Swiss meringue buttercream is the king of buttercream frostings. It’s silky, smooth, elegant, and delicious. Its fluffiness comes from egg whites that are heated with sugar until smooth and whipped into a glossy meringue. This recipe for basic vanilla-flavored Swiss meringue buttercream can be tinted and flavored in a variety of ways to suit a all types of gorgeous layer cakes and cupcakes.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large eggs)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound/4 sticks butter (cold, unsalted, cut into small cubes)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Gather the ingredients.
Combine the granulated sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the stand mixer bowl over a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of gently simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and an instant-read thermometer registers 115 F. This will take about 5 minutes. The mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
Wipe away any moisture that has accumulated on the bottom of the stand mixer bowl. Fit the bowl onto the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until meringue is fluffy and glossy, about 8 to 10 minutes.
It is ready when the bottom of the bowl is completely cool to the touch and the mixture resembles a white fluffy cloud.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time. The mixture may begin to appear curdled, but this is okay; keep the mixer running until the buttercream is smooth, glossy, and white (it will lighten in color during mixing), 10 to 15 minutes.
Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
Pipe onto cakes or cupcakes as desired.
- Swiss meringue buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. To bring refrigerated buttercream back to a useable consistency, transfer it back to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the buttercream is fluffy, about 15 minutes. The mixture may appear curdled before it comes back together.
- To tint buttercream, reserve some of the white buttercream for toning down the color if necessary. Add desired food color a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring. If necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.
- To make chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, melt bittersweet chocolate and allow to cool slightly. Fold the cool, melted chocolate into the vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream using a rubber spatula.
- To make coffee-flavored Swiss meringue buttercream, stir a few spoonfuls of instant espresso powder into prepared vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.