I’ve never dedicated an entire post to a frosting all on its own before.  Usually the post is about a cake or cupcake primarily.  Let this be a sign to you.  You need to try this frosting.  Swiss meringue buttercream is a heavenly concoction that I only recently discovered (and now am kicking myself for not trying earlier).  It is rich, buttery (duh), and unbelievably silky smooth.  The caramel buttercream from the banana caramel cupcakes was certainly a fabulous introduction to this type of frosting, but I wanted to try a classic plain vanilla as well.

Put plainly, it is delicious.  It would be a lovely accompaniment to just about any cupcake you can think of, and can also serve as a great base recipe for other flavors of buttercream.  Simply lower the amount of vanilla extract and add in the other flavor you would like to incorporate (similar to the peppermint buttercream from these cupcakes).  I also think this would be beautiful with the seeds of a vanilla bean mixed in, and a little less vanilla extract.  Those black flecks against the beautiful white frosting would look just perfect!  If you are going for the double vanilla combo, I have three vanilla cupcake recipes that I love.  Vanilla bean cupcakes, Dorie’s perfect party cupcakes, and classic vanilla cupcakes.  And, just writing about this frosting has made me crave it so much that you’ll have to excuse me while I go make some more.


5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 01

    To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

  • 02

    Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

  • 03

    Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!)  Stir in the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.  Tint with gel icing color as desired.

  • 04

    Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.


  • This is my all-time favorite frosting recipe too. I find ‘regular’ buttercream to be too sweet.

  • Okay this is a perfect post for me today! I am making a birthday cake this weekend and am looking for a special frosting. Thank you!

  • Does this frosting have to be refrigerated?

  • Jeannette M.

    I would kill for one of those right now…they are to cute!

  • Those look heavenly! What a beautiful frosting job. What kind of tip did you use?

  • gingela5

    That looks delectable! I’m always looking for a great homemade frosting to go with cakes and cupcakes!

  • AmyLou

    So can you decorate with this recipe? Or is it too thick/thin? Thanks!

  • Love your website, Annie! Your recipes are delicious and your photos are crisp and inviting!
    I’m curious, what tip # do you like to use for frosting your cupcakes?
    I can hardly wait to give this recipe a try! Cheers!

  • That is my absolute favorite frosting, haven’t come across a frosting better than this one. The possibilities are endless and it has the smooth texture a buttercream could never reach.

  • Sounds heavenly. Can you give me an estimate of how many cupcakes can you frost with this recipe? Thanks!

  • Christina C.

    I always crave cupcakes, both baking and eating them, after you post wonderful things like this! I want to make these right now. Too bad I’m snowed in…

    Just out of curiosity, in recipes that call for egg whites like this one, what do you do with the egg yolks? I don’t like wasting food, but I’m not sure what I would do with them!

  • A good frosting is very important to cake or cupcakes!

  • I will absolutely be trying this buttercream!! I have never made Swiss Meringue Buttercream but I have always been curious about it. Your cupcakes are beautiful!!

  • Annie

    I’m not sure I understand your question. You can see from the pictures that I used the frosting to decorate cupcakes.

  • Annie

    That all depends on what tip you use and how much frosting you like on your cupcakes. It makes about 5 cups, you can guesstimate based on that.

  • kate C.

    My question is: how well does this frosting keep? Can you keep it in the fridge or freezer for a while if you aren’t going to use all of it or have some left over?

    thanks! looks intriguing…

  • Annie

    Personally, I have no problem tossing the yolks. Eggs are cheap and I always have a lot of them in the fridge. But, if I was going to do something with them, I would make a French-style ice cream.

  • Maggi

    I too love Swiss Buttercream over all other icings/frostings (except whipped ganache.)

    Mine always looks a little curdled after adding about 3/4 of the butter but keep in whipping and it will come out beautifully. Makes every penny I spent on my KitchenAid totally worth it.

  • Annie

    Hi Kate,
    I just updated the post to include that information. Thanks.

  • Annie

    Hi Colette,
    I don’t know the exact number of the tip used or if it even has a number, but I almost always use a large star tip for frosting.

  • Annie

    I don’t know the exact number of the tip used or if it even has a number, but I almost always use a large star tip for frosting.

  • kate C.

    Thanks, Annie!
    I might have to try this soon!

  • AmyLou

    Hi Annie,
    Sorry I was so vague on the “decorating” question–I meant, can you make icing roses, shell borders, basketweave design, etc., beyond just a swirl on top of the cupcakes with this recipe? Thanks!

  • Just wanted to coment again to say that you’re so sweet to answer all these questions. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • This buttercream looks beautiful. I’ve made a coffee swiss buttercream (recipe was from Tartelette) and fell in love with the texture and subtle flavors. I’m sure I would love this. I also like the suggestions you made about the vanilla bean. I’ll be using this recipe very soon. I don’t like wasting eggs either (even though eggs are cheap, they still cost money! haha). I use my egg yolks for ice cream as well.

    P.S. What tip did you use? LOL!! I’m just kidding. I saw two people ask that same question, and you had to give the same response to them. Too funny. Have a great weekend!

  • Your cupcakes look amazing! I can’t wait to try the frosting soon! Although I’m a bit frightened that I may like it so much that it will never make it onto the cupcake! =) What size tip did you use to decorate?

  • Pam

    Your cupcakes are gorgeous! I will be trying the frosting, it sounds great!

  • this is my favorite frosting recipe too – your cupcakes look adorable!!

