Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe


SMBC or (swiss-meringue buttercream) pretty much changed my life. Pre-SMBC life (we don’t like to talk about it) consisted of tirelessly struggling to cover cakes in a powdered sugar/shortening mixture that makes me cringe thinking about it. I could never get it SMOOTH and it had such a gross greasy mouth-feel. The first time I used SMBC was in pastry school and I had that A-HA moment! THIS! THIS is what the pros must use! In the bakery, we call SMBC, “God’s Clouds”. If that doesn’t give you a mental image of what this buttercream is like, then I don’t know what will.

I have two favorite recipes for SMBC. The first is the traditional recipe I learned in school. The other is Lauren Kitchens cheater SMBC. This recipe is a bit sweeter but still works great and tastes great.

The way this recipe works is by ratios by weight. 1:2:2. Eggs, sugar, butter. You start with your eggs. Each egg white weighs 1 oz (convenient eh?) So if you use 8 egg whites, that is 8oz. If you use 8oz of eggs then use 16oz of sugar and 16oz of butter. Easy peezy lemon squeezy.

SMBC Recipe
8oz egg whites
3.5oz vegetable shortening (optional)
16oz granulated sugar
16oz softened unsalted butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt

Get a pot of water boiling on the stovetop. Turn the temp down to med. Place your egg whites into your metal mixing bowl. Be careful not to get any yolks in there or it could make your meringue not whip up. Place your sugar into the bowl with your whites. Place the bowl over the pot of boiling water to make a bane marie. Whisk occasionally until the sugar dissolves. This heating process also heats the eggs just enough so that the bacteria is killed off. When you can rub a bit of the white mixture between your fingers and it doesn’t feel grainy, your meringue is ready to whip up!

Place the bowl on your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and turn it all the way up to high speed. Add in the salt. We want our meringue to get to stiff peak stage. That means the egg whites have so much air whipped into them that when you pull the whisk off, the meringue sticks straight up and does not fall over when you turn the whisk upright.

Once your meringue is whipped up to max capacity, it has to cool down. To speed this process up, I scoop the meringue out of the bowl and dump it in big blobs onto a large cake pan and pop it into the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill quickly. Don’t mess with the meringue too much, you don’t want to break down the consistency.

Once the meringue is cooled, put it back into the bowl carefully and add your butter in in small chunks and then your shortening (optional). Turn the mixer all the way back up to high and let it whip. Whip it real good! This could take up to 10 minutes! When your buttercream is done, it should be extremely light, creamy and WHITE. If it’s still off-white or yellow, it doesn’t have enough air whipped into it and you need to keep going.

When you’re all done, you should have dreamy, delicious, fluffy goodness that is hard to stop snacking on! It goes on so smooth and you can get the sharpest, cleanest corners you have ever seen! It’s seriously all I use.

 

 

  • Astrid

    Hello Liz,
    If i want this buttercream to be a bit firmer do i get the recipe 1:2:3 ?
    I normally use 1:2:2,5 for filling the cakes and i thought 1:2:3 for frosting? so the buttercream is a bit firmer?
    greetings Astrid from holland.

  • Kelly

    I am confused on the order when using under fondant. You make the icing and then when you ice your cake do you use the smbc right after you make it or do you refrigerate it first and then ice the cake? I’m just curious of the steps make icing, ice cake, put on fondant, refrigerate if you don’t need it that day or day after?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Make the icing, crumbcoat the cake, chill the cake, final coat of buttercream. Extra buttercream can be refrigerated or frozen. Re-whip before use

  • Rachael Benson

    Hi Elizabeth… I LOVE this recipe. It has become my go-to. It is delicious and I get tons of rave reviews. Now – when it comes to the aesthetic of icing cakes, I have a problem. There is always tons of holes. I get great sharp edges, and the frosting goes on like a dream… but the holes, ugh! They are all over. I am not over whipping, because whipping a lot is part of what you have to do with this recipe. And I switch to a paddle when it is time to put the butter and shortening in, so I am not even putting extra air in (I find with the whisk attachment the butter does not blend in well enough). Anyway, I am being long-winded. Just, the damn holes. I have a cake sitting on my counter right now I had to use the hot water on the bench scraper trick to TRY and get it smooth. Now it just looks all bumpy and the frosting is ruined. I searched the web, and it seems I am in the minority. Help! TY in advance for your attention……… Rachael

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Make sure your bowl is really full when you make a batch and you’ll incorporate less air

      • Rachael Benson

        Thank you, Elizabeth – I’ll double the recipe and give it a go. I made the recipe and a half last time and that was almost enough, so I know doubling will probably do it. Fingers crossed!!

