Swiss meringue buttercream is a silky smooth style of buttercream. It is made from a Swiss meringue which creates a stable buttercream that does not crust over.
What is Swiss Meringue Buttercream?
Swiss meringue buttercream, also known as Swiss buttercream, gets its name because it starts out with the process of making Swiss meringue. This buttercream is used most commonly in professional pastry kitchens because of its silky texture and it is relatively simple to make.
For Swiss buttercream, sugar and egg whites are heated together over a double boiler. This process melts the sugar which is what creates such a smooth texture in contrast to American buttercream.
Characteristics of Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss meringue buttercream is less sweet than American buttercream due to a lower ratio of sugar in the recipe. This style of buttercream does remain soft when exposed to air because of the cooked sugar.
Swiss buttercream is fairly stable and works well for creating smooth finishes on cakes or for when fondant will be added to a cake. Because of its very pale white color, Swiss meringue buttercream also works well for adding color.
Tips for Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Make sure that the water in your double boiler is not touching the bottom of the pot with your egg whites. This could cause them to heat up too fast and scramble the eggs.
- The butter should be at a cool room temperature, around 68-70 degrees F. If the butter is looking greasy or melted it is too warm and the buttercream will not properly come together.
- During the process of adding butter to the Swiss meringue buttercream the mixture will begin looking thin, watery, and curdled. This is normal! Keep whipping and trust that it will come together!
If you do not use the buttercream immediately, refrigerate it in an airtight container. Allow it to come to room temperature and then re-whip it until you have the desired texture.
- 3/4 cup (6 fl oz, 177 ml) egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
- 2 cups (14 oz, 392 gr) granulated sugar
- large pinch of salt
- 4 sticks (1 lb, 448 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- extracts and flavorings as desired
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a pot of water over low heat. Whisk the whites and sugar over the hot water bath until a candy thermometer reads 160 F (71 C).
- Move the bowl to the stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form and the meringue cools to room temperature.
- Beat in the salt. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated.
- Beat in any desired flavorings.
- Store unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container. To use, bring back to room temperature and re-whip it for a few minutes.
Note: This recipe makes enough buttercream to generously frost 24 cupcakes, or a 2 layer 9” round cake.
- Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Melt 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate and allow to cool slightly. Fold it into the prepared buttercream.
- “Wedding Cake” Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Lemon Curd Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Fold in 1 cup of lemon curd to the prepared buttercream
- Strawberry, Raspberry, or Blackberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Fold in 1 cup of seedless preserves