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Italian Meringue Buttercream

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Italian Meringue Buttercream is a versatile frosting to have in your baking and decorating repertoire.  You begin by making an Italian meringue recipe (i.e., whipped egg whites and then a heated sugar syrup is poured into the eggs to create the meringue) and then add lots of butter.  This buttercream takes a little practice to get consistent results, but the result is a light and silky buttercream that is not overly sweet. 

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Equipment
Ingredients for Italian Meringue Buttercream
Italian Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
Making Italian Meringue Buttercream
Italian Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  I would highly suggest using a stand mixer to make this recipe.  It takes a long time to mix the meringue so your arm will get very tired if using a hand mixer.   

Place the larger amount of granulated sugar (i.e., 300g) into a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat until it reaches 230°F. 

While letting the sugar continue to cook on the stove, turn the stand mixer to medium and gradually pour in the remaining granulated sugar.  Whip the egg whites until they form loose peaks and then turn the mixer to low speed until the sugar is ready. 

When the sugar reaches 248°F, remove the pan from the heat and set the thermometer on a heat-safe surface.  Turn the stand mixer to medium-low speed and slowly pour the sugar between the side of the bowl and the whisk.  Try very hard to avoid pouring the sugar onto the whisk because it will whip the sugar onto the side of the bowl and create hard strings of cooled sugar. 

Italian Meringue Buttercream

After the sugar has been poured into the mixing bowl, increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks.  Warm egg whites will melt the butter and cause it to become the wrong texture. 

Adding butter to Italian Meringue Buttercream

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, a few pieces at a time.  If it looks like the mixture is broken (i.e., if the buttercream looks curdled), increase the speed of the mixer to bring it back to the correct consistency.  If the consistency of the buttercream is too loose after adding all the butter, place the buttercream in the fridge for a few hours. 

This recipe makes 450g/3 cups of buttercream. 

Flowerpot Fault Line Cake Decorated with Italian Meringue Buttercream

I generally multiple this recipe by 3 if I am covering a two layered 9-inch cake.  I sometimes multiply it by 4 to make sure I have enough buttercream for special decorations (like this Flowerpot Fault Line Cake). 

The buttercream can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days before you need it.  It can also be frozen for up to a month.  Remove buttercream from the fridge a minimum of 30 minutes before using it.  You can mix it on low speed in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment to return it to the proper piping/spreading consistency.  

Adaptations of Italian Meringue Buttercream

This buttercream has a silky and smooth texture and a slightly sweet, buttery flavor.  Customize it by adding flavorings (e.g., vanilla, almond, lemon), jams and curds (e.g., strawberry jam, raspberry preserves, and lemon curd), and food coloring.  If you add too much liquid when flavoring the buttercream, it can break (i.e., the butter begins to separate and curdle). Start with small amounts and add more if the flavor isn’t to your taste.

Uses of Italian Meringue Buttercream

I frequently use Italian Meringue Buttercream for cake and cupcake decorating. It can be used to make:

  • Smooth, professional finish for a layer cake
  • Swirled/piped cupcake topping
  • Piped flower decorations and ruffles
  • Written messages
  • Piped borders
  • And many more!

Do you have a favorite type of buttercream? Leave me a comment below to let me know your favorite. This one is, by far, my favorite buttercream. I think it holds up really nicely with almost any flavor I want to add and I love the texture. Hopefully, when you make this, it will be your favorite too!

More Cakes with Buttercream:

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer
  • Stand Mixer

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp (75g) egg whites
  • ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp + 2¼ tsp (33g) granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp (42g) water
  • 2 sticks (8 oz OR 227g) unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces, at room temperature 

Instructions

  • Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  I would highly suggest using a stand mixer to make this recipe. It takes a long time to mix the meringue so your arm will get very tired if using a hand mixer.   
  • Place the larger amount of granulated sugar (i.e., 300g) into a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat until it reaches 230°F. 
  • While letting the sugar continue to cook on the stove, turn the stand mixer to medium and gradually pour in the remaining granulated sugar.  Whip the egg whites until they form loose peaks and then turn the mixer to low speed until the sugar is ready. 
  • When the sugar reaches 248°F, remove the pan from the heat and set the thermometer on a heat-safe surface.  Turn the stand mixer to medium-low speed and slowly pour the sugar between the side of the bowl and the whisk.  Try very hard to avoid pouring the sugar onto the whisk because it will whip the sugar onto the side of the bowl and create hard strings of cooled sugar. 
  • After the sugar has been poured into the mixing bowl,increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks.  Warm egg whites will melt the butter and cause it to become the wrong texture. 
  • Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, a few piece sat a time.  If it looks like the mixture is broken (i.e., if the buttercream looks curdled), increase the speed of the mixer to bring it back to the correct consistency.  If the consistency of the buttercream is too loose after adding all the butter, place the buttercream in the fridge for a few hours. 
  • The buttercream can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days before you need it.  It can also be frozen for up to a month.  Remove buttercream from the fridge a minimum of 30 minutes before using it.  You can mix it on low speed in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment to return it to the proper piping/spreading consistency.  

Notes

  1. This recipe makes 450g/3 cups of buttercream.
  2. Multiply this recipe by 3 if making a 9-inch layer cake.

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