  • Is it a sturdy enough frosting for rose making and such? I’d love to try this icing, so I’m hoping it would work well for flowers too, since I have a birthday cake to make this weekend.
    I love your site. How do you find time to make all these lovely things, be a mom, and also a doctor? :) And, how do you not weigh 500 lbs! Haha If I made all that yummy stuff, thats what I’d be.

  • I have to echo what Maggi said — the first time I made Swiss buttercream, I thought I had failed! The mixture was so wet and curdled that I was ready to throw in the towel, but fortunately, I persevered and it did eventually come together. I’m glad you noted that it can take up to 5 minutes, to warn others who are trying this for the first time! The wait is worth it; this stuff is uh-MAY-zing.

  • Annie

    Hi Amy,
    Yes, it would be fine for that. It has a very nice consistency. I actually just used it to frost a two-tiered cake, and make little stars around the bottom edges of the cake.

  • Annie

    I have answered this question in the comments above.

  • Annie

    Hi Renee,
    I have never made flowers out of any frosting (or this one) so I can’t attest to its ability or lack thereof to do that. Sorry!

  • Julie

    Thanks for the recipe and tips! My first attempt at this icing resulted in a slightly runny icing. I should’ve kept on beating it for another few minutes.

  • I hate normal buttercream, can only eat this kind! And yes, I LOVE it! Thanks for the post to remind me to go make some!

  • I completely hear you about meringue buttercream! I was so enamored by it the first time I made it I wanted to clean the bowl clean :lol:

    Love how adorable and classic your cupcakes look, by the way!

  • I saw these post on Friday and thought that this would be so wonderfule to make on Saturday for my birthday! They are so festive .. especially with the sprinkles, but it’s not too much. I have all the ingredients to make a key lime chiffon pie but that just isn’t birthday-like. Don’t worry … I’m still making the pie though. ;)

  • Can’t wait to try these! I left my laptop open to your site and my 3 yr old saw the screen and started yelling “Mama, cupcakes! Pretty cupcakes, check it out!” so I guess we’re making cupcakes today :) Thanks for the recipe and inspiration!

  • vicvickvicky

    I TOTALLY love SMBC. It’s the only way to go! :) Love the cute photos and the sprinkles!

  • Thank you, thank you! EVERY time I’ve made buttercream, it, well, sucked. I have been afraid to try it again. I’m going to try this, though. Thank you!!!

  • Mmm, I love this frosting too, any excuse will do!

  • I love this recipe, your cupcakes are adorable!

  • Oh – I love buttercream frosting – can’t wait to try this version of it! Annie – where do you get those cute sprinkles?

  • I use the Wilton 1M tip for making swirls on top of my cupcakes.

  • This frosting sounds so good! Love the way it rests atop those pretty cupcakes. I’ll have to try it next time I have something in need of a buttercream frosting. :)


  • Those little cupcakes looks so darling!!! Love the blog!

  • Mmmmm…look delish and so so pretty =)

  • Jen

    I just made a swiss meringue for the first time to fill my son’s first birthday cake – I wanted something less sweet to pair with cookie-dough bits for the filling. So I tried this. My first reaction was not a good one – I thought “Ick – so buttery, and greasy” but then I kept trying it, and it grew on me. And then my mother (who is not an icing fan) came to me and said “That filling was ridiculous! Delicious. I need to stop eating now or I’m going to eat it all!”

  • i totally agree with the perfection that is swiss meringue buttercream. Impossibly delicious!

  • I wanted to let you know I featured you today on my blog! I have been looking for a delicious frosting for my baby girl’s 1st birthday, you posted about this and I was SO excited! I bought all the ingredients this weekend and made it, it was heaven! Thank you SO much for sharing!

  • This buttercream is the bees knees! I have taken a note of your vanilla cupcake recipe to try with it. I went over to the page to have a look and coo over your beautiful baby! Hopefully I will get a better cupcake from your recipe. I am never very great at cupcakes, they always seem to come out more the consistency of a muffin. It is disheartening :(

  • Annie

    You can keep it at room temp if using it the same day, refrigerate it for 3 days, or freeze it for up to 1 month.

  • Olivia

    Oh maaaan, this was awesome. Did it by hand, took FOREVER. Worth the effort though, totes magotes :)

  • Jill J

    I tried this recipe this weekend with the vanilla bean cupcakes you recommended. The frosting was like silk, and the perfect combination of light, sweet, and buttery. Thanks for posting!

  • Nikki D

    Hey Annie,

    I’m wanting to try this frosting out this weeked, but I don’t have a stand mixer. Will the recipe still be successful if I use a hand one?

  • Annie

    Hi Nikki,
    If you look in the comments above, you can see that someone else has made it successfully with a hand mixer. Although, I’m sure (as she said), it would take a really, really long time. It takes a pretty long time in a stand mixer as it is.

  • Annie- I made this frosting tonight to top our St. Patty’s Day cupcakes. It actually was easier to make than I anticipated but boy did I cringe at the 4 sticks of butter! The texture was so creamy and smooth and it made topping my cupcakes a breeze! Although I prefer the sweeeter taste of buttercream this was a hit with everyone else so I will make it again. Thanks for making me create outside the box and try something else! Love your blog and look forward to seeing your pictures!

  • Robin

    I just tried this recipe today, and I must have done something wrong. It was so runny and greasy. And it tasted like pure butter. I knew it was not going to be as sweet as a typical “American” style buttercream, but this wasn’t sweet at all. My kids wouldn’t eat it which is a first for them. With so many positive comments, I’m assuming I have done something wrong. Does anyone have any suggestions as to why mine was so runny? It wouldn’t even hold a simple shell border. Could I add a bit more sugar since I prefer a little sweeter icing?
    Could my butter have been too soft? Should I have refrigerated it some more?
    I read somewhere a secret of professional bakers is to whip their buttercream icings for almost an hour to produce an extremely light icing. I did that. Do you think that was the problem? Any tips would be appreciated as I’d like to try the recipe again, but don’t want to waste my ingredients again just to have the same results. Sorry to ask so many questions.

