How to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream: A Perfect Guide






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Italian Meringue Buttercream is a luxurious frosting that is smooth, silky, and fluffy. This frosting is made with a combination of egg whites, sugar, and butter. It is rich, buttery, and has a deliciously light and creamy texture that resembles whipped cream. This type of frosting is perfect for filling and frosting layer cakes, cupcakes, and even macarons. However, it can be a little bit intimidating to make if you have never tried it before. Fortunately, with a little bit of patience and practice, you can achieve the perfect Italian Meringue Buttercream every time. In this article, we will show you step-by-step how to prepare this elegant frosting. We will cover everything from the ingredients you will need to the equipment you should use. So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced baker, read on to learn how to Cake It with Italian Meringue Buttercream.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Basics of Italian Meringue Buttercream

What is Italian Meringue Buttercream?

Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC) is a type of frosting that is made by combining whipped egg whites, hot sugar syrup, and softened butter. This method results in a smooth and creamy frosting with a light texture.

How Does Italian Meringue Buttercream Differ from Other Types of Frosting?

What sets IMBC apart from other types of frosting is the process used to make it. Unlike American buttercream, which typically uses powdered sugar and butter as its base, IMBC uses whipped egg whites that are stabilized with hot sugar syrup before adding in softened butter. This results in a lighter and more stable frosting that holds up well under different types of weather conditions.

What Ingredients Do You Need to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream?

To make IMBC, you will need granulated sugar, water, egg whites (preferably room temperature), unsalted butter (also at room temperature), cream of tartar or lemon juice for stabilizing the egg whites.

What Equipment Do You Need to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream?

You’ll need several pieces of equipment including:

  • A stand mixer or hand mixer
  • A candy thermometer
  • A saucepan
  • A bowl for mixing ingredients
  • An offset spatula or piping bag for decorating

How Do You Make Italian Meringue Buttercream Step-by-step?

Here’s an overview on how to make IMBC:

  1. Heat the sugar and water together on medium heat until it reaches 240°F on your candy thermometer.
  2. While your sugar syrup heats up beat your room temperature egg whites with cream tartar or lemon juice until they reach soft peaks.
  3. Once your egg white mixture has reached soft peaks stream in the hot 240°F syrup into the bowl while still whipping on medium speed.
  4. Increase the speed to high and whip until the bowl is not hot anymore, and your meringue has stiff peaks.
  5. Add your room temperature butter into the meringue in small pieces while still whipping on medium-high.
  6. Once all of the butter is added, continue to mix on medium-high for a few minutes until it’s well combined and looks smooth.

Tips for Making Perfect Italian Meringue Buttercream

  • Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting
  • Use a candy thermometer to ensure you reach exactly 240°F when making sugar syrup
  • Whip eggs whites until they reach soft peaks before streaming in sugar syrup
  • Keep whipping after adding softened butter until frosting comes together smoothly

Italian meringue buttercream is a popular choice for cake decorators because of its light texture and ability to hold up well under different weather conditions. With the right equipment, ingredients, and technique, you too can make perfect IMBC every time!

Ingredients Required to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream

Granulated Sugar

Granulated sugar is a key ingredient when making Italian meringue buttercream. It is used to create the hot sugar syrup that is added to the whipped egg whites. The sugar should be of high quality, and you will need one cup for every batch of IMBC.


Water is also required when making the hot sugar syrup. You will need half a cup of water for every batch of IMBC.

Egg Whites

Egg whites are an essential component in making Italian meringue buttercream. They provide the base for the frosting’s light and airy texture. You will need four large egg whites (preferably room temperature) per batch of IMBC.

Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter adds richness and flavor to Italian meringue buttercream, but it must be at room temperature before use. This allows it to incorporate more easily into the whipped egg white mixture without causing lumps or separation in your frosting. You’ll need two cups of softened unsalted butter per batch.

Cream Of Tartar/Lemon Juice/Vinegar

Stabilizers like cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar are used when whipping up egg whites as they help stabilize them into firm peaks which makes incorporating hot syrup easier without creating scrambled eggs! Use 1/2 tsp cream tartar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar per four large egg-white recipe.

