated
08/31/2012
Cook the egg whites & sugar until it registers 120 degrees in an instant read thermometer. Then immediately whip in mixter on high speed with whisk attachment until it cools to 80 degrees...takes about 7 mins. Then start adding the butter. I haven't had this fail yet.
Rating: Unrated
09/09/2011
I'm not sure what I do wrong, but my buttercream becomes runny, like liquid. Maybe I don't let the egg and sugar cool down enough before I add butter? It's happened to me twice. I will continue to try, because the taste is wonderful!
Rating: Unrated
03/07/2011
I am a professional pastry chef and this has become one of my 'go to' buttercreams., I have used this recipe several times and have never had any problems with it the day after. Let it come to room temperature and beat on low speed with paddle attachment.
Rating: Unrated
12/15/2010
I absolutely love this frosting, as it's light and sweet without being overwhelmingly buttery. To make a mint variation, I omit the vanilla extract and use 1T peppermint extract. My only tip though is to NEVER try to refrigerate it for use the following day. The liquid and solids completely separated and I just could not for the life of me beat it back into a normal consistency.
Rating: Unrated
04/03/2010
This is my go to recipe for cakes. I love it and after making several batches for a wedding cake, it became so easy to do, I can't live without it.
Rating: Unrated
08/26/2009
sounds like your meringue was too hot or over beaten, maybe. that would be my guess. Be sure too, to have a very very clean bowl.