Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10 cups frosting
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is delicious, versatile, and the BEST frosting to use for layer cakes. Learn how to make it with this Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and photo tutorial!This recipe yields 2 lbs 6 oz frosting, or about 10 cups. I find it's usually enough to frost a 9-inch 3-layer cake, but your mileage may vary depending on how much frosting you use between the layers and what kind of decorating you want to do.
- 9 egg whites at room temperature
- 14 oz granulated sugar (2 cups)
- 1 lb unsalted butter soft but still cool
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.
Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.
Beat the whites on medium-high speed until they are a shiny, stiff, voluminous meringue, and are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Depending on your mixer and the temperature of your environment, this may take 15-20 minutes, or more. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the softened but cool butter in small chunks, a tablespoon at a time, making sure to wait in between additions. It may separate or look a little gloopy at this point—fear not. Once all of the butter is added, increase the speed again and whip until it comes together and is light and fluffy. If, after 5 minutes, it hasn’t come together, refrigerate the mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes, to cool the mixture down, and whip it again until it has thickened and is smooth and silky. Add the vanilla extract and salt.
The buttercream can be made in advance and kept at room temperature if you’re going to use it the same day, or refrigerated. If it has been chilled, let it sit at room temperature until completely soft, then re-whip it to get the smooth texture back before you use it.