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Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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  • Prep 45 min
  • Total 45 min
  • Servings 12
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This wonderfully delicious light and silky buttercream frosting is the spectacular finish your cakes and cupcakes deserve. It’s truly bakery-quality. And as such, it does require more time than a traditional buttercream frosting, but like many good things—we think you’ll find it’s worth the wait. Besides, the Betty Crocker Kitchens pastry chef who created this recipe has written step-by-step instructions and tips to help you through every stage of the process. Here’s what you should know before you dive in: First, you do actually need to cook your eggs and sugar over a pan of simmering water in a double boiler (to avoid burning) to a temperature of 160°F for food safety reasons—eggs are considered fully cooked at this temperature. Second, adding the softened butter one piece at a time, allows the egg whites-sugar mixture to combine properly, and this is what creates the silky texture that makes this recipe so irresistible. Third, it won’t look like frosting until nearly the end. Seriously, it will look like soft, white meringue until the butter is fully incorporated—this might not happen until the very last piece of butter has been incorporated. Then, all of a sudden, it’ll turn into frosting. So, the final thing to keep in mind, the most important thing, is: Don’t panic. Just follow the recipe, and if you run into any trouble, check out the Expert Tips section below.
Updated Nov 20, 2019
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  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  • 1
    In medium glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites and sugar with whisk until blended. Set over pan of simmering water, beating occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and egg mixture reaches 160°F on candy thermometer, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • 2
    Pour into bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed 2 to 3 minutes or until glossy peaks form and bowl has cooled to feel slightly warm. Still on high speed, slowly add 1 1/2 cups softened butter, one piece at a time, scraping side of bowl occasionally, until mixture is smooth, thick and shiny, 12 to 14 minutes. Beat in vanilla. If mixture separates, beat until smooth.
  • 3
    Fill and frost 1 (8-inch) three-layer cake.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    Our Betty Crocker Kitchens expert used an electric stand mixer when developing this recipe. You can still make this recipe with an electric hand mixer, but it might take a bit longer. When using an electric hand mixer, start on a lower speed and gradually increase speed to ensure the mixer’s motor can handle it—this is a thick frosting!
  • tip 2
    It’s essential to use softened or room temperature butter in this recipe. If the butter is too cold, it will not integrate into the meringue. To soften butter, cut it into small pieces, and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes. If you’ve forgotten to soften your butter, here’s a shortcut: Microwave butter in 5-second increments on Medium (50%), turning the butter frequently, so it softens but doesn’t melt. Remember, only add one piece of softened butter at a time. Wait until butter has incorporated before adding the next piece.
  • tip 3
    If your frosting won’t come together or seems runny or soupy—don’t panic. Place the bowl in the refrigerator, and leave it there for 15 to 20 minutes or until frosting is slightly thickened. Then, begin beating again on high speed. It should smooth out and become thick and spreadable.
  • tip 4
    Cool layer cakes in their pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. If you try to remove them from their pans sooner, they’ll be too warm and tender and might break apart. Then, flip cakes out of pans and on to cooling rack. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • tip 5
    This recipe makes enough frosting to fill and frost 1 (8-inch) three-layer cake or 20 cupcakes.
  • tip 6
    Try using a turntable when decorating your cake. These nifty rotating cake stands are available at large craft stores and allow you to assemble your cake on a flat surface and turn the cake as you frost.
  • tip 7
    When frosting your cake directly on the serving plate, place strips of waxed paper around the edge of the plate, putting the cake on top. The waxed paper will catch drips, and you can slide them out from under the cake afterward for a neat and clean presentation.
  • tip 8
    To pipe on cupcakes: spoon frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe frosting in a decorative swirl on top of each cupcake.
  • tip 9
    For easy clean up, use the stand mixer metal mixing bowl to heat the egg whites and sugar over the pan of simmering water. When egg white mixture has reached 160°F, just transfer bowl to the stand mixer and beat.


320 Calories, 23g Total Fat, 2g Protein, 25g Total Carbohydrate, 25g Sugars

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 5 Tablespoons
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 4 1/2 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
1 1/2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

More About This Recipe

  • There’s more than one way to make buttercream. American buttercream, sometimes called “simple buttercream,” is made with butter and powdered sugar. Decorator’s buttercream is similar, except it's made with shortening instead of butter. The shortening makes the frosting stiffer, which allows for piped decorations, like the buttercream roses you might find on a bakery cake. French buttercream includes egg yolks, sugar syrup and butter. Italian is nearly the same, except egg whites are used in place of egg yolks. Swiss meringue, as you now know, includes cooked egg whites, sugar and lots of butter! No matter which type of buttercream you choose, we think you'll be pleased with the results.
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