Italian Meringue Buttercream

italian-meringue-buttercream

Since my Swiss Meringue Buttercream has surely lived up to it’s name of “World Famous”! it seems about time to add to our repertoire yet another variation of buttercream.

The Italian Meringue Buttercream. For those who are looking for a silky smooth way less sugar recipe this one is for you!

Some people claim that Italian Meringue Buttercream is way more stable as compared to Swiss Buttercream due to the cooking of the sugar and the thick meringue that is created through this process.

I’m not sure I disagree, but I would note that if you are making a Swiss Meringue properly (thick meringue is the key note in that recipe as well) then they are both quite stable in my experience.

Italian Meringue requires an a candy thermometer to properly cook your sugar.

Italian Meringue Buttercream has the claim to fame of being less sweet than the other buttercreams and it is a bit more stable due to the way we cook the sugar syrup and prepare the meringue.

Check it out and decide for yourself which you love the best!

Now some of you may notice that in the video I had only 4 sticks (454g) of butter whereas here in the written blog post I have 5 sticks (565g)

Because I wanted to be sure my buttercream was super extra stable I decreased the butter by 1 stick (113g) and increased the shortening ratio by that same amount (1 cup or 113g).

So you see you can play around with ratios here; use all butter if you do not want shortening, or use a combination like I did, but be forewarned that much of the stability of any buttercream comes from the shortening.

So to be clear the total amount of FAT (butter, shortening or a combination of the two) is 765g or 3¼cups

 

Please read all the way to the bottom of this blog post as there are many Most Asked Questions and some troubleshooting that I address below! thanks!

You can add flavors to this buttercream the same as you would for the American Buttercream & Swiss Buttercream CLICK HERE FOR MORE


5.0 from 14 reviews
Italian Meringue Buttercream
 
Butter is to be at room temperature and softened to the same consistency as the shortening
Author:
Serves: 8 cups
Ingredients
  • Egg Whites 7 large (210g)
  • Granulated Sugar 2 cups (400g)
  • Water 1cup (237ml)
  • Unsalted Butter 5 sticks (1lb 4oz) (566g)
  • Solid Vegetable Shortening 1 cup (198g)
  • Vanilla Extract 2 Tablespoons
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy bottom sauce pot, combine the water and sugar and stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved into the water.
  2. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and continue boiling without stirring, until the sugar solution reaches 240° F
  3. Meanwhile in the clean bowl of your kitchen aid mixer with the whisk attachment place the egg whites.
  4. As soon as the sugar mixture reaches 240° F you can turn on the mixer to medium high speed to get the whites frothy and gaining volume.
  5. Once the egg whites are starting to get white in color and frothy and gain some strength SLOWLY, as fine as a thread of hair, begin pouring the hot syrup into the whipping whites.
  6. ALWAYS TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS WHILE WORKING WITH HOT SUGAR SYRUPS!!!!
  7. Try to avoid splashing the syrup onto the whisk attachment as it is whipping the whites, or you will be making spun sugar as it hits the sides of the metal bowl!
  8. Continue whipping the whites until the mixture has COOLED COMPLETELY before you add the butter/shortening or you will have Butter Soup!
  9. Once the Italian Meringue is COOL TO THE TOUCH you may add the butter/shortening that is at ROOM TEMPERATURE to the meringue while whipping on medium-high speed
  10. Add the vanilla extract
  11. Switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low- medium speed until smooth
Notes
THIS RECIPE CAN BE STORED 4 days room temp, 2 weeks fridge, 2 months freezer

If you decide to store it in the fridge/freeze, you will have to bring it back to room temperature before re using.

Take it out several hours before you need it, and let it get to room temp, then put it back on the mixer with the PADDLE attachment on low- medium and let it mix, it will look as if it is BROKEN, and curdled, don’t be alarmed this is NATURAL, it will come back together eventually, you can turn the speed up to med-high and it will mix out smooth
For the MOCHA BUTTERCREAM & CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM variations you will do the same as for Swiss Buttercream or American Buttercream, this Italian version takes mix-ins quite well!

MOST ASKED Questions:

Q- “Can I use this recipe under Rolled Fondant Icing?”
A- “YES, you can use this icing under ANY Type of Icing, Rolled Fondant, Poured Fondant, Ganache, Whipped Cream…LIKE EVERYTHING!!”

Q- “What can I substitute for the Solid Vegetable Shortening, I don’t have that in my country?”
A- ” Please read SUBSTITUTIONS blog post”

Q- “Can I use all butter?”
A- YES

Q-”Can I use all shortening?”
A- “Yes!”

Q- “Can I use Margarine”
A- “Yes”

Q- “Can I use Meringue Powder?”
A- No, the point of making an Italian Meringue is to COOK the eggs to a completely safe temperature, Meringue Powder is not intended to use a 240 degrees F sugar syrup added to it.

Q- “Can I double this recipe?”
A- “YES, if your mixer bowl is large enough to accommodate that amount of ingredients DOUBLED. Be wary that the meringue alone with the single amount recipe comes just about half way to the top of the bowl-(IF you mixed it properly that is)”

Q- “How long can I store this icing?”
A- “4 days room temp, 2 weeks fridge, 2 months freezer”

Q- “Is it safe to eat raw egg whites?”
A- “Please read to the bottom of this post.”

Q- “Can I use a hand mixer if I do not have a Kitchen Aid?”
A- “Yes. However you must make sure that your meringue is STIFF STIFF STIFF! This is the most important step in this whole recipe and why so many have trouble. You must get that meringue as stiff and glossy as possible, and the hand mixer, well… it takes a very long time to achieve this.”

 

The debate on raw egg whites: The trouble is in the yolks, never the whites. At school we were taught that you can leave the egg whites at room temperature for a week, and nothing bad would happen because the trouble is in the yolks. But only if the yolk is contaminated with salmonella, NOT ALL EGG YOLKS ARE DANGEROUS. The problem is, you don’t know when it is or isn’t contaminated.

Now keep in mind I also went to school almost 20 years ago and the world has changed, and our food supply has also changed due to the industry pumping out mass amounts of it to keep up with the demand, hence why our food has gotten so dangerous.