  • Annie

    Hi Robin,
    It’s never easy to help figure out what went wrong because I wasn’t there with you. However, this is the nature of any Swiss meringue buttercream. It does look curdled but you just have to keep beating. It may take several minutes, but it always comes together eventually. I do think though that beating for a full hour may have caused it to separate – that is something I’ve never done. I have made this recipe many, many times and never had a problem with it. It’s just impossible for me to figure out what the problem was, but beating for such an extremely long time would be my best guess. And for what it’s worth, I’ve served this to many kids and adults, and everyone always gobbled it up.

  • Robin

    Thanks for such a quick response. I will try the recipe again shortly and let you know how I make out. I’ll try chilling it if it looks to runny when it’s done. Since your recipe has so many great reviews, I’ll try it again only follow the directions more closely for the mixing times.

  • Annie

    Good luck, Robin. Chilling really shouldn’t be necessary when it comes together correctly. I have always just kept it at room temperature (up to 1 day) and it has kept its form perfectly.

  • Alison

    Would it be okay to add gel food coloring to this frosting? I made another one of your frosting recipes, and although YUMMY it separated when I added food coloring. Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes, I have yet to make one we didn’t like!

  • Annie

    Yes, you can add gel coloring to this. But, you should be able to add it to any frosting without it having an effect. Which one separated? Sounds like there may have been something else going on there too.

  • Maybe there was something else going wrong… it was the white chocolate whipped cream frosting. It tasted amazing and was perfect until I added red gel coloring and it separated. Maybe I did something else wrong? But it seems fine until the color went in. Do you have any other white chocolate frosting recipes?

  • Annie

    Oh yes, that is a VERY finnicky frosting. I (and many friends, readers, etc.) have had similar experiences. It’s actually just due to overbeating the whipped cream – you essentially made butter. Believe me, I’ve done that more times than I care to recall. It is a great recipe and is positively delicious, you just have to be very careful not to overbeat, and make sure that the white chocolate is not at all warm before mixing it in.

  • Lisa

    Can i just say i searched for MONTHS for this recipe…they use this exact one at a bakery that i go to. i actually harassed them for quite some time to get it but….they never gave in.

    i just made it for cupcaked for my sons 2nd birthday and you should know that not only did the adults love it but the kids licked all the frosting off and left the cake part.

    i’m pregnant and have been craving this swiss buttercream and no other frosting would do!! thank you so much!!!!!

  • Alison

    Annie- I made this recipe this weekend to frost some chocolate cupcakes. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it came out REALLY thick and SO buttery. It was almost like pure butter. Is it supposed to be like this? It was so greasy and buttery that my husband and I threw it out :(

  • Annie

    I’m not sure what to say. This is definitely a buttery buttercream, but everyone who has tasted mine has loved it, and a lot of other readers have made it successfully with good reviews. I think it’s a very light and silky frosting, not really thick. So, I’m guessing something went wrong but it’s impossible for me to know what. Sorry!

  • Melissa

    Hi Annie: I’ve made this buttercream and it is to DIE for! It is so smooth and light, not like the others with the crisco and powdered sugar taste…YUCK! My daughter’s wedding is in two weeks and I have finally found the right icing to use for her cake! Thank you! One question though…the wedding is at 4:00 pm on a Sunday, if I ice the cake Sunday morning, can the cake sit out on the table, in a well air conditioned space, until the reception (wedding and reception in same location, so cake should be cut by 4:30) or should it be chilled in the refrigerator and then brought out before the reception begins? I’m just worried about the egg whites, but with the cooking process, should it be safe for the cake to be out of the fridge? Thanks for your help!

  • Annie

    Hi Melissa,
    Glad you enjoy this as much as I do! The frosting should be fine at room temperature for at least one day, according to Martha’s website. I’ve kept it even a bit longer with no problems at all. Have fun with the wedding cake!

  • Allison

    I have been looking for the perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe, and I came accross your blog! Everytihng looks so beautiful! (Very inspiring) I just had a question. Does the heat proof bowl have to be a metal one? Every other recipe I have found says to use a metal one (preferably the one that comes with the kitchenaid mixer) but I don’t own a stand mixer (just a hand mixer) and I don’t have a single metal bowl in my entire house… Would a glass bowl work? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer.

  • Annie

    Hi Allison,
    I don’t see any reason why the bowl would need to be a metal one. I usually use my mixer bowl, simply just so I don’t have to dirty another dish. I don’t think I would recommend something like a ceramic mixing bowl, but a Pyrex glass bowl would be fine. It will likely take a reeeally long time with a hand mixer though, so just be prepared!

  • Robin

    Hi again. Last month I tried this recipe and found it too buttery for my tastes, but I have adapted your recipe a little to sweeten it a bit, and I have made it several times since.
    Can cake that has been frosted with this sit out at room temp. or must it be refrigerated? I think you mention you let yours sit out for up to one day, is that correct?
    Also, is there any way I could thicken it so it could hold more intricate piping designs, like a stiff rose for example?
    And lastly, any left over icing, when I mix it up again, it seperates and turns watery, have you had that problem?
    I am hooked on Swiss Meringue Buttercream now, but I’m uncertain how long it can sit at room temp. … I don’t want to cause anyone to get sick.
    Thank you so much for you help.

