Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue ButtercreamSwiss Meringue Buttercream has been on my culinary bucketlist for months now, because someone told me it was difficult. Well, I don’t know about you, but to me that sounded like a challenge and I don’t like to back down to challenges! A nice flavorful Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream seemed like an excellent place to start!

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a gift from the culinary gods! It is sweet but not overly sweet like American Buttercreams can be and it is so light that it practically melts in your mouth. Its silky, creamy texture is unparalleled. Both the Husband and I were very impressed!

The texture and delicate sweetness allow other flavors to shine. This Vanilla Bean SMB is bursting with vanilla flavor. It almost tastes like French Vanilla Ice Cream. Magical.

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

It pipes beautifully and it holds up well at room temperature. I actually think it tastes best at room temperature or just slightly cool. When it is cold it gets too hard and you won’t be able to experience the unique silky texture and that would be sad. Speaking of sad…

I have made SMB 6 times in the past 2 weeks. In the making of these Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and another cupcake recipe I have yet to post, I managed to ruin 4 beautiful batches of SMB by adding fresh cherry or strawberry-lemon zest puree…there were tears and few expletives thrown around in my kitchen that week. I loathe waste. Especially something so silky and beautiful as a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Sadness.

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

So, needless to say, I’ve learned a few things about SMB. I think this bad reputation is undeserved. It is temperamental, but it isn’t as difficult as others make it out to be. I found that most mistakes or missteps could be rectified with a little patience. I also learned what couldn’t be remedied. All of which I will share with you below because I want your next SMB to be a success!

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

On another note, I don’t know about you but I get stressed out by recipes that call for either egg yolks or whites because then I feel pressured to make something else using up the leftovers! I cannot even tell you how many egg whites I have in the freezer. But now that I have an ice cream maker, I just get really excited because leftover egg yolks means ICE CREAM!!!! Woo hoo! This recipe for SMB calls for 5 egg whites and you need 5 egg yolks for this Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Ice cream! Happy accident!

And if you accidentally break a yolk and need to use a 6th egg, you should get super excited because you can make The BEST Chocolate Ice Cream ever!

I’ll let you in on a little secret, you can make that same ice cream using 5 egg yolks but it won’t be quite as thick or rich. But it will still taste like a little (or big) scoop of heaven.

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the topping for one of my favorite cupcakes that I have ever made or tried, so get excited and stay tuned!

A few pointers for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream in Confidence:

  • Make sure your bowl and whisk attachment are clean. No stray oils or fat. None. You can wipe down your equipment with lemon juice but I find that superfluous.
  • There is a bit of delicate timing involved, so I take my cubed butter out of the refrigerator when I start separating my egg whites. It warms up to the right temperature by the time I am ready to start incorporating it into the meringue.
  • Separate your eggs when they are cold! This tip is useful for any recipe, really. Egg whites separate easier when cold and whip up better when warm. #funfact
  • No stray egg yolks! I separate mine in small bowl one at a time and then transfer each egg white individually to the mixing bowl to avoid any contamination. That way if the 4th egg yolk breaks (even just a little bit), I don’t have to start all over. Crisis averted.
  • Your mixing bowl must be a neutral temperature and not warm when you start adding the butter or your butter will just melt.
  • Your frosting might curdle when adding or after you have added the butter. That’s okay. Just continue mixing until it comes back together. It just means your butter was too cold when you added it. Patience, it will work.
  • Your butter will not incorporate faster if you beat it in on a higher speed. When you switch to the paddle attachment to start adding the butter, your mixer must be on the lowest setting possible!! Your mixture will curdle if it is any higher and it will not reincorporate unless it is on LOW. I learned this the hard way…several times. No biggie, it came back together once I switched it back to low. Yours will too.
  • If your buttercream looks almost perfect and you are just mixing it to get out a few straggling butter lumps and your SMB curdles, just continue mixing until it comes back together. Patience, it will work.
  • If your SMB is too runny when it becomes silky and smooth, refrigerate it for 15 minutes and then continue to mix on low.
  • Keep at room temperature until ready to use. If you put it in the refrigerator it will harden and not be pipe-able and then it will separate and you will be sad. I can empathize, really. Yes, I did this too.
  • You can store SMB in the refrigerator or freezer, but you must let it come to room temperature BEFORE you remix it in a mixer with the paddle attachment or it will separate into a curdled, weepy semi-liquid. This is one of those irreparable situations. Sadness will ensue. Been there.
  • You can add too much fruit puree. Start with ¼ cup and go from there. Pureed preserves are a safer option because they aren’t as liquidy. I also ruined an SMB by adding strawberry puree with lemon zest. I do these things so that you don’t have to!
  • You can get more helpful tips here
  • You’ve totally got this!

