Swiss Meringue Buttercream
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.
Can you use pasteurized egg whites in this recipe?
Hi, Robin! Are you asking so that you can skip cooking the egg whites? If so, cooking the egg whites with the granulated sugar also helps to dissolve the sugar so that the frosting isn’t grainy. If you’re looking to make a Swiss meringue buttercream that doesn’t require cooking the egg whites, I’d look for another recipe that uses pasteurized egg whites and powdered sugar (so that the frosting is smoother).
I was wondering could you add freeze dried strawberries to make this a strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, like you do in your strawberry buttercream recipe?
Yes, absolutely! You can grind the freeze dried strawberries into a powder and mix them in at the end after you add the vanilla. I’d recommend using 1 to 2 ounces (1 ounce will give you a lighter flavor and 2 ounces will give you a stronger strawberry flavor). You can start with 1 ounce, then add more as needed.
Hello Ms.Danielle,Can I use egg powder(pasteurized) instead of
white liquid egg?I bought this pure albumen egg powder in Wilton bake shop.I want to try but I don’t know how.Can you help me?
Thank you and God bless .
For this recipe, I recommend using regular liquid egg whites.
Good Morning, If I want to do Chocolate, do the same as you replied earlier, add cocoa powder at the end??
Hi, Peggy! I’d recommend using 6 to 8 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate. I would let it cool and mix it in at the end. Hope that helps!
Hello! This frosting seems to be just what I was looking for (less sweet buttercream). I need to bake a cake and make the frosting two days before the cake is to be served. Should I do everything, then wrap and refrigerate, or could I take the cake and frosting separately and do it right before serving? I won’t be able to whip the buttercream prior to icing the cake at that point. Thank you!
Either way would be fine! Just keep in mind that the frosting has butter in it, so it will firm up once it’s been refrigerated. If you frost the cake and refrigerate it, just be sure to set the cake out a couple of hours ahead of time so it can come to room temperature. If you don’t frost the cake and just refrigerate the frosting, make sure to let it come to room temperature first and mix it well before frosting the cake.
I did it Danielle!
This is Lee. We’ve been communicating over the last couple of months? Anyway we I tried this recipe for the very 1st time today and it turned out perfectly! I wasn’t sure if I could do it but I did! Thank you so much for your help. Next, the tri colour cake. Will send you pics if I can. Thanks again.
So glad the frosting turned out great for you, Lee! I’d love to hear how the cake turned out too!
Well Danielle the cake wasn’t as successful as the frosting I’m afraid. It didn’t rise, and after testing, looked like it was done on the inside. I took it out of the oven a wee bit early as it was looking quite well baked on top. However, when I went to slice it the cake didn’t look done on the inside on 2 of the 3 layers. It was kind of a disaster and I’m glad I was only serving it to family! Could this be due to the colouring of the different layers, maybe being over mixed when I was adding the colouring to make sure it was totally mixed in? I followed your recipe to a T. I decided to use the vanilla cake instead of the white cake, could that have been the thing again with the colouring? Next time, plain old, no food colouring involved, cake I think. Your thoughts would be much appreciated Danielle, and again thank you for your support in some of my baking “firsts”.
So sorry to hear that it didn’t turn out well for you, Lee. How much food coloring did you use? The cake layers may not have risen very well if you over mixed the batter. A few other reasons could be that the butter and sugar wasn’t cream together long enough or your baking soda/powder wasn’t very fresh.
Thanks for the possible reasons why my cake didn’t rise. The one that most fit my case was because I over mixed it in order to incorporate the colouring. I haven’t used food colouring much, and the stuff I used was called gel food colouring, even though it looked watery like the food colouring I’m used to. However, after using it, there was a small insert stuffed down to the bottom of the box, that only mentioned the use of this colouring with cookies nothing about cake, or other baked goods. I ordered online and they didn’t mention that it wasn’t really for cakes, in fact it mentioned more about cakes and nothing about cookies. I’m assuming that due to the results I got, this was a cookie only situation! Buyer beware, but if you’re misled in the advertising how are you supposed to know?! Thanks again Danielle. I’m not going to let this put me off though. I’m going to keep on trying!
Hallo. i would like to know how many cupcakes I can frost with the amount mentioned in the recipe. Also I am planning to mix it with Lemon cupcake with lemon curd filling. Shall I use plain SMBC or should I add lemon flavor , like a triple lemon ?
It should be enough for 2 dozen cupcakes. It’s totally up to you and what kind of frosting you prefer! I’m sure you could add some lemon extract or a little lemon curd to this frosting.
Can I add two of cream of tartar?
You could add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, but I don’t find it necessary for this recipe.