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    Swiss Meringue Buttercream

    Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) is a super smooth, stable buttercream that is not too sweet! This makes it a great alternative to American buttercream which some people just find a little too sweet. For the chocolate version, check out my chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream recipe.

    Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream used for cakes and desserts

    What is Swiss meringue buttercream?

    Swiss meringue buttercream is what we call a meringue based buttercream. It’s made by whipping cooked egg whites and caster sugar together into a stiff meringue, followed by your butter and flavourings. It is less sweeter than American buttercream and is one of the easiest meringue based buttercreams to make. This makes it a popular option for many bakers!

    My top tips for success!

    SMBC is a little harder than making a traditional American buttercream, BUT it’s totally achievable! Below are a list of my top tips to get your SMBC right the first time around 🙂

    – Make sure there are no fats/oils on your bowls or spoons. Any fat residue can prevent your meringue from whipping up properly. Ensure all bowls and utensils used in this recipe are washed properly. You can also wipe your bowl down with a touch of lemon juice or vinegar to ensure there are no fats left behind from a previous bake 🙂

    – Make sure your butter is at the right consistency. Your butter should be soft enough that you can make an indent in it with your fingers, but should still be relatively firm and hold it’s shape. Check out the recipe video below for a visual on this.

    – Cook your egg whites and sugar over a bain maree on a very low heat. If the heat is too high, you’re going to overcook your egg whites and have scrambled egg buttercream!

    – Whip your meringue to stiff peaks. If your meringue is too soft, it’s not going to be as stable and hold it’s shape as well.

    – Let your meringue cool before adding in your butter. When you whip your meringue it should take about 15 minutes to reach the stiff peak stage. By this point it should be cool enough to add in your butter. If it still feels warm, then pop your bowl into the fridge for 10 minutes or so and then add in your butter. If your meringue is too hot, it’s going to melt your butter and you’re going to end up with soupy SMBC! But not too worry, if this happens you can totally fix it! Check out the troubleshooting tips below.


    Help! What’s wrong with my SMBC?!

    – Why is my buttercream soupy?! – If your buttercream is soupy it’s most likely because your meringue was too hot when adding in your butter. You can easily fix this by popping your soupy SMBC into the fridge for about 30 minutes, and then rewhip it.

    – Why is my SMBC curdling? – Don’t panic, this is TOTALLY NORMAL! When adding your butter to your meringue, you need to give it time to incorporate into the meringue. It may look like it’s curdling, but just let it do it’s thing and it will eventually come together. You want to let it whip for at least a few minutes after the butter is added in.

    – Why does my SMBC taste like butter? – SMBC does taste more buttery than American buttercream, but it shouldn’t taste like you’re eating butter! Firstly, check the quantities you have used carefully. Secondly, make sure you’re whipping your SMBC long enough after adding in the butter. If you don’t whip it long enough, it won’t lighten up the frosting and you’re more likely to have that intense buttery taste.

    – Why is my SMBC grainy? – This would be because your sugar wasn’t completely dissolved into your egg whites. Check that you can’t feel any sugar granules between your fingers before whipping up your egg white/sugar mixture.

    Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream used for cakes and desserts

    Swiss Meringue Buttercream

    A super silky, not-too-sweet buttercream that pairs perfectly with cakes and cupcakes!
    5 from 18 votes
    Print Pin Rate Watch Video
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 25 minutes
    Servings: 4 cups

    IMPORTANT: For accuracy, I would recommend using the gram measurements provided as those are the exact quantities I use. Cup measurements are given as estimates (based on US cup measurements) to make it easier for those who do not have a scale.


    • 1⅔ cups (400 g) unsalted butter - room temp, cut into small cubes
    • 5 large (150 g) egg whites - see note 4
    • cups (320 g) castor sugar - regular white sugar okay - see note 3
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence