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 5 cups SMB or enough to generously frost 2 dozen cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream is silky, creamy and lightly sweetened! You will love the delicate texture; so soft it melts in your mouth! With the vanilla bean paste it almost tastes like vanilla ice cream!


  • 5 large egg whites (150g), carefully separated.
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar (250 g)
  • 1 ½ cups (340 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, cool but not cold
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • pinch kosher salt


  1. Take your cubed butter from the refrigerator and set it on the counter away from any direct source of heat.
  2. Place a saucepan with about an inch of water in the bottom over medium-high heat until it comes to a simmer; then turn it down to low to maintain that simmer.
  3. Separate your egg whites from your egg yolks and add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Add the sugar to the egg whites and place the mixing bowl right over the simmering water. Gently whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the egg white/sugar mixture is hot; approximately 12 minutes. This cook time will depend on the heat of your water! Just watch it.
  5. Secure the bowl into the base of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until the whites are smooth and glossy and the bowl is neutral to the touch. If your meringue is smooth and glossy before your bowl is cool, just keep whipping. I beat these on medium-high speed.
  6. Once your bowl is neutral switch to the paddle attachment and set the mixer on the lowest setting possible. Slowly add your butter, one cube at a time, until it has all been added. Continue mixing on low until your butter has fully incorporated, there are no lumps, and the frosting is smooth and silky. If your buttercream curdles at any point, don’t fret and definitely don’t give up, just continue mixing on low until it comes back together. It will. Don’t worry. All is not lost.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste and mix on low just until it is incorporated and evenly distributed.
  8. Place in a piping bag fitted with you favorite tip. If you intend to use it during the next several hours, keep the piping bag at room temperature.


Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Let it come to room temperature before remixing in a mixer for 5 minutes.

You can also freeze the frosting for 6-8 weeks, just thaw it on the counter overnight before remixing in a stand mixer.

Recipe from Sweetapolita

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    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I ALOL when I read your comment while I was working yesterday! Best compliment ever! It was delicious!!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Lindsay! It’s so silky – I couldn’t believe it the first time I tried it! Thanks for the pin!

  1. says

    Oh, gosh. Just hand me a spoon and I’ll be good for the rest of my life with this gorgeous buttercream around! Love how soft and silky it looks and your piping is just beautiful!

  2. says

    Lindsey, this is one beautiful way to present SMB — I love those swirls in those pretty wine glasses! Your SMB looks like perfection, and you’re so right — it sounds so scary, but it’s really pretty easy if you just follow the steps, which you outlined very nicely! I’m not a big buttercream person, but SMB is SO delicious — it’s creamy and not too sweet just like you said. Love this, and pinning!
    marcie recently posted…Cheesy Corn Dip Stuffed Jalapenos {Farmer’s Market Friday}My Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Marcie!! I find most frostings sickeningly sweet so SMB is a nice divergence! Thanks for the pin!

  3. says

    I love, love Swiss meringue buttercream and yours looks exquisite! I’ve wasted more eggs by not separating each before adding to the bowl :/ You’d think I’d be wiser by now!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Liz!! Don’t think I haven’t done the same recently, because I totally have. And then I kick myself for not following my own words of wisdom. Dumb. 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      No pretending needed, Pamela! That is exactly what happened as soon as the last shot was taken lol!!! 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I hope you do, Jessica! You’ll never be satisfied with a regular American Buttercream again (unless you are short on time…in which case, American rules the day!)

