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. Savannah says

    Hi! Would this recipe be good for piping flowers/flower petals on my cupcakes or would a traditional buttercream work better for this? Thanks! 🙂

  2. Jeanine says

    I made it today and it was really delicious i got i at the first try it was Nice and fluffy and delicious

  3. Anna says

    I made this recipe before and it was wonderful, this time I had a problem. When I started adding the sugar syrup, my egg whites slowly started to turn to liquid. is there any way to save that it that happens again? I know when it does happen after adding the butter, whipping will help to stabilize, but I haven’t added butter, so please let me know. Thank you

  4. Katie says

    My grandma and I tried to make some, but the syrup keeps crystalizing within seconds of finishing. It’s really odd. We tried it twice and had the same issue both times. Does anyone have any ideas on what went wrong and how to fix it?

  5. tugba says

    Hi this look amazing . I have been lookin for a good recipe i will try this one. But i have a question. After we boil sugar and water do we leave this to get cold? Or do we put hot syrup into egg whites? Thanks

  6. Jay Elkheart says

    I love this frosting it’s the only buttercream I use and everyone goes crazy over it. I make half batches by cutting all ingredients in half and use it for cupcakes and for filling my French Macaron.

  7. Kylee says

    Fresh egg whites work much better. Adding such a high ratio of sugar at that temperature actually cooks and stabilizes the egg whites so you don’t have to worry about pasteurization.

      • Michael says

        Katie – every recipe can NOT be halved… Many can, of course, but the chemistry of baking in some cases requires at least a certain, specific quantity of some ingredients (or combinations of ingredients) in order to obtain the desired reaction. Luckily, this is not one such recipe, however!

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