Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe

The classic Italian meringue buttercream frosting is a lightly sweetened, silky smooth icing that’s perfect for piping flowers or spreading on a cake or cookies.

Are you a frosting or cake person? I (Rebecca) tend to find most icing overly sweet, but not this Italian meringue buttercream frosting!

It’s got a smooth, velvety texture and a buttery flavor that’s lightly sweetened. It’s a perfect accompaniment for any flavors you’d like to add and pipes beautifully for intricate or simple designs.

The method is simple but does require a bit of attention. Begin by making an Italian meringue by pouring the hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites, then add the butter and flavors to create the frosting.

Once it’s ready, you’ll have one of the best icings for decorating cakes, cookies, cupcakes, or just about anything else you want to slap some frosting on!

Ingredients Needed to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Egg whites

White granulated sugar

Water

Unsalted butter

Salt

Vanilla extract and/or other flavors and extracts of your choice

Gel food colors (optional)

Equipment Needed

Small pan

Stand mixer with a whisk attachment

Rubber spatula

Candy thermometer — There are many different types, but we found that it’s useful to have an “all-in-one” thermometer that clips on the pot and can be used for candy (like rose caramels or spiked lollipops), sauces, jams, and deep-frying (like homemade French fries).

italian buttercream

How to Make Italian Buttercream

1 — Measure out all of your ingredients and set out all of the equipment needed.

2 — Cut the butter into 1-2 tablespoon chunks. It should be very soft but not melted.

3 — Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer and let them come to room temperature.

egg whites in the mixing bowl for the italian meringue buttercream

4 — Whip the egg whites and slowly add 1/4 cup of white sugar. Continue beating until they are a meringue at a soft-peak stage.

5 — Place the candy thermometer on the edge of the small pan, adjusting it so that the temperature reader isn’t touching the bottom or edge of the pan.

6 — Combine the sugar and water in it and cook over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring to help the sugar dissolve.

7 — Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 235°-240°. This is also called the softball stage.

softball stage - Cooking the sugar syrup until it reaches 235°-240° | italian meringue frosting

8 — While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the meringue in a steady stream.

drizzling the hot sugar syrup into the meringue for the italian buttercream recipe

9 — Continue whipping the egg whites until they reach a stiff peak stage.

meringue at a stiff peak stage for the italian meringue buttercream recipe

10 — While the mixer runs, add the vanilla extract and the butter one piece at a time. Allow it to beat for a few seconds between adding each piece.

Unsalted butter for the italian buttercream frosting recipe
adding the vanilla extract and the butter one piece at a time in the mixer | italian meringue frosting

11 — The buttercream will look soupy and “broken” right after some of the butter has been added. However, if you keep beating it while adding the rest of the butter, it will come together and become a light and fluffy frosting.

light and fluffy frosting | italian buttercream

Recipe Notes and Tips

— Clean your mixing bowl very well before making meringue in it. Any fat on it can cause your meringue to break down.

— Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. This will help them whip up more quickly than cold egg whites.

— If you want your frosting to be a bit sweeter, you can add an extra 1⁄4 cup of sugar to the sugar syrup.

— When pouring the sugar syrup into the bowl, avoid splatters as much as you can by not pouring it directly onto the whisk.

— If you want to add any extra flavors to the frosting, add them at the very end after the butter is all incorporated.

— If your buttercream is having a hard time getting fluffy after adding all of the butter, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, then whip it again.

— Italian meringue buttercream will lose its consistency pretty quickly. To revive it, just beat it for a few minutes in the mixer.

Coloring Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

How Your Meringues Should Look

When you’ve made the basic meringue (before adding the sugar syrup), it should reach a soft peak stage.

This is when you pull the beater out of the bowl and the tip of the meringue on the beater doesn’t stand straight up but bends slightly.

After you’ve poured in the sugar syrup, the meringue should look soft and pillowy, kind of like marshmallow cream.

Whip it until it reaches stiff peaks. Again, pull the whisk out of the meringue.

