Homemade Italian Meringue Buttercream

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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! 

titled: Italian Meringue Buttercream Recipe


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!

Craving more sweet goodness? Take a look at all my delicious desserts for inspiration. Hint…my tiramisu ice cream cake is one of the best things you’ll ever taste.

ingredients for italian meringue buttercream

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.
whipped egg whites in mixing bowl

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.

homemade whipped cream in stand mixer

Italian Meringue Recipe FAQ

How long does Italian buttercream last?

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.

Can I change the color?

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.

What is the difference between Italian meringue buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream?

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.

frosting on upside down whisk attachment

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big bowl of fluffy white frosting

Homemade Italian Meringue Buttercream

Homemade Italian Meringue Buttercream

Donna Elick
Italian Meringue Buttercream is the fluffiest frosting you'll ever eat! And with this recipe, it's easy to make Italian buttercream at home!!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Method Stovetop
Servings 4 cups


  • 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.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 1095cal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 92g | Saturated Fat: 58g | Cholesterol: 244mg | Sodium: 84mg | Sugar: 67g | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): meringue buttercream recipe

Originally published August 2021, updated and republished October 2023

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  1. Can you use the egg whites in the carton that are pasteurized to avoid salmonella from the raw egg whites?

    1. The addition of the very hot sugar syrup to the meringue makes it safe to eat. As for the egg whites in the carton, you will need to add an acid such as lemon juice or cream of tartar and it will take a VERY long time to whip and the meringue will not be as stiff or have volume. That is why carton egg whites are not recommended for meringue.

  2. I’ve been looking for this recipe forever. Years ago I tooka decorating class and this was the recipe the instructor gave us. My ex destroyed all my things. So happy to find this!

  3. I do not have a stand mixer and I do not have a “paddle” attachment. Can this recipe be made with a “hand” mixer with “normal” blades? If so, what would I need to know that would be different in the outcome?

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is a total game-changer! Italian meringue buttercream has never been this easy to make at home.

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