I’ve heard some people say that the only reason for cake is to hold up the frosting. But the typical American buttercream frosting is horrible! They’re often striking colors made with a metric ton of nearly inedible food coloring or if not they’re just a massive, cloying, clumsy glob of diabetes.
They may look great but they’re not worth eating.
If instead, you’re looking for a delicious, silky smooth frosting to top that cake or cupcake, that will work beautifully with your piping bag to make pretty, elegant designs, look no further.
The Swiss meringue buttercream is a classic frosting that, unlike the American buttercream, actually tastes good. It is of course, mostly due to the incredible amounts of butter, but it can also be easily modified with different flavors.
Because of its meringue beginning (whipped egg whites and sugar), the Swiss meringue buttercream has a beautiful silky feel and a shiny exterior. It holds up very well and pipes like a dream. If you see a cupcake on my site, it has this frosting on it.
The caveat is that you’ll never truly get a really bright white color. Butter is yellow and even if it lightens up during the beating, it still retains a very slight yellow tint. To the naked eye, it looks white unless you have store-bought bright white frosting to compare it to. But try a scoop of that so-close-to-white buttercream and a scoop of that store-bought brilliant white frosting and you’ll discover that you’re perfectly happy with so-close-to-white.
I think people are afraid of this method because it’s just a little more involved and uses a process that some people may not be familiar with. It requires heating up the sugar and egg whites in a “bain-marie” but that’s really nothing more than setting a pan of simmering water on the stove and placing your mixing bowl into it.
Give it a whirl. Try it once and it will become your favorite in no time. And then you can throw around phrases like “bain-marie” and impress your guests with both your French and your mad baking skills.
Scroll down to find the recipe and a free downloadable 4×6 recipe card to add to your collection.
This is what it looks like before adding the butter:
Then this is what it looks like after the butter:
And this is what it looks like pipped. I used this Swiss meringue buttercream recipe for my DIY rainbow swirl frosting.
And on my Super Moist Chocolate Cake.
You can use the recipe below or print a FREE visual 4×6 recipe card to keep in your recipe box at the bottom of this post.
Foolproof Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature - Cut in cubes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
Whisk the warm mixture until stiff - Then 6 more minutes on high.
Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter in batches while beating on medium-low making sure each batch is well blended.
Add the vanilla extract and beat on medium-high for 3-5 minutes until smooth. Beat on low for another 2 minutes to remove any air bubbles
To use as a filling you can stir in flavorings at the end with a rubber spatula. Some options are:
Lemon: add 3/4 cup of lemon curd
Strawberry or other red berries: add 1 1/4 cup of pureed jam
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42 thoughts on “Foolproof Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe”
Tried this recipe out and love it!!! So yummy and not too sweet, whole family like it too! Thank you!
Will this cover and fill a 7 inch cake?
Hello! I have a question. Can I use a handheld mixer? I do not own a stand mixer.
It may take a little more time but I don’t see why not.
The frosting looks amazing. Definitely going to try it. Any way to make it chocolate flavour?
If you add just a touch of violet gel colouring to the buttercream you can get it whiter. Purple and yellow are complementary colours and therefore cancel each other out, so a tiny tiny amount can cancel the yellow tint from the butter 😊
What a fantastic tip!! Thank you!
My butter cream looked liked it was curdled at the end but it still tastes good
Glad it tasted good. If it looks curdled just beat it some more until it gets smooth. It will eventually get that beautiful shiny smooth texture.
This frosting is absolutely amazing. my first time making swiss meringue buttercream and i love it. my question: have you tried doubling or tripling the recipe?
I haven’t but I don’t see why it couldn’t work. My mixing bowl would not be big enough for it. When I’ve had to make extra frosting I’ve made it twice.
I want to try this recipe but can you please tell me hom much butter in grams I should put?
Thank you so much!!!
3 sticks of butter is 340 grams.
Can I use store bought egg whites in a carton, or must they be straight from the egg?
That’s a good question. If the egg white from a carton can rise when you whip them I don’t see why you couldn’t use them here.
Just made this and it looks and tastes fabulous. I’ll try and share the results when cakes are finished
I’m so glad! It sure is my favorite frosting.
When do you add the food coloring into the recipe?
You can add it at the end of just before beating on low for 2 minutes. Hope this helps.
Not to be dense but is it granulated or powdered sugar ?
Just regular granulated sugar. It dissolves in the warm egg whites.
How much frosting does it make?
What size cake will it cover?
Hi Kelly this recipe will make will cover and fill one 9×13 sheet cake or about 24 cupcakes.
If I want to make this the night before a party and decorate the cupcakes ahead of time, does it need to be refrigerated?
Yes, it’s better to refrigerate the cupcakes once they’re been decorated. However, it’s not totally necessary. I’ve left them out overnight with no trouble before. Just make sure they’re covered.
If you refrigerate, usually taking them out an hour or so before the party will leave them time to soften back up.
I’m adding this to my repertoire! It will become my new, go-to frosting recipe! Thanks!
I’m going to have to try this frosting – sounds yummy and of course cakes and cupcakes need frosting 🙂
Oh yes! They would be nothing without them!!
Swiss meringue frosting is SO much tastier than regular buttercream in my opinion. I’m so glad you’re showing more people this yummy option.
Thank you. It’s my go to for sure.
Admittedly I don’t bake many cakes, but this looks delicious!
Homemade frosting is definitely not my speciality but you make this sound doable!
This looks so delicious ! Definitely trying this. Thanks for sharing.
Sound absolutely delicious!! No one in my family love super sweet icing so this will be perfect!!
I make different flavors of buttercream a lot, but I’ve never tried swiss meringue buttercream. Definitely going to give this recipe a try next time I make cupcakes!!
I am definitely going to try this! I can’t stand the typical frosting. I always end up making my own cream cheese frosting but this is really tempting. Your cupcakes always look amazing.
Try it Bri, you’ll love it.
This frosting sounds amazing!! I’m always looking for a good frosting recipe!
Try it, you won’t regret it.
Yes, I agree this is the best frosting! American frosting is too sweet! My brother in law is Duff Goldman from the Food Network, and this is what his bakery uses as well! It’s the best! Great recipe Nathalie!
Wow. How cool to have a famous brother in law!! Once I discovered this frosting I never when back. I’m not surprised pros love it too!!! Awesome!