If the bit on the end stands up stiff and straight, without flopping over at all, it’s ready.

Do I Need to Refrigerate Italian Buttercream?

Because the meringue is cooked, Italian buttercream can be left out at room temperature for up to 3 days.

If you’re still concerned about food safety, you can opt for pasteurized egg whites and make sure to cook the sugar to the correct temperature (240°F).

Does Italian Buttercream Crust?

Most frostings will dry out slightly on the outside as they sit, creating a kind of crust. But not Italian meringue buttercream!

You don’t have to cover it with plastic wrap or worry about it drying out if you decorate your cake ahead of time.

pink italian buttercream frosting

Coloring Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

— Italian Buttercream has a slightly off-white shade because of the yellowness of the butter.

— If you want to make all of your buttercream the same color, just add gel food coloring to the mixer and beat it in after the butter has all been added.

— If you want multiple colors, divide the frosting into smaller bowls. Color each one individually with whatever colors you choose.

— Remember that gel colors tend to intensify as they sit, so make your frosting a shade lighter than you want the finished colors. You can always add more dye, but you cannot take it out.

Recipes to Pair With Frosting

Now that you know how to make your own Italian meringue buttercream frosting, check out some of our favorite desserts that would pair well!

the Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting by sugar and cloth

Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
The classic Italian meringue buttercream frosting is a lightly sweetened, silky smooth icing that’s perfect for piping flowers or spreading on a cake or cookies.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine Icing

Equipment

  • Small pan
  • Stand mixer with a whisk attachment
  • Rubber spatula
  • Candy thermometer

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature (120 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar (250 grams)
  • 1/2 cup water (4 oz)
  • 16 oz unsalted butter soft but not melted (32 tbsp or 4 sticks)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract and/or other flavors and extracts of your choice
  • Gel food colors optional

Nutrition

Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 34mg | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 1134IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
Servings: 10
Calories: 431kcal

Notes

  • Clean your mixing bowl very well before making meringue in it. Any fat on it can cause your meringue to break down.
  • Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. This will help them whip up more quickly than cold egg whites.
  • If you want your frosting to be a bit sweeter, you can add an extra 1⁄4 cup of sugar to the sugar syrup.
  • When pouring the sugar syrup into the bowl, avoid splatters as much as you can by not pouring it directly onto the whisk.
  • If you want to add any extra flavors to the frosting, add them at the very end after the butter is all incorporated.
  • If your buttercream is having a hard time getting fluffy after adding all of the butter, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, then whip it again.
  • Italian meringue buttercream will lose its consistency pretty quickly. To revive it, just beat it for a few minutes in the mixer.

Instructions

  • Measure out all of your ingredients and set out all of the equipment needed.
  • Cut the butter into 1-2 tablespoon chunks. It should be very soft but not melted.
  • Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer and let them come to room temperature.
  • Whip the egg whites and slowly add in 1/4 cup of white sugar. Continue beating until they are a meringue at a soft-peak stage.
  • Place the candy thermometer on the edge of the small pan, adjusting it so that the temperature reader isn’t touching the bottom or edge of the pan.
  • Combine the sugar and water in it and cook over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring to help the sugar dissolve.
  • Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 235°-240°. This is also called the softball stage.
  • While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the meringue in a steady stream.
  • Continue whipping the egg whites until they reach a stiff peak stage.
  • While the mixer runs, add the vanilla extract and the butter one piece at a time. Allow it to beat for a few seconds between adding each piece. The buttercream will look soupy and “broken” right after some of the butter has been added. However, if you keep beating it while adding the rest of the butter, it will come together and become a light and fluffy frosting.
KEYWORD: italian meringue buttercream frosting recipe

Don’t forget to share your Italian meringue buttercream frosting with us on Instagram using the hashtag #sugarandclothloves. We always love seeing all of your creations! Looking for more quick and delicious recipes? You can find them all right here with a few desserts to go along with them.

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