– Perfectly Fluffy Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe –
There are billions of buttercream frosting recipes all over the internet. I’ve found at least a hundred, most of which produced only decent results; usually the frosting was either flat, or greasy, or just plain flavorless. Searching for a version that really sings, I’ve dug and dug for the ultimate buttercream frosting recipe and had nearly given up – until my friend Garrett McCord saved the day.
Do you know Garrett? If not, you should. He blogs over at Vanilla Garlic, and honestly, he’s one of my most favoritest people ever.
Besides the fact that he’s just generally made of awesome, Garrett is also an accomplished baker with a heroic number of recipes under his [oddly enough, never widening] belt. He’s taking on a pastry internship over the next few weeks, and recently sat in on an advanced pastry class at a nearby culinary program. His post on the class made me wish that I could eat everything he made that day, but sadly, as a gluten free individual, I was relegated to the culinary window shopping that his post provided.
While I was reading over his experience, though, I caught mention of something I could not only eat, but had been seeking for quite a while:
I am given a crash course on the difference in meringue types and taught the basic ratio for Swiss meringue buttercream, which is 150% ounces of granulated sugar to egg whites by weight, then as much softened butter and vanilla extract until it tastes right (who says pastry is always so precise?).
Hrmm! Could this be the buttercream frosting recipe I’d been seeking all my life? I emailed Garrett, got the recipe, and guess what? It’s perfect. Utterly, completely, mind-blowingly perfect.
Also, just edited to add – I found this great video from Heather at SprinkleBakes, where she makes a Swiss meringue buttercream recipe and shows you exactly what it’s supposed to look like. This is important because there’s a point where the icing looks like it’s curdling and you want to power through and keep mixing, but this video will show you what that’s supposed to look like. Handy!
- 1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Have a candy thermometer handy. Heat hot water in the bottom of a double boiler until it is almost boiling. Combine egg whites and sugar in the top half of the double boiler and whisk gently until they reach 140°F (60°C).
- Remove eggs whites and sugar from the pot and pour into a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat on high until the frosting is big and billowy and have cooled completely.
- Once the eggs and sugar have cooled off completely during beating - it has to be room temperature or your butter will melt into a huge mess - slowly add butter to frosting, chunk by chunk, and keep beating. After one minute, add vanilla and continue beating. If you want to add food coloring, add it right after the vanilla extract.
- Keep beating and tasting. You'll know it's done when it tastes like happiness, whipped velvet, and unicorn giggles.
- If kept in an airtight container, this frosting will keep FOREVER in the fridge. Just bring to room temperature and re-whisk it when needed. I've been keeping a test batch in the fridge for two months now, and it still tastes lovely and perfect once a small portion is brought to room temperature and beaten with a whisk.
More Swiss meringue buttercream tips:
In the comments below, Rachel, a reader, posted a handful of tips for making this recipe. I thought I’d add them here so that everyone reading this would be able to take advantage of her great advice:
- Check out this video for how to make this buttercream, in action.
- Make sure the butter is actually room temperature. The butter I used was still cold in the middle and it did not cream all the way in the frosting, so there are tiny butter “globs”, not yummy!
- Go buy a candy thermometer if you don’t have one! I tried to use a meat thermometer because I was pressed for time. It never ever registered the heat because the lowest temperature on it is 135. My eggs had barely started cooking before I realize that it wasn’t working, don’t do this!
- Have patience! It took my meringue about 15 minutes to start coming together. I was starting to panic long before that, but I just walked away from it and distracted myself in the other room. The stand mixer is amazing, make sure you have one before you attempt to make a meringue or anything that take forever to come together.
- Make it a couple of days before you need it for two reasons, first, in case you mess it up (like I did!), you can start over with new found frosting wisdom, and second (and this is important!), the frosting sets up over night in the fridge making it much easier to work with and giving all the flavors a chance to come together to form a happy frosting family.
If you like this swiss meringue buttercream frosting recipe, here are some other recipes you might like:
- How to Make Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)
- How to Make Whipped Cream
- How to Make Vanilla Sugar