How to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream (video)
Another incredible buttercream recipe from my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ special series! This new episode features how to make classic Italian meringue buttercream! This super silky and smooth Italian buttercream recipe is made with egg whites, sugar syrup and butter. It holds its shape very well, making it the perfect fluffy frosting for cake decorating, cupcakes and other desserts. Plus, you can add any flavor to this recipe such as chocolate, vanilla, berry/fruit or even coffee!
My Meringue Buttercream Video Tutorial
Watch my YouTube video recipe for my step-by-step instructions for making perfect Italian meringue buttercream! Want to receive new recipe emails in your inbox? Make sure to subscribe to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!
What is Italian Meringue Buttercream?
Italian meringue frosting is very similar to Swiss meringue buttercream – both are made with egg whites and butter. With the Swiss method, the egg whites and sugar are cooked over a water bath until the sugar is dissolved. With the Italian method, the egg whites are whisked separately, then cooked with a boiling sugar syrup. Neither recipe has any raw egg white so there’s no need to worry about food poisoning!
Ingredients for Italian Buttercream
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this egg white based frosting:
- Egg Whites: have these at room temperature for best results. Don’t worry about the raw egg whites. They will cook instantly with the hot sugar syrup!
- White Granulated Sugar: for making the sugar syrup.
- Water: for making the sugar syrup.
- Unsalted Butter: soften the butter at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes prior to using. Do not use margarine or salted butter.
- Extract: I used vanilla extract in my video tutorial. Check out other flavor options below.
How to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream
Before starting on this buttercream, it’s crucial that your mixing bowl is super clean; otherwise, the egg whites will fall flat. Make sure to wash your mixing bowl with degreasing soap and white vinegar to rid of any residual grease. Whisk the egg whites for a few minutes until stiff peaks form, then prepare the sugar syrup.
- Adding the syrup: Once the super hot sugar syrup is added, the egg whites are mixed for several minutes until they are light, fluffy and glossy. It’s important to mix the egg whites until their temperature has dropped before adding the butter, otherwise the butter will simply melt. To test the temperature, I use the inside of my wrist by placing it underneath the bowl. If the bottom of the bowl has cooled and is barely warm, it’s time to add the butter.
- Adding the butter: The unsalted and softened butter needs to be added slowly, just a few tablespoons at a time. As you begin to add the butter, the buttercream will begin to take on a funny texture and will look clumpy and ‘wrong’. Don’t worry! You are doing everything right! Just keep adding the butter, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often and keep mixing. The butter and egg whites will come together to form a creamy mixture. Once all the butter is added, keep mixing the Italian buttercream for 4 to 5 minutes, until the butter is super smooth. At this point, it’s time to add the flavors!
Flavor Variations For Buttercream
Italian meringue buttercream can be prepared in a variety of colors and flavors, making it great for cake decorating! Here are a few flavor options to try:
- Coconut: add 1 teaspoon concentrated coconut extract
- Coffee: add 1 teaspoon coffee extract; add 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
- Vanilla: add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; add seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- Chocolate: add 1/2 cup melted dark, milk or white chocolate chips that have cooled; add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Fruit: add 1 teaspoon berry or fruit extract or emulsion (a thick, concentrated extract with color); I do not recommend adding fruit preserves.
- Freeze-dried fruit: pulse 1 cup of freeze-dried berries or fruit in a food processor, then sift the fruit using a fine mesh sifter, keeping just the powder. Add powder to the buttercream.
Recipes To Try!
Try using this smooth and creamy buttercream for your next cake, cupcake or cookie recipe! It’s easy to flavor with just about any flavor!
- Italian Coconut Cupcakes: sweet and moist coconut cake topped with coconut meringue buttercream!
- Peach Lavender Cake: made with a lavender-flavored Italian meringue frosting!
Share it on Pinterest!
Looking for more buttercream recipes? Try these other ‘Back to Cake Basics’ recipes:
- French Buttercream: made with egg yolks instead of egg whites. My personal favorite!
- German Buttercream: super creamy and made with vanilla pastry cream!
- Cream Cheese Frosting: classic cream cheese and butter frosting.
- Salted Caramel Buttercream: perfectly caramel frosting!
- Raspberry Buttercream – fruity and delicious berry frosting made with REAL berry flavor!