  • Annie

    Yes, you can check the Martha Stewart website on storage. It says 1 day at room temp, 3 days in the fridge (I think) and 1 month in the freezer. I have never used any that was left over, so I can’t comment on that. To stiffen any icing you can mix in powdered sugar, but that will obviously affect the flavor.

  • Annie

    I just made this recipe last week for a red velvet cake…and I liked it at first, however I noticed as time went by, it eventually started to just have the texture and feeling of greasy, bland, tasteless butter. Did I do something wrong, or is it just best fresh?

  • Annie

    I have no way of knowing if you did something wrong. In my experience, the taste doesn’t really change over time and it’s still delicious even after a few days. I don’t know what to tell you!

  • I made this yesterday and really liked it. I had no problem with it coming together. It curdled after about two-thirds of the butter was added, but it came together with another few minutes of beating, and then it was perfectly smooth. I added a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, which wasn’t enough to make it taste lemony, but does give it flavor besides just “sweet”.

  • Evelyn

    Thanks for the great recipe. I have the butter cream in the fridge at the moment. I am going to use them for cupcakes that I am serving on Saturday. I wanted to use the frosting and put the fondant decorations on the cupcake tomorrow (Friday), would I have to refrigerate the cupcakes overnight, or can they be left out until Saturday?

    Thanks again!

  • I made this the other day for a big cake project and it came out beautifully! Thank you so much, it was a day of frosting disasters and this recipe saved my bacon!

  • Annie

    I included the storage information for this frosting in the post. If it’s only one day, it’s really whatever you feel comfortable with – leave out or refrigerate.

  • Tracy

    I made this for my daughter’s bridal shower cupcakes and it came out looking beautiful but multiple taste-testers felt it was not sweet enough and just a little too close to being whipped butter, so I added some powdered sugar (about a cup or so) and it sweetened up just enough. The consistency remained fine, the texture was still very silky and everyone loved it. I’ll definitely make it again. I’d tell anyone that they should try it and if it’s too buttery just add 10x to taste.

  • Just to back up your constant advice that IT WILL SET UP IF YOU KEEP BEATING IT, I made a similar swiss meringue buttercream (Dorie Greenspan’s recipe) today, and it was runny at the beginning. I’ve had curdled buttercream, but never runny, so I was worried, but I figured that when it comes to swiss meringue buttercream, when it doubt, keep beating. It seemed to work!

  • robin

    Has anyone had any problems freezing or storing this recipe in the fridge? I have tried storing it both ways, and when I let it come to room temp. it seperates and looks curdled. It looks especially bad if I have added color to it as it takes on a two tone curdled look. Is this curdling much like the curdled look when we first make the recipe, but after beating it, it comes together? I have always been so disgusted by this seperated, curdled left over frosting that I throw it away. Should I be remixing for a few minutes for it to come together? So far,I have just been stirring it with a spooon for a bit, but the more I do that, the more it breaks down.

  • robin

    Forgot to ask one other question… I have to pipe a store’s logo on a cake, so I plan on using the piping gel transfer method and filling it in with this frosting. Can this frosting be watered down a bit to make it runnier, almost like a color flow, so when I fill the logo, it appears nice and smooth?
    Thanks for any suggestins.

  • Annie

    I just used my left over frosting from the freezer the other day and it was great. You should definitely beat it a little bit to smooth it out though.

  • Annie

    I’ve never heard of this but I don’t think this would “water down” well considering that it is mostly made of butter. I would probably use a different type of icing for something like that, but I don’t really have experience with that.

  • gv

    Hi Annie,
    I’m planning to try this frosting for the base, on which i would have a FBCT. Would the transfer sit and set on the SMBC base?
    And, is the SMBC good for a really smooth finish (as the base) ?
    I’m waiting to try this combination !!

  • Annie

    Sorry, I have no idea what FBCT is. Fill me in and I’ll try to answer your question.

  • Robin

    I just tried a piping gel transfer on this frosting and it worked well. I just chilled the cake first so the base hardened. I have never heard of a frozen buttercream transfer…I’m excited now! I have a transformer cake to do and had no clue how to make that design, as I can’t draw freehand at all. Glad to have learned about that technique.
    I posted earlier about when I thaw this frosting it seperates, but the reply someone posted was correct. I just wasn’t beating it again long enough. A few extra minutes in the mixer and it came back perfectly.

  • gv

    Hi Anni,
    I meant frozen buttercream transfer – icing on the mirror image of the picture, freezing it and then transfer the hard image onto the cake.

    And another question would be -Would it be possible to do this freezing and transfer with swiss meringue itself.

  • Annie

    I’m sorry, I really don’t know anything about doing transfers. I’ve never tried it myself. Good luck!

  • Robin

    HI. I froze some of this frosting, let it thaw out, but now I don’t need it. Can it be refrozen??
    Thanks for the help.

  • Annie

    Your guess is as good as mine. Don’t see why not, but I’m not sure.

  • Fairone

    This frosting wasn’t sweet enough for my husband’s taste. I will probably add 1/4 cup powdered sugar the next time to up the sweet factor. But thanks for the awesome recipe, a new favorite for me!

  • Ann M.

    Hello. You have a lovely blog here. I will be adding you to my favorites! I was looking at this recipe, because I am attempting to recreate the delicious filling that was in my wedding cake. I have made a successful Swiss Buttercream before, so I know what I am getting into on that front. My baker’s site describes the cake filling this way: Hazelnut Cream – Vanilla Bavarian, Swiss buttercream, Italian hazelnut paste and a hint of Italian espresso.