Equipment Needed To Make Italian Meringue Buttercream:

While ingredients play an important part in any recipe, using proper equipment can also make a significant difference in achieving perfect results each time you make this frosting.

Here’s what you’ll need:


A medium-sized saucepan with straight sides is needed to prepare your sugar syrup before adding it into your whipped-up egg white mixture while still streaming on medium speed with mixer running so that the syrup is well incorporated and the egg whites get cooked.

Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer

A stand mixer or hand mixer is essential to whip up egg whites into stiff peaks and incorporate butter smoothly. You’ll need a mixer with a whisk attachment for whipping up egg whites and paddle attachment for mixing in butter.

Candy Thermometer

A candy thermometer is required to ensure that your sugar syrup reaches 240°F, which is the temperature needed to create a stable Italian meringue buttercream.

Mixing Bowl

You will need a large mixing bowl to mix together all of your ingredients, including whipped egg whites, hot sugar syrup, and softened butter. The size of the bowl should be large enough to accommodate all ingredients easily without spilling over.

Offset Spatula/Piping Bag

An offset spatula or piping bag are both useful tools for decorating cakes with IMBC. An offset spatula allows you to spread frosting evenly across your cake while piping bags can help create beautiful designs by squeezing out frosting through different shaped tips.

Preparing Italian Meringue Buttercream

Now that you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment, it’s time to start making Italian meringue buttercream. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you prepare this delicious frosting.

Step 1: Whip Egg Whites

The first step in preparing IMBC is to whip egg whites until they reach soft peaks. You can use either a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment for this process and add in your cream of tartar or lemon juice/vinegar, which helps stabilize the egg whites.

Step 2: Prepare Sugar Syrup

In another saucepan over medium heat, combine granulated sugar and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves then stop stirring and let it boil until it reaches 240°F on your candy thermometer. It should take about five minutes for sugar syrup to come up to temperature.

Step 3: Add Sugar Syrup To Whipped Egg Whites

With your mixer running on medium speed, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into your whipped egg whites at soft peak stage while still whipping them up! Be careful not to pour directly onto bowl walls as it may crystallize from there instead of mixing into eggs properly!

Step 4: Beat Until Stiff Peaks Form

Once all the syrup has been added into whipped-up egg whites mixture continue beating these together on high speed till stiff peaks form! This should take around eight minutes or so depending upon how powerful your mixer is.

Step 5: Add Softened Butter

With mixer still running at medium-high speed gradually add room temperature softened butter pieces one by one until fully incorporated into meringue mixture. Continue beating for another minute or two until everything comes together smoothly!

Tips for Perfectly Preparing Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • Always use fresh ingredients
  • Make sure that all equipment including mixing bowl, whisk attachment are clean and free from any grease or oil before starting to whip egg whites.
  • Use a candy thermometer to ensure that the sugar syrup reaches 240°F, which is essential for creating a stable IMBC
  • Whip egg whites until they reach soft peaks before adding in hot sugar syrup
  • Keep whipping meringue mixture while adding softened butter gradually into it to avoid lumps or separation in your frosting.

Decorating Cakes with Italian Meringue Buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream is an incredibly versatile frosting that can be used for decorating cakes in various ways. Here are some tips and ideas to help you decorate your cake with IMBC.

Step 1: Crumb Coat Your Cake

Before decorating your cake, it’s essential to apply a crumb coat first. This thin layer of frosting seals in the crumbs and creates a smooth surface for your final layer of frosting. Use an offset spatula or knife to apply the crumb coat evenly over the entire cake.

Step 2: Choose Your Decorating Technique

There are several techniques you can use to decorate cakes with Italian meringue buttercream, including:


Piping is a popular technique used for creating different shapes and designs on top of cakes using piping bags fitted with various tips like star or round shaped ones. It’s perfect if you want to create intricate patterns or decorations on your cake surface.


Spreading is another technique that involves using an offset spatula or knife to spread IMBC evenly over the entire surface of the cake, giving it a smooth finish.

