How to Make Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream

How to Make Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream

November 19th, 2022
4.66 from 38 votes
4.66 from 38 votes

How to Make Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream with a step-by-step video, with tips and tricks along the way. Can be made ahead of time. Includes a list of flavor customization ideas!

Yield: 5 cups buttercream

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

This is now my FAVORITE buttercream ever!! Love that it can be made ahead of time! TONS of flavor ideas here too.

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If you’re looking for a delicious, not overly-sweet, slightly leveled-up buttercream, look no further than the Swiss Meringue Buttercream!

Swiss buttercream is like the classier and more refined older sister to American buttercream.

It’s less sweet than American buttercream, so it’s a terrific option for frosting cakes, cupcakes, fill French macarons, and more!

While it can seem a little intimidating to make, I’m here to show you it is TOTALLY doable.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is definitely easier than you might think, and it’s actually very forgiving.

My favorite part is that it is a perfect blank canvas for ANY flavor additions. I’ve listed a bunch below to get you started.

perfectly smooth and creamy Swiss meringue buttercream, piped into a glass, on a black background

I’ve created a video inside the recipe card below so you can actually see what each stage is supposed to look like, with tips and tricks along the way in case you are worried you messed up somewhere along the way!

How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

What is Swiss Meringue Buttercream? 

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream (aka SMBC) 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 so delicious and the texture is so silky smooth that it’s well worth the extra steps, especially for special occasions! 

What’s the Difference Between Swiss and American Buttercream?

  • American Buttercream is basically a combination of beaten butter, powdered sugar, and flavoring(s).
  • It is by far the simplest and easiest buttercream, but can often have a very sweet one-note flavor profile.
  • Check out my recipe for American Buttercream here, for a quicker, slightly sweeter but equally delicious buttercream.

Are There Other Types of Buttercream?

  • Italian Meringue: Similar to Swiss, but a little more complex. Italian Meringue Buttercream is made by cooking a sugar syrup and carefully drizzling this into an egg white mixture. 
  • French Buttercream: Similar again, but French Buttercream contains egg yolks instead of egg whites. It can be the most difficult to make, as it requires cooking a hot syrup, then drizzling this into egg yolks, which can scramble easily. It’s ultra-rich and smooth but may result in the consumption of raw eggs.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tools

  • Candy Thermometer: For ensuring your egg white/sugar mixture has reached the correct temperature. An instant-read thermometer will also work.
  • Whisk: For whisking the egg white/sugar mixture constantly throughout heating.
  • Stand Mixer: The best tool for SMBC! While this can be done with a handheld electric mixer, I don’t recommend it as it will take much longer. 
  • Piping Bags: For piping your perfect Swiss meringue buttercream onto your cake or cupcakes.
  • Piping Tip: This Ateco #825 star tip is my favorite piping tip.

    Flavor Customization Ideas

    Feel free to get creative here! Add more or less depending on your preferences, and even combine two flavor ideas for something more unique. Be sure to taste as you go, and add a little more flavoring as needed. If you’re adding a liquid, be sure to add it slowly, in tablespoon-sized increments. If you get a little heavy-handed, see the note above about curdling.

    • Vanilla Bean: Add 2 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste or the scraped seeds from 1 bean.
    • Chocolate: Add 2/3 cup cooled melted chocolate
    • Mocha: 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
    • Almond: Add 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • Nutella, Peanut Butter, or Cookie Butter: Add 3/4 cup to buttercream
    • Mint: Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract + green food coloring if desired
    • Lemon or other citrus: Add 2 tablespoons fresh zest and 3 tablespoons fresh juice
    • Hazelnut: Add 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
    • Coffee: Dissolve 1 tablespoon 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
    • Brown Sugar: Substitute the white sugar for brown sugar in the recipe.
    • Spiked: Add 2 tablespoons flavored liqueur such as Chambord, Kahlua, or Bailey’s.

    Recipes Perfect for This Buttercream:

    4.66 from 38 votes

    How to make
    Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe

    Yield: 5 cups buttercream
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 20 minutes
    How to Make Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream with a step-by-step video, with tips and tricks along the way. Can be made ahead of time. Includes a list of flavor customization ideas!


