Italian Meringue Buttercream is creamy, silky smooth, and much lighter than American versions. Perfect for piping and fine details, Italian buttercream is also delicious enough to eat with a spoon!
Italian Meringue Buttercream
Perfectly sweet and luscious, use this Italian meringue buttercream recipe to add style and elegance to all of your baked goods while enhancing the flavor.
Whether you are a beginner when it comes to baking or consider yourself a culinary wizard, you will love this Italian buttercream frosting.
You can top cakes, cookies, and pastries — and the result is pure perfection.
If you love this Italian buttercream, you really need to try my chocolate buttercream. It’s positively dream-worthy!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Egg Whites – Carefully separate the eggs so there’s not even a spot of yolk, or the recipe won’t work.
It’s easiest to separate eggs when they are chilled, but the whites whip up better when they are room temperature.
- Butter – Unsalted is preferred for this Italian meringue recipe since the amount of salt can vary by brand.
Don’t have unsalted butter? No problem, swap it for salted instead. It will still taste incredible and be easy to work with.
- Cream of Tartar – The secret ingredient in any Italian meringue buttercream!
This helps to stiffen the egg whites and creates more volume for the perfect, fluffy texture.
A pinch of salt is the best substitute (only if using unsalted butter!), but an equal amount of lemon juice or vinegar would work too.
Tips for Making Italian Buttercream
- Make sure your bowls and equipment are spotless!
Any bit of egg yolk or grease will prevent your Italian buttercream frosting from setting up.
Wash and dry your mixing bowl thoroughly and wipe down the mixer with lemon juice or vinegar if it’s greasy.
- A measuring cup saves you a headache.
While it is acceptable to pour the sugar mixture directly into the egg whites from the pan, it’s much easier to accomplish if you transfer it to a measuring cup first.
This way, you are less likely to have a mess.
- Cooling is key.
Don’t get in a rush and skip cooling the meringue before you add the butter. Otherwise, the butter will melt!
Cool it faster by adding an ice pack or cold cloth to the outside of the bowl.
- Don’t let it get too warm.
Though Italian meringue buttercream is the most stable of all the buttercreams, you can’t let it sit out for too long.
When it softens, put it in the refrigerator to firm it back up.
Italian Meringue Recipe FAQ
Leftovers need to be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or gallon freezer bag. They will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
You can also make a double batch of this Italian meringue recipe and freeze the leftovers to have on hand for later. It will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Just remember to thaw Italian buttercream frosting to room temperature, then whip it using a mixer to make it fluffy again.
Yes — it’s easy to tint any frosting, and the color options are endless!
Use a good quality gel food coloring. Stay away from liquid food coloring, because it will make the frosting appear speckled and affect the overall texture.
For an Italian meringue buttercream recipe, you make a sugar syrup and pour it into the egg whites.
However, with Swiss buttercream, you heat the sugar and egg whites together and whip them into a meringue.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Frosting Recipes
Homemade Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened (4 sticks), cut into ½” cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, add egg whites and begin beating on medium speed until the egg whites become foamy.
- Add cream of tartar to the egg whites and continue beating until the form stiff peaks – hold their shape.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring until all of the sugar granules are dissolved.
- Continue heating the sugar mixture until the temperature reaches 238-240°F (the soft-ball stage).
- Transfer the sugar syrup to a measuring cup or something that allows you to pour it easily in a thin stream.
- With the mixer running on low speed, pour the sugar syrup in a very thin stream into the stiff egg whites.
- Mix on low until all of the sugar syrup has been incorporated. The egg white mixture will now appear glossy and stiff like meringue.
- Continue mixing on medium speed until egg whites have cooled completely (feel the bowl to make sure no warmth remains).
- When the meringue has cooled, add the butter – 1-2 cubes at a time. Mix each tablespoon into the meringue completely before adding the next couple cubes.
- Continue adding 1-2 cubes of butter at a time until it is all combined.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and switch to the paddle attachment. Add vanilla extract.
- Beat on low speed using the paddle attachment for several minutes to beat the air out of the buttercream. The buttercream may appear curdled at first, but it will beat out into a smooth, luscious frosting.
- To frost cupcakes with a swirl, fit a large piping bag with cake decorating tip #1M.. Fill the piping bag with buttercream. Pipe buttercream onto cupcakes in a counter-clockwise direction, swirling up and toward the center.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published August 2021, updated and republished October 2023
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