Swiss Meringue Buttercream

CATEGORIES: Frosting

Hey, guess what?  We’re having a birthday!  We can’t believe we’ve been at this for two whole years now.  On the one hand, it’s gone by in a flash and on the other, it seems like it’s been a part of our lives forever.  Either way, we’re so thankful for all of you who have helped turn this little home-spun recipe sharing platform into a full-on food blog with thousands of readers.  We know a lot of you feel like you “know” us, and we feel like we know you too!  We’ve had so many exciting things happen over this past year, some we have yet to share with you (but get excited, they’re big!)  And others you’ve enjoyed right along with us.  Thanks for your emails, your comments, and your daily support.  We swear we have the best readers in the blogosphere and we love you!  We’re going to keep working hard this coming year to always keep your tummies happy!

To celebrate our big day we’ll be doing some yummy birthday-ish things this week and I thought I’d start us off with this tutorial.
I’ve always been afraid of Swiss buttercream.  Really.  It seemed complicated.  And eggy.  (Have I ever mentioned I hate meringue?)  But when I was looking for something particular recently my friend Krista suggested I try it.  She sent me this video link which made it seem totally doable.  I’m so glad I tried it because it’s amazing.  (And it’s not eggy at all.)  Many of you have fallen in love with this flour based frosting, which I discovered is very similar in taste and texture to Swiss Buttercream.  The Swiss Buttercream however, is much more decadent and also much more stable.  Try adding in things to that flour frosting and you’ll be set for disaster.  But to Swiss Buttercream you can add chocolate, fruit puree, and all kinds of other things with beautiful results. You can also store unused Swiss Buttercream in the fridge.  I still make the flour frosting a little more often because I think it’s easier and cheaper, but for special occasions, it’s Swiss Buttercream all the way.
If you don’t know, there are a few different types of meringue buttercreams.  The most common are French, Italian, and Swiss.  They are all basically variations of the same process involving sugar, eggs, and butter.  I think Swiss is the easiest.  It involves cooking eggs and sugar and then beating them with butter.  This type of icing is the choice of professional cake decorators around the world, so you know it’s going to be good.  I will tell you right now that this frosting is for butter lovers.  If for some crazy unexplained reason, you don’t like the taste and and texture of real butter, this isn’t going to be your thing.  Consider yourself warned!
Things like this are so much easier when someone walks you through it, so let’s get started!
1.  You’ll need to start with a double boiler.  If you don’t have one, you can easily construct one.  You just need a pot on the bottom to hold water and a bowl on top that can sit in the pot, but not touch the bottom.  If you have a round-bottomed KitchenAid bowl, just use that.
2. Once the water is boiling in your double boiler, add your egg whites to the bowl.
3.  Add in the sugar and start whisking.
5.  You’ll want to cook this mixture to 160 degrees.  160 is the magic number because that’s the point where the sugar will be dissolved.  Eggs need to be cooked to 140 degrees in order to be safe to consume, so cooking them to 160 covers that too.
Your mixture will be nice and frothy looking.  If you don’t have a thermometer, just use your fingers to see if the sugar is dissolved.  If it is, then you’ve cooked it long enough.  It should only take 3-5 minutes.
6. Transfer this mixture to a stand mixer.  And no you will not want to attempt this with a hand mixer!  Use the whisk attachment to whisk the egg/sugar mixture until it cools and glossy peaks form.  It will probably take about 10 minutes.
7.  Now it’s time to add the butter.  (Did I mention the finished product pretty much tastes like sweetened butter? Ya, yum.)  You’ll want your butter to be at room temp and chopped up into cubes.
With the beater going, add the butter a few chunks at a time
8.  Once the butter goes in it’s very common for the mixture to curdle and look like a complete disaster- the same way the flour frosting does.   KEEP BEATING!  It will come back together.  It can take a while, sometimes you have to beat the mixture for about 12 minutes.  After it comes together it will look beautiful and fluffy, and heavenly smooth.  Add in the vanilla and beat briefly to combine.
When you’re all done, you can frost away!  This frosting works great for piping.  Just know that because of the high butter content, it will melt like ice (or faster!) in high heat.  So if you’re having an outdoor summer bbq party I wouldn’t recommend it!
Just looking at cupcakes makes me happy.

There are a gazillion recipes for Swiss Buttercream out there and they are all very similar.  You can find one from a source you trust and take it from there.  There was one linked in the video I provided earlier, and this Martha Stewart recipe is also really popular.  The  recipe below is a combination of a recipe found on the food network and many others I researched.

 

64 comments

  1. I'll have to try this. I love making homemade frosting, it just tastes so much better. I think the hardest part for me would be throwing away all those egg yolks. I hate wasting food. Can you freeze them? What could I make with them? I love the idea of using the kitchen aid bowl to cook the eggs with. It's so obvious and yet I never thought of it. Anything that cuts down the number of dishes used in cooking is always a good thing. You guys are awesome. I really enjoy ready your blog.