How to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream (video)
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp extract or flavoring
- Before starting on this buttercream, it’s crucial that your mixing bowl is super clean; otherwise, the egg whites will fall flat. Make sure to wash your mixing bowl with degreasing soap and white vinegar to rid of any residual grease.
- Place the egg whites into the stand mixer bowl and whisk on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, just until stiff peaks form; set aside. Into a separate sauce pan, add the sugar and water but do not stir! Cook the sugar over medium heat until it reaches soft ball stage or 238F, about 7 minutes. With the mixer running on medium speed, immediately pour the hot sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream into the egg whites.
- Once all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer from medium speed to high and continue whisking for 6 to 7 minutes. The egg whites will be super fluffy, firm and will be slightly shiny. Test the temperature of the bowl before adding the butter. Place your wrist against the bottom of the bowl; when it’s just lukewarm, begin adding the butter.
- Add the softened butter 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, with 10 to 15 seconds between additions. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often to get everything incorporated. Once all the butter has been added, the buttercream will become more smooth. Turn the mixer to high speed and whisk for another 4 to 5 minutes. Add any extracts, chocolate or flavorings at this time.
- Buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator if not used right away. Thaw at room temperature, then whisk again before using.
How many cups of frosting does this make?
Recipe makes about 4 cups of frosting; just enough for an 8-inch cake. If you have a larger cake you need to frost, I recommend making a double batch. Enjoy! 🙂
How many cupcakes does this recipe cover? I am planning on making 24 cupcakes for my son’s 11th birthday.
Hi Ange! This should be enough for 24 cupcakes. I guess it depends on how much frosting you like to have on yours. If you prefer a medium amount, I would prepare just one portion of the recipe. Enjoy!
You said to use egg yolks not egg whites. In recipe it’s says egg whites. Which one is it.
Hi Cheryl! Sorry for the confusion! You need egg whites for this recipe. Enjoy!
I have always wanted to try to make Italian buttercream
Im glad I tried this before the day I need to bring a cake to a party. I would have had the same outcome if I had just spread a cube of softened butter on my cake. . It has a greasy feel and tastes like a cube of butter. This is not for me
I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy the recipe. It’s definitely different from classic American buttercream. If you’re looking for a more traditional cream, try my Vanilla or Chocolate buttercream recipes.
I’ve never made Italian buttercream before and kind of thought it tasted too buttery as well. I kept whipping and added a little more flavoring a 1/2 teaspoon at a time. That did the trick. Silky smooth and delicious. Love this recipe and how easy it was.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing the tip!
If I plan to bring cupcakes to a party on Sunday (three full days from now) should wait to frost the cupcakes and put the icing in the fridge? Or will the frosting stay good on the cupcakes?
Hi Kristen! Thanks for reaching out! I would recommend frosting the cupcakes instead of keeping the buttercream. It will set more firmly in the refrigerator, making it more difficult to pipe afterwards. Hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂
Can I use less Buttercream? I just need it to be a little bit more consistent than the classic meringue. Thanks!
Unfortunately, the butter here is crucial for the frosting to come together. If you add less butter, the frosting will stay separated and lumpy. Have you tried making meringue with sugar syrup? I use that technique in this recipe: https://tatyanaseverydayfood.com/recipe-items/lemon-meringue-pie/
Thank you. I have made this frosting twice and both times it has come out perfectly this will be my go to frosting. The taste is beautiful light creamy and not too sweet.. I used this to frost a cake and cupcakes works nice very easy to pipe
Hi Charlene! I’m very glad you’re enjoying this recipe! It’s one of my favorites, too!
Hi, can I substitute the butter for margarine.
Hi! I personally never use margarine and I don’t recommend it for this recipe. Butter works the best here, unless margarine is the only thing available in your area. Enjoy!
Totally fooled me. Thought it was soup but then it came together. Tastes terrific. It’s lumpy and bumpy so I may have needed to whip longer. How do you know when you should notwhip more? I didn’t want to over whip.
Yes, it looks all wrong when you start adding the butter but it comes together beautifully! Don’t worry about over mixing it, you can mix this for 5 to 7 minutes and it will be totally fine.
My husband and I are making this now. It’s going wonderfully , just worried about flavoring. Going with 1 tsp of almond extract. Is that good?
