Rating: 3.2 stars
303 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 54
  • 4 star values: 58
  • 3 star values: 112
  • 2 star values: 54
  • 1 star values: 25

Use this recipe to frost your favorite layer cake.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).

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  • Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.

  • With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth.

Reviews (25)

303 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 54
  • 4 star values: 58
  • 3 star values: 112
  • 2 star values: 54
  • 1 star values: 25
Rating: 4.0 stars
01/12/2020
I use this recipe every time I make a cake. I just started a home baking business and this is my go to frosting. I will say the directions are incorrect when they say after adding sugar syrup it takes only 3 minutes until you should add butter. I went to school to be a pastry chef and that is very incorrect. You want your mixing bowl to be almost completely cooled down and your egg mixture to start becoming like tacky marshmallows. Then add the butter slowly. I follow those steps every time and it comes out flawless. Also after the butter is added it is going to start separating, that’s ok, keep it going it will come back together and make a perfectly smooth frosting.
Rating: 1.0 stars
01/01/2020
Soup I will not be using this recipe again because that is all that it was, slightly vanilla smelling soup. I followed the instructions perfectly, I was obsessing over the fact that everything had to be perfect ( so I know it couldn’t have been my fault) and it did not turn out in my favour.
Rating: 1.0 stars
01/01/2020
Soup I will not be using this recipe again because that is all that it was, slightly vanilla smelling soup. I followed the instructions perfectly, I was obsessing over the fact that everything had to be perfect ( so I know it couldn’t have been my fault) and it did not turn out in my favour.
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Rating: 4 stars
08/22/2019
Love this recipe it tastes amazing so light. It was a little oily after all the butter but I just stop adding after it comes together and that helps fix the problem.
Rating: 4 stars
04/11/2019
I was worried to make this recipe for the first time ever....especially today because we were having a blizzard. I wondered if the cooked sugar would be grainy due to the barometer in the same way that candy does on a cloudy or rainy day. It turned out perfectly and the directions were spot on. Thank you for a recipe that isn't so sweet that causes everyone to just scrape it off.
Rating: 3 stars
03/12/2019
This recipe calls for far too much butter. I've made this in the past using a recipe from England. To get coconut flavor in that one it only took one teaspoon of coconut extract. I decided to try this recipe because the other calls for medium sized eggs, which my store was out of, and I didn't want to make the quantity I would have had to to adjust it for large eggs. I literally added the rest of the bottle of coconut extract and it still tastes mainly like butter.
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Rating: 5 stars
07/14/2018
I was a little intimidated at first when reading other blogs and recipes, but this one was simple and to the point. It was easier than I expected and tastes great! I don't generally like Buttercream because it's so sweet, so this is a nice alternative to the super sweet, American Buttercream.
Rating: 5 stars
05/20/2018
I have used this recipe a dozen times; it has never flopped. I've flavored it with lemon zest and juice for lemon frosting; raspberry reduction for a beautiful naturally pink raspberry frosting, and Triple sec with orange zest for orange frosting (try that on cranberry cake at Christmas--amazing!) The texture is unbelievably smooth, and it is not too sweet. Every time I frost a cake with this, it gets rave reviews. If you have trouble with it separating, just keep beating it; it will come back together. If you have to make it ahead, refrigerate it, but know it will separate when you start beating it--just keep beating, it will be just fine!
Rating: 5 stars
05/11/2018
This is a delicious recipe. I don't know why it has only 3 stars!!
Rating: 5 stars
03/06/2018
It seems to be simply fun to make and the recipe is simple to fallow, very Martha Stewart
Rating: Unrated
08/28/2017
Hello will this icing hold up well in warm weahter? if i put in 10% shortening in it thanks
Rating: 5 stars
07/02/2017
I've made buttercream before but this has been the only one i liked 😊 it tastes awesome and the texture is great
Rating: 5 stars
05/16/2017