  4. says

    Love SMB, it’s definitely my favorite frosting. Yours looks so creamy and perfect 🙂 So temperamental but so so worth it 🙂 Oh my and I seriously just want to dive right in to that pillowy cloud of yumminess and never come out – it looks heavenly! Pinning 🙂

  5. Vanya cooper says

    Hi Lindsay

    I made your lovely SMB today. Just as I was getting a bit bored thinking is it ever going to thicken up, it did , beautifully so, no curdling or any other unpleasantness , just perfect smooth cream, thanks for all the pointers they came in handy. I didn’t add vanilla but did add a bit of rose essence and planning to use it for my sister in law’s birthday cake tomorrow.

    Basically you have a new fan! Pinned this and your Guinness cupcakes which I turned very nicely into full on very alcoholic Bailey cupcakes! Thanks for lovely recipies.


    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I’m so glad!! The SMB takes FOREVER! I kept standing there, like, is it done yet?! But in the end it was worth it every time! I love your idea about using rose essence. Is that the same as rosewater? How much do you use?

      A full on alcoholic Baileys cupcake sounds Ah-mazing!

      • vanya cooper says

        Hiya 🙂

        No it’s thicker than rose water, kind of oily I buy it from Asian cooking shops here in the UK, you ever need USA equivalent googling yahoo answers usually does the trick! Whipping cream, graham crackers, stick of butter , you name it, worked them all out at the end, lol

        I used half a of a half table spoon measure so quarter table spoon ( it was the only one I could reach while holding my mixer, lol) it have me a hint of rose scent , which was as much as I wanted I think the cream will take much more liquid so rose water might work, too!


        • AmericanCooking22 says

          gotta love Google! It is rare to find an answer it can’t answer! I’ll have to give rosewater a try! I could be a wonderful topping for a cake!

          • Roxanne Willett says

            I added 1/2 tsp. Rosewater and 1/4 cup of raspberry puree to your SMB. Frosted vanilla bean cupcakes and it was superb!

  6. Jackie says

    Would this be appropriate to use for a wedding cake? And can it be kept during out at room temps without spoiling or melting during an event, such as a wedding? It looks delectable! Thanks!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Jackie. I am not a wedding cake specialist but, yes, I would use this buttercream for a wedding cake. If you want a perfectly smooth surface, many professionals (including Ron Ben-Isreal) ice the cake with a meringue buttercream, refrigerate it, then cover it in fondant. My wedding cake didn’t have fondant because I think it tastes terrible! Buttercream is fine sitting out at room temperature. I would store it in the refrigerator until the event, then take it out, and by the time they cut the cake it will be room temperature and taste perfect! This frosting tastes best room temperature – it’s too hard when cold. Good luck!

  7. says

    I was so scared of attempting a batch of SMB and I still slightly am! Ha! I am almost finished my first ever batch, thanks to your wonderful step by step instructions. My batch has curdled but has come back together. SMB is definitely not as hard as I thought it would be! When do you add the salt? And can you amend your instructions to show step by step photos for the baking novices 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Congratulations, Louise!!! I will forever remember the time when I realized that SMB wasn’t as scary as I thought. In school I’ve since made it a whole lot more! I will update my recipe for the salt. You can add it when you start whipping up your meringue or if I were making a chocolate one I would add the salt to the chocolate. It is definitely on my list to update with step by step photos and a video! I did recently do an Italian Meringue Buttercream with step-by-step photos! If you like SMB then you will LOVE IMB!!!! Happy baking!

  8. Nicole says

    I would love to try this recipe!! Do you think it would still work if I didn’t use a stand mixer? I don’t have one! 🙁

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Nicole, I am sure it would work because they used to make swiss meringue before stand mixers. Your arm may get tired but that’s about it! Good luck!

  9. Audrey says

    I am just confused as to when the buttercream will come together and no longer be liquid? Does that happen as soon as the butter is incorporated ? and if it does not become cream, is it because I did not beat the egg whites long enough after I took them off of heat?