Hi! You can add just about any flavor to this frosting. Start with a teaspoon and then adjust to your taste. I usually add 1 to 2 teaspoons but extracts can have different strengths. Enjoy!
Please Tatyana can you please tell me the recipe with grams
Thx in advance I sent you from a couple of months that I make your eclair and really it was superb and delicious 😋
Hi Amira! I have all my recipes with metric measurements. Please head down to the recipe card and then click on the ‘Metric’ button, right next to the ingredient list. Let me know if you have any trouble finding it!
I’m so glad you enjoyed my éclair recipe!!
I need a buttercream that is white. Does this recipe produce a white frosting or is it more cream coloured?…. if so, is there anything I can use/do to make it more white?…
Hi Sally! The color really depends on the butter you use. I use unsalted butter from Costco; don’t use anything too expensive. Cheap butter will be whiter in color. This recipe is almost white with a tint of cream. To make it super white, use white food coloring. That’s the best way to make any frosting super white. A powder or concentrated white food coloring works best.
You can also put a touch of purple in to make it brighter white
Thanks for the tip!
Absolutely fantastic, thank you so much for posting this. The instructions were extremely clear and easy to follow and the icing came out incredibly good. I’m making a wedding cake this summer for a client and she wanted Black Forest cake but I don’t think whipped cream will be stable enough to travel in Texas heat so this is a great alternative! Thanks again 🙂
You’re very welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. It’s a fantastic alternative to whipped cream. I love the texture of it, too! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
I want to make this recipe this weekend for my nephew’s birthday party,I am in charge of desserts. My questions is can I add food coloring to this recipe? If so, does it have to be gel food coloring? Thank you for all your fun delicious recipes.
Hi Maria! I’m so glad you found my recipe. It’s perfect for birthday cake! Yes, you can absolutely add food coloring to this recipe. I would add it at the very end. You can use concentrated food coloring, gel or powder. All of those should work well. Hope everyone enjoys the cake!
I love this recipe thank you! You made it seem easy in your video and gave perfect directions for a beginner like me.
You’re very welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed my recipe and the tutorial!
Mine looks like soup, not cottage cheese, I cooked that syrup for like a half hour in the double boiler. I wasted 1pound of butter I’m not wasting the 2nd pound. No I didn’t say that again
Hi Beverly! The frosting will look like that when you begin to add the butter. I made several notes about this to ensure that you don’t worry about it! This is totally fine! As you add the butter, it will come together.
Also, make sure to use a thermometer to get the syrup to the correct temperature. It should reach 238F.
Hello! I am wondering if this icing is good for sticking on American buttercream flowers or fondant flowers? I’m wondering about the slip even in 22 degree weather. I’m in Ontario.
Hi Alessia! This buttercream is one of my favorites for piping flowers. I would use it instead of the American buttercream for piping. Once it sets in the refrigerator, it’s very sturdy!
Typically, I hate frosting of any kind. Way tooooo sweet and terrible sugar grittiness. I was testing Whoopi pie recipes today and decided to look for a filling that would be less sweet. This recipe turned out exactly like you said it would. And while it requires a commitment of both time and resources (ingredients are expensive). It is exceptional!
Hi Deb! That’s so wonderful to hear! I’m very glad you enjoyed this frosting. I don’t enjoy frostings that are too sweet, either! My other favorite is French buttercream – extra rich and creamy, but not too sweet!
Tried this twice and both times it was just soup, it never became thick. I followed the measurements and made sure the sugar/water was at 238. Sucks, I was excited to try a new frosting
Hi Jasmine. I’m sorry you couldn’t get the recipe to work out for you. Are you waiting for the meringue to cool down before you add the butter? You want to keep whisking the meringue until it’s at room temperature. Once you add the butter, it will look like soup. This is normal! Keep adding the butter and right around the last 1/2 cup, the frosting will turn into a buttercream.
Hello do you think Swiss butter cream or Italian buttercream is better? I want some thing that I can decorate with it and not to sweat
Hi Rosa! They’re both pretty similar, just the preparation is slightly different. The best way to prevent sweating is to warm the cake in a cool place when you take it out of the refrigerator. Frostings ‘sweat’ with drastic and sudden temperature changes. Hope that helps!