  2. This sounds really, really, good. And the pictures make me want to lick the screen…oops sorry, that's probably a little TMI. I don't have any real reason to make these…Oh wait maybe I can throw a "Winter is over" party and chow down. Thanks!

  3. I've made this several times and its really nice frosting, I prefer it with some add ins..like fruit puree, or dulce leche is really good, plain it taste to much like butter, thats just me though!!!! but it really is beautiful to work with!!!

  4. Happy Blogoversary! I so happily stumbled upon your blog just last month thanks to "Pie in a Jar" (which I attempted and loved). There are so many recipes that I will be trying from here soon and this one is sure to be one of them. Keep up the great work, I love trying new things!

  5. Happy Blogoversary!! This looks gorgeous and not so hard to make when it's broken down in pics like that:) I'll have to try it.

  6. I tackled the SMB several months ago. I just have to say that the thermometer was the key for me. After ruining a few batches by using just the "finger test" to see if the sugar was dissolved, I was finally successful when using the thermometer. I use my Kitchenaid mixing bowl even though it doesn't have a round bottom and it still works great. This frosting is super tasty.

    Happy blogiversary! I love your blog!

  7. So, I need to make strawberry frosting today… do you think this would be a good base for some homemade strawberry jam? I am so excited to try this!

  8. Kim and Kim (!)- for adding chocolate and strawberry, you just beat them in at the very end, once your frosting is finished. You'll want your chocolate to be melted and then cooled (but not hardened) and strawberry jam should work just fine.

  9. I have a conquestion (confession/question) (I make up words… it's a curse).

    I don't actually like that fluffy whipped frosting. I like a thick and sugary and buttery buttercream frosting.

    How does this compare to those two types?

  10. Happy blogiversary!

    I just realized I have 4 of your recipes planned this week! ๐Ÿ™‚ Tonight is spicy honey glazed chicken thighs (new to us), then chicken taquitos, teriyaki chicken skewers & pizza bites. Yummy! The last three are regular favs in our house.

  11. Lolly- It's a much lighter texture, and honestly, this one tastes like butter! If you like the thick, sweet kind I'd stick to the good ol' powdered sugar version. And hey- nothin' wrong with that!

  12. Thanks sooooo much for this recipe! I am an avid baker and I been searching for a buttercream recipe that doesn't use raw eggs or meringue powder. You gals rock ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Happy blogiversary to you guys! I am thrilled to have known you since practically the first post. (Plus I talk up your blog every chance I get on my own blog!)

    Did you give away the muffins yet? Or am I a week off? This pregnancy is doing crazy things to my brain. But I went to our Wal-Mart and they don't sell them, at least not yet. I was really bummed because I want my son to try them (and I'm sure I will sneak a few bites myself).

    Have a wonderful day, both of you!

  14. I made this frosting last night. It was SO tasty and pretty. I could not believe its silkiness.

    Like mentioned in the recipe, this frosting melts easily. I actually had to refrigerate it to make it thick enough for the piping bag.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  15. Made this for our RS birthday dinner cupcakes. Turned out wonderful with the strawberry freezer jam. It tasted like Bryers strawberry ice cream. YUM! Thanks for another great recipe.

  16. Can you tell me what tip you used to frost the cupcakes in this picture? I love how they look, but I don't have that tip and will need to go buy it before I make this. Thanks!!!

  17. yummy yummy yummy it really does taste like sweetened butter. thanks for the step by step instructions!
    p.s. on the text only you talk about using the paddle to not get air bubbles. would you do that to replace the last 5 minutes of regular mixing, or in addition to, after you add the vanilla? Thank!

  18. This frosting looks fabulous. I have been wanting to try one of the buttercreams. I don't understand however why you say this is easier than a French Buttercream? I was looking at Duff Goldmans recipe for a French Buttercream and it seems the same only without the cooking part. Just whip the egg whites and sugar and add in the butter.

  19. Becky- it definitely has a strong butter flavor! So you might not have done anything wrong. It shouldn't taste like *pure* butter, but it should definitely taste like light, sweetened buttery, goodness ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Just wanted to add a note that you should definitely use UN-salted butter in this recipe. I made the mistake of overlooking that part in the 1:2:3 tutorial and ended up with some VERY SALTY tasting nastiness. Don't want anyone to end up with the same. But adding a pinch of salt to the egg whites helps break up the proteins and make them behave better ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Made these friday night for a party on saturday. Stirred in twice the vanilla plus a teaspoon of almond extract yum plus some violet gel coloring and let it (the color that is) set overnight….turned out beautiful! I got a million compliments, thank you ladies! Just a tip….I had a moment of panic when the frosting came out on day 2 totally seperated. By 'whip again' you are really whipping it like you did the first time….a full 7-9 minutes!