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Audrey, there are several things that could be going on here. Most likely your meringue (egg whites and sugar) were not cool enough when you started adding your butter. The mixing bowl should be cool to the touch. Or, second most likely culprit, your butter was too warm when you added it. You can try switching back to the whisk attachment and beating it on high. If that doesn’t work try adding more cold butter. If all else fails you can try popping it in the fridge for 15 minutes and then continuing to whisk. Good luck!

      • Audrey says

        Thanks so much for your reply! I ended up blaspheming the recipe by adding powdered sugar and beating on high and it came together but is definitely sweeter than I know it is supposed to be. I will definitely try again and keep your pointers in mind. I think also my eggs were not cold when I separated them to the yoke may have gotten into the egg whites and I know how temperamental that is. I am so sad I seem to be the only failure here in the comments, but certainly not due to any fault on your end!

        • Lindsey says

          Sometimes that is what being a good baker is all about: throwing the rules out the window and adapting to the situation! Congrats on being able to fix it. If you got fat in your egg whites (yokes or even just residual fat in the mixing bowl) then they won’t beat up as nicely or at all in some cases. If you can’t get the egg whites to make a stiff meringue then you just need to start over. If you are having difficulty beating up the egg whites, you can try adding more cream of tartar to stabilize them. I hope you try again! This is one of those recipes I intend to film a full tutorial for in the near future. I think I’ll do buttercreams after I finish pie crusts!

  10. says

    The Smb and Italian butter teams are sublime but one thing that is important to remember they have a low melting point so if you make a wedding cake for a spring or summer wedding I do NOT recommend it unless you know it will be kept cool

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Tracy! Unfortunately no buttercream holds up well in the heat for extended periods of time; it is butter after all! 🙂 Freeze it before you transport it, then refrigerate it and take it out at the latest time possible.

  11. Wendy Southworth says

    Hi from South Africa!

    Gosh! How beautifully explained and presented! Suddenly, I’m not so afraid of trying this 🙂

    Could you tell me if this SMB would a) remain soft and crustless…and b) hold up in warm temperatures (sort of low 80’s)? I’m hoping to use it for a ‘Pimp-your-Cupcake’ wedding cake bar and I need a frosting which can be piped in advance but will hold the guest-added toppings and not let them roll off (the toppings, not the guests) 😉

    Thanks a mill for the lovely recipe!

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Wendy! I am so glad that my tutorial helped you no longer fear the SMB! A cupcake topping bar sounds like such a great idea! To answer your questions – a) yes, it will remain soft and crustless. That crust forms from the powdered sugar used in “American Buttercream”. b) It will hold up in warm temperatures. If it gets too hot the butter will melt but the meringue will help keep it more stable. Personally I find Italian Meringue to be a touch more stable but they will both hold up to the heat better than any other buttercream.

      Are you planning on pre-piping the frosting on the cupcakes? If so, you might consider keeping some in a cooler and rotating them out for freshness. I am sure this is obvious but even in the low 80’s the buttercream will melt in the sun. Happy baking! I’d love to know how it goes!

  12. says

    I love SMB and have found that if you grind up freeze dried fruit (found at Target) and add it to SMB, you will not have the “too much liquid” problem but wonderful flavor!

  13. Alison says

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I thought I might of had to tie my hands behind my back to stop eating this on its own 😛 So velvety and creamy and with a freshly scraped vanilla pod it looks as equally pretty as it is tasty. My buttercream curdled towards the late stage after adding 3/4 of the butter but as you suggested I persevered and it all came back together. Lovely recipe that I will use for may years to come I am sure!! xxx

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Alison! I am overjoyed that you love the recipe as much as I do! I am so glad you persevered! Fresh vanilla beans are just heaven, am I right?! What did you do with the left over pods? I dry them and then food process them with sugar to make vanilla sugar or I use them the infuse cream for whipped cream or anglaise or ice cream bases. So many uses! Happy baking! xxx

      • Alison says

        I usually store the pods in a glass vile in the pantry, apparently they last up to 8 months like that but I bake too often to let the beauties go to waste 😛 Good idea about the anglaise/custard, even the scraped pods could be used for this at the heating of the cream stage I guess. Yummmo!! Might have to increase my jog however to work off all that delicious buttercream my hands kept shoving in my mouth hahaha 😛 xx Thanks


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