    I am thinking of trying to get close to it with a swiss buttercream and the addition of hazelnut paste and espresso powder. Do you have any advice as to when you would add these ingredients? I am thinking at the end. Wish me luck! I have no idea what quantities of either of these products to add, as I have never used them before and just ordered them online. If you have any experience with either of them, I am listening!


  • Annie

    Definitely add them at the end, once the buttercream has come together. No idea on the quantities though, you should probably just do that by taste. You may want to dissolve the espresso powder in a little bit of liquid first so the frosting isn’t really speckled looking.

  • Carly

    Hi Annie,

    I would like to try this recipe. I do not have a stand mixer. Do you think I could get away with using my hand mixer to do this or is that just crazy?

    Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Annie

    Carly, honestly, I think it is not the best idea. Most of the time hand mixers are fine but this is one recipe where I just don’t think it will be successful.

  • Diana

    Hi Annie and Carly,

    I just made this recipe this weekend, and I too do not have a stand mixer (yet), and the frosting came out just fine. It’s a lot more work, but so so yummy.

    Thanks, Annie!

  • Rose

    I am in need of a yummy,Caramel Buttercream frosting…..Can I add a few TBSP. of Caramel to the vanilla buttercream recipe you posted & achieve the same consistency?

  • Annie

    I would add more. I actually have a recipe for caramel SMBC on the blog if you search for banana caramel cupcakes.

  • Annie, I made this on Monday morning for my daughter so she could take her homemade vanilla cupcakes to school for someone’s birthday. OMgosh to both recipes! I just rave about your compilation of recipes…thanks for doing what you do.

  • Heather

    Do you use confectioners sugar with this? Would it be easier to use a double boiler instead of a bowl over a pot?

  • Annie

    No, if confectioners’ sugar isn’t indicated, it means regular sugar. A bowl over a pot is basically the same thing as a double boiler.

  • Carla Jean

    I made this recipe Wednesday night and added strawberry extract along with the vanilla extract, and let me tell you, it tasted like strawberry ice cream, it was smooth and delicious, thanks for posting with recipe!! :)

  • Tara

    I just received Martha’s Stewart’s cupcake book in the mail and I am sooooo very excited to make this frosting over the weekend. So excited! 5 cups of frosting is alot but I will need the practice to get up to your level.

  • Laura

    I’d been waiting to get my new Cuisinart stand mixer before trying this recipe. I made a double batch today to frost a double-layer 12″ round cake for a birthday party, and it was the best frosting I’ve ever worked with (including the buttercream we made in culinary school!) It doubles beautifully, and following the timing in the recipe makes it a breeze.

    For those worried about wasting egg yolks, you can always use the pasteurized egg whites that come in the carton. One carton would make a triple batch of this frosting, or a double batch with enough whites leftover for a couple of healthy omelettes!

    This will be my go-to icing from now on- I think it could carry many flavours very well, and the consistency and sheen is just amazing. Thanks, Annie!

  • sarah

    hi Annie,
    I was planning on making macarons this weekend. do u think this buttercream would be okay to fill them with?
    Thanks, & ur amazing :)

  • Annie

    You can fill them with anything you want. Buttercream is a common filling.

  • This is the recipe I have been looking for! I have tried several other versions without success, but this worked like magic. Everyone thought it was the best frosting ever, and I even liked it, and I usually do not care for any type of frosting. It was perfect under the fondant as well! Thank you so much!

  • Hi Annie- which vanilla cake recipe did you use on these cupcakes? They look perfect! I’m making vanilla cupcakes with a raspberry filling topped with this frosting and am debating which cake recipe to go with…

  • Annie

    I linked to three different vanilla cakes in the post. I like all of them so any would be fine, just choose whatever sounds best to you.

  • BrenM

    I am wondering about the comments that said it turned out “very greasy”. Did they use 100% REAL Butter or did they try to use an artificial margarine or worse a “low fat” spread?

  • Ashley

    Hi Annie! I just made this recipe to use for a 2 tier birthday cake and it was awesome! You definitely just have to wait and see until the frosting is done but it came together and tasted awesome! HOWEVER, once I added the gel food coloring it completely separated and looked as though I had oil and water mixing. I continued to mix it going with the idea behind the SMB icing and oddly enough it wouldn’t hold the food coloring. It mixed and looked less separated but the red wouldn’t get red, just a pinkish and I added the entire container of coloring! I tried again with a different color for the second tier and it too separated and I again mixed it for a long time and it came together but then once I put it on the cake it almost began “sweating” and separating again! This is a great tasting icing but I think it’s only suitable for being a filling or not adding coloring to it! I’m going to try the strawberry version today! Thanks!

  • Annie

    I add color to it all the time and never have any issues, so I don’t think that is it. I think it needed to mix longer.

  • Hi Annie,

    I stumbled across your website this evening and I’m in love! I just tried your recipe and it’s wonderful! Even my husband who hates icing loved it. I was just curious if you have ever used the SMBC on a fondant covered cake and if so, how does it hold up. Also, I noticed that some SMBC recipes call for cream of tarter. Does this help provide additional stabilization for the buttercream and can it be added to your recipe? Thanks!

  • Annie

    Yes, I have used it underneath fondant and it works very well. I think cream of tartar is more for flavoring, not for stabilization. I have made SMBC more times than I can count and never used it.

  • Made this frosting tonight to go with a traditional chocolate cupcake. Had zero problems with the consistency, even after adding blue food coloring gel. Looks amazing, pipes like a dream – I did feel like it is a slightly greasy frosting. I used real butter, so it is probably just personal preference. Family gives it 2 thumbs up though!

