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Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The easiest and most velvety Swiss Meringue Buttercream that will work every single time. Flavor it with vanilla or make a chocolate version for even more decadent goodness. Spread it on big cakes, small cakes, cupcakes, cookies, or lick it straight from the bowl, you choose!
Vanilla bean swiss buttercream in a tea cupI have been avoiding buttercream frosting for years due to its tooth-aching sweetness. Whenever I make cupcakes, I default to either cream cheese frosting or whipped cream. But finally, I’ve found this amazingly velvety, not too sweet, and super easy Swiss Meringue Buttercream to add to my frosting library.

Chocolate and vanilla swiss buttercream in clear jarsMy change of heart on buttercream frosting came when I tasted Chef Duff’s cake at a friend’s wedding. It was smooth and so velvety, did I say velvety? Yes so so so velvety, I could sit there and just eat the frosting by itself. It’s that good. I promptly bought Duff Bakes the week after, found his recipe for Swiss Buttercream frosting and started experimenting with adding flavors. I’ve made it 5 times already and it came out perfect every single time.

How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients for swiss meringue buttercream in bowls
What is Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Swiss Meringue Buttercream is made with a meringue base, which is made out of egg white and sugar, stabilized with a little bit of vinegar, and then of course butter. Because of the meringue base, you can use a lot less sugar and still get a stable buttercream.

Can I use carton egg white? Yes, I’ve tested this recipe with carton egg white and it worked perfectly fine even though there is a warning on the box that it should not be use for meringue. The reason for this is that carton egg white is heated during pasteurization and the process may change the structure of the egg white render them unsuitable for meringue. With that said, if you are making meringue base buttercream, the meringue does not need to hold up all the way to the end so it will be fine. But I have not tried making Meringue with it yet.

Stiff peak meringue on a wire whip
Will I have a gritty buttercream if I don’t heat the egg white and sugar to make the meringue? Actually no! I’ve made mine with room temperature egg white, straight out of the fridge cold egg white, days old egg white separated from the yolk that I’ve been saving from who knows when, carton egg white. I never use the heating-over-a-pot-of-simmering-water method to dissolve the sugar. I never even used fresh egg white. And I never had any issue with the meringue getting to stiff peak or the buttercream tasting gritty from sugar granules.

Whipping egg white until foamy in a stand mixerBut there are a few steps you want to make sure you follow:

  • First beat the egg white until frothy on medium low speed (#4 on my stand mixer)
  • Then add sugar slowly, a tablespoon at a time to allow it enough time to incorporate on medium speed (#6 on my stand mixer)
  • Half way through adding the sugar, add the vinegar to help stabilize the meringue
  • Once all the sugar is added, go to town and beat until stiff peak on medium high speed (#8 on my stand mixer)

Adding sugar and vinegar to make the meringue base for swiss meringue buttercreamStiff peak meringue for swiss meringue buttercreamOnce the meringue is made, you’re just cruising to the finish line. Add the room temperature, cubed butter, one at a time, on medium low speed. Once all the butter added, your meringue will look sad and broken. But don’t you be sad and broken because that’s how it’s supposed to look. Just keep beating it on high speed for 4-5 minutes, it will miraculously come together and become the smoothest, silkiest, most velvety buttercream frosting you will ever need.

Adding cubed butter to meringue to make swiss meringue buttercreamIt’s quite amazing to watch the broken down separated mess come together into a creamy frosting. But if you can’t stand watching it, just set a timer and walk away from your mixer. Do the dishes, wipe down your kitchen counter or something to avoid the anxiety of waiting.
Swiss meringue buttercream came together in the stand mixer

How to Add Flavor to Swiss Meringue Buttercream

While I think plain or sugar flavor Swiss buttercream is pretty amazing as is, it is really easy to add a little bit of vanilla or chocolate to this basic buttercream frosting.

  • For plain Swiss buttercream, use granulated sugar with no extra flavoring
  • For vanilla Swiss buttercream, you can use vanilla sugar instead of plain granulated sugar. Alternately, you can add the seed of a vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the buttercream mixture just after you finish adding all the butter.
  • For chocolate Swiss buttercream, add melted cool dark chocolate and cocoa powder, also right after you finish adding all the butter.

