Incredibly light and fluffy, this silky smooth Swiss meringue buttercream is super stable frosting, perfect for piping elaborate designs on any cake. Learn how to make a perfect batch of Swiss meringue buttercream every time with my useful tips and suggestions.
Although classic American buttercream is super easy to make, it’s just not my favorite frosting. Period.
However Swiss meringue buttercream is totally a different story, because it’s luxuriously silky, light and buttery. And studded with tiny vanilla seeds, this Swiss meringue buttercream is a dream!
I still won’t eat it by a spoonful, but I’ll happily frost my layer cakes with this fluffy buttercream any day.
The best buttercream frosting EVER! (You know, cream cheese frosting will always be my all-time favorite!)
Swiss meringue buttercream is an IDEAL frosting for cake decorating, because it’s super stable and holds its shape for very long time. And it doesn’t melt even in hot summer days!!!
Sure, it requires a little extra effort to make Swiss meringue buttercream. But I promise you, the final result is absolutely delicious and totally worth extra elbow grease!
And now let’s make this beautiful buttercream together and I’ll share my tips along the way.
First and foremost, we’ll start with separating egg whites and yolks. For this recipe, we need only egg whites. In order to whisk the egg whites into fluffy meringue, it’s essential to start with super clean bowls and utensils, free of any traces of fat.
And when separating egg whites, be careful not to get even the smallest drop of egg yolk in it. A tiny drop of egg yolk could ruin the entire batch of egg whites, and it won’t whip into stiff peaks.
TIP: It’s easier to separate cold eggs right out of the fridge, because egg yolk is firmer. And never break the eggs over your main egg white bowl. Instead, use this 3-bowl method: 1 bowl for collecting egg whites, 1 for egg yolks, and 1 for breaking and separating each egg.
Next, let’s make Swiss meringue, which basically means cooking the egg whites with sugar in a double boiler and then whipping it into a meringue.
Combine egg whites with sugar in a heat-proof bowl, set it over a simmer bowl and slowly melt the sugar, whisking frequently. When the egg mixture reaches 160°F (70°C), transfer it into a mixing bowl with whisk attachment.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can do a “rub test” (not a real terminology): rub the egg mixture between two fingers, if the mixture is hot and you don’t feel any sugar granules, it’s ready. Don’t rush through this step, or your buttercream will end up grainy!
After that, transfer the egg white mixture into a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment.
Start whisking the mixture on low speed for a minute and then slowly increase the speed to medium high and whip it until hard peaks form and the mixture is cool to touch, 8-10 minutes. (It may take longer if you’re using a handheld mixer.)
The quality of your buttercream directly correlates with the quality of butter you use. So reach for high quality butter for this recipe. I love Land-o-Lakes unsalted butter (not sponsored!).
It’s also important to bring the butter to room temperature. It should not be too soft and too cold, or you’ll have following trouble with your buttercream:
- Too soft butter will melt too quickly and will make a soupy frosting.
- Too cold butter will not incorporate properly and will make a curdled mess.
How to bring butter to room temperature?
Take the butter out of fridge 1-2 hours before making the frosting. Butter at room temperature should be cold to touch and dent when pressed without losing its shape.
TIP: If you forgot to take butter out in advance (happens to all of us), here’s a genius trick to quickly soften butter.
NOTE: Make sure the meringue is not too warm before adding the butter. Otherwise, it’ll melt the butter and your buttercream won’t set properly (read: soupy frosting!). In that case, chill the mixture in the fridge and try whipping it again.
Ok, moving on…
Add the butter in small quantities, about one tablespoon at a time, and beat the mixture thoroughly before adding the next piece.
By the way, I recommend switching to paddle attachment at this step, as it’ll eliminate air pockets and create a smooth frosting. But you can continue with whisk attachment if you want to.
DON’T panic if your buttercream starts to curdle when you just get done adding butter!
This is totally normal. Keep cool and continue beating! And I promise, it’ll magically come together at the end.
Finally, in about 10 minutes, you’ll hear slapping sound, that means the buttercream is ready.
See? Gorgeous, right?
When done right, Swiss meringue buttercream is light and fluffy, silky smooth.
If your buttercream is thick and heavy, just whip it longer. It should not be greasy and heavy.
Ah, such a perfect frosting for piping!!! And the best part, it’ll stay this beautiful until you bite into it. 😉
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 6 egg whites
- 1 ½ cups 300gr sugar
- ½ kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups 340gr unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- 1 vanilla bean split and scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
- In a small saucepan, bring a small amount of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer.
- In medium bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar and place it over the saucepan with simmering water. (This is a make-shift double boiler. Make sure the bottom of the top bowl doesn't touch the water.)
- Cook the egg white mixture over the simmering water until sugar is completely melted and it reaches 160°F (70°C) stirring continuously, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture into a clean, fat-free mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed for a minute, then slowly increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cool to touch, about 10 minutes.
- Switch to a paddle attachment.
- Add salt, vanilla bean and butter one cube at a time. Make sure the butter is fully incorporated before adding the next one. The mixture might curdle, but don’t panic. Continue beating the mixture until smooth, light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (When the frosting reaches the right consistency, you will start hearing slapping sound.)