Buttercream & Frosting, Tips & Tutorials

Swiss Meringue Buttercream: A Step-by-Step Tutorial with Pictures!

February 2, 2012
Because I bake so much, I always have back up buttercream in my refrigerator.  There are 2 types of buttercreams that I always have on hand: Basic Buttercream and Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The basic buttercream is the frosting I use most often, pretty much every day.  It takes only minutes to whip up and goes with everything.  It’s sugary, creamy, and perfectly delicious.  As you can probably tell from most of my recipes, it’s my favorite!
But my second favorite buttercream (and it’s a very close second) is Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  This buttercream is a cooked buttercream.  It involves egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter (instead of the normal confectioners sugar and butter).  The result is a luscious, creamy, buttery, silky, smooth buttercream. 
The main difference between a basic buttercream and swiss meringue buttercream is the texture and taste.  A basic buttercream is more sugary and thick, whereas the swiss meringue buttercream is more buttery and silky.  Most people tend to lean towards making basic buttercream because of simplicity and ease.  The process of making the swiss meringue buttercream takes a little longer and requires a little bit more precision.  Some people even fear that it won’t come out the way it supposed to.  But don’t fear!  I am here to show you a step-by-step tutorial on how to create this lovely buttercream.  Just follow the directions and I know you will have success!
Before I go on with the tutorial I was to address the issue of using raw egg whites.  Some people fear that using raw egg whites in this buttercream is harmful for you and your kids.  But I can assure you with proper technique it can be made perfectly safe.  When using raw egg whites in this Swiss Meringue Buttercream, the egg whites are actually cooked in double-broiler.  This cooking process makes the egg whites safe for consumption.  By adding sugar and water, you are diluting the egg whites and preparing them to be cooked properly.  Then, while cooking the egg whites in the double broiler, you must whisk constantly until the mixture reaches about 150 degrees F to 160 degrees F.  When the egg mixture reaches this temperature, the harmful bacteria will be destroyed.  At the point you are ready to move on with the recipe and enjoy the delicious frosting! 
Ok, here we go!
{For Printable Recipe, Click here}
For one batch, you will need:
5 Egg Whites
1 cup Sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 cups (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt.  Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water.   
Whisk constantly (I use a hand mixer) until the sugar is dissolved.
As you whisk, the mixture will thicken and become very foamy.
Whisk until the mixture reaches about 150 degrees F.
Take the bowl and attach it your stand mixer mixture, fitted with the whisk attachment.   
Whisk the egg white mixture until it reaches room temperature and stiff peaks have formed, about 5-10 minutes.  
While whisking the mixture will thicken and become very white and glossy.  It will almost looks like a big marshmallow.
With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 2 tablespoon as a time.   
Once all the butter is added, raise the speed to medium high and mix until the mixture starts to come together.  
Beat until the buttercream comes together fully and is smooth.
This will take time, anywhere from 2 minutes to as much as 10 minutes.  Don’t worry if it not coming together right away, you didn’t do anything wrong.  It will come together and create a smooth and creamy buttercream.

Once the buttercream is silky and smooth, mix in the vanilla.

At this point, you can color the buttercream any color you like.  I prefer using gel food coloring instead of the liquid kind.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream can last months in the refrigerator.  Just place it in a sealed container, and then keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use.  When you need to use it again, remove it from the refrigerator and place it on the counter until it reaches room temperature.  This will take a few hours, depending on how much buttercream you have.  You can also microwave it for a quick 30 seconds (or a little bit longer or shorter, depending on how much buttercream you have) until it is soft, but not liquid.  Place the buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until it is smooth again, around 3-5 minutes.
I hope this tutorial helped and you gained confidence to make your own Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Enjoy!  

