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.  

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.)

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Reviews (8)

60 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 19
  • 4 star values: 10
  • 3 star values: 20
  • 2 star values: 9
  • 1 star values: 2
Rating: 2.0 stars
02/25/2020
The consistency was somewhat heavier than I would picture a swiss meringue to be, and it tasted far too buttery. I was skeptical of the 2 cups of butter, and I think my intuition was right. It looked perfect in the bowl at around 1 1/2 cups of butter, so if I ever tried this again, I would stop there.
Rating: 2.0 stars
02/25/2020
The consistency was somewhat heavier than I would picture a swiss meringue to be, and it tasted far too buttery. I was skeptical of the 2 cups of butter, and I think my intuition was right. It looked perfect in the bowl at around 1 1/2 cups of butter, so if I ever tried this again, I would stop there.
Rating: 5 stars
05/11/2018
This is a great recipe; I've gotten a lot of compliments on this frosting. You do have to follow it exactly... I think it would be very hard without a stand mixer, although haven't tried it with a hand mixer Also, when you are cooking the egg whites (double boiler), it's really important that the bowl the egg whites are in are NOT touching the water... this will cook the egg whites way too much if it were touching the water. I would also say that my water is barely simmering -
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Rating: 5 stars
07/21/2014
This is a great, basic Swiss Buttercream recipe, and goes wonderfully with Martha's coconut cake, or any other cake. Yum! I don't mean to offend, but if someone says "I followed the recipe exactly," but got a result much different than most, they probably missed something. You have to check for the sugar to be dissolved before stopping heating: rub some of the egg between your fingers to check for sugar grains (get some from the bottom if possible); continue heating until they're all gone.
Rating: Unrated
03/02/2013
This is my go-to frosting recipe, although I substitute half of the butter for shortening, to give a less buttery flavor and make it more weather resistant. I haven't had a problem with it turning out grainy, it has to be an issue with the heating step. Make sure all of the sugar is dissolved before taking it off the stove, and make sure the water in the double boiler is just simmering. If this recipe isn't sweet enough for you, after the butter is added, you can beat in 1/2 cup of 10X sugar.
Rating: Unrated
02/28/2013
I want to try this! Mandella13, have you though about substituting regular white sugar with powdered sugar, or superfine or caster sugar?
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Rating: Unrated
02/22/2013
This frosting tastes amazing. However: I made it twice, and each time my result is grainy! It's not smooth and perfect! I followed the recipe exactly! Does anyone have any suggestions??
Rating: Unrated
02/07/2013
I've never made a swiss or italian meringue buttercream for my cakes. Learn a lot..
Rating: Unrated
03/06/2011
No, this is Swiss Meringue buttercream. With Italian Meringue, you would need to heat the water and sugary until syrupy and then add that to the egg whites that is beating in the kitchenaid.
Rating: Unrated
09/02/2010
Is this supposed to be for Italian Meringue Buttercream? I watch the clip of them icing the cake and I thought it was Italian Meringue?