To avoid this “danger” you can simply use pasteurized egg whites in a carton, like Egg Beaters JUST WHITES. I do not feel there is a risk in this recipe whatsoever. But this should be a personal choice for each and every one of you. Although it is possible for Salmonella to be in both the white and the yolk of the egg, the white does not readily support bacterial growth. Cold soufflés, mousses, and chiffon’s containing raw beaten whites require refrigeration to maintain their character, and an added safety factor. Such dishes might be considered low risk for healthy individuals.

To add colors to this buttercream, I recommend using Gel Paste Colors like Americolor or Chefmaster or an oil based color is great too, since this is a high fat recipe.
The gel paste color should be added at the end.
You may color the whole batch, or divide it up and color smaller portions at a time.
Gel paste colors are the best since a little goes a long way and they do not add extra liquid to the recipe like food colors do.

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234 Comments

  1. Wow! This buttercream looks amazing!! By the way, I used your Vanilla Sponge to make a rum bundt cake a few weeks ago. It was incredible!

      1. Firstly Wow you are amazing! Love all your recipes and you videos you make it look so easy secondly I would love to give this a try but it’s in large quantity how can I make it in smaller batch ??

    1. I am really confused here. Please help your recipe states 5 sticks (566)each stick (113g) butter 1 cup shortening (198g) but when you decreased butter(113) replaced with shortening you stated (113) but recipe show 1cup =(198g) so you numbers do not match up and I am confused with total amount of shortening you use. Got the butter at 4 sticks so the total fat should be 3 1/4 cups so is it 1 14 or 2 cups shortening ?

      1. Unsalted Butter 5 sticks (1lb 4oz) (566g)
        Solid Vegetable Shortening 1 cup (198g)

        Just follow the written recipe- sorry for the confusion, I was simply trying to tell people that you can change up the RATIO of butter to shortening to your liking as long as you stay at a total weight of 764g

  2. Hi Gretchen! I love this buttercream! Before I learned to make your fabulous Swiss buttercream, this was the only buttercream I made. Also, is there a French buttercream with whole eggs? No one has better recipes and tutorials than you, Gretchen. You are my hero.

  3. Excellent I’m so happy, I love Italian meringue buttercream. Your Swiss buttercream is wonderful, I’ve tried it several times and always perfect.
    Thank you for yet another great recipe.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been waiting forever for this one. I have used others but they did not look anything like what you have just made and you can’t imagine how much I appreciate this. You rock!!!

  5. Wow ! this butter cream looks amazing . Can I add a coco powder or chocolate in it ? And Also can u please share with us yours best recipe of Chocolate Fudge Cake . Please please please

  6. Hi Gretchen,

    If I leave out the shortening , do I have to add another cup of butter to replace it or just use the 2 1/2 cups of butter that the recipe calls for.

  7. This buttercream is awesome! However, a couple of tips, because I made it twice. The first time my sugar went over to about 250 degrees (my candy thermometer was off and the sugar starts to set at that temperature) also, I did not wait until the meringue cooled completely before adding the butter. Needless to say, I had a curdled mess on my hands. I checked out another candy thermometer in hot water to make sure it was working okay and also kept beating until the meringue was cool after adding the syrup. It turned out great the second time around, but I did learn a few lessons. Thanks Gretchen.

  8. Hi Gretchen! This looks great and I would love to give this a try. What do you feel the difference between your Swiss Meringue recipe (which I LOVE) and this is as far as texture, taste, stability, etc. Are there certain circumstances where you would use one over the other?
    As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge!
    Ann Marie

    1. The Italian is a silky smooth way less sugar recipe

      Some people claim that Italian Meringue Buttercream is way more stable as compared to Swiss Buttercream due to the cooking of the sugar and the thick meringue that is created through this process.

      I’m not sure I disagree, but I would note that if you are making a Swiss Meringue properly (thick meringue is the key note in that recipe as well) then they are both quite stable in my experience.

      In my bakery I used the Swiss since it is way easier to make and less hazard of a newbie rookie pouring 242°F sugar syrup all over the kitchen and him/herself LOL
      But I had 2 recipes the Swiss BC (which the adults typically choose) and the American Style which is more for kids

    2. Thanks so much Gretchen! I agree with you on the ease of the SMBC, but just for the simple fact that the Italian one will be less sweet, I have to give it a try. I can’t thank you enough for the time you take out of your busy day to answer any and every question I have ever asked you (and there have been plenty!)…it’s very much appreciated!

  9. Hi Gretchen,
    Let me start by saying that I just love your recipes. My daughter and I are making my son’s wedding cake, and I was wondering if this icing would be good for that. Also if you could tell me how much cake to make for approximately 30 people. Thanks.

    1. HI Thanks! This is a PERFECT icing for wedding cakes
      1 half sheet cake = 30-40 servings but Im assuming you want a tiered cake right? Smallest 3 tier is 10″ + 8″ + 6″ CLICK HERE (You will have alot leftover though)

  10. Hi Gretchen
    You say that using meringue powder is a no-no… but I’ve been making successful and wonderful tasting IMBC with Wiltons meringue powder (the only gluten free one I can get in the UK) for ages, with no problems whatsoever. Hate to disagree or contradict you but it IS possible and holds up so well- much better than SMBC which I think may have something to do with our shortening? I use Trex but it is the soft version (the hard version is not so easy to find) and tends not to be so stable.
    I love and much prefer the taste and texture of IMBC but always use meringue powder for my buttercreams with no ill effects at all. I made a batch of SMBC with fresh egg whites for a wedding cake last year in November and it just wilted. Half the cake was done with fresh and half with meringue powder SMBC; the meringue powder BC held perfectly whereas the fresh kinda wilted. Same for IMBC. That was enough evidence for me and now I exclusively use the powder.
    That’s only MY experience but I felt obliged to share.

    1. HI! Im not sure I did say that? If I did I would retract since I have never tried using Meringue Powder for Italian and would prefer to answer that way rather than with a “no”. But thanks for the clarification! Now I can tell people YES! It is a dream!

