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This Swiss Meringue Buttercream is easy to make, perfectly sweetened, and has a light, silky texture. It is the perfect topping for cakes or cupcakes! Its silky texture makes it the best frosting to achieve that perfectly smooth coating on a layer cake. 

Swiss meringue buttercream on whisk on wooden surface.

Swiss meringue buttercream (SMB) is delicious and stable: the buttercream version of the best friend who always has your back and will pick up your call no matter the time! This SMB is delicately sweetened, light and silky. It almost melts in your mouth!

I have flavored this recipe with vanilla extract but you can also add up to ¾ cup caramel sauce like I did in this Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe, ½ cup lemon curd, 200g melted chocolate, mixed berry jam or any number of extracts. It really is the perfect base for any flavor!

Why You Will Love this Recipe

  • Almost foolproof. This recipe so easy that it’s almost foolproof. I provide precise temperatures and measurement along with instructions to make it by feel.
  • Silky smooth & solid! The texture is so silky it almost melts in your mouth, but it is solid enough, when refrigerated, to support as many tiers as you desire! It can also hold looser fillings in place with a dam.
  • Less sweet than traditional American buttercreams. The heated meringue makes this buttercream very stable and thick without needed confectioner’s sugar for structure.

Professional Tips for Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Adding the salt to meringue adds stability. Most recipes call for the salt to be added in at the end, but I like to make my ingredients work for me. Adding the salt to the meringue before cooking will stabilize the meringue and add flavor. And now you are baking like a professional chef too.
  • Know its limits. It is the most stable when refrigerated but tastes the best at room temperature. If possible, I allow the whole cake to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours prior to serving. You can also slice it cold then allow it to sit to ensure perfect slices.
  • Weigh ingredients for the best results. There can be a 30% difference in the weight of one egg white depending on the size of the egg yolk. This means that the resulting meringue will be more or less stable depending on the ratio of egg white to sugar. For the average baker this does not matter, but if you are going to entrust a wedding cake to this buttercream, weigh your ingredients.
  • People stress too much about fat in meringues. Here is the real talk: as long as there are no visible yolks in the whites and your bowl feels clean, then you are fine. Wiping out your bowl with vinegar is unnecessary and will impact the flavor. If your meringue is not whipping up, add cream of tartar by the teaspoon until it does. If you can taste it in the final meringue, then start again, but you probably won’t have to. Life is too short to stress about meringue.
Swiss meringue buttercream on whisk.
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream Closeup Featured
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Ingredients Needed

  • Egg whites: Carton egg whites will not produce a stable meringue. I only use separated eggs for this recipe. Use the yolks in the best chocolate ice cream or hot chocolate. Try your best to keep the egg whites free from yolks, but don’t stress too much. As long as there are no visible yolks, you’re fine.
  • Granulated sugar: Try to use extra fine sugar, which will help eliminate the possibility of a gritty meringue. If all you have is regular granulated sugar, don’t stress, it’ll be fine.
  • Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is coarser than table salt and thus less salty per teaspoon. The added salt will stabilize the meringue and temper the sweetness just a enough.
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter for all baking but especially in this recipe. Butter is one of the prominent flavors, so choose a high quality butter you enjoy. If you are trying to make a white buttercream, choose the whitest butter possible! This will probably have the lowest fat percentage as well.
  • Vanilla: I use vanilla extract as the flavor in this recipe but you could use a combination of vanilla beans and extract or vanilla bean paste. Vanilla will color the buttercream, so omit it or use imitation vanilla instead.  

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Color Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Swiss meringue colors best with powdered food colorings, especially if you want vivid, saturated colors. The amount of gel food coloring needed will loosen the buttercream and eventually make it very unstable. Gel is the easiest option if you want lighter, more pastel hues. Liquid food colors are not a great option.
  • Change the flavor: Use different extracts; add a little bit and taste as you go. Add ½ cup nut butter, ½ cup lemon curd, ¾ cup caramel sauce, and up to ¾ cup fruit preserves. The buttercream will only take so much acidity, so add preserves, jams and jellies bit by bit. Be sure to strain them if you want smooth buttercream. You can make it chocolate by adding 200 g (7 oz) melted dark chocolate.  

Why use Swiss Meringue Buttercream?

  • SMB is the most stable buttercream. It has more sugar than Italian meringue buttercream, which makes it ever so slightly more stable.  This means that if your buttercream needs to be in a warm room for an hour or two, you will be alright!
  • The meringue makes the frosting more structurally sound. IMB or SMB are perfect for those extravagant layer cakes or cakes with a looser filling, like this Lemon Meringue Cheesecake! The butter and meringue set solid in the refrigerator, so you can tier up! Just be sure to use cake straws or wooden dowels to support the additional layers. Even the best SMB will crush under the weight of two tiers of cake, filling and buttercream. It’s not magic!
  • Faster than any other meringue based buttercream!
  • Can be made entirely by hand. Unlike Italian Meringue, where I do not suggest making it without the protection of a stand mixer, SMB can safely be done with a hand mixer.
  • It’s less sweet! The meringue cuts the sweetness of traditional American vanilla buttercream. In American frostings you have to use confectioner’s sugar for the stability, but here the meringue gives you all the perks without the cloying sweetness.
Swiss meringue buttercream in blue bowl.

How to Make

Use these instructions to make the perfect vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Beforehand: I take my cubed butter out of the refrigerator when I start the meringue. This will allow it to achieve the perfect point of soft, which is pliable but still just a little cold. You should be able to squish it easily with your finger.