Vanilla bean swiss buttercream frosting on top of a chocolate cupcake

Storing Swiss Meringue Buttercream

You can make this ahead of time, but you will need to refrigerate it if you plan to keep it longer than 24 hours. It will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let it thaw at room temperature and rewhip before using. When rewhipping this buttercream, it will looking broken and sad, just keep beating it until it comes together again.

I’m a pretty die hard cream cheese frosting fan, but this Swiss Meringue Buttercream is about to take its place as my favorite. I spent a good amount of time searching for the not-so-sweet buttercream, and this is seriously so good. I would eat this from the bowl, I really would and I’m a very reasonable person. Trust me on this!

Vanilla bean swiss buttercream in a tea cupIf you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

Vanilla bean swiss buttercream in a tea cup

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The easiest and most velvety Swiss Meringue Buttercream that will work every single time. Flavor it with vanilla or make a chocolate version for even more decadent goodness. Spread it on big cakes, small cakes, cupcakes, cookies, or lick it straight from the bowl, you choose!
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 223kcal
Author: Trang

Ingredients

Swiss Buttercream

  • 4 oz egg white ((115 g))
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar ((135 g))
  • 3/4 teaspoon vinegar ((4 g))
  • 10 oz unsalted butter ((283 g, room temperature, cubed))

Vanilla Swiss Buttercream

  • 4 oz egg white ((115 g))
  • 3/4 cup vanilla sugar ((140 g))
  • 3/4 teaspoon vinegar ((4 g))
  • 10 oz unsalted butter ((283 g, room temperature, cubed))

Chocolate Swiss Buttercream

  • 4 oz egg white ((115 g))
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar ((135 g))
  • 3/4 teaspoon vinegar ((4 g))
  • 10 oz unsalted butter ((283 g, room temperature, cubed))
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ((2 g))
  • 4 oz dark chocolate ((115 g))
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder ((7 g, dutch-processed) )

Instructions

For chocolate Swiss buttercream only

  • Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water just until most is melted. Continue to stir as you take it off the heat until all the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

For all Swiss buttercream

  • Add egg white to the stand mixer bowl and beat with a wire whisk attachment on medium low speed (#4) until frothy.
  • Increase speed to medium (#6) and slowly add sugar (or vanilla sugar for vanilla Swiss buttercream only), one tablespoon at a time to allow it to incorporate into the egg white. Half way through adding the sugar, stream in the vinegar. Then continue to add the sugar until all gone.
  • Increase speed to medium high speed (#8) and beat until stiff peak forms and the meringue is shiny and smooth.
  • Reduce speed to medium low (#4) and slowly add the room temperature cubed butter, one cube at a time and allow it to incorporate into the meringue. When all the butter is added it will look chunky, like cottage cheese. This is how it’s supposed to look so don’t be alarmed.
  • At this time, if making chocolate Swiss buttercream, add vanilla extract, the previously melted & cooled chocolate and cocoa powder, increase to high speed (#8) and beat for 4-5 mins until the buttercream comes together. During this time, the mixture will look separated, broken and sad, don’t worry, it will come together with time.
  • Continue beating the buttercream for 10 - 15 minutes or longer if needed until fluffy.

Notes

  • For vanilla Swiss buttercream, you can substitute vanilla sugar with the same amount of plain granulated sugar plus the seed of a vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, added to the buttercream mixture just after you finish adding all the butter.
  • The chocolate Swiss buttercream yields 3 cups. The plain and vanilla Swiss buttercream yields 2.5 cups. Enough for 12 - 15 cupcakes.
  • If your buttercream looks separated after 5 minutes, just continue to beat until it comes together. Depending on the mixer speed, the time could vary, but buttercream will come together when you beat it enough.
  • Calories information is for plain/vanilla Swiss buttercream and based on 12 servings.

Nutrition

Serving: 46g | Calories: 223kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @WildWildWhisk or tag #WildWildWhisk!