  11. Hi Gretchen,
    i made this recipe on 13 this month, for decorating my brother’s birthday cake. The recipe came together wonderfully well. I piped it to test the consistency and like you said, it piped like a dream. However, i set it aside for 5-10 minutes to assemble my layers and it became very moist and started releasing water. i whipped it again for 5-6 minutes and it got better but it continued releasing water. can you tel me what might have gone wrong? i am living in an area where its -4 degree centigrade these days in case you think weather has something to do with it.
    Apart from this, it tasted divine.

  12. Hi Maam Gretchen! Im Jan from Philippines, I love watching your video, sorry i copy your recipe mostly of it. it really helps me especially i just started baking (just an extra income) your video really helps me, no need to study baking i only watch your video. Thank you so much
    God Bless

  13. Hi Gretchen,

    What’s your favorite cake or cake variety that you would pair with your Italian Meringue Buttercream?

    Thank you!

    Milanka

  14. Hi Gretchen…I know your SMBC calls for a pinch of salt, but I don’t see it listed in the Italian Meringue BC…should I add a pinch to this as well? Also, as far as combined butter shortening ratio…it should total 3-1/4 cup combined…correct? Sorry, I was a little confused with your note and when I tried to find the answer by comparing other IMBC recipies, I saw that the average recipe, using 6 egg whites, only used 1lb. of butter, so I just wanted to double-check on the amount of fat.
    Thanks!

    1. Yes you can (I actually dont add the salt but so many people gave me flack for not adding it, that I included it to the SMBC) you can really do whatever you like best
      Sorry for the confusion, basically i tried to say that the combined weight (or volume) of both fats (the butter & the shortening) is what you should always add up to – no matter if you use more butter and less shortening, ALL butter, or more shortening and less butter whatever- as long as the total combined = 3¼ cups or 765g you are good to go!
      I guess I was trying to say adjust the ratios to your liking, just be sure to use the total weights listed here (sometimes I make things more complicated than its worth!)

  15. Hi Gretchen!
    I tried this recipe and when I added the sugar syrup to the eggwhite, it turned it into soup 🙁 I added the syrup slower then you (measured with the video 🙂 ) However I used liquid egg white. Could that be the problem?
    Thanks in advance

  16. Hi Gretchen first to say is I love your recipes and humor and your channel in YouTube is my favorite and I been watching you for about 2 year. Tasting your recipes and love them. Said this I have a question with this recipe I made it and is really good but can I use less sugar thanks. Sorry if is hard for you to understand me but my English is not good☺️☺️

  17. Hi gretchen

    I’ve been following you for about a year now. Your recipes are great!

    I’ve made the Italian meringe about 50 times and it’s always come out fine but lately it’s just not turning out the way it usually does. I’ve had to remakeep my batch now 6 times

    I use 1 cup of carton egg whites
    1 1/4 cup sugar
    3/4 water

    I beat the eggs till medium/stiff peaks then gradually add the sugar syrup (cooked to 240) gradually. But every time I add the syrup the whites turn into a watery mess and won’t whip up

    What am I doing wrong or what can I do salvage this !? This is one of my favourite recipes and I’m compelty heartbroken that it just won’t work

    1. HI tHANKS, i WOULD ACTUALLY LOOK TO THE CARTON EGG WHITES HERE, SINCE i HAVE ALSO HAD TROUBLE USING THEM AND WHY i ALWAYS USE FRESH FOR THIS RECIPE PERHAPS YOU CAN TRY MY RECIPE TOO, YOU MAY LIKE IT

        1. Now some of you may notice that in the video I had only 4 sticks (454g) of butter whereas here in the written blog post I have 5 sticks (565g)

          Because I wanted to be sure my buttercream was super extra stable I decreased the butter by 1 stick (113g) and increased the shortening ratio by that same amount (1 cup or 113g).

          So you see you can play around with ratios here; use all butter if you do not want shortening, or use a combination like I did, but be forewarned that much of the stability of any buttercream comes from the shortening.

          So to be clear the total amount of FAT (butter, shortening or a combination of the two) is 765g or 3¼cups

  18. Hello Gretchen!

    I am hoping to try this recipe soon this week for making your Ferrero Rocher Truffle Cake (I want to make this recipe and I want to try using this butter cream recipe instead of Swizz Buttercream).

    I have several questions:
    1) I have two 9′ cake pans that I plan to use for the layers. Would 8 cups of this buttercream be too much or just right?

    2) If 8 cups of buttercream would be too much, how do I adjust the ratios of the recipe to make 5 cups

    3) Could I just halve the recipe to make just 4 cups?

    Thanks in advance and I am really excited to try this recipe!

    1. HI Great, Im thinking you mean 2 9″ layers to make 1 cake? Yes 8 cups is a good amount (I like to make sure I have enough rather than too little, since you can freeze this BC if it is a bit too much)
      BUT you can of course halve the recipe to make 4 cups – just be sure to halve ALL the ingredients

  19. Hi Gretchen!
    I look forward to your videos on Thursday and Sunday. I like trying your recipes, they always work! I was just wondering if you can make this chocolate icing by adding cocoa powder or melted chocolate. I look forward to your reply!

  20. What else can be used for couverture chocolate ? I can not find it @ Fry’s, Walmart or Trader Joe’s. Haven’t tried Sprouts yet. Need 1/2 cup for the Irish-Italian Meringue Buttercream frosting.
    And can I use Sweetix for the shortening rather than butter or solid shortening???

  21. Came out extremely greasy, followed the recipe exactly, what can i do to fix this batch, id hate to throw it in the trash!

  22. can you frost your cake one day before, keep it in fridge
    and next day put rolled marshmallow fondant on top of it.

    And will it withstand when left out for 4 hrs. Please reply.

  23. i had a recipe that used a little cream of tarter in the egg whites. like 3/4 tsp. can I still use that. for me, it made my egg whites more stable.. and then added 1/4 cup of sugar to that mixture. then added syrup..

  24. I made this buttercream but it came out yellow and greasy and not stabilised. followed the receipe exactly. what can I do to fix it i don’t want to throw it away. also what can I do to make it more sweet.

  25. Best frosting EVER! I had some chocolate ganache already made so when I needed a chocolate frosting I just added some to the IMBC. I have received many compliments and recipe requests for this one.

