Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I think I have mentioned before that I don't really have a problem using a cake mix from a box. However, when it comes to frosting it has to be made from scratch. The canned stuff just tastes plain gross to me.

The basic homemade frosting typically involves powdered sugar, butter (and/or shortening), vanilla and cream (or milk). This makes a traditional American style buttercream and you can find the recipe HERE. One complaint with this recipe though is that it produces a very sugary, sweet taste....a little too sweet for some people's liking.

Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) on the other hand produces a very silky, buttery buttercream. It definitely has a more sophisticated taste and is just plain AMAZING!

It is a little more involved to make though but with a little know-how, it's really pretty easy and definitely worth the effort.

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of butter (3 sticks)
1 tsp vanilla
food coloring (if desired)


Step 1: Bring a pot with a bit of water up to a simmer on the stove top. In you mixer bowl add the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Start whisking the egg whites. Then add the sugar and whisk some more.
Make sure your bowl is spotless and there is no yolk in with the egg whites. Both of these things will not allow for the ehh whites to get big and frothy.

Step 2: Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk continuously for about 5 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 150-160 degrees (test with a digital thermometer) .
This is the hardest part of making the frosting b/c of the constant whisking.

Step 3: Now transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Start the mixer on medium for about 30 seconds and then bring it up to high. Whisk the meringue for 8-10 minutes. It will be ready when the sides of the bowl have cooled to room temp and the meringue is glossy.

Step 4: Make sure your butter has softened up. Then slice it to 1 inch chunks. With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter chunks one at a time. Make sure each chunk gets almost completely incorporated before each addition.

Step 5: Add your flavoring extract and coloring. Bring the mixer on to high until fully incorporated.

Step 6: You may notice that your buttercream has gotten a little soupy or curdled looking at this point....DON"T PANIC!! Just stick it in the fridge for about 5 minutes and the whisk on high for a few minutes until it comes together again.

That's it...you just made a beautiful and creamy buttercream. Enjoy!!

The video below by Dyann Bakes is really great tutorial. You will notice some small differences in the way she makes her SMBC and the directions the I wrote above. However, the basic steps are the same and I found this video very helpful when I was first learning to make this type of buttercream, so I hope you do too.

Source: SMBC adapted from Martha Stewart, video courtesy of Dyann Bakes


  1. I wish this buttercream recipe would have been available before my son's birthday and my vanilla cupcake fail. This looks really delicious. Yummy!

  2. Does this SMBC have to be refrigerated? I would like to make themm for a shower out at a restaurant, so I won't have access to a fridge (and don't want cold cupcakes haha)

  3. Gorgeous frosting. Homemade is definitely the way to go.

  4. I can not wait to make this! I love how soft and silky it looks. I also adore how smooth and fluid the piped icing looks, no broken edges or graininess that normal butter cream can have. Woo hoo!! Its simply beautiful :) 3 sticks of butter - wow you know its gonna be good :) how many cupcakes will this batch of frosting cover?

  5. Hi Crystal!

    You can actually leave SMBC out for several hours. It's very stable. If you are going to be in a temp controlled room the frosting will be just fine. I just wouldn't have a cake like this sitting outside in 90 degree weather.

    The sprinkles are by Wilton's and I got them at Michael's.

    Happy Baking!

  6. Hi Andrea!

    This recipe frosts 2 dozen cupcakes. Let me know how it turns out when you make this.


  7. Briarrose & Pretend Chef,

    Thanks so much for the compliments. I really appreciate them :)

  8. Well I chickened out and made whipped ganache frosting(big change huh? lol) That was also my first attempt, me thinks the SMBC would've withstood the temps easier...eeks! I will conquer this next! Thanks for the info! LOVE your site and for some reason I feel like you mentioned at some point you are in NOVA, I am too...out W of Manassas off 66. :)

  9. Crystal,

    Yep, I'm in NOVA too! Alexandria. Howdy, neighbor :)