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!



    • says

      Do you mean when it’s a meringue? You can do that only it may not hold it’s shape very well. But for swirls on cupcakes it’s perfect.

  1. Valerie says

    Can it be salvaged if it’s watery and lumpy? Does it need anything to give it more body? Help! :/

  2. Eva says

    Hi, I’m a little confused by the instruction to turn down the heat if the sugar starts to darken quickly. If it gets dark one should probably start over, as the sugar is _way_ past the recommended “softball” stage.

    • says

      The reason I wrote this, is because all stoves acts differently. So it is meant as a little warning if you know that your stove heats up quickly. One reader have used a light browned sugar syrup and got a really nice caramel flavored buttercream. But of course the best syrup is at soft ball stage and “white” in color.

  3. Jessica says

    Just tried this recipe today and loved it!! Thanks so much for the great instructions, it made my first time doing this super easy.

  4. BB says

    Can I use meringue powder and water instead of egg whites ? If so, how much of powder and water should I use ?

  5. jen says

    I am doing my first wedding cake OUTSIDE in June. What’s the best icing to uses and how far in advance could I make the gumpaste roses without them cracking??
    Thanks jen

    • says

      I always loves rolled fondant icing for covering cakes. If you use gumpaste you can make the roses weeks ahead. As long as you store them dry xand out of the sun. They will dry stone hard and will of course not be good to eat. I almost never see my roses cracking when made weeks in advance.

  6. says

    Thank you for conquering my fear of IMBC. I used your recipe for a total gluten free wedding cake for my brides and I loved it as well as her family and guest. I currently offer the IMBC as one of my buttercream choices.

    Let me know how to upload a photo of the wedding cake.

    Again, thanks for the wondefule IMBC recipe.

    • says

      Hi Ann, Im happy to hear that the wedding cake and the IMBC were a hit 🙂 You can send a photo to my email/contact or upload it on the CakeJournal Facebook page. Thanks! Louise x

  7. Ruth says

    Great wee recipe! Worked brilliantly! It will be my buttercream of choice from now on. Followed instructions to the letter and it worked great! I was a little anxious about making sure it reach 248 degrees as other recipes state of I did use my sugar thermometer and it did. I won’t bother with it the next time. More time consuming then conventional butter cream but Definitly worth the effort.

    • says

      I don’t use the thermometer either anymore. I just go with the “soft ball” stage when checking the sugar syrup before pouring it into the meringue. Yes, it may take a little more time to make but it is so much more GOOD 🙂

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