    Would it be possible to lessen up on the butter just a little without altering the consistency too much? I realize this is probably a stupid and annoying question, but had to ask!

    Love your site!

  • Amy

    I couldn’t get t he egg whites and sugar to form peaks,after about 15 minutes it was still soft. What am I doing wrong.

  • Annie

    I’m guessing the mixer bowl wasn’t totally clean or dry. But, please see my FAQ page regarding “what went wrong” questions.

  • Annie

    I’m not sure, the only way to know is try it and see. I have doubts that it would work because this is a bit of a finicky frosting, but I don’t know for sure. Some people do find this too buttery, I think it is a matter of personal preference.

  • Trish

    I love this icing – so delicious! I have a question about using it in a cake though… I am making a baby shower cake covered in fondant, and the mother-to be would like this frosting in the cake with strawberry preserves. I will need to cover the cake the day before to allow for time to decorate as the shower is early in the afternoon the next day. Can it be done? How long can this icing be left out at room temperature in a cake covered in fondant? I want to be especially careful feeding a few pregnant ladies and breastfeeding moms that will be at the party. Any help is appreciated!

  • Annie

    I’m no food scientist, so I can’t give exact answers to any of these things. Martha’s website says it is fine at room temp for 24 hours and refrigerated for a week. I refrigerate my fondant cakes though, so you could just do that to be on the safe side.

  • Sw

    Hey Annie. I am confused about the sugar since you didn’t classify what kind of sugar you used? did you use Regular sugar or powdered sugar/icing? Please help me.

  • Annie

    If it says sugar, it means regular. Otherwise it would specify an alternate type.

  • Lisa

    I did a “frosting test” at a get together last week with 5 different frostings. Not only was this one my fav, but everyone else’s as well. I used vanilla bean paste in one batch and white chocolate in another. The vanilla bean one was everyone’s favorite and you’re right; the little black specks look nice in it. I did have a question though. Because it is so light, I was wondering if it would work as a filling as well as on the top. Any thoughts on this? Thanks!

  • Amazing. Out of this world. SO easy! I was terrified to try this but just couldn’t help myself. The recipe came together exactly as you said it would, no soupiness at all. Beginner’s luck? Maybe. But I know I’ve found my new standard frosting. Thank you for sharing! Totally worth an entire post dedicated to it.

  • Demi

    Made this last night to top vanilla cupcakes with a raspberry filling. Best frosting EVER!!! My husband and I kept eating it out of the bowl!!

  • katia

    I would really like to know if I could leave the swiss buttercream out a little longer than a day? reason being is that I am decorating a wedding cake and must do them the night before and dont know if i should refrigerate the cakes all deco’d out? If i put the cakes in the frig, decorated in the frig the night before the wedding day, will the sweat at the wedding and start to drip?Please I need your ecperties!!!!!and wizdom.

    P.S. The cake is five tiers…

    thank you

  • Annie

    Please see the FAQ page.

  • michelle

    I just made vanilla cupcakes with this icing and it is so good,the best vanilla icing i made, the consistency is great for piping

  • Mandy

    I was just wondering if this icing would be safe to use for a baby shower cake (as raw eggs are not considered safe for pregnant women). I also tried googling an answer to this but came back with mixed feedback.
    I know you have mentioned countless times before that you are no food scientist, so maybe I should ask if you would have eaten this icing while you were pregnant?
    I would really appreciate your input on this.

  • Annie

    The whole purpose of cooking the egg whites is so that they are safe for consumption.

  • Debbie

    Had to thank you for a great frosting! I had never made SMBC but thought I would give it a try. I was actually able to put the whites and sugar into my Vitamix mixer (blade goes so fast it heats things up) to bring it to temp then transfer to the kitchenaid, it worked perfectly on two separate batches. This will now be my go to frosting! Thanks again!

  • joelle frasca


    please post a video tutuorial on how you piped the frosting onto these cupcakes. It looks different from the standard swirl. It is so pretty and I’m dying to know how you did it. the swiss meringue buttercream is my favorite frosting. thank you for making the process not so intimidating. a tip for your readers that i saw on a website and have since tried with success is using 100% egg whites in a carton. It really saves on throwing away all the yokes.

    Thank you!!!

  • Annie

    It’s just a standard swirl. I don’t have any special technique – sorry!

  • Anissa

    This is delightful frosting. AWESOME. It’s my new go to frosting for cupcakes because it pipes so dang well. PERFECT, thanks!

  • Emma

    I had success with the strawberry puree version of Swiss meringue buttercream — with a hand mixer! Like you’ve said, it did take a bit longer than it would with a stand mixer, especially the first step of achieving stiff peaks with the egg white mixture (that probably took around 13 minutes for me, not 8). But after slowly adding the butter in 2-tablespoon increments, it didn’t take too long for it to thicken nicely — no curdling or anything like that. And it tastes delicious, similar to rich strawberry ice cream. It definitely would have been easier with a stand mixer, but doing it with a hand mixer seemed to have worked! Thanks for the great recipes, Annie, as always. :-)

  • SarahD

    So I made this for the Margarita cupcakes (which were delish by the way). It’s really hot in Brooklyn right now so it was taking forever to thicken back up again. I finally had to put it in the refrigerator to cool down for about 10 minutes. And I added some cool butter. It did finally come together at this point. And was super yummy!

  • Sarah

    Annie! This frosting looks amazing but I only need half of the recipe, how would you suggest I split the eggs? Thanks!

  • Annie

    I take one egg, beat it in a cup, and use half of it when I need to split an egg.

  • Cody

    You are a goddess. I can’t believe i stumbled upon your site, it’s amazing! i love all your cupcake recipes and tips. You saved me.