    • 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


    1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with a 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.

    2. Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until the temperature reaches 160°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot and foamy. Carefully wipe the bottom of the bowl dry.

    3. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip, until the meringue is thick, glossy, and stiff peaks are achieved. The bottom of the bowl must no longer feel warm to the touch. This should take about 7 to 10 minutes.

    4. 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. This may take several minutes.

    5. If the buttercream curdles, simply keep mixing and it will come back together and be smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with the paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

    6. Add additional flavors, purees, or mix-ins as desired.

    To make ahead:

    1. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and beat on low with the paddle attachment, until creamy, before using.

    To use under fondant:

    1. Frost the cake as smoothly as possible. Place in the refrigerator until the buttercream has hardened before covering in fondant. Cover with fondant straight from the refrigerator.

    Recipe Video

    Recipe Notes

    This makes enough frosting to generously frost a 9-inch two-layer cake or about 2 dozen cupcakes. This recipe can easily be doubled.
    Please don't panic if the frosting looks curdled as you mix in the cubed butter and/or flavorings. Just keep mixing and it will eventually come back together and look creamy and smooth again.
    Course : Dessert
    Cuisine : American
    Keyword : buttercream, buttercream frosting, swiss meringue, swiss meringue buttercream

    This recipe was originally created in 2015 and was recently updated with more recipe tips and FAQs.

    Tips for the Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream

    1. Cooking the egg whites/sugar: Don’t be tempted to crank the heat up too high. Allow the water in your double boiler to just simmer, to slowly raise the temperature of the egg whites and sugar without cooking your egg whites.
    2. Whisk constantly: If you stop whisking, the egg whites can cook on the sides and bottom of the bowl. Keep the mixture moving, to prevent chunks of scrambled eggs from ending up in your buttercream.
    3. Whipping speed: Once you move your bowl to the mixer, start whipping slowly and increase the speed as the mixture thickens. I stop increasing the speed once it’s on medium-high. This allows the air to slowly be incorporated into the meringue, to create a stable base, and also allows the bowl time to cool before proceeding with adding the butter.
    4. You want stiff peaks: Ensure your meringue has reached stiff peaks before adding the butter. Medium peaks won’t result in a thick, luscious buttercream. Stiff peaks are sharp points in meringue that don’t bend or droop. 
    5. Ensure your bowl is completely cool before adding the butter: If your meringue or the bowl are at all warm, the butter will melt and you’ll end up with a soupy buttercream. Don’t add the butter until the bowl is completely cool and back to room temperature.
    6. Curdling isn’t a big deal: It’s normal and totally okay if your buttercream looks separated, curdled, or chunky while the butter incorporates. It might happen again when you add your flavorings, especially if they’re liquidy. Don’t worry! Keep mixing with the paddle attachment and it will come back together eventually, becoming a super creamy, smooth buttercream.
    7. If your SMBC contains air bubbles: Mix on your mixer’s lowest speed for a few minutes, or even mix by hand with a rubber spatula for a few minutes, to smooth out the buttercream and pop those pesky air bubbles.


    Tessa Arias
    Author: Tessa Arias

    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!)

    Tessa Arias

    About Tessa...

    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!)

    Find Tessa on  

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    Recipe Rating

    1. #
      Melissa Oh — April 19, 2022 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve made this many many times and it’s never failed me. This is my go-to recipe for the perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream!

    2. #
      robin innaimo — April 13, 2022 at 4:50 pm

      I loved working with your Swiss meringue buttercream. It was easy to make and it piped beautifully. It was also delicious . Thank you for another great recipe.

    3. #
      Rachel — December 31, 2021 at 10:16 am

      I’ve made this recipe for almost 4.5 years now. I use it almost every time I make a cake (which is pretty often) and I always always get compliments on how delicious the buttercream is! It is just perfect. Thank you so much for this recipe!

