Swiss Meringue Buttercream

July 9, 2020

Written By: Adriana

Welcome to the world of Swiss meringue buttercream. This is my recipe that I use all the time for my cakes as it is extremely delicious, versatile, and as you will see, not that difficult to make. In addition, it is considered a 'safe' meringue, in that I cook it up to 165 degrees F, which is the ideal temperature for reducing bacterial contamination.

Swiss meringue buttercream is an airy and stable frosting that can be decorate cakes, cupcakes and other desserts. It is made by cooking egg whites and sugar, which is then beaten until it forms a stable meringue. Softened butter is then added to the cooled meringue and it is often finished with flavorings, such as vanilla, chocolate ganaches, or jams.


As easy as it is to make, there are some extra things to know when working with Swiss meringue. I also give you tips on how I store my frostings, how to fix common issues when working with it, such as curdling and soupiness, and exactly how much I make for every size of cake.

I keep a table of how much frosting I'll need for each cake, because I hate decorating cakes and not having enough frosting. My amounts may differ from other sources because I take into consideration for cakes:

  1. filling the cake
  2. crumbcoating;
  3. final coat;
  4. and minor decorating (piping a border, or some flowers)

For cupcakes, my amounts are based on piping a standard swirl using a 1M wilton tip. Something you would see in a cupcake shop.

Frosting Amounts for Cake and Cupcakes

Cake Type/Size Buttercream Amount Required (cups)
cupcakes, 1 dozen 3
cupcakes, 2 dozen 6
cake, 6 inch, 2 layer 3
cake, 6 inch, 3 layer 4.5
cake, 8 inch, 2 layer 6
cake, 8 inch, 3 layer 7.5
cake, 8 inch, 4 layer 9

Now the recipe below makes 3 cups, or enough for a dozen or so cupcakes. If you'd like to use this recipe for your other cakes, check out my cakeculator, which will calculate this all for you.

Storing Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I use 32 oz deli containers that are made for freezer use. They hold about 4 cups of frosting per container.

The timeline that I usually follow for keeping buttercream:

  • 2 weeks in the fridge
  • 2 months in the freezer

When you're ready to make your buttercream, here is the complete video tutorial:

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Prep: 30 + cooling time
  • Bake: 0
  • Total: 30 + cooling time
  • Yield: 3 cups


Ingredient Volume Grams Ounces
  egg whites, fresh 1/2 cup 121g 4.29 oz
  granulated sugar 1 cup 200g 7 oz
  cream of tartar 1/8 tsp - -
  salt 1/4 tsp 1g 0.05 oz
  unsalted butter, softened to cool room temp 1 1/4 cups 283g 10 oz
  vanilla extract 1/2 tsp 2g 0.08 oz
  1. Prepare your double boiler. Make sure you can fit your stand mixer (or other heatproof) bowl on the top so that the bottom is exposed to steam but not directly touching the water. Bring the water beneath to a gentle boil.
  2. To the bowl of your stand mixer (or other heatproof bowl) add egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Mix with a spatula. It will be viscous (pretty gooey) and thick. Place on top of the double boiler and check to make sure that the steam is getting to the bottom of the bowl properly.
  3. Continuously stir with the spatula. The eggs will thin out, all the sugar will melt, and the mixture will become more opaque. Use a thermometer to make sure you reach 165. Remove from double boiler. 
  4. Place the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Whisk on high speed until the bowl has cooled to the touch, the meringue has more than tripled in volume, and starts to ball up around the whisk. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. Add in the butter, one TB chunk at a time. The frosting will lose volume at first, and then start to come together and look and feel little like firm freshly whipped cream, leaving tracks in the frosting. You can use it immediately, store in the fridge for a couple weeks, or the freezer in an airtight container for a couple months.
Hi Everyone, I'm Adriana

... the nerdy baker behind the videos and recipes here. I coded this site to not only share my recipes with you but also to build some helpful tools for bakers.

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