Easy meringue based Swiss buttercream frosting that is so smooth and not overly sweet like American buttercream. Perfect for piping designs on cakes or filling macarons.
- A Pipeable and Fluffy Meringue Based Buttercream
- Why You'll Love Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- What is the Difference Between Swiss, Italian, French and American Buttercream?
- Ingredients and Substitutes
- 3:2:1 Ratio for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Step By Step
- Why Does My Buttercream Looks Curdled and Separated?
- How to Fix a Runny Buttercream
- Secret to a Smooth Buttercream Texture
- How Do I Make This Frosting White or Less Yellow?
- How to Store and Freeze this Frosting
- How Do I Use SMB as a Macaron Filling?
A Pipeable and Fluffy Meringue Based Buttercream
Today, I want to share this standard Swiss Meringue Buttercream with all of you since it is one of the best ways to prepare a meringue based frosting which is fluffy, stable, pipeable and most importantly, delicious tasting. As the name suggests, it's part of the meringue buttercream family. Unlike American buttercream, which is simply made with powdered sugar and butter, it doesn't have that overwhelming sugary taste and gritty texture. Swiss meringue buttercream is smooth, rich and buttery.
Many home bakers find that the method for making Swiss buttercream more approachable than the Italian one so it's a great recipe to have on hand in case you need to frost a cake, cupcake or fill macarons. Once you have mastered the easy steps in this base recipe, you can modify it for a variety of different flavors. The possibilities are endless!
Here are some macaron recipes that uses this Swiss meringue buttercream as a base: lemon curd macarons, strawberry basil macarons, & rainbow vanilla macarons.
Why You'll Love Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Delicious Taste & Texture - less sweet than American buttercream and super smooth.
- Minimal Ingredients - requires only sugar, egg whites and butter.
- Easy Swiss Method - it's easier than the Italian method, no pouring of hot syrup.
- Convenient 3:2:1 Ratio - easy to convert ratio allowing you to make just enough buttercream for X amount of ingredients you have on hand.
- Prepare in Advance - prepare and freeze for important events.
- Multiple Uses - use it in macarons, cakes, cupcakes and more.
What is the Difference Between Swiss, Italian, French and American Buttercream?
First of all, Swiss, Italian and French buttercreams are meringue-based buttercreams meaning that they all contain meringue, which is a whipped mixture of egg whites and sugar. The difference between them is mainly based on how the meringue is prepared. American buttercream on the other hand is not meringue-based and is a simple mixture of icing sugar and butter.
Swiss meringue buttercream is made from fat, sugar and egg whites. Granulated sugar and egg whites are beaten in a bowl over hot water, butter is then whipped into it.
- Super smooth silky texture
- Easier to make than the Italian buttercream
- Not as strong as the Italian buttercream
Italian meringue buttercream is made from fat, sugar and eggs. Granulated sugar is heated with water to produce a syrup that is poured into egg whites that are beaten simultaneously. Butter is then whipped into it.
- Sturdy and stable.
- Use of only egg whites allows for it to be snowy white and can be colored nicely
- Texture is not as smooth as Swiss buttercream
- Heating the sugar while beating egg whites can be tricky
- Some find this buttercream too "buttery"
French meringue buttercream is made similarly to the Italian method except egg yolks are used instead of egg whites. Sugar and water is heated to create a syrup that is poured into egg yolks that are beaten simultaneously.
- Amazing taste, like whipped custard and less buttery
- Helps use up egg yolks that are left over from the macaron making process
- Fastest to melt due to high fat content, can be a goopy mess on hotter days
- Uses a lot more butter than the other buttercreams, may be too "fattening" for some
- Use of egg yolks makes this cream yellowy and harder to color
American buttercream is made from beating butter and icing sugar together optionally along with salt, extract and a bit of milk.
- Strongest of all the Buttercreams
- Withstands heat better than all the other meringue-based buttercream fillings.
- Does not contain eggs so it can last longer than the other buttercream fillings.
- Does not contain eggs. Safer for pregnant women and children
- Super sweet. Coupled with a sweet macaron shell or other sweet dessert bases, some might find it overwhelming.
- Some find American Buttercream bad tasting in general. ("grocery store" baked goods taste).
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Egg whites - use fresh egg whites for maximum whipping volume. Some brands of carton egg whites denote on the packaging that it can be used for whipping.
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted Butter - must be at room temperature to prevent separation.
- Optional: vanilla extract (or any other flavoring added to taste).
- Optional: sea salt highlights the flavors and cuts down on the sweetness. Use it depending on which flavoring you choose.
- Optional: food color. Use gel color for the most concentrated color without adding excessive moisture into the frosting.