  26. I have a home based baking business so I get a few last minute orders. So that I’m prepared for these orders I make up IMBC and keep it in the freezer. When I have leftover egg whites I put them in a measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap. When I have enough egg whites I make up a batch of this frosting and into the freezer it goes. I take it out of the freezer the night before I need to use it. I whip it up a bit with the paddle just like Gretchen and it’s perfect!!! It’s not overly sweet and it holds up really well.

  27. Hey Gretchen! I just made your imbc and I don’t think it is sweet enough for the crowd I’m making the cake for. Can I just add powdered sugar to the already completed buttercream?
    Thanks so much! I love your recipes

    1. Whipped Cream isnt really meant to be “stiff” the gelatin is there to keep it in place longer as far as piping and decorations, but it is still whipped cream. I do not use whipped cream to make roses, some do, but I do not

  28. I made this recipe following all your instructions.
    This is one of my favorite buttercreams! It is so fluffy, stiff enough, whippy, and not overly sweet. It reminds me of whipped cream, i love the texture!
    I also made your other swiss buttercream with chocolate gnache (for german’s chocolate cake), but it didn’t want to hold so well like this recipe. Thank you so much! I look forward to making more of your recipes!!

  29. Hi Gretchen! This is so amazing, tastes sooo good! Can you also make fluffy white frosting made of meringue? Just a different type of frosting 🙂 Looking forward to all your future recipes! 😀

    Dessa

  30. If I decorate my cake with this, can I leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight or will this dry out or have condensation? do I have to decorate same day as serving? I’m going to have whipped cream in the filling so I need to refridgerate.

  31. Hi gretchen.

    1. When you say solid vegetable shortening, do you mean crisco ?

    2. Which combination would you suggest for hot humid weather 95 F? 40 : 60 butter : shortening perhaps ?
    Thanks

  32. Hi Gretchen,

    I am having a difficult time with my Italian meringue buttercream. When I make it with all butter it comes out perfect. But when I use sweetex high ratio shortening it never comes together completely. It seems to have a separated look and spread unusual, plus it doesn’t have a smooth taste either. What am I doing wrong? Please help!

    1. Hmm, I would recommend to whip the heck out of that shortening before adding it to the buttercream, sounds like it is really firm and could use some softening up

    1. Hey there, I find some people are a lot more sensitive to egg smell than others, but it can also depend on the egg too. Since it is using egg white, I can say it is “normal” but it shouldnt be offensive

  33. Hi again. When you state that this buttercream is more “stable”, does that mean it will hold up a little better on a warm day than would the Swiss Buttercream?
    Do you recommend this buttercream when making roses and other decorative frosting decorations?
    Thanks again. 🙂

  34. Hi Gretchen. Thanks for the detailed instructions. This was my first time making it and I followed all the steps, but when I added the butter, the meringue did not deflate at all. It remained smooth. It does hold form though. However I did noticed that it wasn’t sweet at all. It tasted more buttery. Is there something I did wrong. Other recipes often say to add some sugar to the egg white when beating them. Will this help?

    1. Hi Gretchen, I think I meant that the buttercream did not curdle or come together as I saw in your video. Any ideas what I did wrong.

      1. Oh, hmmm. well if it did NOT curdle and it did NOT come together? then what did it do??
        I always recommend for folks to re-watch the video, re-read the instructions and see if you can find where you could have possibly did something different. Its hard for me to say since I did not see you make it, nor did I get to see your final result, but sometimes watching the video again can help put the pieces together for a good solution

  35. Hi Gretchen, am i able to use part vegetable shortening and part high ratio shortening in this recipe? thank you

  36. Hi Gretchen! I just tried your IMBC and didn’t have much luck. I followed the recipe exactly, but the end result seems lumpy and I’m not sure what the lumps are. I put it between my fingers nd they aren’t hard, but the buttercream itself seems to almost liquify on my fingers…almost like a whipped cream. Butter and shortening were room temp. Any ideas where I went wrong and any suggestions on how to fix it? I make your SMBC all the time and have always had success with it.
    Thanks!
    Ann Marie

    1. Hi Anne Marie, its really hard for me to say what could have happened if I can’t see it, or see how you mixed it. Im sorry this happened, my best advice is to always ask that you go back and re-watch the video to see if YOU can see where you may have done something differently

    2. Thanks for the quick response, Gretchen. I tried this recipe because it is supposed to be less sweet than the SMBC. Could the same egg/sugar/fat ratio be used to make the SMBC method since I have no issues with that method? If not, can you recommend how to lesson the sweetness in the SMBC recipe? Thank you!

  37. Hi Grechen
    Can the quantities be halved?
    To use all butter (really don’t like using vegetable fat!) do I add together the quantities for butter and shortening? = 764g of butter

    Keep up the fabulous work. I really enjoy your videos – so easy to follow.
    Thank you
    Esther x
    UK

    1. Hi and Thank you!! Yes to half and yes you are correct to add the total quantities of the fats together and that is the total amount you use, and you can adjust the ratios anyway you like (of course half that total fat amount though for half recipe!)

  38. Hi Gretchen,
    My shortening was room temp but did not blend into butter cream. It may be to do with the brand as I live in Ireland and had to use a product called cookeen as recommended on your site. Is there anyway I can now get this to blend? as it is already added. Thanks

    1. Hmm, sounds like you could be right about the cookeen, I am not familiar with this, but others have said the same. My best recommend is to press it through a fine mesh strainer to break up those bits, then rewhip the entire mixture (alot of work, but at least it will be smooth 🙂
      Click here for more

    1. yes although I have had trouble with carton egg whites and their ability to whip so I always use fresh, but others have used carton whites with no trouble, I guess it depends on the brand

  39. Gretchen, I finally made this buttercream after so many years of wanting to try. Many thanks to you to instill my confidence. It taste so smooth and delicious and I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner. Good health to you.

  40. Hi,

    Lots of recipes use cream of tartar… I was wondering why you don’t use it? Does it stabilize the buttercream better?