I've made this recipe several times, and it has turned out perfectly every time. It is luscious, so creamy, and not overly sweet. This is so much better than standard buttercream which can form a crust, and can be too sweet. I am perplexed by other reviewers who found fault with the directions; they seemed straightforward. The only problem is that I have to rely on testing the sugar as it forms the soft ball, because it reaches that stage long before my candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees. I have added lemon juice and zest to make an amazing lemon frosting, and raspberry reduction to make a beautiful raspberry frosting. This frosting can be flavored a number of ways. This is a generous recipe that easily frosts a 3 layer 9 inch cake. Everyone raves over this frosting. It's a winner!
Rating: 4 stars
08/09/2016
I made this recipe and loved it!!! The only thing is that my cakes are filled with fillings that need to be refrigerated and when this icing is refrigerated it gets so hard like butter.. Any suggestions??
Rating: 5 stars
03/28/2015
This is my go-to buttercream that I also add different flavors to (white chocolate, coconut extract, strawberries, etc). I usually find that I need about 3/4 Lb of butter instead of the whole pound. I usually add a dash of salt as well. I find this is an easier method of making buttercream than swiss meringue. Anyway, thanks marthastewart.com.
Rating: 5 stars
10/30/2014
I followed this recipe exactly as written and had zero problems. My niece, a pastry chef, directed me to this recipe (she informed me that Martha's recipes are 'tight'). The only change I made, upon her suggestion, was to use a vanilla bean in lieu of vanilla extract. My husband - not a frosting fan - did not push any aside. I will use this recipe again for sure!
Rating: Unrated
05/07/2014
I live in a very hot climate, but this recipe does work! After adding the butter, it did not hold any shape at all. I refrigerated the IMBC (in its mixing bowl) then took it out and whipped it (using a paddle attachment) and the frosting just came together! It took a few minutes - like whipping cold cream. After frosting the cake, I kept it in the fridge. The frosting held up the whole time it was being served and stayed out of the ref!
Rating: 5 stars
03/20/2014
Have made it! What a great recipe and great directions. It turned out perfect first time! Thanks for sharing.
Rating: Unrated
12/08/2013
Your directions suck butt! Please do yourself a favor: if you are not a Bakery Chef, please find other directions or you will either drive yourself mad or never bake again. Thanks for nothing Martha Stewart
Rating: Unrated
10/23/2013
Don't refrigerate this. The butter will separate into their separate components of water, milk fats etc. That's why it weeps. It is good at room temperature for 3 days.
Rating: Unrated
09/19/2013
I'm not sure why this recipe has you bringing the sugar to only 238 degrees. I make a similar recipe from another baking cookbook, and it calls for the syrup to be boiled to 248 degrees. Seems like it would be too soft and melt-y otherwise.
Rating: Unrated
02/10/2013
I would not refrigerate this if possible!! In my experience this icing has a tendency to "sweat" after refrigeration as it comes to room temp. It is perfectly fine to leave it at room temperature. Because of the amount to butter in this recipe it gets very hard when refrigerated, so definitely would not make ahead and refrigerate before decorating either. Good luck!
Rating: Unrated
01/24/2013
I have found that all I need to keep this recipe from melting in the heat (I live in Florida) is to replace part of the butter with shortening. For this recipe I used 1/4 cup of shortening and 1 3/4 cups butter to stabilize this delicious recipe while keeping the wonderfully light texture and great flavor. This is one of my favorite recipes.
Rating: Unrated
12/21/2012
Since the recipe calls for unsalted butter, that's what you should use. And it should go without saying that when making a sweet buttercream, you'd use unsalted butter (as you should in all baking). I can't understand what would lead anyone to use salted butter in this recipe.
Rating: 2 stars
09/08/2012
I had a lovely delicious meringue and then I added the butter and it tasted like... butter. Maybe if you used an unsalted butter you'd get away from that, but it was still a really greasy icing. Not a fan.
Rating: 2 stars
09/08/2012
I had a lovely delicious meringue and then I added the butter and it tasted like... butter. Maybe if you used an unsalted butter you'd get away from that, but it was still a really greasy icing. Not a fan.
Rating: Unrated
06/06/2011
I made a variation of this recipe. The taste is amazing! This is a frosting that is not too sweet and holds its shape fairly well. I have started using this recipe and freezing it and putting it in the middle of cupcakes and it is divine! The only drawback is that you have to keep the cupcakes or cake refrigerated until ready to eat otherwise it tends to melt fairly quickly due to the amount of butter in it.
Rating: Unrated
11/22/2010
2 questions: How well does this icing hold it's shape for decorating cupcakes? and does it need constant refrigeration? I have to make approx 130 cupcakes for a wedding in January and time restrictions simply won't permit me to deocrate them the day of the wedding. Will I need to keep this refrigerated?