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.
Hazel Mathias says
Is this buttercream too sweet or it's just has the sweetness like whipped cream frosting?
It uses more sugar so it is sweeter than whipped cream frosting but it also makes it sturdier for piping designs and it lasts longer, can be frozen and re-whipped easily. Xoxo, Mimi
Hi Mimi! I live in the Caribbean and our weather lately has been quite humid. How can I store these until serving. Can I keep them in the fridge until serving time or would that affect the macs?
Keeping them in the fridge before serving is best for food safety. Take them out 15 minutes beforehand to let them come to room temperature 🙂
I am new to “Macaroning” can you add flavors to this recipe to change the taste?
You can, either add dry flavours into the dry mix or add some extract into the batter. Although, I do not recommend it as you can get as much flavour by flavoring the filling. XOXO, Mimi
So if I fill macarons with this, I only have until five days after I originally made the buttercream to eat them?
As per regular food safety standards procedures, the food item will spoil as fast as the fastest perishable ingredient inside it. If you are just talking about the shells and this filling with no other added ingredients, then I say around five days in the fridge is safe. You can also freeze macarons with this filling and defrost for eating later. Please see how to freeze macarons guide.
hi mimi! does it matter whether i use salted or unsalted butter? what will be the major difference? thanks 😉
The performance will be the same, using salted butter will make the buttercream more salty. I recommend using unsalted butter and then adding the salt to your own taste. XOXO, Mimi
Evelynmaria Arriaza says
This was very helpful but iv been wondering how do you color your SMB , iv been told by almost everyone you
can´t just use regular gel food coloring and iv been to scared to try considering SMB is hard enough and expensive with all the butter it´ś too much to mess it up. If you could help i would very much appreciate it .
Yes, you can definitely color with gel coloring. I do it all the time 🙂 XOXO, Mimi
Hi, although I haven't yet experienced success with macarons, I will keep trying because of your detailed instructions, encouraging posts and beautiful photos.
This Swiss meringue buttercream post is another really useful tool I want to thank you for. I have one question: is it possible to make a large batch without flavoring, parcel it out in portions as you described above, freeze it, then defrost only what I need to use, adding flavoring during the re-whipping process?
My idea is to make a large batch to keep frozen and use as a base for different baking projects as they arise over the course of several months, to reduce the possibility of waste.
Thanks for all you do to help us succeed in baking at home!
Oh and one more thing....if it is,in fact possible to make a large base batch of Swiss meringue buttercream to freeze and then defrost and flavor in smaller portions, is there a specific method to adding flavors? Thanks again!
You definitely can make a large batch to freeze and then defrost and flavor later. That's the good thing about this buttercream. It is really resilient and you can save time by making it in advance. I usually portion them out and wrap them with plastic wrap and freeze for the future. Re-whip after bringing back to room temperature. You can add any extract to it and any other ingredients that has less moisture and is already firm at room temperature - think chocolate. You can add powder flavours like matcha, lemon zest etc. Be more careful with wet "sauces" like jam, curds etc. You'll need to adjust accordingly so that the flavours come through but don't add too much moisture to the buttercream. XOXO, Mimi
Christi Kim says
I'm ever grateful for your Best Macaron Recipe; they have never failed me yet.
I was wondering if it would be possible to incorporate strained fruit puree to this buttercream.
Would it make it too runny? Would I need to add more icing sugar?
I'd be grateful for any suggestions.
Thanks a lot,
I'm so glad the macaron recipe worked for you. I actually have another recipe which adds fruit puree to this buttercream. Check out my strawberry basil macaron recipe. I would not advise putting icing sugar into a meringue based buttercreams.
Vanessa Veyna says
Can you use carton egg whites that have already been pasteurized along with the castor sugar? I have tried another recipe that uses carton whites along with powdered sugar with no heating, just whipping then adding butter. I can't seem to get the castor sugar to dissolve with your recipe. I think the egg whites start cooking. I tried whipping it up but it does not seem to fluff up. How long do you whip it with the wise attachment? TIA
Some carton egg whites do specify that it can be used for whipping. I am not sure which type you are using so I'm not sure if it will work with your particular brand. Are you using the double boiler method with thermometer? I also use a stainless steel bowl to make sure the heat is conducted quickly through the bowl to the eggs. The sugar should be dissolved before whipping so that is something to watch out for. After it has dissolved, then whip it. The whipping time will depend on a variety of factors like egg quality, your equipment, speed etc. (I would say at least 10 minutes with regular egg whites.)
Is meringue frosting basically before adding the butter?
Meringue frosting is a type of frosting that has a meringue of some sort in it, whether it's made the Italian or Swiss way. Meringues are made from whipping egg whites and sugar together to become a fluffy white and airy mixture.
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