    Thanks
    Dana

    1. I suppose that is the idea many are claiming. I don’t know if it is valid though, I have never really used it in buttercreams so I can’t comment to say whether it works better or its an illusion! LOL
      Have you done it? Do you find it to be helpful?
      (I guess the 2nd part of that answer is that I haven’t really had much trouble with my buttercreams not being stable in the first place- so “if it ain’t broke….”

    2. I’ve done swiss buttercream with only the cream of tartar but my buttercream isn’t the most stable, melts quickly. So I looked online to try italian buttercream. So gonna give your recipe a try, thanks!

  41. For how long will this buttercream hold outside and will it crust?? I’m from Fla too… Lol so you already know this weather. Thanks in advance

  42. Gretchen you got to help me. I made the IMBC all right. The problem is it just wont stick to the cake, the cream keeps gliding and melting and turns into cottage cheese texture. I tried chilling the cake and repeat and I get the same results. I re-whip the cream, still the same. I suppose it works for simple swirls on a cupcake but crumb coating n icing a cake is a nightmare. I suspect there is a major condensation issue. As much as I love this cream, I ready to ditch this for good unless there is a solution.

    1. Yikes! thats a nightmare! Sounds like super condensation for sure! I had those same problems in the bakery in HOT HUMID NJ!! You will have to be sure your cake is not super cold when you start, this is thawing as you work and creating condensation

  43. Hi Gretchen!
    I tried this recipe and it didn’t work out for me. I got the sugar spot on and the egg whites. But when it came to adding the butter and the shortening, something went wrong. It curdled. I did what you suggested and continued to allow it to go but it only became worse. I will try again but do you have any suggestions? I often have to adjust recipes because of the altitude where I live. Could that be it?

  44. Hi,
    Can i compare vegetable shortening with margarine (70:30)?
    70 for VS and 30 for margarine.
    B’coz i find the texture not really good when i use all VS.

    1. well first if you substitute one ingredient for another it is not going to be “the same’ (obviously) but if you mean will it be OK? yes sure, many people use margarine or all shortening if they do not want to use butter.

  45. What kind of shortening? Or What kind of margrine? How much to substitute for the 5 sticks of unsalted butter.

    And how would I mix it into the recipe.

    1. Hi ratio shortening is best. Any kind of margarine you like. If you are taking out 5 sticks of butter add in 5 sticks of shortening or margarine (1stick = ½ cup) How to mix it in?? Pretend its the butter and follow the instructions as written or as I show you in the video

  46. Could I use butter flavored shortening as substitute for the unsalted butter? If so, how much?

    How much margarine could I substitute for the unsalted butter?

    1. whatever you take out in butter amount you will add back in – in margarine or shortening
      You can use butter flavored shortening however I have gotten very bad reviews with that- most people think it is disgusting I have never used it, I prefer regular shortening with a touch of butter flavoring instead

  47. Gud pm regarding your Italian merengue buttercream the measurement of butter is 5 stick and the solid shortening is 1 cup you said that we can replace 1 cup of shotening with butter so all in all the butter measurement is 7 sticks am I right I really want to try this so pls reply at once cause Im baking a 2 birthday cake for my sister n mother thank you very much and more power to your program

    1. Im sorry this got to be so confusing! So many people have been confused by this~~ Im wishing I just kept my mouth shut and did a straight up recipe (like the one listed in the ingredients list would be GREAT!) But I wanted to give options to change the ratios so you can adjust to your liking *sigh* live and learn! LOL
      BUT:So you see you can play around with ratios here; use all butter if you do not want shortening, or use a combination like I did, but be forewarned that much of the stability of any buttercream comes from the shortening.

      So to be clear the total amount of FAT (butter, shortening or a combination of the two) is 765g or 3¼cups

  48. I have tried both your SMBC and IMBC. I love them both! I am in NC and have a wedding in August. It will be outside in the middle of a football field and in a tent. The bride is wanting a 4 tier cake. I was wondering which buttercream you would suggest to be more stable in 100+ degree heat. I am not sure if we will have access to the kitchen or not and do not want it to be a disaster.

    1. Oh wow, that is a really bad situation for a 4 tier cake to be outside in that heat. I am not sure ANY icing will be stable for longer than 1 hour and it will need to be in the refrigerator for hours before you get it out into that heat. I would suggest to do a small cake iced in Italian Buttercream (Large portion of that dreaded shortening will be your best bet to thwart severe melting and droooping of a cake that size) and stick it outside for several hours to get an idea of what is going to happen. Good luck!

      1. Thank you so very much for the advice! I’m really hoping it will be a cooler day but I have a feeling I will not be so lucky! I may just have to keep it in my car and in the ac until its time for the cake. I look forward to more videos from you. I love all your tips and tricks!

  49. Hi Gretchen,

    I absolutely love this buttercream and im now using it in every one of my cakes!

    Just wondering after i cover the cake with the buttercream, is it safe to refrigerate the whole cake for a day or so until i deliver it? or will it dry it out/cause the buttercream to wet?

    Thanks!

    Tina

    1. Great! I have no trouble with this cake in the refrigerator I would just tell my clients to bring it to room temperature before serving

  50. Hello! I learned how to make Italian buttercream a long time ago at a bakery I worked at and I loved it but I was intrigued by the idea of French buttercream. So I experimented and put the two together and I get a rich fluffy beautiful buttercream every time. Everyone loves it. I use all butter in mine, but I can’t seem to get my icing to hold dark colors (like navy blue, or red) and I’m wondering if substituting some bigger for shortening could help this problem and give me some darker colors. What do you think? Sorry, butter for shortening*

    1. I always use a combo of shortening and butter and I get vibrant colors all the time (also color your icing a day or two ahead it will deepen as it sits)

  51. Hello Gretchen! I am making my first wedding cake next week. 11″ x6″,9″x6″ and 6″x6″ fondant covered. I calculate to have the 6″ tiers carded to make two 3 ” cakes (each with two layers) and do 1×2″ pieces I should get about 165 servings w/o the top. Bride is having a full ice cream bar as well so pieces should be ok to be slightly smaller.

    My question is, how many recipes of the Italian merangue would I need? I will use it as filling on the smaller tiers as well.

