This Swiss meringue buttercream is smooth, creamy, and less sweet than traditional American buttercream. Perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookie sandwiches, and more!
Did you know there are multiple ways to make buttercream frosting? There’s your typical American buttercream frosting, as well as Italian meringue frosting and French buttercream.
In this post, I’ll be walking you through the steps for making Swiss meringue buttercream frosting from scratch. Swiss meringue buttercream is made by heating eggs whites and sugar over a double boiler, beating the mixture to stiff peaks, then mixing in some butter and vanilla extract.
The end result is a frosting that’s smooth, creamy, and less sweet than American buttercream frosting.
Swiss buttercream calls for five basic ingredients. As long as you know how to combine them properly, these basic ingredients will result in the creamiest frosting!
- Egg Whites: Make sure no egg yolks sneak into the egg whites, otherwise the meringue may not whip up properly.
- Sugar: You’ll need to use granulated sugar for this recipe. Brown sugar or another substitute will not work.
- Unsalted butter: Adds a rich buttery flavor to the frosting. The butter should be at a cool room temperature. In other words, you can easily press your finger into it but it’s still cool to the touch.
- Salt: Because this recipe calls for unsalted butter, you’ll need to add some salt to the buttercream to round out the flavors and balance out the sweetness.
- Vanilla extract: I highly recommend using pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
What makes Swiss buttercream frosting unique is that the egg whites are heated and whipped to stiff peaks before the butter is incorporated. To do this, you’ll need to combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heat-proof bowl. You can also heat them in the bowl of your stand mixer if you prefer.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Whisk the eggs constantly until they register 160°F on a digital thermometer.
The amount of time it will take for your eggs to reach 160°F will vary, so be sure to use a thermometer to make sure they are at the correct temperature.
Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer. The egg whites should be beaten to stiff peaks, which can take between 10 to 15 minutes at medium-high speed. Do not short change this process!
If the outside of the bowl is still warm to the touch after the egg whites have been beaten, place it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the butter. If the mixture is too warm when you proceed with the recipe, it can cause your butter to melt and result in a soupy frosting.
After the egg whites have cooled sufficiently, return the bowl to your stand mixer. Swap out the whisk attachment for a paddle attachment.
With the mixer running on medium-high speed, add the butter to the egg whites, one tablespoon at a time. Wait for each tablespoon of butter to be fully incorporated before adding the next.
Once all the butter has been added, keep mixing until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, and mix for a few more seconds to combine.
If you have quite a few bubbles in your frosting at this point, set your mixer to low speed, and beat for 5 to 7 minutes. Then, use a spatula to mix the frosting around and beat out any remaining air bubbles. This last step is optional, but it results in the creamiest Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.
Is This Buttercream Safe to Eat?
Yes, as long as you heat the egg whites to 160ºF before proceeding with the recipe, the Swiss buttercream frosting is perfectly safe to eat. This is another reason why I recommend using a digital thermometer for this recipe.
Can This Be Frozen?
Absolutely! It can be frozen in a freezer bag for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use, then mix well with an electric mixer before piping or frosting.
Ways to Use This Frosting
This easy Swiss meringue buttercream has so many uses! Here are some desserts you can frost with this special buttercream:
- If your egg whites won’t whip to stiff peaks: it’s likely that some of the egg yolk snuck into the whites as you separated the eggs and you may need to start over.
- If the frosting is too runny and is not coming together: try refrigerating it for 10 to 15 minutes, then mixing it again.
- If the frosting looks curdled or broken after mixing it together: place the bowl over a pot of simmering water until the edges of the frosting start to soften or melt. Remove it from the heat and mix again.
More Homemade Frosting Recipes to Make!
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Classic Buttercream Frosting
- Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Peanut Butter Frosting
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 6 large egg whites (198 grams)
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (4 sticks, or 1 pound) unsalted butter (softened to a cool room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Add the egg whites, granulated sugar, and salt to a large heat-proof bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture registers 160°F (71°C) on a digital thermometer (the amount of time will vary so I recommend using a thermometer here).
- Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 10 to 15 minutes). If the outside of the bowl is still warm to the touch at this point, allow it to cool (or transfer to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes) before proceeding with the next step.
- Switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-high speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each tablespoon of butter is fully mixed in before adding the next tablespoon. Once all of the butter is added, continue mixing if needed until the mixture is thick, smooth, and creamy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract, and continue mixing on medium speed until fully combined (about 20 to 30 seconds).
- Adjust the mixer to the lowest speed and continue mixing for 5 to 7 minutes to remove air bubbles. This step is optional, but it helps to make the frosting smoother. If needed, use a rubber spatula to beat out any remaining air bubbles.