3:2:1 Ratio for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
One of the best attributes of this Swiss Meringue Buttercream is its easy to remember 3:2:1 ratio of 3 parts butter, 2 parts sugar and 1 part egg whites. That means for every 1 oz. of egg whites, you just need to multiple that by 2 to calculate the amount of sugar you need and multiple it by 3 for the butter. It comes in handy if you ever find yourself constrained by a certain quantity of ingredients you have on hand. Say for example, you only have 3 oz. of sugar left in your pantry, all you need to do is divide 3 oz. in half to get your egg whites and so forth. I made a handy chart below for you:
Step By Step
Set butter out at room temperature. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
Place egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl. Stainless steel is light and safe. Gently whisk the whites & sugar mix over the boiling water, do not let the bowl touch the hot water. Pay attention to whisking the mixture when it starts getting hot, you don’t want to cook the eggs. Whisk the mixture until the temperature reaches 160F*
Whip the mixture in a counter mixer with the balloon whisk attached. Whip on low to start, then increase to medium.
Once the mixture is stiff and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, stop mixer. Change the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. Add butter a little bit at a time while beating with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
The mixture might look curdled or separated for a while but keep mixing. It will all come together. Add any extract, flavorings, salt or food coloring if desired. Whip until incorporated.
Using a flexible spatula, fold out excess air in the frosting so that it can be piped or spread smoothly. Use immediately to frost or fill cakes, cupcakes, macarons or other desserts. Refer to post on how to store and freeze extra buttercream.
Why Does My Buttercream Looks Curdled and Separated?
Once you start adding the butter to the meringue, you will find that it will start looking separated or curdled. It's really grainy and gross looking! The fats bond quickly together with the proteins while the water takes longer to get incorporated but if you keep beating it, it will all come together.
How to Fix a Runny Buttercream
On the other hand, if you add the butter too soon while the meringue is still hot, your buttercream will still be runny even after lots of beating. Put it in the fridge until the outer edges start to firm up. If the center is still soft, that's okay, it will start balancing each other out when you start beating it. Keep beating the separated frosting until it comes together again.
Tip: remember to always use room temperature butter and only add the butter when the meringue has cooled to 32C.
Secret to a Smooth Buttercream Texture
Have you ever piped a frosting that breaks intermittently because of air pockets inside the mixture? The secret to get this buttercream to a smooth piping or spreading consistency is to use rid it of excess air by folding it out with a flexible spatula. After beating in the mixer, gently press the buttercream against the bowl with the spatula until you can see some of the bigger bubbles in the cream have "popped". This will prepare the cream for spreading and piping.
How Do I Make This Frosting White or Less Yellow?
- Choose a paler colored butter - Grass-fed butter tends to be more yellow due to the nutrients in the cow's diet.
- Whip it good - butter becomes pale and fluffy after a good whipping.
- Add violet - a bit of violet helps to neutralize the yellow color in the butter. Dip a toothpick in a bit of violet gel food color and smear it into the buttercream at the end. Beat to incorporate and add more if desired.
- Beware of extract colors - if using a natural flavoring like vanilla, the natural brown color will tint the buttercream yellow. Consider using artificial/clear versions: e.g. clear vanilla extract.
How to Store and Freeze this Frosting
This Swiss meringue buttercream can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. If storing in the fridge, make sure it's placed in a sealed air tight container.
I usually make a big batch of this buttercream at one time since it freezes so well. It saves a lot of time when I have buttercream on hand to frost cakes or fill macarons. I usually divide the cream up into 100 gram packets and wrap them up with plastic wrap and shape them into flat rectangles. This way, the extra surface area allows them to defrost more readily and I don't need to defrost a whole tub at once.
When you're ready to use it, take the packets you need out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. As soon as you can break up the buttercream with the beater, you can start beating it in the mixer. This will make it all nice and fluffy again. And don't worry about it separating at first. Keep beating it, it will all come back together. If you still have problems, take a look at the section above on how to fix a curdled buttercream.
How Do I Use SMB as a Macaron Filling?
This Swiss meringue buttercream is sturdy enough to be used as-is for macaron filling. To flavor, just add in your favorite extracts to taste or you can get creative by adding other elements like dried powders, teas, jams and curds etc. As with all other macaron fillings, it's important to keep the moisture level low. Here are some ideas on how to add flavor to the basic Swiss meringue buttercream without compromising it's structure:
- Add in dried powders
- Infuse it with teas: steep the tea leaves in melted butter and let it solidify again before adding it to the meringue.
- Mix it with cream cheese: Example: Pumpkin Cheesecake Macarons
- Add in curds or jams: add fruit curds or jams to finished SMB a spoonful at a time while checking on the consistency and taste. Example: Strawberry Basil Macarons, Lemon Curd Macarons
- Use it to create a "dam" for soft center fillings: pipe a ring of it on the outer edge of the macaron and fill the inside with a low-moisture curd or other filling. Example: Pumpkin Spice Macarons, Lemon Curd Macarons
I hope you find this tutorial and chart useful. Don't forget to PIN it to your recipe box since it can be used for a variety of baked goodies.
3:2:1 Swiss Meringue Buttercream
The Best Swiss Meringue Buttercream using the handy 3:2:1 ratio of butter, sugar and eggs. Servings: Enough to fill 4 dozen regular macarons. Double recipe to frost a round 6 inch cake.