    Thanks for all your help!

  52. Hi Gretchen! My aunt showed me your wonderful website and I love it!! You are awesome!
    Question: Is there such a thing as overbeating the egg whites?
    Thanks!

  53. HI GRETCHEN.

    HOPE THIS MAIL MEETS U WELL.

    MY SIS WEDDING WAS AWESOME. I SERVED BROWNIES TO GUESTS TO TAKE HOME BUT THEY JUST UNWRAPPED ATE THEM RIGHT THERE . THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS RECIPE. ITS GONNA BE MY CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
    I ALSO MADE UR ITALIAN MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM, IT CAME OUT AND TASTED SO WONDERFUL THAT MY NEPHEWS THOUGHT IT WAS ICECREAM, U CAN IMAGINE WOT HAPPENED TO IT…. HAHAHAHAH.
    DO TAKE CARE
    BLESS UR HEART

  54. HI GRETCHEN,
    COULD U PLEEEASE THINK ABOUT MAKING FONDANT. COS WE DONT HAVE PRE-MADE FONDANT SOLD IN STORES WERE I COME FROM.
    TAKIA

  55. Hello Gretchen,

    I used your recipe for IMBC today and it tasted soooo good. When I went to pipe flowers it was just a tad too soft. What can I do to make it stiffer? Or maybe you could recommend another recipe that would be better for piping flowers.

  56. I just made IMBC and SMBC.I love both so much but IMBC is less sweeter than SMBC in my opinion.but I have to eat with cake and decide which one I prefer.. I have a question for you, Gretchen.I normally add small amount of sugar to egg whites and beat until stiff peaks. Without adding sugar, how much should I beat? the reason why I ask is because I over beat it once and throw the white eggs away…:( and next one, I beat very carefully and beat it till medium peak. Am I doing right?
    Anyway.. I tried your vanilla cupcake and finally found my go to vanilla cupcake!!!YES!!Thank you so so much. I can’t wait to try more your recipes. Thank you for your time to show your technique and wonderful recipes.

  57. Thank you so much for the quick reply. I will be making this frosting tomorrow. I’m so excited! 🙂

    I was wondering though what speed should my kitchen aid be on when mixing the egg whites ? And also the speed after changing the whisk to paddle?

  58. Hi Gretchen, hope you’re well.
    I was wondering if you have ever thought of making IMBC using honey or another kind of syrup instead of the traditional way? It’s gotta work surely…if you heat syrup up..don’t ya think? And if one wasn’t concerned about the raw egg white (and it was just for personal eating) you could just whipped up the egg whites…add room temp syrup followed by room temp butter/shortening. I guess I should just try it lol

  59. Dear Gretchen,thank you for an amazing recipe and providing it in grams for us Europeans mostly haha.
    I was wondering,can this buttercream be used in making buttercream flowers? (The ones that you make beforehand and chill in the fridge to set,and then place on to the cake or cupcake)

  60. Hi Gretchen
    My big problem is the sugar syrup. Have checked my thermometer. I use a heavy bottom pot on high heat but each time I get hard caramel instead of pouring sugar syrup. Please give some advice.
    Many thanks for your great recipes. It gives me motivation.
    Regards
    Rosalind

  61. Hello, I am wondering how I can fix this butter cream. It taste great it is just way too soft to pipe with. Can I add something to it to help make it more stiff?

  62. Hi Gretchen

    Thanks for the reply. Did some further research and discovered that an adjustment is needed at a higher altitude. Today I experimented. Water boils here at 95deg C so I adjusted that recipe and voila it worked. I am so chuffed with this syrup.

    Many thanks.
    Rosalind

  63. Hi Gretchen,

    I made this today and its very nice!
    I have 2 questions though. 1. After adding the butter my buttercream took a yellowish colour, and I couldn’t get it to be as white as i wanted (i used all butter)
    2. While adding the sugar syrup i noticed that some of it became hard around my bowl and didn’t incorporate with the meringue, what can i do to prevent this from happening?

    1. yes since butter has a slight yellow tone to it, it will come through in the buttercream as well. The sugar on the bowl is inevitable, it happens all the time, just practice pouring in a way that makes it less severe, it takes some praactice

  64. Love this recipe but I have never coloured it! If I use a blue gel colour will it come out blue or will it go green as it has the yellow butter in it?

  65. Gretchen I really need your help. I have tried 3 attempts of another version of the Italian butter cream and everything seems to go well until I add the butter. Then all of a sudden the fluffy meringue turns to a liquid marshmallow fluff. i have even let my mixer go for an hour until the bowl is room temp. I have put towels in the freezer and wrapped it around the bowl to cool off and still it doesn’t work. Is it suppose to liquefied like it does? Should I let it beat longer after adding the butter. I am so lost with this recipe.

    1. Hmm, try adding the butter/shortening when it is slightly cooler (not cold so it has chunks, but maybe you are getting it too soft?)
      Also get it in FAST and whip it until it comes back together

  66. All the liquid Egg Whites only products in the stores are all pasteurized and all state they should not be used for making meringue. Have you had any trouble whipping meringue using pasteurized liquid egg whites? Is the final icing product just as good as of I cracked them fresh!

    Since I will be making enough frosting to ice an 18″,14″, 10″ and 6″ stacked wedding cake, using my 6 quart KitchenAid, I woukd prefer not to deal with that five plus dozen egg yolks after separating them!

    Thanks!

    Tom

    1. I have always had trouble with liquid carton egg whites for making meringues and why I always use fresh.
      Unless you can get your hands on a product called Angel Whip then I have not had good results
      I hear you on the waste of all those yolks though, when I had my bakery we used the yolks just as equally as the whites so there was never any waste, but for you it will be a long time to use them up Im sure. Click here for more info on what to do, but also I have several recipes that take yolks like Creme Brulee Butter Cake Lemon Curd Crepe Cake and Key Lime Pie ~ just to name a few

  67. Thanks for the liquid egg white response!!

    Considering the same cake, my daughter wants it to be tinted a light, sweatshirt grey color.

    I am thinking of airbrushing the color on, once the cake is stacked, however I am not sure how well or evenly the color will adhere, or if I should just try to make a huge catch of icing and mix the color all at once, to ensure it is identical on all layers.