      • #
        Emily — January 3, 2022 at 11:34 am

        That’s amazing to hear! So happy you love this recipe so much, thanks for taking the time to let us know, we appreciate it! 🙂

    4. #
      Laura — November 6, 2021 at 9:19 am

      I have made Swiss meringue before and love it. I’m planning to put the brown sugar version on pumpkin spice cupcakes. I am always unsure how to store cupcakes with Swiss meringue after they are iced- any suggestions?

      • #
        Emily — November 9, 2021 at 12:41 pm

        Hi Laura! As SMBC contains eggs, you don’t want to leave it out longer than 6 hours at room temperature. We suggest refrigerating your frosted cupcakes, then letting them come to room temperature before serving as the buttercream hardens quite a bit (about half an hour, though it depends on the temperature of your kitchen). I hope that helps!

    5. #
      Susan Kopf — September 6, 2021 at 11:39 am

      Hi Tessa,
      I have a basic old stand mixer that just has beaters. Can I make this without using all the special attachments you used?

      • #
        Emily — September 8, 2021 at 7:07 am

        Hi Susan! We’ve actually never used one of those, so we can’t say for sure! If you give it a try, please let us know how it goes.

    6. #
      Cindy F Carson — July 22, 2021 at 8:39 am

      I have tried making Swiss Meringue Buttercream in the past but without success. The directions were never simple to follow and I would wind up with a soupy mess! The instructions for this recipe are excellent! Very specific and detailed which you need for this type of frosting. I was so happy when I finished it. Very light texture and delicious. I also added the extra cocoa powder and espresso to make it mocha flavored. It’s great.

      • #
        Emily @ Handle the Heat — July 22, 2021 at 9:20 am

        So glad to hear that, Cindy! Glad the instructions were easy to read and that you enjoyed the end result 🙂 Mocha buttercream is so delicious!

    7. #
      Veronica Mulas — June 27, 2021 at 5:59 am

      Sorry forgot to ask if I wanted to make chocolate orange buttercream, is it better to melt a chocolate orange bar or do the amount you indicate of melted chocolate and then the amount you suggest for the orange addition? Thank youuu so much!!

      • #
        Tessa — June 28, 2021 at 1:41 pm

        I haven’t tried melting a chocolate orange bar, but you’re welcome to experiment with it. I would imagine it’d taste delicious 🙂 You can also combine two flavor ideas as stated in the flavor customizations as well 🙂

        • #
          Veronica Mulas — June 29, 2021 at 5:30 am

          Ah thank you so much Tessa! What a great suggestion to combine two flavour ideas! Sorry didn’t read that.

          May I ask, when you suggest juice (for both orange and lemon) is the juice from a carton? Or freshly squeezed juice?
          Thank youuuuuu!!

          • #
            Tessa — June 29, 2021 at 10:02 am

            I suggest 2T fresh zest and 3T fresh juice (from the fruit) for best flavor 🙂

    8. #
      Veronica Mulas — June 27, 2021 at 5:54 am

      Hello dear Tessa, may I ask if I can use any chocolate to melt and then add to the buttercream? And how much would it be in grams?
      Many thanks, much appreciated

    9. #
      Adeiana — June 15, 2021 at 10:45 pm

      Simple and elegant

    10. #
      Veronica Mulas — June 12, 2021 at 1:54 am

      Thank you very much for your kind reply and for providing this really wonderful recipe for free, I just hate to think that I may ruin it by adding the wrong amount of flavours! I will never understand cups, everything weighs the same in grams, I just would have loved that as the recipe itself has conversions in grams it would have been the same for the add ins…Thank you kindly anyway for giving me the conversion for nutella and jam! I wish I could have them for everything hehe! X

    11. #
      Veronica Mulas — June 11, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Dear Tessa, sorry to bother you I just wanted to ask you, for your Swiss meringue buttercream recipe flavour adaptations when you say cup is meant as the same cup measurement you use for the sugar?
      For example 2/3 cup jam = 135g? 3/4 cup of nutella = 150g? So sorry, there are so many cup conversions according to the country and ingredient itself etc that I thought I’d double check with you. Hope you don’t mind.
      Thank you so very much for your time and please know that your recipe is the best one I have used (I have tried many) and I absolutely trust it and love it. If you have developed any more flavours I can’t wait to hear, I feel like the possibilities are endless and want to try them all!!
      Thank you, thank you for your amazing hard work and passion!
      Many greetings from afar,
      Best wishes Veronica

