How to Make Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yield: 5 cups buttercream
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Recently I was happily surprised at how popular my post on How to Make the Best Buttercream has remained. That video post is all about creating amazing American buttercream, but something quite a few of you have requested is a post on how to make Swiss buttercream. I am happy to oblige!
Swiss buttercream is like the classier and more refined older sister to American buttercream. It can be a bit intimidating to make, and may seem like it only belongs in a professional bake shop, but I’m here to show you it is TOTALLY doable.
I’ve created a video so you can actually see what each stage is supposed to look like, with tips and tricks along the way in case you mess up. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is actually very forgiving. My favorite part, though, is the fact that it is a perfect blank canvas for ANY flavor additions. I’ve listed off a bunch below to get you started. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
There are a few more types of buttercreams than what is listed below, but this is a good list to read to understand and compare the differences!
This is basically a combination of beaten butter, powdered sugar, and flavoring(s). It is by the far the simplest and easiest buttercream, but can often have a very sweet one-note flavor profile. If you’d like to learn how to make The Best American Buttercream, check out this tutorial!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
This is made by whipping a mixture of egg whites and sugar that has been gently heated in a double boiler until the sugar dissolves and the eggs are cooked. The egg white mixture is then whipped up into a beautiful glossy meringue. Cubes of butter are then gradually added to the meringue, then flavor ingredients. It’s more complicated than American buttercream, but is far better in both taste and texture in my opinion!
Italian Meringue Buttercream
Similar to Swiss, but is made by cooking a sugar syrup and carefully drizzling it into an egg white mixture. I love Italian buttercream! However, it contains raw eggs, which doesn’t bother me but may be unsafe for some people to consume.
Again, requires a similar method to Swiss and Italian but contains egg yolks instead of egg whites. It can be the most difficult to make, as it requires cooking a hot syrup then drizzling it into egg yolks, which can scramble easily. It’s ultra rich and smooth but may result in the consumption of raw eggs.
This is just a list of ideas – feel free to go wild and get creative here! Add more or less depending on your preferences, even combine two flavor ideas for something more unique. Be sure to taste as you go along.
Add 2 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste or the scraped seeds from 1 bean.
Add 2/3 cup cooled melted chocolate
Add 3/4 cup sifted cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
Raspberry or Strawberry
Add 2/3 cup seedless raspberry or strawberry preserves + red food coloring if desired
Add 1 teaspoon almond extract
Nutella, Peanut Butter, or Cookie Butter
Add 3/4 cup to buttercream
Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract + green food coloring if desired
Lemon or other citrus
Add 2 tablespoons fresh zest and 3 tablespoons fresh juice
Add 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
Dissolve espresso powder in 2 tablespoons hot water and add in at the very end
Caramel or Dulce de Leche
Add 3/4 cup to buttercream
Substitute the white sugar for brown sugar in the recipe.
Add 2 tablespoons flavored liqueur such as Chambord, Kahlua, or Bailey’s.
Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
Add additional flavors, purees, or mix-ins as desired.
To make ahead:
Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.
To use under fondant:
Frost the cake as smooth as possible. Place in refrigerator until the buttercream has hardened before covering in fondant. Cover with fondant straight from the refrigerator.
I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)
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