I’ve had many questions about Italian buttercream so I made a step by step video! Scroll down to check it out. You can also watch my make it in my strawberry cake video. Just skip to the 2:45 mark. Did you know Italian meringue (same recipe without the butter) is incredible on tarts and baked Alaska!
**Note: it’s important to use room temperature egg whites and butter. Monitor the temperature of your sugar syrup — add your pieces of butter slowly — and let your buttercream sit. You’ll need to give it a quick whip to bring it back to life. I know it’s a bit finicky BUT this buttercream adds a silky — not too sweet — touch to your cakes. It also pipes beautifully!
If you don’t have Cream of Tartar
- Cream of tartar is added to help stiffen the egg whites. It’s an acid so if you can’t get your hands on it sub in an equal amount of white vinegar or lemon juice. I’ve made it without and the recipe turned out fine by the way.
How should your meringue look before adding butter
- After adding in the 240F sugar syrup your meringue will look very silky, white and it will feel marshmallowy, and not warm when you touch it. As soon as you add the butter in the consistency will change and it will deflate a bit. Don’t worry, that’s fine! Just keep adding all of the butter in and whip. If it’s still soupy you can pop it in the fridge or freeze to cool down a bit maybe 10 minutes, then keep whipping and it should be fine!
- I love flavoring my buttercreams with a high-quality vanilla extract, but there are so many more flavors to choose from. Orange blossom water, rose water, fruit reductions (make sure they’re strained and cooled before adding), and of course chocolate (melted and cooled).
Steps to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream
1. In a medium saucepan add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water, then place on medium-low heat.
2. Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear. Use a kitchen thermometer to maintain a medium-high heat.
3. Separate room temperature egg whites into a stand mixer. Beat the egg whites.
4. Add a pinch of salt.
5. Add in the cream of tartar
6. Add the remaining sugar.
7. Beat until the soft peak stage.
8. When the temperature reads 235F-240F, drizzle the sugar mixture into the mixer immediately. Run the mixer until meringue is cool/tepid.
9. Switch to a paddle attachment. Add room temperature butter into running mixer one tablespoon piece at a time.
10. Add vanilla or any other flavors. Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
11. Transfer the buttercream to multiple bowls.
12. Add a drop of food coloring to each and mix until a desired gradient is reached.
How to make Italian Buttercream
This is how to make Italian meringue buttercream, the creamiest smoothest buttercream ever!
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- Pinch kosher salt optional
- 16 ounces unsalted butter 32 tablespoons, room temperature cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract optional
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup water
Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar, slowly add in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
In a medium saucepan add the remaining sugar and 1/3 cup water then place on medium-low heat.
Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear.
Maintain at medium-high heat until temperature reads 235-240F.
Drizzle the sugar into the mixer immediately.
Run mixer until meringue is cool/tepid.
Switch to a paddle attachment. Add room temperature butter into running mixer one tablespoon piece at a time.
Add the salt and vanilla if using
Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
Common Problems: If your buttercream is "soupy," just pop it into the fridge for a couple of minutes, then beat it. It should thicken up. I find consistency problems arise mostly from the meringue being too warm when the butter is added. Chilling it will help improve the consistency.
If you're adding flavorings (i.e. chocolate, fruit, etc). to your Italian buttercream, I suggest doing this as the very last step.
Storage:If you're not using your buttercream IMMEDIATELY -- and it will be sitting for a few minutes -- then just keep in mind that you will have to give it a short whip to "bring it back to life" as it loses its consistency quickly. If you want to make the buttercream ahead of time, it can be refrigerated for a few days. Once you're ready to use it, allow it come to room temperature and give it a short "whip." For those people that are used to regular buttercream: Italian buttercream is LESS SWEET and more BUTTERY! You can always add MORE SUGAR SYRUP to your meringue to sweeten it a bit further.
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