      • #
        Tessa — June 11, 2021 at 3:36 pm

        Hi Veronia, I understand your confusion! A cup measurement is the same as how I measured the sugar; however, as things weigh differently, a cup of sugar will weigh differently than a cup of jam! 3/4 cup of Nutella is about 217g (1 cup of Nutella is around 290g total). 2/3 cup jam is around 215g. Hope this helps! If you’re ever unsure about the add-ins, you can also slowly add them into the buttercream to your taste 🙂

    12. #
      Maria — April 4, 2021 at 10:33 pm

      hi tessa,
      I read if we can add espresso powder into the buttercream

      How much espresso powder should i use?


    13. #
      Maria — April 2, 2021 at 8:59 am

      Hi tessa,
      How much espresso powder could i use as additional flavor? Above you only said : Dissolve espresso powder in 2 tablespoons hot water.
      Should i shift the espresso powder?


    14. #
      tetris game — February 22, 2021 at 2:25 am

      Even though you say, this is the video you’ve “made-on-demand”, but I see how you do it very professionally, the Swiss Buttercup is great. luckily I signed up for the e-mail notification, otherwise, I would be sorry to discover this video later!

    15. #
      jigsaw puzzles — February 20, 2021 at 7:52 pm

      They are so good, thank you very much!

    16. #
      Iman — January 7, 2021 at 4:49 am

      I absolutely love swiss meringue butercream! I made your chocolate one and a brown sugar version and they were absolutely delightful!

      I just have a question, would half a batch be enough to frost a 3 layered 7 inch cake?

    17. #
      OREOLUWA — December 5, 2020 at 11:10 am

      Thank you very much. Please can I use a combination of margarine and shortening for the fat; butter is not readily available in my country

    18. #
      Susan M Kopf — November 14, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Tessa!
      I have an older stand mixer with regular beaters which means I don’t have the special attachments. Will that work?

    19. #
      Rach — September 17, 2020 at 2:14 am

      This is a fabulous recipe and you can’t go wrong with it.
      Works every time I make it.

    20. #
      Dela — September 4, 2020 at 6:40 pm

      I tried this and the meringue didn’t come to the same texture as yours after about 30 minutes in the stand mixer? It was quite white and i though oh it’s nearly getting there but didn’t so when I though it was quite thick i added the butter, but it became quite yellow and chunky! I’ve obviously done something wrong here but not sure what, I used four egg whites instead of 5 because it came to 150, could that possibly be it? Thank you!

    21. #
      Jenn — June 27, 2020 at 7:06 am

      Quick question. If I wanted to do the caramel SMBC, would adding 3/4 c make the frosting too sweet? Is it possible to lower the sugar in the meringue and add the sweetness using the caramel?

    22. #
      Rose McEldowney — June 22, 2020 at 12:02 pm

      I have made this recipe countless times. My cakes are better for it. Thank you!!!!

    23. #
      Ann — March 14, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      I’m sorry. This recipe just doesn’t work. The steam of the double boiler cooks the egg on the side of the bowl. It’s a total waste of time. Please pull the recipe.

      • #
        Tin2 — March 14, 2020 at 5:10 pm

        I’ve been using this for a couple years now and had that issue one time because I didn’t stir right away otherwise it works just fine and I also omit the salt. You have to constantly stir as soon as you put the egg whites on the double boiler. I use pasteurized egg now to reduce the cooking time since all you need is to melt the sugar.

    24. #
      Natasja de Smit — February 3, 2020 at 2:45 am

      Whilst this recipe is the quintessential Swiss buttercream, it does not need the salt! I added it just to see and it was so salty that I may as well have used regular salted butter. What’s worse is that the longer i sits the stronger the salt taste becomes.
      Honestly, don’t add the salt. It’s light and smooth and silky without it

    25. #
      Ariadne Hazelwood — November 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Tessa,
      This recipe sounds absolutely wonderful! I just have a few questions: first, is the candy thermometer required? And second, will this frosting crust over if it’s refrigerated overnight already on the cake?
      Thank you very much!