  • Lee

    I agree with a previous commenter – the icing on the cupcakes looks different than a standard swirl. I can’t figure out how you did it, but I love it! If you can ever articulate just how you get this particular variation of the standard swirl, I would enjoy hearing it. I would like to duplicate this on some future cupcakes of my own!

  • I just made this buttercream, not sure if I’ve made it correctly as I’ve never tasted it before – I don’t think that anyone does this in England but it tastes good to me! Thanks! Maybe not good for cupcakes that aren’t going to be eaten the same day? What do you think?

  • Annie

    It is fine to make it and serve it the next day or even later as long as stored appropriately.

  • Adrianne

    how did i EVER live without this frosting? its the best thing on earth, and i did just fine without even having a thermometer [here’s hoping i havent just given us all salmonella or something… but i did let the egg white/sugar mixture get quite hot]… so surprised at how easy this was! thanks!

  • Diana Whitman

    Do you have to have a mixer or is it possible to do this by hand?

  • Annie

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks.

  • Carrie Wilson

    Made this over the weekend…was for sure we were going to love it but it just tasted like silky smooth butter. Guess SMBC is not for this family! But thanks for all the other great recipes I have tried from you!! :)

  • vera

    Hi Annie. Thanks for the recipe. It looks delicious and I would love to try, but … I need to make a fondant covered cake and I want this buttercream in the cake. The problem is that I need to finish it one and a half days before it reaches the final destination, and because it is cover in fondant can not put in the fridge.
    My question is. Can the cake seat out of the fridge for soo long? Is it going to melt and ruin the look? Is it going to spoil? Thanks

  • Annie

    I personally don’t think it would be safe to serve after being out of the fridge for that long. I put fondant covered cakes in the fridge frequently and it has always been fine. Hope that helps.

  • Jenn Wheeler

    Can you use regular butter versus unsalted butter?

  • Annie

    That’s your call. Enjoy!

  • Diana

    This frosting is AMAZING! I’ve made it several times and it is always delicious! It is by far my favorite frosting :D

  • Faye

    If Im using the pasteurized eggwhites, do i need to bring them to room temp before whipping? :)

  • Annie

    You should still follow the recipe as written.

  • JD

    Thanks for your post. Do you know if this would work with margarine? (I don’t really like the taste and the saturated fats, etc, involved in butter.)

  • Annie

    Definitely use butter.

  • Pam

    All I can say is “Wow!” I made this frosting to go on red velvet cupcakes and the frosting is divine! I am a rookie cupcake maker and think I’ll have a hard time trying a new frosting recipe. Outstanding!

  • Janet

    About how many cupcakes will one full recipe of this frost? Or do you recommend half a batch for 24 cupcakes?

  • Anonymous

    That really depends on how heavily you frost your cupcakes (it varies widely person to person and based on what tip you use). The yield should be included here so you can make your own estimation.

  • annieseats

    That really depends on how heavily you frost your cupcakes (it varies widely person to person and based on what tip you use). The yield should be included here so you can make your own estimation.

  • Amanda Sims Cakes

    This frosting is what the people in heaven get to eat as breakfast! Awesome!

  • Kristin

    This looks so delicious! I’m wanting to make it fruity, but don’t have fresh strawberries like you used in your strawberry version. Could I add in jam or fruit juice? Is there something I would need to change?

  • Kristin

    Guess I should have looked first! Here is a recipe for a strawberry version using jam: http://www.marthastewart.com/357618/strawberry-meringue-buttercream

  • Michelle

    Hi Annie, i am planning on making a 1/2 sheet 1st birthday cake using your vanilla bean cupcake mix and was thinking of using this frosting for it. Do you think this frosting is ok to ice a cake. Ive had it before and loved it because its not too sweet but was wondering if it would be to thick to spread?


  • Anonymous

    It’s great for decorating and in fact I prefer it because I find it gives a more smooth finish. Enjoy!

  • Michelle

    Great, thanks for letting me know

  • Anna

    I just wanted to encourage others who don’t have a stand mixer to give this recipe a try. SMB can be made with an electric hand mixer. It just takes a lot more patience – about 15-20 minutes for stiff peaks to form initially. Then another 15-20 minutes for the butter to incorporate and for everything to come together. The result, though, is a wonderful light creamy frosting that I find well worth the effort. :)

  • Peter

    Thanks Anna! I knew you could use a mixer, I’ve seen it mentioned lots of places. But I was trying and was stuck at the soupy stage and came searching for help and found this and the times are just the thing to get me back at it. Looking forward to moving out of my studio apartment and getting a shiny new stand mixer to play with! Now if you don’tmind, I’ve got 15-20 minutes of time reserved for meeting with my hand mixer.

  • Anna

    You’re welcome! I didn’t time it when I was making the frosting, so the times are based on rough estimates. Just keep the mixer going through the soupy stage. You can even read or do something else while you’re at it. Then, before you know it, you look down and your frosting is done. :) Good luck!

  • Joanne

    This was my first try at butter cream frosting and it came out so, so wonderful. Fluffy, silky, delish.

  • Laura

    I just made this recipe today. My first time making SMB & it is absolutely delicious & easier than I thought. Thank you Annie!

  • STH

    Would this work for decorating the sesame street cupcakes? I was not sure what recipe to use for the buttercream for the sesame street cupcakes.

  • annieseats

    Yes, you can use any buttercream you like (though I prefer an easy buttercream than something like this for the Sesame Street cupcakes.)