  22. I’ve tried Martha Stewart’s recipe and it never comes back together for me after adding all the butter. My textbook from culinary school scales back on the butter (8oz egg whites/16 oz sugar/14 oz butter), and that is what I normally use for Swiss buttercream. I love how airy and fluffy it is, and it has a great white color (compared to standard buttercream or cream cheese frosting).

    For leftover yolks, I usually make ice cream or creme brulee. =)

  23. Ok, I’m going to buckle down and try this. I was just wondering, if I want to flavor it with lemon extract should I add that in place of the vanilla? Thanks!

  24. I finally got up the nerve to make this recipe last night and it is fantastic! I halved the recipe and made enough to frost about 8 cupcakes that I brought to work (the cupcakes didn’t last long, I didn’t even get one lol). I didn’t think it would be this easy to make, this is now my new favorite buttercream. Thank you for such an easy and delicious recipe!

  25. My hubby says I’m buttering up the “butter frosting” ladies. Maybe so, but I’ve been looking for a delicious whipped frosting and today, I found it! (Couldn’t keep my husband away from the cupcakes I frosted with it, either.) The frosting piped on beautiful. I topped with some Easter sprinkles, along with a small pinch of white sparkling sugar. This frosting holds up well, is not too sweet, silky smooth, light, and the taste is awesome! I doubt if I’ll ever use pwd. sugar frosting again. I found your tutorial to be excellent and I will definitely share your site with my friends. So there! How’s that for buttering you girls up? You sure deserve it! Thanks so much!

  26. Hi Sara,

    I’m just wondering if the egg whites will turn white (cooked) once it’s on the double boiler instead of staying clear (uncooked state). Will this affect how it will whip later on?

    1. Farah, egg whites don’t have to turn white to be cooked. They’re cooked when the reach the temperature mentioned in the recipe, so don’t worry- you’re not whipping up scrambled eggs here!

  27. I made this last night as a trial for a batch I want to make this weekend for cupcakes for my bridal shower. I opted for less butter (only 3 sticks) and the flavor was still buttery but I wouldn’t describe it as overwhelming, it’s more like cool whip or regular meringue. I loved the flavor, but didn’t love that it didn’t come back together quite as stiff as I would have liked. Since it was just a trial batch and I was impatient, I didn’t whip it as long as I probably should have.
    My real batch of frosting this weekend will be whipped longer so hopefully it will come together stiffer so the frosting will hold up better on the cupcakes.
    Has anyone else tried this with less butter? How did yours come out?

  28. I tried this recipe, halved, and used meringue powder instead of egg whites and used three sticks of butter. It was light, almost whipped cream airy. Instead of using it as icing, I decided to inject it into chocolate cupcakes and dipped the tops in melted white chocolate with mint extract. They were pretty delicious.

    Congratulations (very belatedly) on your blog anniversary.

  29. This my second time i made this type of frosting i was amazing that this frosting don’t taste to sweet as traditional frosting. I had a lot of complements for the frosting. I love it is creamy and tasty. If you want to put the leftover cake in the fridge the frosting tendy to hard up, but you can let to room tempeture for 1 hour and the frosting is going to be creamy again.

  30. I was hesitant to try to make any other kind of frosting except cream cheese frosting, but I was dying to try this recipe! I made my dad a banana cake for father’s day and decided to give this recipe a whirl =) and oh my gosh am I glad that I did! I searched the internet frantically for a SMB frosting recipe and finally I saw this one. I thought it would have been difficult but it was extremely easy to make (thanks to your detailed instructions). When I tasted the frosting it was heavenly and I didn’t even add flavoring to it at that point! I eventually added almond extract and it was amazing! The only question I have is that if I am going to frost the cake do I have to keep it refrigerated? I’m thinking I do, but I just want to make sure =) Thank you for this AMAZING recipe!

    1. Katrina, I only refrigerate cakes if I’m going to leave them overnight. Same day, room temp is usually just fine. Glad you liked the frosting!

  31. I made this for the first time today, to go on a homemade strawberry cake. I thought it smelled a little egg-y while it was on the double boiler and while it was whipping, but once I put in the butter (I used only 3 sticks) it stopped smelling like that. I also used 2 tsp. vanilla, plus 1 tsp. of almond, and that tasted good but I wanted to tone down the butter a bit. So I added a splash of lemon extract and whipped it for a few seconds and WOW, it is amazing! The frosting is incredibly silky, not at all too sweet. Even my husband who can’t stand frosting (he always scrapes it off, which is okay because then I can accidentally scoop it up and eat it ๐Ÿ™‚ really liked this frosting. Thanks for sharing the recipe, you ladies are Awesome!

  32. It is one of the yummiest frostings I have ever tasted. I like butter and that’s why it is so good. The first time I made it was for my granddaughter’s birthday. It turned out fantastic. I should mention that my mother had a home business. She was a wedding cake baker. She was a self taught cake decorator and I don’t know how many frostings she made over the years, but I know my frostings and when I say this the best tasting frosting, I had a lot to judge from.

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