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how to make italian meringue buttercream
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5 from 14 votes

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Silky and smooth - this is the #1 of all buttercreams! Use a candy thermometer for perfect buttercream every time!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 412 -5 cups


  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 pound 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).
  • 2. Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.
  • 3. With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes.
  • 4. Add butter tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth.



  • Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature so it is incorporated into the meringue. Here are 3 ways to do that quickly.
  • You want to use room temperature egg whites so they whip up to full volume. I place my whole uncracked eggs into a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes to get this done fast. 
  • You want a clean grease free bowl to whip your egg whites. Any grease will inhibit the egg whites from whipping up properly.
  • When cracking your egg whites, crack each one seperately in a small bowl then add to your large bowl. This is in case any egg yolk gets in the egg white, the whole batch is not ruined. Any egg yolk in your egg whites will prevent the egg whites from whipping up properly. 
  • Do not use a plastic bowl because over time it can hold on to grease and fat. Metal is best. Glass will work as well but can be slippery. 
  • Use a candy thermometer to ensure you have brought the sugar syrup up to the correct temperature.
  • Stream the syrup in slowly so it can be incorporated and not deflate the egg whites.
  • Before adding the butter, feel the bottom of the bowl to make sure it is cool enough. If the bowl is still warm, wait a few more minutes. If you add the butter when the bowl is warm the butter may melt. 
  • When adding the syrup, a stand mixer is easiest so you have two free hands. But if you are using a hand mixer, then try placing a towel under your bowl to keep it steady while you multi-task. You also could recruit a friend here to help you out and take over the mixing. Or you can also just try drizzling a little bit, then pausing to mix.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a sealed container. Re-whip again until smooth and creamy. You can also store this in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 hours or so, and re-whip until desired consistency again.