    Have you had any issues airbrushing food colors on Italian butter cream consisting of butter and not shortening?

    Thanks again!!!!

    Tom

  68. Thanks again for your comment! My daughter likes the idea of a very glittery cake. I am considering airbrushing luster dust or some other edible glitter onto her cake, but wonder if I will experience problems with the glitter (or other product) adhering to the Italian buttercream. Any thoughts, comments, experience or advice covering what glitter product -and application method- might work best?

    Thanks again!

    Tom
    PS. After bothering you with all these questions, I feel I should send you a photo once I get it done! The reception is in May, 2017

  69. Gretchen, you are the QUEEN of italian meringue buttercream. I just made your recipe (halved every ingredient) and added freeze dried strawberry powder. It is exactly how it appears on your video. I live in tropical Australia in very humid temperature (it is our summer right now) and have had a sample of the buttercream sitting on my bench for the last 3 hours and it hasn’t changed composition at all. Way to go girl. thank you.

  70. Hi i loved the taste of IMB. However i wonder if its stable enough to be used for cupcake bouquet? due to the arrangement of flowers at certain angle. hope to hear ur reply soon!

  71. Near my hometown there is this wonderful bakery that makes the best frosting ever! I’ve been trying to find a recipe that comes close, but I’ve never been able to find one, until now! I knew their recipe included shortening AND cooked sugar, but I could never figure out the rest of the components. My only complaint is it’s a bit too much vanilla extract, so I think I’ll half that for next time, but otherwise it’s perfect! Thanks!

  72. Hello Gretchen!. I love your videos and recipes. I would like to try this recipe, but I’m afraid it would melt. I’m from Costa Rica and here it’s very hot and humid, and I’m afraid it may melt or fall off the cake. My question is if adding meringue powder to the recipe would make an even more stable buttercream. And I don’t mean using meringue powder instead of egg whites, I mean adding it to the egg whites. Thanks for all your help.

    1. Hi I live in hot humid New Jersey and made this for wedding cakes in the heat of summer. As long as you are not putting it outside in 100F temperatures or in the sun it will be fine, be sure to use the shortening for stabilty though. I do not use meringue powder so I cannot comment ther

  73. Hello there,
    I would like to thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it once so far and was very satisfied.I loved the taste and the fact that it pipes beautifully and is very stable. Thank you again and wishing you many blessings.

  74. The icing turned out great I did all butter as I’m in Australia and hate copha.
    Thanks for the recipe. Wish I could get it whiter but have added titanium dioxide hoping that will whiten it up the paddle at the end has definitely made a difference too.
    I’ve made a lot of imbc recipes and yours seems to work so much better.

  75. This recipe is amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I live in Florida and I was looking for a stable merengue buttercream and i found it!!!

  76. Hi Gretchen

    First of all I’m really enjoying all your recipes, good tips and instructional videos.
    Today I had a big bake day and made your italian meringue buttercream. It turned out great – but: it’s a bit sweet for my german taste buds. I usually automatically leave out sugar from american recipes but I didn’t with the buttercream. So my question is: can it be done with less sugar? Or does less sugar compromize the stability of the buttercream. I think no, but I’d like to be sure. Your the professional;)
    thanks again and cheers from Germany
    Bettina

        1. Its hard to say because I have not taken out that much sugar, (half seems extreme) you are correct in that it does supply some stability to the recipe, but again I have not taken out the sugar, so please keep me posted as to what you find! Thanks!

          1. well, as I already had the very sweet buttercream I didn’t make a new batch. I just went and added 250g of butter to about 500g of the buttercream and it was fine for me 😉

  77. Please, I have a few questions.
    I make Italian Buttercream a lot. I notice that it’s not really good the next day for any left over icing, The consistency changes, and it doesn’t taste good. It also sweats as it comes to room temperature. That being said, it raises the following questions:
    1. Why?
    2. Can fondant be put over a frozen cake, or must one bring it to room temperature?
    3. I understand it’s okay for freeze the cake once covered with fondant. At the most, be put into the fridge.
    4. Once out of the fridge, how do you avoid the sweating of everything?
    I thank you.
    Tom

    1. CLICK HERE FOR HOW TO RECONSTITUTE THE BUTTERCREAM TO A USABLE CONSISTENCY
      But why? Well, butter when cold becomes hard, and sugar is hygroscopic so it likes to absorb as much moisture as possible, but also the temperature changes will cause solid fats to sweat.
      #2 extreme condensation will occur on the cake as it thaws, so if you fondant it while it is frozen, all that condensation will be trapped under the fondant – creating problems, so be sure to thaw it first.
      #4 I do not freeze fondant cakes, due to this condensation problem.

  78. Hi Loreli, just want to know since this recipes contains shortening,would stay crusty to the touch or will get soft at some point. Thank you and God bless you

  79. The only problem I encountered recently was that icing from the lower cake tier sticking tenaciously to the cake board above it, leaving the top of the lower cake devoid of icing after lifting the stacked tier off. I think from now on I will bring or provide extra icing in a disposable piping bag and a disposable icing knife so a quick smear of appropriately colored and flavored icing can be quickly applied to the bare spots by the cake cutter/server.

  80. Do your egg whites need to be at room temperature before whipping? Also, other IMBC recipes say to whip egg whites till firm peaks before pouring in hot sugar. Do you recommend that in this recipe? Thank you!

    1. Not necessary but it cannot hurt either
      I do not recommend to get it stiff before adding sugar, the sugar takes a long time to get in there .. so you can do it as I show in the video

  81. This is my all-time go to icing recipe. I absolutely love it! I don’t know if my comment will be buried, but I can’t stress enough that high ratio shortening makes a HUGE difference in whether any icing feels greasy on the tongue. This recipe uses very little shortening, but it still makes a difference. The high ratio has a lower melting point than regular shortening, therefore it dissolves immediately in the mouth as opposed to regular shortening which can leave a greasy film in your mouth. I use this kind and it works absolutely phenomenally! CLICK HERE FOR HI RATIO SHORTENING
    Thank you for all of your hard work Gretchen! You are appreciated!!