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33 Comments

  1. Sarah Elizabeth
    July 2, 2020 /

    I tried this recipe and loved it! I did the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until they reached 160 degrees, then whipped them together for 10 minutes, then gradually added the butter. I added a little powdered sugar at the end just because I prefer that sweetness, but the ratio was awesome! For me it was just enough to crumb coat and frost a three layer four inch cake generously. Thank you!

    • Trang
      Author
      July 2, 2020 /

      Thank you Sarah! Glad to hear you loved it 🙂

  2. Yuu
    May 31, 2020 /

    I have to agree with the other comments about the misleading title. Without heating the meringue you cannot call it a “Swiss meringue” buttercream. It’s also not just a naming distinction though, because the process of heating the whites alters the nature of the proteins and this helps to stabilize the meringue and dissolve the sugar more than you could with the French style of making meringue which is unstable and unsuited to a butter frosting meant to hold up. You may have observed no significant difference between heating or not(possibly because you used egg whites which were further pasteurized), but your viewers looking may not experience the same results and be disappointed after following instructions not to heat a “Swiss meringue”.

    • Trang
      Author
      June 1, 2020 /

      I appreciate your input and will add my experience with heated Swiss meringue to the post as I have responded to the other comment.

  3. jakob
    March 31, 2020 /

    this recipe doesn’t taste good the butter cream isn’t cream it’s just butter this recipe doesn’t work

    • Trang
      Author
      March 31, 2020 /

      I’m sorry you didn’t like it. The only thing I can suggest is to keep beating to aerate the cream until it is fluffy and creamy.

    • Robert
      April 30, 2020 /

      This isn’t even Swiss Meringue Buttercream. You have to heat the egg whites and sugar first before you whip them. This is just….not right.

      • Trang
        Author
        May 1, 2020 /

        You can certainly heat the egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water if you prefer. I’ve done it both ways, with heat and without, they both work.

        • Ellie
          May 21, 2020 /

          This is a French meringue base, not Swiss. The element that makes a meringue Swiss is the technique used, ie. the process of heating the egg whites and sugar together using a double boiler. A French meringue is when the egg whites are whisked and sugar then added gradually, and then there’s Italian meringue where the sugar is heated to a sugar syrup and then slowly poured into the egg whites whilst whisking.

          The reason the Swiss and Italian methods are used specifically for buttercreams is because the egg whites will have been subject to a specific amount of heat to make them safe for consumption, this is not the case with French.

          Your recipe may well work in the sense that it produces a nice tasting buttercream but the name is misleading as it suggests one method but your post showcases a different one.

          • Trang
            Author
            May 21, 2020 /

            Hi Ellie, I appreciate the explanation on the difference between French and Swiss meringue. I have since made this recipe both ways and plan to add both methods to the post in the future for better clarity. However, I would note that the resulting buttercream is exactly the same and I don’t have such a strong opinion as you about what to call it. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to read through the post and add your knowledge to the discussion to help others learn. Have a wonderful day!

  4. Ashley
    January 7, 2020 /

    How many cups does this make? I know Duff’s recipe makes enough for a 8-9 inch layer cake. I’m looking to experiment first and would only use a small single layer 6 inch cake (or thereabouts)

    • Trang
      Author
      January 7, 2020 /

      Hi Ashley, this recipe makes about 2.5 – 3 cups, refer to the serving size and the note section in the recipe card. It’s enough for a dozen cupcakes. For a two layer 6″ cake, I use 3/4 of the recipe and it is quite generous. I would say this is probably enough for a thin two layer 8″ cake.

  5. Chris Sim
    December 20, 2019 /

    Can meringue powder be used instead of egg white? Thank you!

    • Trang
      Author
      December 23, 2019 /

      Hey Chris, I’ve never used meringue powder before so I can’t answer from personal experience. But a quick search tells me that meringue powder is an egg white substitute, you combined it with water. Be sure to follow the instruction that comes with whichever brand of meringue powder you buy.

  6. Michelle
    November 4, 2019 /

    Hi.. Another baking newbie here.. The pasteurized eggs.. Do you mean egg beaters…. Thanks

    • Trang
      Author
      November 4, 2019 /

      Hi Michelle, Egg Beaters is a brand, you can use Egg Beaters 100% egg whites or another brand. I tested this recipe with Target store brand Market Pantry egg whites in a carton. It should give you the same result. Let me know if this answers your question.

