Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC)

Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC) is my favorite cake frosting. This is the exact recipe I used for 10 years in my wedding cake business.

beauty shot

Italian Meringue buttercream has the perfect balance of rich flavor from the butter, and lightness from the meringue. It’s not overly sweet and it can be flavored with an endless variety of add-ins. It’s strong enough to pipe buttercream roses and stays soft at room temperature so it melts in your mouth.


Ingredients for Italian Meringue Buttercream with text overlay.
Mise en place – “everything in place”
  • Water – To make the sugar syrup.
  • Granulated sugar – Added in two stages. Dry sugar starts the meringue, then sugar syrup “cooks” the meringue.
  • Egg whites- Fresh or in-shell pasteurized egg whites can be used. If you use frozen egg whites read the label to be sure they can be whipped for meringue.
  • Salt – Just a touch to balance out the flavor.
  • Unsalted butter – Softened butter is whipped into the meringue base. Unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • Vanilla extract – Use natural vanilla extract for the best flavor. You can also use vanilla bean if you don’t mind the little specks.

How to Make Italian Meringue Buttercream

A saucepan with sugar. A bowl of egg whites whipping.
  • Combine some of the sugar with water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil.
  • While the syrup cooks, whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar.
A thermometer over a pot of sugar syrup. Sugar syrup added to egg whites.
  • Bring the syrup to the softball stage (235°-240°F). Immediately remove from the heat.
  • With the mixer running, add the syrup in a steady stream. Try to keep the stream of syrup between the whisk and the side of the bowl.
  • Whisk until the whites are cooled to about 80°F.
Egg whites whipping with butter being added. Vanilla pouring into buttercream. Buttercream whipping.
  • Add the room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.
  • Add the vanilla.
  • The buttercream may look a bit curdled after adding the vanilla.
  • Keep whipping until the buttercream is silky smooth and airy. Use immediately or keep at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 day).

How to Store Italian Meringue Buttercream.

Because there is relatively low moisture in the buttercream, and high sugar content, Italian Meringue Buttercream can be held at cool room temperature for up to a day. After 1 day the buttercream should be refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Proper syrup temperature is important for a silky smooth Italian Meringue Buttercream

This is a fairly standard Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe except for the temperature of the sugar syrup. A lot of recipes have you boil the syrup well into the firm ball stage (248°F), but I find this makes a buttercream with a texture that is too tight and marshmallow-y.

I like to boil the syrup to the softball stage (235°-240°F) for a slightly softer buttercream that whips to a little lighter.

How to fix Italian Meringue Buttercream

  • If you’re working in a warm kitchen and your buttercream is a little too soft you can refrigerate it briefly and then re-whip it until it’s light and fluffy.
  • If your buttercream is a little too cold you can warm the bowl and then whip it until it’s light and fluffy.
  • To rewhip cold Italian Meringue Buttercream first bring it to room temperature. When you start whipping the IMB it may separate the look curdled.
  • Use a blow torch or a bowl of warm water to warm the sides of the bowl as the buttercream whips.
  • You’ll see the edges soften and and buttercream will come back together. Whip until the buttercream is silky smooth.

Pastry Chef tips for making perfect Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • If the meringue and/or the butter are too warm when they’re combined the buttercream will break down. If the buttercream becomes soupy and grainy the meringue has broken down and the buttercream can’t be fixed.
  • If the butter is too cold when it’s added to the cooled meringue you’ll end up with lumps of butter that can’t be whipped out. Make sure the butter is soft and pliable, but not at all greasy or melted. The best temperature for the butter is about 70°F.
  • Any extra buttercream can be double-wrapped in plastic (so it doesn’t pick up any off flavors) and frozen for a month. Bring it back to room temperature and then re-whip.
  • The only limit to the flavors you can make with this buttercream is your imagination. You can add melted chocolate, lemon curd and/or lemon extract, orange zest, raspberry puree, instant coffee, whatever you can think of to create your favorite buttercream flavor.
beauty shot
Melt in your mouth texture, but firm enough to pipe, Italian Meringue buttercream is a great all-purpose frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is very similar to IMBC except that you warm the sugar and eggs over a water bath rather than making a sugar syrup.

If you want a buttercream that is just as light and airy as a meringue buttercream, but with a slightly richer flavor and color, try making classic French Buttercream. It’s made with egg yolks instead of egg whites.

Watch the recipe video to see how-to make Italian Meringue Buttercream from start to finish.

Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with the extra yolks? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra yolks for some great ideas.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review.

beauty of of italian meringue buttercream
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4.53 from 229 reviews

Italian Meringue Buttercream Recipe

Light, fluffy and not too sweet, Italian Meringue Buttercream is a dream to work with. It takes on almost any flavor and is strong enough to pipe roses and other decorations. This recipe makes enough buttercream to fill and frost an 8" cake.
Prep Time20 minutes
Bake Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
16 servings
Save Recipe


  • 2 ounces water (¼ cup)
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup, divided)
  • 5 egg whites (room temperature)
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter (room temperature, cut into 16 pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Other flavorings to taste


  • Combine the water with 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Cook the sugar syrup on medium high heat, stirring, until the sugar is melted. Once the syrup begins to boil do not stir the syrup. Allow it to cook to 235°-240°F (soft ball stage).
    2 ounces water, 8 ounces granulated sugar
  • While the syrup is boiling, whip the whites on medium high speed. When the whites are at soft peak reduce the mixer to medium low and slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the salt. Increase the speed to medium high and whip to full peak.
    5 egg whites, ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • As soon as the syrup is at the correct temperature, remove the pan from the heat. With the mixer running on medium low, pour the hot syrup in a steady stream between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium high and continue whisking until the whites are cooled to about 80°F.
  • When the whites have cooled, with the mixer running on medium, add the butter one piece at a time. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium high and whip until the buttercream comes together.
    1 pound unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Store at room temperature for up to 1 day then refrigerate or freeze.

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Note 1: I always use fresh egg whites. If you use pasteurized egg whites from a carton make sure the package says they can be used for meringue. Some markets sell pasteurized eggs still in the shell, those can also be used for this recipe.
If the buttercream becomes "spongy" while standing re-whisk to correct the texture. The buttercream can be refrigerated 3-4 days or frozen for several weeks.
Return to room temperature and re-whisk before using.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 37mg | Potassium: 16mg | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 472IU | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.01mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    When I added the boiling sugar to the whipping egg whites my mixture became soupy and never got to the fluffy meringue stage – what causes this and can it be fixed?

  2. I was wondering why some recipes for IMBC say to cook the syrup to between 248-250 degrees before pouring into egg whites? Others like your recipe just heats to 240 degrees. Can you explain this to me. I always worry about safety!
    Thank you

    1. The degree to which the syrup is cooked determines how much water is left in the sugar syrup. Over 240 and you move from “softball” stage to “firmball” stage. That means there’s less water in the syrup. I find that when IMB is made with a firmball syrup the resulting buttercream is stiffer and less malleable. I like the texture of the buttercream better when it’s made with a “softball” stage syrup. If you’re worried about safety your best bet is to use in-shell pasteurized eggs to make IMB. Don’t use pasteurized carton whites until they specifically state that they can be used for meringues.

  3. I am doing a cake using four half sheet cake pans. I am not sure how to figure out how many cups of Italian Meringue Buttercream I would need for the filling as as well as the outside of the cake. Also the filling needs to be raspberry flavored and wonder if using freeze dried raspberries would work or is it better to make a raspberry puree. I usually make round layer cakes not sheet cakes so I am a little uncertain with this project. Thank you for any advice.

    1. Four half sheet pans would be about 4x as much cake and frosting as an 8″ cake. So I would figure about 2-3 batches to fill the cake and another 1 or so for icing. The exact amount will vary with how heavy you ice and weather there are borders, etc. I usually use raspberry puree to flavor the buttercream. Puree has a more intense flavor than freeze dried berries and this IMB can take the moisture. Also, a little squeeze of lemon juice will accentuate the raspberry flavor.

    2. @Eileen Gray, Thank you so much for the quick response. I will not be doing borders.
      Customer wants a bee themed cake so I’m doing Black IMBC and the pink raspberry IMBC filling. Customer wants a bee hive on a raised portion of the top layer which I haven’t quite figured out how I will do this until I get it filled and coated. He also wants flowers so I need to do additional BC for that. I am a little over my head with this one even though I work with a lot of different mediums. Such is life!
      Many thanks

      1. Have you done black buttercream before? To get a deep black color you definitely need to use gel color. Color the buttercream dark gray then set it aside for a day (or at least 6-8 hours). Then vigorously stir the buttercream and you’ll see that the color has deepened to black. I found it’s almost impossible to get a deep black or red color without giving the buttercream time to absorb the color.

  4. Hi I am wondering about freezing the IMBC in the cake layers and crumb coat. It’s a shaped cake and will be a bit difficult to decorate. Is it better to just decorate it the day before and freeze the BC and cake separately?

    1. You can definitely freeze the cake with the buttercream in it and crumb coated. I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking, but is this a carved cake? You can freeze the buttercream separately or when it’s on and in the cake. If you clarify your question I’d be happy to help.

  5. I love this frosting and was wanting to use it on some cupcakes. I was curious on how much frosting I’d probably need to frost 2 dozen cupcakes. I’m also not doing much piping on them, just a small flower design.

