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Italian Meringue Buttercream

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Fluffy, buttery, creamy, sumptuous Italian meringue buttercream is perfect for piping and deliciously decadent for eating too!

cupcakes decorated with bright white Italian meringue buttercream in various flower shapes

Sweet fluffy clouds of amazing Italian meringue buttercream are the perfect topping for cakes and cupcakes galore. Glossy white clouds of meringue stabilized with hot sugar syrup makes the perfect base for not too sweet and really fluffy buttercream.

If you have been following along lately, you know that I went on a quest for the perfect combination of white cake and pipeable frosting for my brother’s wedding.

I finally settled on the recipe to make their cake after a few tries. I am waiting for a good excuse to make another cake so I can share that recipe with you. Getting everything ready for the wedding prevented me from taking pictures and I don’t have a single picture of a slice!

I did just share a great recipe for the perfect semi-homemade white cupcakes though and they are a great base for a fun frosting design!

sugar syrup boiling in saucepan.

Anyway, in my quest I played with Swiss meringue buttercream. The results are very similar to the Italian version, but the process is a bit different.

In the Swiss version you heat the sugar and egg whites slowly, whisking it to keep it from forming some sort of sweet scrambled egg whites.

I would happily eat cake slathered in Swiss meringue buttercream any time. However, I much prefer making the hot sugar syrup and pouring it into the meringue as it whips.

It’s just a personal preference, but Italian meringue buttercream is superior in my book!

There are a few things I really love about the recipe. The first is the lack of powdered sugar.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some powdered sugar, but it certainly has a tendency to make a mess. That can’t just be me, right?

pouring hot sugar syrup into mixer that is beating egg whites.

Plus with most of the sugar cooked into a syrup, there is no real way your frosting can be grainy. Just fluffy and creamy.

If you are used to American buttercream, you will notice a few things that are different about this. The main one being how butter forward the final flavor is.

The flavor of butter really comes through when it doesn’t have to compete with cup after cup of powdered sugar.

Also, this frosting stays soft. It doesn’t crust like some buttercreams. It will set solid in the fridge, but stays really soft when left out.

mixer paddle coated in Italian buttercream.

Despite it being a really soft and airy texture, it pipes really well and holds it’s shape. It was hotter than hot on the 4th of July when I made these cupcakes.

I did serve them from in the air conditioned house, but with an outside temperature near 100 F and 30 people going in and out of the house it still got warm. The cupcakes held up well and none of the piped decorations wilted. (I am sure that would not have been the case outside, but very few frosting recipes would hold up long in that heat and sun!)

white cupcakes topped with Italian meringue buttercream flower decorations.

In the end, my brother and new sister chose an American buttercream for their cake and cupcakes. So I used our 4th of July gathering as an excuse to make more Italian meringue buttercream. I am sure it won’t be the last time either!

If you are a frosting fanatic like me, check out my Frosting 101. It goes through the different types of frosting and links to all sorts of delicious recipes!

cupcakes decorated with bright white Italian meringue buttercream in various flower shapes

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Fluffy, buttery, creamy, sumptuous Italian meringue buttercream is perfect for piping and deliciously decadent for eating too!
5 from 9 ratings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 36 Servings
Calories 136 kcal



  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water



  • Place room temperature egg whites in the mixer bowl, but do not whip. Just get ready and set aside.
    5 egg whites
  • Place a cup of sugar and ¾ cup of water in a saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer and heat over medium heat.
    1 cup granulated sugar, ¾ cup water
  • Once the sugar syrup reaches 230°F, start whipping the egg whites adding a bit of the remaining sugar at a time until the sugar is all added and the egg whites start to form stiff peaks.
    1 cup granulated sugar
  • As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 240°F, remove it from the heat and immediately start drizzling it into the whipped egg whites with the mixer on high. You want a slow and steady stream and you need to be really careful, that syrup is HOT!
  • Keep beating on high speed until the outside of the bowl is no longer warm, this can take about 15 minutes.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment and turn the mixer back on to medium speed. Add the butter, about a Tablespoon at a time. Allow each addition to mix in completely before adding the next one.
    1 pound butter
  • It may look funky a couple of times along the way, just keep the faith and keep mixing. Once all of the butter is added, continue to beat on medium speed for 5-10 more minutes or until super creamy and smooth.
  • Add a pinch of salt and your desired flavorings and mix well.
    1 pinch salt, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pipe or spread on cooled cake.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 136kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 93mgSugar: 11g
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Thursday 9th of January 2020

Carlee, I am making a six layer rainbow cake this weekend and plan to try making your Italian merengue buttercream recipe for it. My layers will be 8 inch with the edges trimmed off. My plan is to only pipe frosting between the layers and on top. Do you think one batch of this recipe will work or should I plan to double the recipe? Thanks for your help!


Thursday 9th of January 2020

I'm always worried there won't be enough frosting, so I'd have ingredients on hand for 2 batches. However if you don't pipe it on too tick one batch might do it. I got 36 cupcakes out of it relatively easily, so it's not out of the question. Pkease let me know how it goes and I'd love to see a picture!


Thursday 2nd of August 2018

Carlee, your buttercream looks so perfect! And your instructions make it sound easy. Thanks so much for sharing with us at the Whimsical Wednesdays Link Party!


Monday 6th of August 2018

It really is easy and fun to do something a bit different than the standard American buttercream.


Wednesday 1st of August 2018

Hi Carlee, you are the Queen of frosting! The heat here makes working with buttericing a bit of nightmare and when I've made cupcakes for occasions they have had to stay in the fridge or slide. When I get round to trying it I will let you know for sure!



Monday 6th of August 2018

Thank you so much! I hope you love it!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Saturday 28th of July 2018

There you go again... you have me wanting to make cake and frosting! This sounds really good, but the process intrigues me as much as the end product!


Tuesday 31st of July 2018

It's always a good time for a little cake and lots of frosting! ;-)


Wednesday 25th of July 2018

I love that you shared this recipe! I will definitely have to try.


Tuesday 31st of July 2018

Thank you!