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  • Julie @ Table for Two February 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    oh wow, this is all really interesting. i didn’t know any of this 🙂 thanks for the tutorial — love it when there’s pics of it step by step so you can refer back to it

  • Lisa82367 February 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks so much for the great step-by-step tutorial!  I have always been afraid to make this and I think I can do it now!  🙂

  • Marina@Cowboycountryvegetarian February 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial. I am always so intimidated with baking and all around it, this really helps.

  • Melissa Maruca February 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    YUM! I love swiss meringue buttercream! I like cream cheese frosting and then the swiss meringue is my second favorite 🙂

  • amy donovan February 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    great tutorial, krissy! i’ve made tons of buttercreams, but still have actually not tried making swiss meringue buttercream. maybe this is the inspiration that i needed! =)

  • Maggie February 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I LOVE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM!  This is easily my favorite frosting in the world.  It does take some love, but it is always worth the time and effort.  Great tutorial for newbies to this frosting.  

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet February 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Great tutorial! I absolutely love smb, it has such an amazing texture.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    This is my favorite icing in the world!  I made it to go on my Sweet Potato Cake over the holidays… it only took me 2 tries (I needed this post in December!), but the end result was SO worth it.

  • Kiri W. February 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Ooooh, that sounds amazing! I love me some buttercream, but this sounds fabulous.

  • Bake Your Day February 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Awesome tutorial, Krissy. It sounds sooooo good!

  • Julie February 3, 2012 at 4:09 am

    I’m totally not a baker and had no idea there were two types of buttercream!  I am going to give this a try for my sister’s birthday cake!  Thanks!

  • Celina February 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I have been wanting to tackle a Swiss Meringue Buttercream next.  It is nice to have a tutorial.  Thanks, it looks lovely!

  • Mai Nguyen February 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I love that your step-by-step tutorials! It reassures you that you’re not doing something wrong bc you can reference back to these photos. I’m making cupcakes for my cousin’s twin’s birthday this weekend and we were just wondering what kind of frosting to do. She likes the traditional buttercream, but says it can be too sweet at times, so I think I’ll give this a try! (:

  • Krissy's Creations February 7, 2012 at 2:57 am

    Don’t be intimidated!  Hope this inspires you 🙂

  • Krissy's Creations February 7, 2012 at 2:57 am

    You gotta try SMB!!

  • Krissy's Creations February 7, 2012 at 2:58 am

    There are SO many types of buttercream, it’s crazy!  I still only make 2 kinds 🙂

  • Krissy's Creations February 7, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Let me know what you think! 🙂

  • Tracy @ Daily Deal Blog February 14, 2012 at 3:26 am

    The kids will love this recipe and enjoy the bonding while preparing it. Another great idea from you. Thank you dear.

  • Juhnelly1 April 28, 2012 at 1:54 am

    there is no need to constantly whisk the egg whites and sugar or even use a thermometer, i make this all the time and have total success with stirring occasionally and you know they are done when the mixture no longer feels grainy to the touch

  • Krissy's Creations May 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm

     Hi, Thank you for your input.  I find that whisking the mixture constantly allows the egg whites to get more fluffy.  However, everyone has different methods. 

  • Val2678 August 21, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Can always use the storebought pasturized eggwhites in a carton. Comes pre-measured and is safe to eat. On the other hand, I have been eating batter with eggs mixed in since I was a small child and have never had any issues.

  • Hikerphillips September 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Krissy is the finished product still soft and sort of light and airy or did I not mix it long enough? 

  • JB#3 June 9, 2013 at 3:47 am

    Your step-by-step tutorial just saved my frosting. I was sure I’d done something wrong but alas, I have frosting.

  • Sue July 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    How Long does swiss buttercream last, making my daughters wedding cake in sept she wants a 3 tier sponge cake, making it on a Wednesday, putting one layer of icing on that evening then going to London on the Thursday to second daughter to put the final layers and decorate, the deliver to venue on Friday wedding Saturday shall I ask them to store it in there fridge, hoping to make the cream at home on Wednesday and taking down to London with me. Do you think everything will be ok?