- 65 grams egg whites
- 130 grams granulated sugar
- 195 grams butter, unsalted (room temperature)
- optional: 1 tsp. vanilla extract (or any other flavoring added to taste)
- optional: pinch of sea salt
- optional: food colour
- Set butter out at room temperature.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
- Place egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl. Stainless steel is light and safe.
- Gently whisk the whites & sugar mix over the boiling water, do not let the bowl touch the hot water.
- Pay attention to whisking the mixture when it starts getting hot, you don’t want to cook the eggs.
- Whisk the mixture until the temperature reaches 160F*
- Whip the mixture in a counter mixer with the balloon whisk attached. Whip on low to start, then increase to medium.
- Once the mixture is stiff and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, stop mixer. Change the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment.
- Add butter a little bit at a time while beating with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
- The mixture might look curdled or separated for a while but keep mixing. It will all come together.
- Add any extract, flavorings, salt or food coloring if desired. Whip until incorporated.
- Using a flexible spatula, fold out excess air in the frosting so that it can be piped or spread smoothly.
- Use immediately to frost or fill cakes, cupcakes, macarons or other desserts. Refer to post on how to store and freeze extra buttercream.
*This is the temperature generally regarded to be able to kill salmonella in eggs. Caution should always be taken when serving meringue based desserts to children, pregnant women or those with a compromised immune system.
**Store the leftovers in an airtight container until use for a maximum of 5 days. It can also be frozen, refer to post on how.
***Before using, place on counter until it comes to room temperature, then re-whip with a paddle attachment until it becomes fluffy again.
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Serving Size1 grams
Amount Per Serving Calories 1947Total Fat 158gSaturated Fat 100gTrans Fat 6gUnsaturated Fat 47gCholesterol 419mgSodium 1363mgCarbohydrates 131gFiber 0gSugar 131gProtein 9g
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although indulgewithmimi.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
In the early days, I made ABC. It was fine, and sturdy for flower piping, but cloying,
I graduated to "modified SMBC" with carton egg whites... pretty darn good.
Then tonight, as I was making macarons, I decided to go for it while things were resting (ok I decided before, so I could let the butter warm up)... seriously best buttercream ever. I've been looking for an easy go-to for wedding cakes and this is it. A touch of rosewater and voilà!
And having a formula made it so easy to use up 100g of egg whites...
I am never going back. Thank you for the clear technique!
MM how delicious! I love rose so much, I do want to make it again. Thanks so much for coming back and letting me know!
I hope you can use it for many more recipes.
Hi, it might be worth adding into the methos that the egg white and sugar mixture should have cooled to 32°C before adding the butter. Lots of people jump straight to the recipe therefore wouldn't see that part in the paragraph re it being too runny. I've just wasted 3 times the amount of ingredients.
Hi Hayley, Thanks for your feedback. The recipe instructions do say to add the butter when the bowl is cool to the touch. I will leave your comment here to help others who want a more precise definition of that. Thank you!
Thank you so much for the ratios. I wanted only about two cups or so of this buttercream and every recipe I find makes heaps of it. This allowed me to make the ideal amount. Thank you!!!
I'm so happy to hear that. Thanks for coming back and letting me know! Happy baking.
How would you rate the sweetness of this buttercream on a scale of 1 to 10? Also, how much can you reduce the sugar by before you encounter any adverse effects? Thanks.
Hmm.. sweetness is quite subjective... to me.. let's say American buttercream is a 10, then SMB would be around 7 and whipped cream would be around 2-3. It all depends on the flavor, tarty fruity flavors will make it seem less sweet.
Do you have a similar recipe for cream cheese filling?
Yes, for cream cheese filling, take a look at this recipe: Pumpkin cheesecake macarons. (obviously, omit the pumpkin filling in the center)
Hey mimi. If i use the ration 150g egg whites- 300g sugar - 450g butter.
Will it be enough to frost and decorate a 8inch 3 layer cake?
Yes, it should be enough to cover it. You'll need around 5 cups to cover a cake of this size. If you have more intricate flowers and piping, then of course, you'll need more.
Mine was on the soft side, but I could still pipe it with a star tip and the edges were crisp. The filling would squish out the sides when bitten into though. It would t squish out if it was still cold from the refrigerator, but then the cookie was too stiff and cold. Is this frosting supposed to crust a bit? Would that help with it squishing out?
This filling is a bit softer than say chocolate. As with all fillings, make sure not to pipe all the way to the edge. I'm not sure if this is the case for you but you can ensure that your macaron shells are not too crisp/hard by brushing the bottom of the shells with some milk or syrup. That will help balance out all the textures.
Hola Mimi, genial la receta. ¿como puedo adaptar la receta de este buthercream para hacerlo de chocolate ? Gracias!
My swiss meringue buttercream is fluffy but too soft and cannot be piped. Help
Without seeing your process or having a bit more info about this, I can't see where the problem arose but you might need to keep whipping it a bit more or it might be the temperature of your mixture, all the ingredients should be a room temp when working and the cream might benefit from being chilled and then re-whipping again. That's the great thing about this cream, you can re-whip it without having any ill -effects. XOXO, Mimi