Step 1: Set up a bain marie or water bath. Heat about an inch of water up in a medium sauce pot until it is just about simmering.

The most important thing is that the bowl of your stand mixer should fit inside so that it is “nested” but the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

Step 2: Whisk together egg whites, sugar and salt in the stand mixer bowl. Then place bowl over top of simmering water and continue whisking constantly. Cook the whites and sugar just until it reaches 130°F on an instant read thermometer or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. The meringue will have started to gain a bit of volume and feel lighter at this point as well.

This isn’t hot enough to “cook” the eggs. If you are concerned about raw or under cooked eggs, take the meringue to 160°F.

Step 3: Move the bowl to your stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Be careful and use a towel because the bowl will be hot if you have a gas burner! Beat on high speed until the meringue reaches stiff peaks and cools slightly.

Step 4: Switch to the paddle attachment and then add all the butter. Beat on medium until all the butter works itself into the meringue and a silky smooth buttercream forms.

Step 5: Once your buttercream comes together, switch back to the whisk attachment and add your vanilla. Beat it up until it is light and fluffy! Frost away or store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Troubleshooting Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • If there are a few stubborn bits of butter, you can gently heat the sides of the bowl with a kitchen torch and it will melt those remaining pieces. Don’t do it too much or for too long in one spot, or the other butter will melt and you can’t come back from that.
  • If you add your butter when your meringue is too warm, and you now have a soup, don’t stress! Let the butter work in completely (or it will solidify in the fridge and you’ll then have a chunky buttercream) and then pop the whole bowl and attachment in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Continue the mixing process.
  • The NUMBER ONE RULE is be patient! Take a deep breath, pop the whole thing in the fridge, then let it mix. Walk away, come back and see that it’s come together and all is right in the world.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Use a clean metal bench scraper, palate knife or plexiglass to achieve the smoothest cake surface. You can also heat the bench scraper for a perfectly smooth coat but that will change the color of the buttercream.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store Swiss meringue buttercream?

Store SMB in a clean container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. SMB can also be left at room temperature overnight.  

How do you thaw Swiss meringue buttercream?

Ideally thaw SMB in the refrigerator overnight. You can also rush it by putting it in the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and just letting it mix on low. Speed it up further by heating gently with a kitchen torch, moving the heat constantly and stopping frequently so as not to melt the butter.

How do you refresh or recondition Swiss meringue buttercream?

Refreshing buttercream simply means making it soft, light and fluffy again. Place the cold butter in the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and just let it mix on low. The buttercream will look curdled before it comes together, so don’t stress! Speed it up further by heating gently with a kitchen torch, moving the heat constantly and stopping frequently so as not to melt the butter.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

buttercream on whisk resting on wooden board.
5 from 45 ratings

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This Swiss Meringue Buttercream is easy to make, perfectly sweetened and has a light, silky texture. It is the perfect topping for cakes or cupcakes! It’s silky texture makes it the best frosting to achieve that perfectly smooth coating on a layer cake.
Prep: 45 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 16 people

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Heat about an inch of water up in a medium sauce pot until it is just about simmering. The most important thing is that the bowl of your stand mixer should fit inside so that it is “nested” but the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  • Whisk together egg whites, salt and sugar. Then place the bowl over top of simmering water and continue whisking constantly. Cook the whites and sugar just until it reaches 130°F on an instant read thermometer or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. The meringue will have started to gain a bit of volume and feel lighter at this point as well.
  • Move the bowl to your stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Be careful and use a towel because the bowl will be hot if you have a gas burner! Beat on high speed until the meringue reaches stiff peaks and cools slightly.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment and then add all the butter. Beat on medium until all the butter works itself into the meringue and a silky smooth buttercream forms.
  • If there are a few stubborn bits of butter, you can gently heat the sides of the bowl with a kitchen torch and it will melt those remaining pieces. Don’t do it too much or for too long in one spot, or the other butter will melt and you can’t come back from that.
  • If you add your butter when your meringue is too warm, and you now have a soup, don’t stress! Let the butter work in completely (or it will solidify in the fridge and you’ll then have a chunky buttercream) and then pop the whole bowl and attachment in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Continue the mixing process. The NUMBER ONE RULE is be patient!
  • Once your buttercream comes together, switch back to the whisk and add your vanilla. Beat it up until it is light and fluffy! Frost away!

Video

Notes

Yield: 1 ½ quarts, or enough to frost a 6-8 inch cake.
Variations – Add up to ¾ cup jams or jellies, caramel sauce or lemon curd. Add up to ½ cup nut butters or 7 oz chocolate, melted but not hot.
Storage – Store in a clean container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. SMB can also be left at room temperature overnight.  

Nutrition

Calories: 277kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 25mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 703IU | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Calories: 277
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed buttercream recipes!

vanilla swiss meringue buttercream

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Lindsey your Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe is the only one I will use! I love how your recipe tricks my pickiest eaters into thinking the frosting on their cupcakes came from a bakery instead of a busy momma’s kitchen. Thank you, friend!

  2. So amazing! I did this for a wedding cake and it was perfect stiffness and not too sweet. Even if you think you have wrecked it it comes together. Thank you I don’t think I will use any other buttercream recipe ever again.

    1. Hi Chantel! A wedding cake is very high stakes, I’m honored you came here for your buttercream needs! Thank you for commenting, and I’m so thrilled you enjoyed.