  6. 5 stars
    I want to make this icing black. I was thinking I’d make the icing, then make it chocolate using a paste of dark or black cocoa powder, then add my oil based black colouring. Do you think that would work? Have you done black before? Thanks for all of your help?

    1. Yes, I’ve done black. You definitely need to use paste gel color to get a dark enough color. Making it chocolate first should help. Also, if you tint the buttercream then let it sit for several hours the color will deepen. Also, be prepared for gray teeth!

    2. Yes, I’ve made this buttercream with black coloring. You need to use a strong gel color (I haven’t tried the oil based). Making the buttercream chocolate first should help. After you tint the buttercream let it sit for several hours then rewhip it. The color will deepen as it sits. If you get it to a very dark gray color it should blacken up while it sits. And be prepared for gray teeth!

  7. Question: won’t the syrup be too hot to add if you pour it in right after you take it off the stove?sWhat temperature should it be?

    1. The syrup is supposed to be hot when you add it to the egg whites. The hot syrup helps stabilize the whites and if you wait the syrup will start to solidify and you won’t be able to pour it. It should be the temperature noted in the recipe (235°-240°F).

  8. Does this recipe have a heavy butter FLAVOR? I prefer the texture but not the strong butter flavor.

    1. @Eileen Gray, Thanks. I do make ermine. Just hoping one day to get IBC texture with less intense butter flavor.

      1. Of course it’s a subjective thing. I don’t find IMB too buttery at all. I think it’s balanced by the lightness of the meringue base. Also, I use a lot of vanilla in my recipe to amp up the vanilla note.

  9. 5 stars
    I used this recipe for a birthday cake and it was AMAZING! I don’t have a stand mixer so it was a two person operation, but I will always use this instead of American buttercream. Everything about this took me right back to my grandmother’s house and the ethnic bakery she bought her cakes from in Chicago. Thanks for posting this!

  10. 5 stars
    Thnx Eileen! Excellent tutorial on IMB
    I just discovered you this morning while researching baking soda in Carrot Cake recipes. Glad I did.

  11. Hi have made this a few times and it is lovely. I would like to make it with chocolate for my Grandaughters birthday cake. How and when do I add chocolate? Thank you

    1. After the buttercream is finished whipping, slowly add melted (but not hot) chocolate. I usually use about 3-4 oz per batch of buttercream.

    1. If you are not filling the layers but only icing the outside I think 1 batch should be enough.

  12. Have you ever added fruit to the buttercream? I’m looking to make this but with strawberry, what to you think?

    1. You can add fruit puree. But strawberry does have a very subtle flavor that is hard to come through on the buttercream. For strawberry buttercream I prefer to use ground up freeze dried strawberries. You get all the flavor without added water.

  13. Hello, the two time’s I’ve made italian meringue buttercream it looked perfect the day I make it, but then when I went to use it the next day after having kept it in the fridge in a piping bag, it came out looking grainy and wet both times, similar to the state you say it can’t be fixed. I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong and how I can prevent this?

    1. If the buttercream separates and looks curdled when you are making it because the butter is too warm and the syrup is too hot that can’t be fixed. But what you describe can definitely be fixed. After the buttercream has been chilled you need to bring it back to room temperature and rewhip it before using. It comes back together beautifully. If you just want to hold it for a day, it can be held at room temperature (unless the room is really warm).

  14. Hi,
    In your Video it says to check the temperature of the egg whites before adding the butter. Wondering what the temperature of the egg whites should be before adding the butter.

    Thank you

    1. From the recipe steps “Increase the speed to medium high and continue whisking until the whites are cooled to about 80°F.”

    1. Yes. The layers of buttercream will be slightly thinner since this is sized for an 8″ cake. But it should be enough.

  15. Hello, I’ve made this recipe several times and love it. Recently, however, my sugar syrup has starting forming tiny little crystals. Can you help? Is my syrup not reaching the correct temperature and the sugar not dissolving? They’re just tiny little lumps of sugar that will not break down once added to the egg whites. Thank you!

    1. Make sure the sides of your pot are clean before the sugar comes to a boil. You can use a wet pastry brush to clean the wall of the pot. If there’s any bit of crystallized sugar stuck to the pot than can cause crystals to form in the syrup.

  16. Excellent article! Any tips for a meringue for lemon tart pie! Last time I used the Swiss meringue and I am not sure if my filling was too warm, but it shrunk and went flat!!! Any suggestions? Thanks.

  17. I have a question. If I was making cupcakes the day before and I piped them with the Italian buttercream would it still be good the next day? Is it best to store at room temp or in the fridge?

    1. Yes, absolutely they’ll be fine the next day. IMB is ok at room cool room temperature for the better part of a day. But you can certainly refrigerate them overnight. Take them out several hours before serving so the cake and IMB have time to soften up before you eat them.