  82. OMG! Gretchen….I hope you can help me! I made your recipe…to a T…everything at room temp, added the cooled melted chocolate, and it’s super soft!! Any tips on how to thicken it! Please help!!! Thank you!

    1. The chocolate is usually a stabilizer sicne when it all gets colder it is super firm, hopefully that is the case by now since my late reply

      1. Hi Gretchen….thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I don’t know what happened….the egg whites/sugar whipped up beautifully. Added the butter/shortening and it came together nicely. Then I melted the chocolate…waited for that to cool and added that and that’s when it got so soft that it’s just not holding up between cake layers. I tried adding cocoa powder thinking that might tighten things up, but it looks even worse now :(. Is this garbage now? Any suggestions on how to save it? Thank you!

        1. Im sorry I dont really know what could have gone wrong since again, the chocolate more than any other addition (CLICK HERE ) is a tightener not a loosen-er whereas other additions are always going to make it softer.
          Is it garbage? I’m not sure, if you feel like it is unusable, that is your call. Im sorry this happened..
          My best suggestion would be to put the bowl of icing in the refrigerator (not until it is solid cold, just until it is cold-er) then remix it gently

  83. Hi Gretchen,
    I messed up with this recipe. My egg whites won’t fluff up. Instead it’s a milky looking egg white liquid mixture that is obviously sweet with the sugar syrup. I haven’t added the butter yet. Is there anything else I can do with the egg white+sugar mixture? Don’t want to throw the whole thing.

    1. Hmm perhaps you had some grease in the bowl or on your utensils? this will prohibit the whipping of egg whites.

  84. I would like to get a fresh mint flavor instead of the commercial peppermint. I have a mint plant at home to experiment with. Could I heat the sugar syrup just a bit (maybe just until it’s dissolved, but not yet boiling) then add the mint leaves to steep for 5-10 minutes off the heat, strain it and then continue heating it? Have you ever tried something like that? If its possible, that also really opens up a new world of flavors!

  85. Hi Gretchen,
    What is your thought on using half of Italian meringue recipe (instead of swiss buttercream) and half of cream cheese icing (50/50) to make the Cream Cheese Buttercream for your AMAZING tropical carrot cake. What do you think about the texture and flavor, would it will go well with your carrot cake?

    Thank you
    Sara

  86. Great recipe! Mine turned out amazing…. then I messed it all up! I decided to crumb coat my red velvet cake. Apparently it wasn’t cooled all the way through the cake and only cool to touch. I put my icing in between layers and did a quick crumb coat. The middle icing started ooozing out the middle so I quickly through into the fridge. And then when I came back to it.. both the icing on the cake and the icing in the bowl ( I put in fridge) had the separation look. Now I guess I could’ve remixed the icing in the bowl to bring it back, but what about the stuff on the cake??? Sadly I tossed it but what would you have done with the 1/2 iced cake with curdled icing on it???

    1. Oh no! Well I always say the best teachers are our mistakes! So you won;t be doing THAT again! LOL
      Yes you could’ve remixed the icing, the stuff on the cake, well that’s your call. It was probably mixed with crumbs and a bit messy. The only thing it could have been good for probably is Cake Pops?

  87. Hi Gretchen, I have been making your IMBC for so long now that I feel almost Italian (I’m Australian). I would like to make an orange flavour and was wondering if I could use the same quantity of fresh strained orange juice instead of the water in the sugar syrup, boil it in exactly the same way and to the same temperature and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. What do you think. Thank you. Frances

    1. Hmm sounds like an interesting idea, I would say yes it should work, but hey ya never know! LOL please let me know if you try! All the recipes I’ve seen for orange IMBC call for extracts or zest (which I will also recommend to use) but none with straight up orange juice, perhaps you found a winning idea!

  88. Hi Gretchen,

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Two things:

    1) Why does the butter and/or shortening have to weigh 764 grams in total? What’s the science behind this? I one time made my usual IMBC and when I added more shortening, it was less stable and got softer. I’m interested in why this happens.

    2) One trick I learned to pouring the hot syrup into the egg whites is to stop the mixer, pour one quarter of the syrup into the whites, then crank up the mixer to high speed for 5 seconds. Repeat this process for the remaining 3 additions of hot syrup. That way, you won’t get pieces of sugar syrup that hardens up on the side of the bowl and might clog up your piping tips. It also minimizes the danger of getting burned by the syrup.

    You rock! Love this website.

    1. Hi Thanks! Im not sure there is a specific “science” behind it, it’s just the way the recipe was created that was seemingly “the best” ratio for best taste and optimal stability. Some people will say “How dare you add shortening to a buttercream” and while i can see that point, in a commercial setting when we are using this icing for decorating large display cakes in all kinds of conditions, the shortening (in my opinion) is a necessary evil. You can adjust it to your liking, and as you noted you will see the differences right away by doing so (adding more or less)
      And thanks for the tip for adding the sugar!

      1. Hey. I would rather use shortening so a wedding cake doesn’t slide around and turn into a disaster on someone’s wedding day! By the way… I tested out your recipe several times using my tip about adding 3 additions of hot sugar syrup and whipping the mixture high inbetween. DON’T do that….. I ended up with small pieces of cooked egg whites. Sorry for the inaccurate tip. This DOES seem to work if the egg whites have some sugar in them. Maybe it increases the cooking temp of the eggs? Anyway, thank you for your quick response and wonderful recipes!!!!

      1. Hi Gretchen! I had a question about high ratio shortening. I’ve read that when a recipe is written for regular shortening, you must use less high ratio shortening if you change it out. Is this true? If I were to use your weights in your recipe, would I use 198g of high ratio, or would I want to change that (assuming the amount of butter stays at 566g)? Thanks!

        1. Hi Adam I have not heard this, however I have always used Hi Ration shortening in my recipes. That being said in my original days in Youtube when I was showing home bakers how to make my swiss meringue buttercream, I was using Crisco because at that time Hi Ratio was not readily available to home bakers. I found that using the same amount of “regular shortening” as you say… (Crisco?) It proabably could have used LESS of that, not the other way around.

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