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. jennyc28 says

    I made this tonight and followed the recipe exactly, but during the cooling phase when the meringue is meant to be beaten on high for 10 minutes, my meringue went hard and crumbly! I re-made it and beat it on low instead until the bowl was cool, and that time it turned out perfectly. Gorgeous!

  2. Lucy says

    I have made this recipe heaps and heaps of times and never had a problem. It is a fabulous recipe. The last three or four times I made this I substituted a third of the butter ratio with crisco for hot weather conditions and it was fine but I didn’t like the taste that much and it was still a bit soft. I then made another batch using high ratio shortening and for the first time ever my buttercream fell apart and nothing I could do would fix it. However taste was nice! What am I doing wrong? Please help me!!! 🙂

  3. Katya says

    Hi. This looks amazing! I am making my daughter’s christening cake and hate fondant icing. I am making a rainbow cake with 6 layers and hope this will be enough! How much syrup do you add to the egg whites because you say to discard what you don’t use – how do I know how much to use or discard! Thank you!

    • Jennifer says

      I have made this frosting using this recipe many times. What I interpret those instructions to mean, is when you are pouring the syrup, the stream will stop coming out of your pot towards the end. So as you pour, it starts cooling off and thickening on the sides of the pot you cooked the sugar in. THAT part is what you discard. So pour your syrup slowly into the mixing bowl until it won’t come out any more on it’s own…as in, don’t scrape the sides and try to get every last little bit. If your pot is thick enough, it shouldn’t lose heat so quickly that you don’t get enough syrup out before it’s thickened.

  4. Elena says

    Hi Louise, have been following your blog for quite a few years, just wanted to tell you that your IMB is the best and so are all of your tutorials. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Jennifer says

    What a great recipe! I had never made Italian meringue buttercream frosting before. I followed your instructions and came up with the most beautiful and tasty frosting. The only question I had was how long it will keep in the refrigerator.

  6. brenda says

    Oh my…After a terrible failure, I wasn’t about to give up. Ran to the computer and found this recipe. Cleaned the kitchen for the mess i had just made and printed your recipe. Perfect… just perfect. As it began to whip and get smooth and glossy, I just had to let you know. I never comment but this recipe is a perfect no fail Italian meringue buttercream. Thank you!

  7. says

    Hi Louise,

    I habe followed your site for a good few years and have used this recipe time and time again with great results. Could I please have your advice, I have been asked by a friend to make her wedding cake, she would like a chocolate cake with rasperry buttercream, do you think i could use IMBC flavoured with raspberry puree to fill and cover cake under rolled fondant?

    P.S your site is the best there is!


  8. Natasha says

    Thanks heaps. It turned out awesome. I think I may have over whipped it with the butter but it piped really well. Thank you!!

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