    • If this is your first time making SMBC, I would recommend watching the demonstration video below. This will help with understanding what things should look like at each step 🙂
    • Begin by separating your egg whites from your egg yolks (if using fresh eggs). Make sure there are no yolks in the whites, otherwise this will prevent the whites from whipping up properly when we make our meringue.
    • In a heat proof bowl, whisk together the egg whites and caster sugar, and gently heat the mixture over a double boiler. Keep gently mixing the mixture so it heats evenly. The goal is to get a smooth texture without over-cooking the egg whites. After a few minutes, check the mixture by rubbing it in between your fingers. If you can't feel any sugar granules then it is done. If you're not using pasteurised egg whites, then ensure the mixture has reached 75 °C so that it is safe to eat.
    • Transfer the mixture into a stand mixer (see note 1). Using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and sugar on medium-high speed (speed 8 on KitchenAid) for 10-15 minutes until the mixture is cool and stiff peaks have formed.
    • Turn down your mixer to a medium speed (speed 6 on KitchenAid) and slowly add in the butter, about a tablespoon at a time (see note 5). It is important to ensure that the butter is at room temperature (soft enough to make an indent with your finger, but not melted or losing it's shape). See note 2
    • Once all the butter is mixed in, add in your vanilla and continue to mix your buttercream until it is smooth in consistency, about another few minutes. At some stage it may look like the buttercream is curdling, but this is totally normal! Just let your mixer do it's thing and it will come together.


    YouTube video


    Note 1Ensure there are no fats or oils on your bowl or whisk attachment as this will prevent the meringue from whipping up properly. 
    Note 2. If you've forgotten to take your butter out of the fridge beforehand, you can cut it into cubes and put it in the microwave for 10 second bursts, mixing it in between each burst so it heats up evenly until it is slightly soft.
    Note 3. You can use regular sugar in replacement of castor sugar. It just means that your sugar will take a little longer to dissolve in the egg whites. Watch your mixture very closely to ensure you do not overcook your egg whites. Keep gently stirring the mixture to prevent this from happening. 
    Note 4. My original recipe had 4 egg whites (as shown on the video), which still tastes amazing, but I decided to try with 5 egg whites and I like it ever so slightly better (it's a bit lighter and fluffier), so have amended the recipe to 5 egg whites 🙂
    Note 5. If you add in the butter too quickly, this will deflate the meringue which we don't want. Add the butter in about a tablespoon at a time to allow it to slowly incorporate into the meringue without weighing it down.
    Note 6. I also have a chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream recipe.


    Calories: 1464kcal | Carbohydrates: 125g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 109g | Saturated Fat: 68g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 28g | Trans Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 287mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 108mg | Sugar: 125g | Vitamin A: 3330IU | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 0.1mg

    Nutritional information are estimates only as they are automatically calculated by a third party application. Actual values may differ based on brands and types of products used.

    Keyword: buttercream, swiss meringue buttercream
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    • Chipo

      Hie MK thank for the recipe what kind of butter should i use

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Chipo! 🙂 You’re so welcome. You want to try use an unsalted butter, and any good brand will do like Anchor, Mainland, Westgold etc 🙂

    • Lettie

      5 stars
      This turned out so great and so smooth! But it tasted a little too buttery. It’s my first time making SMBC and everything seemed to workout perfectly. My buttercream did not curdle when adding the vanilla. Did I not mix it long enough? It still was light and pipped beautifully. I really want to try half butter and half cream cheese (I just love the flavor of cream cheese icing, but love the consistency of SMBC now). I believe I would need to whip the cream cheese first before adding it to the meringue. Do you have any experience with a SMBC and using cream cheese with it?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hello Lettie! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe 🙂 yes SMBC does have a more buttery taste than American buttercream, if you feel it is a little too much, sometimes whipping the SMBC for a little longer helps lighten it up and therefore tastes less buttery, or you can increase the sugar in the initial egg white mixture. In terms of the buttercream not curdling, that is totally fine and just means that your butter and egg white mixture were at the perfect temperature! One thing to note though is if the butter is too soft, you won’t be able to whip enough air into the SMBC and it may be a bit more dense, but it seems as though your was still nice and light so sounds like it was fine 🙂 I have made a cream cheese SMBC before but you just have to be careful when incorporating the cream cheese into the SMBC to make sure it doesn’t curdle. I hope to share a recipe soon but what I usually do is make 1 batch of my cream cheese buttercream, and 1 batch of my SMBC and then fold them in together at the end. It makes the most incredible frosting! Hope that helps 🙂

      • Lettie

        Thanks so much for your response! And mixing the two frostings sounds amazing! What a great idea! I’ll definitely try it.

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    About me

    Welcome to my blog! My name is Maryam and I LOVE baking! :) I hope to provide you with the tools (i.e. simple, from-scratch, quality tested recipes), so that you can confidently bake up delicious treats to share with your family and friends!

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