Italian Meringue Buttercream

There are so many types of frostings out there but this is one of my favorites. It is a bit more time consuming but it is not nearly as sweet as American buttercream and it tastes amazing. You can also flavor this recipe however you want. Lemon, chocolate, rose, what ever the flavor you are going for it is so easy to flavor.

I am sharing the basic recipe with you so that way you can flavor it however you want. You can also double or even triple this recipe if you want to as long as you have a big enough stand mixer to do so. Yes you can do this with a hand mixer, however, it takes a good while to make this frosting so just be aware of that.

If you don’t like a really super sweet frosting then this is perfect for you . So with that being said, let’s get started.

Italian Meringue Buttercream ( above picture is my lemon blueberry buttermilk cake)


4 egg whites – room temp
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. water
4 sticks unsalted butter – room temp


  1. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk until the egg whites get frothy ( slightly bubbly). Add in the cream of tartar and salt. Keep mixing on medium speed and add slowly add in 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue to mix on medium speed until they reach a soft peak.
  2. In the mean time, add the remaining sugar and the water to a sauce pan and attach a candy thermometer. Do not stir this mixture at all. You can swirl the pan but what ever you do, do not stir. Place on medium heat and cook until the thermometer reaches 240*.
  3. If the egg whites reach soft peak before the sugar syrup is done you can just turn the mixer off and wait until the sugar syrup reaches 240*.
  4. Turn the mixer back on medium high speed ( about speed 6 or 8) and carefully pour in the hot sugar syrup. Be sure to pour the mixture onto the side of the bowl making sure to not hit the whisk attachment. You do not want to hit the whisk attachment because it will spray the hot mixture everywhere and you don’t want to get burned or end up with all of your sugar syrup on the side of the bowl instead of the egg whites.
  5. At this point the mixture is very hot. Keep whisking on high speed until the mixture is room temp. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. You can place a bag or two of frozen veggies on the outside of the bowl to help cool it down quicker.
  6. Once the mixture is room temp and no longer has any warmth to it, turn the mixer on medium speed (about 4 to 5 speed) and slowly add in the butter one table spoon at a time until all of the butter is combined well into the meringue. Continue to mix until the frosting is thick and has stiff peaks. You can test the mixture by stirring the mixture with a spatula and scooping up a bit of the meringue onto the spatula and turning it upside down. If the mixture stays on the spatula it is done. You are now ready to flavor your meringue.
  7. At this point you can add in any type of extract or flavoring you want. Whisk to combine well and you are ready for frosting your cake or cupcakes.
  • No you can not add less butter to the mixture as it will not turn out correctly.
  • If you want chocolate frosting, melt 1/3 cup of chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave ( 15 seconds at a time) until melted. Let cool until it is no longer warm but still pourable. Add to the mixture after you mix in the butter thoroughly. Mix until the chocolate is very well combined.
  • If you want a berry flavored frosting, Combine 1 cup berries of choice into a sauce pan along with 1 tbsp water and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and smash the berries with a smasher or a fork until the berries are broken down. Cook for 5 minutes or so or until the mixture is slightly thickened. Remove and pour directly through a strainer to remove any seeds. Let the mixture cool completely before adding to the buttercream. Add after you thoroughly mix in the butter. Mix until well combined.
  • Add in any extracts or flavorings after you mix in the butter. Mix until well combined.
  • If you plan on adding in food coloring- Take out a bit of the frosting and place into a small bowl. You do not need much unless you want to color the entire batch. I usually do one to 4 different colors. That way my cake tastes like cake and not food coloring. After you place the amount you want into a bowl add one drop or use a toothpick to add in your food coloring. Stir roughly with a spatula to incorporate the food coloring. Do not double dip the same toothpick into the food coloring. Use a clean toothpick every time.
  • Use a small amount of food coloring at a time as the color will darken as it sets.
  • You can make the frosting a day before if you want the color to darken before adding it to your cakes. Simply place in a airtight bag or bowl and place in the fridge. Take out when ready and roughly stir the frosting to remove any air pockets that form. This will ensure the frosting is smooth enough to pipe.
  • This will last in the fridge up to 2 weeks and in the freezer up to 2 months. Write the day of date and the end date for two months for the freezer and the day of date and the two week end date for the fridge.
  • You can double this recipe very easily. I usually make a double batch so I have enough for frosting ( if I don’t use American buttercream) Whatever is left I freeze until I need it again.

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