  • Nicole

    I have made this recipes numerous times for family functions, etc and I’ve always used the cheapest ‘butter’ I could find…which was always salted margarine. Today I finally broke down and bought unsalted butter because someone is buying cupcakes from me…WOW, what a difference! I will never use margarine again!

  • Holly

    As far as I’m aware, fondant was made for preserving cakes that needed a lot of decorating and hence a lot of time, and I’ve eaten a cake that’s been covered in fondant two days or more after it was created and stored at room temperature, and I’ve yet to die.. and the cake has never been too dry either.
    But I’m definitely sure you shouldn’t put fondant cakes in the fridge. They’re best stored at room temperature. This is because if you put them in fridge, where they’ll be cold, then bring them out to room temperature, the fondant will practically always go sticky. They might be okay in winter months, but I definitely wouldn’t be doing it in summer – I’ve made this mistake many times.
    Additionally, making any kind of butter cream with part shortening helps.

  • elaina

    I found this recipe and have never used another frosting recipe — just made slight variations. I am very grateful for this posting. Best frosting ever.

  • Just made this today, Annie! It’s chilling in the fridge for cake assembly tomorrow! It tasted amaaazing :)

  • Jenny

    I was a little intimidated with the Swiss Merengue Buttercream recipe but thought I would give it a shot. It is absolutely fabulous. I heated the egg whites and sugar to 160 degrees and whipped til it was cool and stiff peaks. I very gradually added room temperature butter and mine never broke or looked funky. The frosting is so easy to work with and a breeze to make nice and smooth when you frost your cake. If you are frosting more than a 2 layer cake, I would double this recipe. Give this a try-you won’t be disappointed.

  • Mary

    Hi Annie! I have two questions.

    1. Does the egg whites need to be a room temperature?
    2. Can we use a hand held mixer to beat the egg whites over the simmering water instead of using a whisk?

  • annieseats

    Hi Mary,
    It doesn’t matter what temp the egg whites are to start with since you are heating them up anyway. You don’t want to use an actual mixer, just a whisk, for stirring over the water. If you don’t have a whisk, just use a fork.

  • thesugarjunkie

    I’m terribly sorry if you’ve already received this question. I tried to read through all of the comments, but alas….there are SO MANY! I’ve tried to find an answer to my solution via the web, but all in vain. I want to decrease the ratio of butter, but will it change the overall consistency of the icing??? I’m on my 3rd attempt at a large batch of SMBC (16 egg whites/800 g sugar/10 sticks butter) I’m trying to reduce the butter to around 6-7 sticks. The sad part: I’ve gone to culinary school; I’ve made this successfully only ONCE and I STILL have no idea as to why it isn’t coming together. Equipment is free of grease, whites are whipping to stiff peak…only when I add the butter is it deflating and never rising again. (I’ve chilled it to no avail) Do I need to add the remaining amount of butter in order to achieve thicker consistency???

  • annieseats

    If you whipped the eggs to stiff peaks, started beating in the butter, it thickened and *then* became soupy or curdled again after adding more butter, I might think it was an issue with the proportions but if it never thickens at all, I think it is likely a temperature issue. I have made many batches where the mixture thickened up before the full amount of butter was added and some of those times, I’ve opted not to add the rest for a lighter, less buttery final product. But even when I do add all the rest of the butter, it has always been okay.

    I have never had a batch that was unsuccessful so I haven’t actually tried any of the trouble shooting tips myself, but the blog Sweetapolita has a very good informative post about how to correct issues with SMBC. I recommend looking there. Good luck! I hope you are able to make it work.

  • I’ve made Swiss Meringue Buttercream using your recipe and I absolutely loved it! It was fluffy and silky and so yummy. One question though — is it possible to decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe or would that ruin the buttercream? Thanks so much!

  • annieseats

    I think you should be able to reduce the sugar without much issue, as long as you still use some. I actually reduce the butter sometimes and it is just fine.

  • Thank you! I’ll try it with less sugar (and maybe less butter, like you) next time — I’m planning to put caramel in it, so I’m a little apprehensive, since it might be too sweet.

  • Rebecca

    I’ve made this recipe several times and it turns out great! But my only problem is that it doesn’t make 5 cups. The texture and taste and fluffy nature of the SMBC is there but it only makes about 2 cups. To fill and frost a cake I have to make 1.5 to 2 times this amount. Any idea what I might be doing wrong?

  • annieseats

    It definitely sounds like something is going wrong but I have no idea what it might be. My first guess would be that the frosting doesn’t have the correct taste/texture (basically, it is collapsed/not properly smooth), but since you say it is, I’m not sure. For me, one batch of this easily fills and frosts an 8-inch round cake. I’m not sure where the error might be. So sorry!

  • simplygloria1

    I actually put the mixture in the freezer for about two minutes after adding butter if it got soupy. Then it whipped up nicely after finishing the whipping process. (=

  • Christine Toews

    Would it work well to ice your cupcakes and then freeze them??

  • annieseats

    I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • Amanda Brewer

    I made this frosting for my son’s first birthday and have a lot left over in the freezer. I have thought about it every day since then. I may have even tasted it frozen (still pretty good).

  • Cristina Montanez

    Hi Annie. I would like to try this recipe for my daughter’s 2nd birthday cake, but I don’t have a stand mixer, just a hand held one. Do you have any tips on how to do this without one?

  • annieseats

    Hey Cristina. Please see the FAQ page – I cover this topic there. Thanks!

  • Katelin Baker

    I can’t find my thermometer, if i used pasteurised egg whites do i still have to heat it to 160?

  • annieseats

    You’re right, if you use pasteurized whites you do not need to heat to 160. Just heat until the sugar is dissolved in the egg whites. Enjoy!