  • Gigi Lee

    Hi Liz, wondering if I can substitute gel with natural food colouring? As I don’t bake often so I didn’t want to buy something that use once in a while. But I am also aware that using one small drop of gel vs a few tbsp of natural colouring will change its texture.. Have you tried making smbc with natural food colouring?

  • Silvia Gonzalez

    hi Liz always thankful with your recipes. May i use brown sugar for a caramel buttercream?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      I don’t think that would work the same, caramel is not just brown sugar. Your best bet is to make the caramel recipe on the website and then add that into buttercream when its fully cooled

      • Silvia Gonzalez

        Thank you so so much!

  • Monica Hernandez

    Ok, just tried this recipe for the first time. It never specifies when to add the vanilla so I just added it along with the butter. I omitted the vegetable shortening from the recipe but other than that I followed the recipe exactly! Idk if I messed it up somewhere along the way, but this was my experience: it took forever for my meringue to form stiff peaks. I’m talking almost 20 minutes. By the time it was stiff enough to stand up on its own without flopping over the consistency was that of marshmallow cream, not so much a meringue. (Maybe this is the correct consistency, idk, it being “swiss” I’m not sure if it makes a difference). I chilled the meringue then carefully put it back in the bowl, and added the butter n vanilla. Turn my mixer back to high n whipped it for 10 mins. It was cottage cheese like so I kept going. I whipped it for a total of 30 mins! It’s still not white, though it is creamy and has a good consitency. Idk what I did wrong or why it’s not coming out the way I belive it should. Also it tastes super buttery. Is it supposed to taste that way? Have I not beaten it enough? I’m not by any means bashing this recipe, I’m just letting it be known what I experienced so that I can get some help with it. If anyone has any clues as to what I messed up please let me know! P.s. I am using a hand mixer, does this matter or make a difference?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      A hand-mixer is probably your problem, the reason your buttercream is not white and tastes buttery is because there is not enough air beaten into the mixture

  • Monica Hernandez

    Hi Liz, just wondering how much buttercream this recipe produces (cup wise)? Also, is it ok to freeze this recipe if I have extra?

  • Cindy Halbersma

    Do you cover your cakes with SMB or ganache under fondant? I get cleaner edges with ganache since itsets up harder. My SMB tastes great, but it seems too soft for covering. Will ganache make it too sweet? Or do you do both SMB and ganache? Love your videos! Thank you.

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      I prefer chilled SMBC but ganache will work as well. You can use whatever works best for you and what you prefer for taste :)

  • Jolene Meyer Saiz

    Hello, I need some help with coloring SMBC. I used a gel food color to try and make yellow and black. The yellow turned orange and the black was gray and I used a lot of black. Should I use a different style of coloring?

  • Tasneem

    Hi there, can this be kept at room temp under fondant and for how long? Also can you use the meringue before adding the butter as an icing, if there is actually another name for it?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Yes you can use it under fondant, it will not spoil. I suppose you could use meringue as an icing but it would be very sticky and sweet.

      • Tasneem

        Thank you :)

      • Miranda Buchanan

        I need some help as soon as possible! I am making individual cakes for a wedding and am new to fondant. I am using your lmf recipe but I have read that it is not ok to refrigerate fondant cakes because of moisture. If I cover them the day before with fondant do I just leave them out in a box? I have to travel with them the next day to the location. I don’t want them wet but I don’t want them crusty either. Any advice would be great. I am also looking at using a more stable buttercream recipe but am nervous about using uncooked eggs. I used to make the SMBF too but I think they are wanting a more traditional recipe. Please help!

        • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

          Fondant is perfectly fine to refrigerate. Especially LMF. I am not sure what SMBF is. Never heard of that one :)

  • Adam Ammar

    can you please make a video about this please and thank you

  • Mandy Guagenti

    Is this recipe the same as a “7 minute frosting?” I am very confused because I see the term thrown around all over the internet and I am not sure it means an Italian meringue anymore. A client asked for a “7 minute frosting” and I am very leery about using it on a sheet cake that has filling which must be kept refrigerated. I like your recipe above. Is there much difference in texture and/or consistency between your recipe above and a “7 minute frosting?” Thank you for your help.

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      This is not 7 minute frosting

  • Chrystal

    is this good for crumb coating/ under fondant? tia!!

  • Karla

    Hi I love all the recipes that you have on here they are awesome. I am barely getting into baking so i have a lot to learn, I made this recipe and it taste kind of buttery is it suppose to taste like that or did i do something wrong? Thanks again

  • kelsey

    i just made a double batch and turned out great. went to make another one and this one is soup…. any reason you think this happened??

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Too warm, pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes and re-whip :)

  • Naheed Qazi

    Hi Liz, love your tutorials & recipes. Thank you so much to help newbies like myself.
    Do you recommend pasteurized egg whites in place of fesh egg whites, because of safety issue.
    Thanks

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      It’s up to you really, I was taught to use fresh eggwhites and because of the amount of sugar in this recipe, nothing bad can grow in it BUT if your area requires that you use pasteurized or you would feel better about it, by all means use them :)

      • Naheed Qazi

        Thank you so much, Liz for taking the time to reply and clearing the doubts I had.

  • Colleen Charles

    I recently bought your book and it is hands down the best book tutorial wise I have in my collection, so thank you for that. I use SMBC or IMBC on all my cakes and make the best chocolate frosting with those by adding some room temp. ganache! It is heavenly! By accident once I added some cold ganache to it and ended up with chunky chocolate frosting and it was a hit at the reception. Thanks again for your wonderful work. Colleen Charles, SweetCakes and CheeseCakes

  • Liat Zumba

    if im making it for people who can not have dairy would margarine work instead of butter? or is oil better?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      I would use high-ratio shortening not margarine. Oil will not work at all.

  • sabrina

    Hi Liz! is this smbc good for cupcakes? will it hold its shape at room temp?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      yes it will and is delish!

  • Camille

    Hi, I’m wondering why you have shortening in the ingredient list, yet don’t mention it in the method. Should I use the shortening only if it’s going to be hot outside? Otherwise, can I omit it? If I do use it, do you just add it with the butter? I thought shortening had a greasy mouth-feel? Thanks! I love your site!

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Sorry, that is a typo. The shortening is just for stability. It’s not enough to taste it but it helps it hold up in warmer weather and is optional :)

  • Moriah

    I saw on another comment that this should be refrigerated before covering in fondant. Does it soften quickly? How much time do I have to get it covered? Is it sticky/can my fondant be readjusted if needed? Do I need to refrigerate it after my fondant is added? Thanks!! I’m looking forward to making this!

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      It depends on how hot your room is. Fondant cannot be adjusted once its on a cake no matter what buttercream you use. Yes you refrigerate after. Your fondant will get a little sticky when it first comes out of the fridge but it will go away. Just dont touch it.

      • Moriah

        Thanks for the tips! I’ll give it a shot. :o)

  • NessaL85

    If we wanted a sweeter version, how much extra sugar could be dissolved into the egg whites? Or do you suggest using powdered sugar to sweeten it after the butter is whipped in? I just made a big batch and after I was done freaking out about how much salt I could taste (I had forgotten to add the shortening) now it just tastes like very smooth meringue butter… The sweetness is lost. Help please! ツ

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      If you want a sweet buttercream I would suggest making Lauren Kitchens Buttercream version. You can google it :)

  • Maricela N Galvan

    I was going to ask on Sugar Geeks, but didn’t know if this would be easier – what must I add to make chocolate SMBC? I’ve never made smbc, so I’m trying to do both vanilla and chocolate this weekend. Thanks in advance :)

    • Maricela N Galvan

      Nevermind. Just found my answer in the files on SG. Thanks anywho, lol.