Step 3: Add Color To Your Frosting

If you want to add color to your frosting, use gel food coloring instead of liquid food coloring as it won’t affect the consistency of IMBC! Only use small amounts at a time until desired color intensity achieved!

Step 4: Use Different Decorating Tools

Using different tools like icing combs or stencils can help create unique designs on top of cakes while also adding texture and depth! Icing combs can be used by dragging them along sides/tops/bottoms edges whereas stencils consist patterns placed onto frosted surfaces then powdered sugar sifted over-top creating gorgeous designs once stencil removed!

Tips For Perfect Cake Decoration With Italian Meringue Buttercream

  • Chill your cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before decorating to prevent frosting from melting or sliding off.
  • Use a turntable for easier piping and spreading of frosting.
  • Always start with less frosting as you can always add more if needed, but it’s harder to remove excess frosting once applied.
  • Clean your decorating tools between uses to ensure sharpness and avoid any color contamination.

Tips for Storing Italian Meringue Buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream is a delicate frosting that requires proper storage to maintain its texture and flavor. Here are some tips to help you store IMBC effectively.

Step 1: Refrigerate Your IMBC

IMBC should always be stored in the refrigerator as it contains perishable ingredients like egg whites and butter. The cool temperature of the fridge helps keep the frosting fresh for longer without compromising its texture or taste.

Step 2: Use Airtight Containers

When storing IMBC, always use an airtight container or cover tightly with cling film to prevent air from drying out your frosting! This will also help prevent any odors from other foods in your fridge from affecting your frosting’s flavor!

Step 3: Freeze Your IMBC

If you don’t plan on using your IMBC within a few days, consider freezing it instead of keeping it in the refrigerator. Freezing can extend its shelf life by several months while maintaining its quality and taste.

Thawing Frozen Italian Meringue Buttercream

Thaw frozen IMBC slowly by transferring it into fridge at least 24 hours before needed. Once defrosted, bring back to room temperature before re-whipping so as not to cause separation!

Tips For Using Stored Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • Always bring refrigerated or frozen Italian meringue buttercream back up to room temperature before using.
  • Re-whip softened butter cream until smooth consistency achieved.
  • Don’t reuse previously used frosting if there are signs of spoilage or contamination!
  • If using previously frozen/freshly thawed frosting be prepared that sometimes this can result in slight change of texture although still flavorful!## FAQs

What are the ingredients needed to make Italian meringue buttercream for a cake?

To make Italian meringue buttercream, you will need granulated sugar, egg whites, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and salt. The sugar and egg whites need to be combined and heated together to form a meringue. Once the meringue has been made, you should let it cool for a few minutes before adding the softened butter slowly. At the end, add vanilla and salt, and whisk everything together until well combined.

How can I make my Italian meringue buttercream smooth and creamy for my cake decoration?

The trick to get it smooth and creamy is to make sure you have the right consistency. You will want to make sure the butter is soft and at room temperature before you start mixing it with the meringue. Add the butter slowly and be patient, don’t rush. If the mixture seems too thin or curdled, turn the mixer up on high and keep beating for several minutes until it thickens up. In addition, make sure your tools are clean and free of any residual oil or butter as this can cause the buttercream to break down or have a sticky texture.

How can I store Italian meringue buttercream frosting for future use?

Italian meringue buttercream frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to allow it to come to room temperature and re-whip it to restore the smoothness and texture before applying it to the cake. When you are ready to use the frosting again, just bring it to room temperature and re-whip it until light and fluffy.

Can I flavor my Italian meringue buttercream with different ingredients for my cake, and how can I do it?

Yes, you can definitely flavor your Italian meringue buttercream with different ingredients. You can add different extracts such as almond, orange, lemon, or mint. Other great options are cocoa powder, instant coffee, liquor, or fruit puree. Add your flavoring to the buttercream slowly and gradually, making sure to taste as you go, as some ingredients will impact the sweetness. Adjust the consistency if needed by adding more powdered sugar or butter.

Jessica Hartley

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