Martha's Swiss Meringue Buttercream

swiss meringue buttercream
Photo: Johnny Miller
Prep Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
About 6 1/2 cups

Famous for its smooth, silky texture and a flavor that is not saccharine, Swiss meringue buttercream is perfect for desserts like layer cakes that need a lot of frosting and could run the risk of tasting too sweet. The finished buttercream will be stable—meaning it won't separate and turn grainy—and is easy to work with: it spreads over cakes like a dream, takes well to food coloring, and can be piped into all sorts of creative designs.


  • 1 ¾ cups sugar

  • 6 large egg whites

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 5 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Bring a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Set bowl over (not in) pan of simmering water and whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. (Test by rubbing between your fingers; mixture should feel smooth.)

  2. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture has cooled completely, about 12 minutes.

  3. Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating to incorporate fully after each addition. (Don't worry if buttercream appears curdled at this point; it will become perfectly smooth again with continued beating.) Beat in vanilla.

  4. Switch to paddle attachment and beat on lowest speed to remove air bubbles, 3 to 5 minutes. If using buttercream the same day, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until ready to use.

  5. If not using the same day, transfer buttercream to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat with paddle attachment on lowest speed until smooth and pliable, about 10 minutes.

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