  7. Guy
    September 20, 2019 /

    Hi Trang, I’m planning to use your SMB recipe and I saw your strawberry cream cheese frosting recipe too. The powdered dried strawberry idea is brilliant! Have you ever tried adding the powdered strawberry goodness to the SMB?

    • Trang
      Author
      September 22, 2019 /

      Hey Guy, I’m actually planning on testing out the strawberry powder with this SMB soon, stay tuned!! 🙂

  8. Jenny
    May 18, 2019 /

    Late reply, but I’m so glad to have found this. I’m making a lemon version of it for a small birthday party tomorrow. Adding a little lemon zest and vanilla bean will be perfect for the cake I have. Thanks!

    • Trang
      Author
      May 18, 2019 /

      Lemon zest will be so refreshing! I would add the zest at the last step when the buttercream is about to form. Let me know how it turn out.

  9. Carolyn
    March 9, 2019 /

    Nice tasting but took more than 1 HOUR of beating (and I have the 1.3 HP kitchen aid mixer). Not worth the effort considering a flour/cornstarch frosting tastes almost the same and it far less time and effort.

    • Trang
      Author
      March 10, 2019 /

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, but I made this recipe multiple times using many different flavor and it never took me more than 1 hour, and my kitchen aid mixer is almost 10 years old. Did you add enough butter? Is there anything I can help troubleshoot for you?

  10. March 7, 2019 /

    5 stars
    Such a great tutorial and so many great tips. I love meringue so incorporating it into frosting would be wonderful

  11. Olivia
    March 1, 2019 /

    Hi, could you please confirm what type of vinegar? Baking newbie here. Thanks!!!

    • Trang
      Author
      March 1, 2019 /

      Hi Olivia, nothing fancy just regular white vinegar, the cheap kind 🙂

  12. Olivia Gao
    March 1, 2019 /

    Hi, could you please confirm what type of vinegar? Baking newbie here. Thanks!!!

    • Trang
      Author
      March 1, 2019 /

      Hi Olivia, nothing fancy just regular white vinegar, the cheap kind 🙂

  13. mai
    February 27, 2019 /

    Hi thankyou for the recipe. but does it mean the egg is raw?

    • Trang
      Author
      February 28, 2019 /

      Yes the egg is raw. Even if you heat the egg white and sugar to dissolve the sugar, you still don’t cook the egg in this recipe.

    • Bon Vivant
      June 13, 2019 /

      Most SMBC is cooked, the only way I would use raw is if I used pasteurized egg white. If you want to make it with fresh eggs all you have to do is add your sugar and egg whites to the bowl of your stand mixer and make a double boiler out of it with a pot on the stove. Stick a candy thermometer in it and heat it to 180 degrees F depending on your elevation. I’m at 5,000 feet so water boils here at about 206 instead of 212 so basically, 180 here is 174. By the time they reach that temp, harmful bacteria should be killed and your whites will beat up beautifully. I have been making SMBC for years and it’s my favorite out of all the meringue buttercream because it’s so easy and consistent.

      Pasteurized egg whites can be safely consumed “raw”. In fact, the cartons I have in my fridge right now include a smoothie recipe on the back! Also remember that sugar serves as a preservative to keep this frosting safe for consumption by controlling moisture and slowing bacteria growth. Pretty cool stuff!

      • Heather
        October 12, 2019 /

        I love the chemistry of baking! Thank you!

        • Kristin Haadsma
          November 30, 2019 /

          How long does it take to come together?
          Mixing time is roughly the 20min?

          • Trang
            Author
            November 30, 2019 /

            Yes mixing time is roughly 20 mins total, it’s been consistent for me each time I made this recipe. However, some readers have reported longer mixing time for the final mixture to turn from “cottage cheese” stage to buttercream stage, some said 10-15 mins, but some said 30 mins. Just be patient if yours don’t turn into buttercream quickly, keep the mixer going.

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