How to make Italian meringue buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream

This is not only one of the best tasting frostings, but its also great for decorating cupcakes with swirls and covering cakes. The Italian meringue buttercream recipe. I must say though that the cupcakes frosting on the photo did cause me problems, as I had to make it over five times to get it right.

My problem was, when I was adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites. It turned into a milky soup… that have never happend to me before and the only thing that made it ok was simply to buy new fresh egg whites and start over again with the sugar syrup. So it can be a bit tricky to make, but when it’s made it is so delicious.

Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC).

Makes 8 cups.

1/2 cup of cold water (120ml)
2 1/4 cups of caster sugar (530ml / 430gr)
1 cup of egg whites (about 6 egg whites) I use pasturized eggwhites only!
1 1/2 pound of soft unsalted butter (680gr)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Kitchen stand mixer

First set the timer on 7 mins & pour the eggwhites into the kitchen mixer with whisk attachment.

Step 1:
Place sugar & water in a casserole and bring it to the boil and start the timer. Boil it on medium/low temperature. If the syrup starts to darken quickly turn down the temperature a little.

Italian meringue buttercream 1

Step 2:
When the sugar syrup has been boiling for 5 mins. Start the kitchen mixer on full speed and whisk the egg whites for the last 2 mins. When the timer is up the sugar syrup is done. With the mixer still going on high speed slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixing bowl. Discard any leftover syrup in the casserole. Be very carefull not to get burned on the hot syrup.

Italian meringue buttercream 2

Step 3:
When all sugar syrup has been added it should look thick and fluffy. Stop the mixer and change for the paddle attachment. To avoid meringue splatter all over your kitchen place a clean kitchen towel over the mixer. Set the timer on 10 mins and beat on high speed. This is how long it takes in my mixer for the mixing bowl to be cool to the touch.
After 10 mins. You should now have a lovely thick meringue like on the photo.

Italian meringue buttercream 3

Step 4:
Now its time to add the butter. Start the mixer on high speed and with a knife cut pieces of the butter and add it to the meringue. When all butter is added it will not take long for mixture to turn into nice thick smoothe buttercream. When that happend slow down the mixer and add 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and start again. I do this two times. You should now have a bowl full of lovely Italian meringue buttercream.

Italian meringue buttercream 4

Note: If the IMBC wont combine just continue to whip whip whip. It will eventually get smooth. If you are still having problems, place both bowl with paddle attachment into the refrigerator and let it “cool” down a bit and then whip it again.
You can easily freeze any left over IMBC. Just remember to let the cold IMBC come back to room temperature before you placing it in the mixer to get it smooth.

Flavour options:

Raspberry: 1/4 cup of raspberry puré or more pr. 2 cups of IMBC

Lemon Curd: 1/2 cup of Lemon Curd pr. 2 cups of IMBC

Chocolate: 2-3 oz of melted chocolate, cooled down to 98 F, pr. 1 cup of IMBC

Coffee: 2 tbsp of instant coffee mixed with 2 tbsp of warm (not boiling) water pr 3 cups of IMBC

In my article “Cupcake decorating part 4” you can learn how to make beautiful swirls on you cupcakes using Italian meringue buttercream.

You can also visit my tutorial section if you want to learn how to make other icings and frostings.

See a video from CakeLove making IMBC here and see how Dyann Bakes make Swiss meringue buttercream here.

Happy Caking!



  1. vicky9ja says

    Hi, I so love dis recipe but I have a little problem. Where I come from we have a lot of heat and I want to use dis recipe for a wedding. So I don’t know how long IMBC will last under heat. The temprature in my country is 36 degrees. Is there any thing dat I can add and will not affect the taste?

    • Racheal says

      If you add 2 Tbsp of dry Dream Whip to the recipe when you add the butter, it should help to hold the shape and consistency while weather is hot.

  2. Louise says

    Hi Louise, just wondering if IMBC could be frozen for a later event? Or would it keep in the fridge in a air tight container? The party isn’t till the end of April & we want to make it easier on the day, we were going to pipe it on the cupcakes on the day.

    • says

      You can freeze it no problem. Just make sure that you take it out a few days before allowing it to thaw slowly in the refrigerator. Then the night before it is going to be used take it out of the fridge and leave it on the kitchen table. Next day take 1/3 part of the IMBC and place it in a bowl. Place the rest in the mixingbowl. Gently heat up the small part of IMBC in the microwave until its warm but not comepletly melted. Take it out. Start beating the IMBC that’s in the mixing bowl and then add the “warm” part to that and beat until its combined and smooth.

  3. vicky9ja says

    Hi louise, thanks for d recipe. Pls I have a problem here, where I come from, we have a lot of HEAT and d IMBC tends to melt quickly and I want to use d recipe for a cupcake fountain for a wedding. So I don’t know wat to add to make it last longer wit out melting

    • says

      I think that we much ask some the other readers who have experience with IMBC in hot weather. The weather in Denmark is mixing. So I have not tried it when it was really hot.

      I hope some can help.

  4. Rosie says

    Hi Louise, thank you fr this recipe! But my IMBC came out buttery and heavy…is it suppose to be like that? I was expecting a light and fluffy heavenly icing…I did double the recipe thought, you think that was my mistake? I’m sad is not what I expected 🙁

    • says

      It depends on in which country you live in. Here in Denmark we are adviced to use pasturized egg products when making things that will not be cooked properly, due to salmonella. In other countries they are not that strict. I only use pasturized for this frosting and the meringue frosting. I don’t use it for my cakes/cookies.

  5. says

    Thank You for sharing. This is a great tutorial. I was afraid making italian meringue buttercream, not to mention that I have no candy thermometer. I read Your tutorial once and my buttercream turned out wonderful. I am so happy! I’ve just made the most smooth and delicious raspberry flavoured buttercream ever!
    Hugs! :)))

    • says

      Good to hear. My candy thermometer broke and I have not bought a new one. But then I use the water test instead have not had a problem. As long as the sugar syrup is at soft ball stage. Love it with raspberry.

  6. says

    Icing looks amazing, is their any way I can make this without egg whites I so want to try this recipe but I cannot use eggs as we are vegetarian.

    Love your website very helpful 🙂 thank you for sharing with us.

  7. Ashley says

    I also wanted to add that after I added the syrup, and mixed it for a good amount of time, I put it into the freezer for about 10 minutes, just enough to make sure it was thoroughly cooled. Last time I added the butter into the mix (even with the scrambled bits) and it melted! I ended up turning my first batch into a sugar cookie recipe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you a bot? *
Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.