    26. #
      Milena — November 13, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      Hi, will a decorated cake hold well in room temperature? I’m talking piped flowers and tutu frills 🙂 Thank you!

    27. #
      Jennifer — October 15, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      This is my go to buttercream for all my cakes!

    28. #
      Toni — September 28, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you for this recipe

    29. #
      Corina — September 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

      I want this in sugar free version what sugar can si use?

    30. #
      Michelle Gremillion — September 4, 2019 at 4:40 am

      Tessa.. Thanks for these recipes..I haven’t found a buttercream recipe that holds up to Louisiana’s hot temps to date.. This Swiss buttercream worked well…

    31. #
      Dawn Wilson — September 3, 2019 at 3:42 am

      Could you make this recipe using trex to get a whiter meringue?

    32. #
      Lorraine Gerstenberg — August 24, 2019 at 6:40 am

      I made this recipe using the dark brown sugar in place of the white sugar. I had 3 sticks of butter softened. I used 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of Frangelico liquor. 1.) took 10 minutes to dissolve the dark brown sugar and didn’t reach 140 deg. I thought that would be ok, not reaching 140. The bowl was very hot so i continued to move the bowl to the mixer and beat the eggs whites and the sugar to a meringue texture. It worked, looked perfect. The bowl cooled really fast, i found that odd as I have made a similar recipe before and had to ice the bowl to get it to cool. The temp in my house was the same as before. Problem was that the butter was chunky like and never got creamy.

      I had soup with chunks, put in fridge for a minute and thought, this isn’t going to get rid of the chunky soft butter I put in so I added about a cup and a half or 2 cups of confection sugar to fix it. The taste was great and the texture was too.

      I don’t think it was the mixer attachment, I used the whisk, the paddle and the paddle/scrapper. Maybe it was the dark brown sugar?

    33. #
      Claudia — June 11, 2019 at 8:08 am

      Hi Tessa! Love all of your recipes. I was wondering if I could half this recipe because I need it for two 6 Inch layer cakes. I guess it’s totally doable as you also gave the weight of the egg whites. Thanks a lot! I’m also considering in buying the secrets of baking couese.

      • #
        Tessa — June 13, 2019 at 12:40 pm

        Halving this recipe is a little tricky unless you use a hand held mixer, otherwise there’s just not enough to beat! You can always freeze the leftover buttercream 🙂

    34. #
      Cynthia — April 14, 2019 at 1:21 pm

      It appears that this blog is dead. No replies to posts and questions??? Maybe one of the readers can answer my Question. I want to add cookie butter. First, I am afraid to make this traditional style SMBC. I am newish to baking, but I make mine flip flopped but it always turns out perfect. MUCH easier. I microwave sugar and carton pasteurized egg whites slowly til sugar dissolved. Then I put in freezer til cool room
      temperature. It will not freeze. Too high of a sugar level. When The sugar and egg syrup is cool, I beat BUTTER til light and fluffy. The butter is the item better able to take the additional ingredients and create a stabile emulsion. After, I add half the syrup and beat til incorporated, then add remaining plus vanilla. It is firm at this point!
      Being newish, I don’t know what adding cookie butter will do to it. My son loves loves cookie butter. Does anyone else make SMBC like me? Have you added semi fluid type ingredients to final SMBC? Any suggestions would be great! Thanks!

    35. #
      Miki — March 17, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      Miss tessa thank you for sharing this recipe can you please teach me meaurement for creamcheese flavoring
      thanks in advance

    36. #
      Ramona Robuck — February 10, 2019 at 10:22 am

      I’ve made Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting 30 or more times, always successfully, until today. Meringue was perfect, glossy very voluminous. I switched to paddle , beat on Med low until bowl was cool, then added room temperature butter(still firm), 1 tablespoon at the time. Before I finished adding 2nd stick, frosting began to curdle. It quickly went downhill from there. I tried refrigeration for about an hour, mixing for 10 minute increments, adding 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Nothing brought it back. I hate to throw it out. Can I use it to make pound cake? It is now refrigerated.

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