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      1/4 cup of cocoa powder whipped in at the end

  • bubuGirl

    Hi Liz,
    How many cups does this recipe make and what size cake does it cover? Thank you.

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Sorry but I don’t know exactly

      • bubuGirl

        Thanks for replying :)

  • Ingrid Talbott McCraw

    maybe I missed something while i was reading, but what is the shortening for?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      It just helps with stability

      • Ingrid Talbott McCraw

        Do you add it at the same time as the butter?

        • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

          yep :)

  • Jacqueline A

    I am gonna try this recipe for sure. I have onw question. I always make SMB but when I refrigerate mine and I let it come back to room temp and rewip it it curdles and when I fit by warming it up it just gets a very greasy texture . I always us boxed egg whites. Hope you can give me some advice on how to solve this problem

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      I’m not sure, I don’t use boxed egg whites. It seems like if you keep whipping it should come back together or try adding a little more butter to bring it back

    • Red

      Hi, Jacqueline – I’m no professional at all, but the same thing has happened to me before. My solution was to beat the living hell out of it! I cranked the mixer and let her rip way beyond what I thought a meringue-based mixture could take, and it ended up right back to normal. Just my experience!

  • Sara-Jane O’Connor

    Is it easy to color? And at what stage can it be colored? If I make a big batch and refrigerate for a week can I color it then? Thanks in advance. (BTW I have only heard of you today and I can already say u have changed my cakes forever in the best way possible!)

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Color you SMBC before you need it. Color deepens with time so if you need a darker color, you have to give it time to darken and make sure it’s the right color. You can also take a couple tablespoons of SMBC, melt it with some food color and add that to your buttercream and it will speed up the process. Make sure you take it out of the fridge the night before you need it to let it soften and come to room temp. Yes it will be ok. Trust me. Re-whip before using it to bring it back to its soft and fluffy texture before use.

      • Sara-Jane O’Connor

        Thank u so much for taking the time to reply, I can’t wait to try this.

  • Adriana

    How long will the buttercream keep in the fridge? Do you put it in a Tupperware or ziplock bag? Lastly, can it be piped onto cupcakes or cakes and then frozen? Thank you so much for all the info!

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      It keeps a long time, weeks. Just bring back to room temp and re-whip before each use. Doesnt matter what you store it in, I keep mine in a tupperware, just easier. I dont know about freezing it, might taste funky when it defrosts

      • Adriana

        One more question for you! I live in a hot & humid area. Last night I froze my SMBC frosted cake, pulled it out and covered it with MMF (your recipe – I love it!). To my horror, the whole thing melted as the cake came to room temp! I left it out overnight to see if it would dry, nope. It’s a goopy mess on my kitchen counter as I type. I assume this has to do with a) the climate here (I live in Miami) and b) I shouldn’t have frosted my cake with MMF until the whole thing came to room temp.

        Have you ever experienced this? Do you know if covering a SMBC with MMF at room temp will work? I try to achieve the sharpest edges possible, and I am afraid that laying on the fondant when its room temp will ruin that.

        • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

          It has to do with you freezing your cake solid. That cake had no hope. You never freeze a fully frosted cake and then cover in fondant or it will sweat to death as you have found out. If you freeze your cake, you have to defrost it in the fridge first before you can even handle it. I recommend only chilling your cakes in the fridge over-night. If you put them in the freezer, no more than an hour so it’s not frozen all the way through.

          • Adriana

            Eureka! Thank you!

  • Renae

    After the buttercream is finished, will it keep at room temp? I would like to try this under fondant, but cannot refrigerate fondant due to condensation…..what do you suggest?

    • http://www.artisancakecompany.com/ Elizabeth Marek

      Yes it can be kept at room temp but if you’re going to cover it in fondant you need to refrigerate it or it will just all mush and you wont get a smooth finish. The stickiness will go away once it comes to room temp

      • chris

        Wht type of color are u using…..some leave a nasty taste