  18. Hi! I tried your recipe and everything came out perfect, but at the end when I tasted it wasnt sweet enough and I realised I forgot to add the remaining 1/4th cup of sugar! I know stupid mistake but is there any way I can sweeten it now?

    1. This recipe is super forgiving. You could whip in some powdered sugar or a sugar syrup. You could also use the opportunity to flavor the buttercream with some jam or a sweet liquor.

  19. Hi! how do you avoid air pockets in the buttercream? Any tricks? It is so annoying when piping and all of sudden the air pockets come in. Please help!

    1. As the buttercream sits it can become “spongy” and you’ll get those air pockets. You can put it back on the mixer and whip it again or just use a hand whisk to break up the air pockets. Also, if your room is chilly and the buttercream is firming up a little you can put it over a bowl of warm water to soften it. When the buttercream is a little softer it doesn’t hold the air pockets as much.

  20. Hi i am making a 3 tier wedding cake . 6 inch 8 inch and 10 inch . Each tier has three layers of sponge 3 inch depth how much buttercream would i need for all the cakes ?

    Thank you

    1. When you work with wedding cakes you have to think less in cake sizes and more about the total number of servings. For reference, a 1″wx2″dx4″h slice of cake is my standard wedding cake portion. If I understand you correctly each tier has 3″ of cake? So probably each tier will be about 4″ tall when iced? If that is the case with 10″-8″-6″ cake you’ll have about 65 wedding cake sized portions of cake. Each batch of IMB makes about 20 wedding cake sized servings. So you’d need 3 – 3 1/2 batches of buttercream to fill and ice the cake.

  21. Is there a type of Buttercream that is somewhere between the gritty powdered sugar feeling of American Buttercream and the greasy whipped butter feel of Italian Meringue Buttercream?

  22. If the meringue is taking too long to cool to room temperature during the stage when you’re beating it, after you’ve added the sugar syrup, what should you do? Every time I’ve made IMBC, it seems to stay around 90 degrees despite beating for ages…it almost seems like my stand mixer is generating so much heat from such extended beating, and eventually the meringue seems to go from nice and stiff (but too hot as I said between 90-100 degrees) to collapsing. Should I be refrigerating it to bring it to 80 degrees before it collapses before adding the butter?

    1. If you’re careful, you can use slightly cool butter and add it to the slightly warm meringue. It’s all about balancing out the temperature as the two come together. You can also try sliding a small bowl of cold water under the the mixer bowl to cool the whites faster.

  23. I made this recipe for the first time yesterday. I think this is my new favorite frosting. Delicious and not very sweet, frosted my cake beautifully. A few more steps than ABC but so much better texture and taste.

  24. Hi Eileen!

    I just want to add some info about buttercreams ‘breaking down’. It’s absolutely possible to rescue those!! If it’s soupy and homogeneous, the buttercream is just too warm. Put it in the fridge for a while and it should be fine. If it’s grainy and looks like cottage cheese, the buttercream is too cool. Either warm the sides of the bowl with a blow dryer while mixing or melt in the microwave about a ¼ of the batch. Both methods should bring the temperature up to emulsify the butter in the meringue.

  25. Hello,

    I don’t have a thermometer that reaches 235 – 240 degrees. Can I still make this recipe and do the softball stage test or do I need a candy thermometer?

    I am planning to make a two-layer sheet cake for an outdoor party in early June. My pans are 13.7” x 10.5” x 2.3” (34.7cm x 26.6cm x 5.8cm). How many batches of the recipe you provided do I need? Also, I would like to add 8 oz. cream cheese to a portion of the frosting for the middle layer. Do you think that is possible and if so, how should I incorporate it? Thank you.

  26. I would like to try this in macarons. Could the recipe be cut in half and if so, how much water should be used with sugar? Thanks and can’t wait to make.

    1. Yes, you can cut the recipe in half. It also freezes well so you could make a full batch and freeze whatever is left over. After freezing bring it to room temperature and rewhip. For a half batch you could use 2 tablespoons of water. You could also use the full 1/4 cup of water listed in the recipe. It will just take a little longer for the syrup to come up to temperature. When you make a sugar syrup, the temperature of the syrup is a reflection of how much water remains in the syrup. So even if you start with more water, by the time you get to the softball stage you have the same proportion of water in the syrup.

  27. I have made this three times. As I am using my stand mixer to cool the meringue to add the butter, it’s taking at least 30 minutes on the highest speed. As such, preparing, making, and cleaning up is taking me hours. I love the texture of this, but there has got to be a better way. I’m considering Swiss or French buttercream instead. Any suggestions?

    1. When you’re waiting for the meringue to cool don’t just touch the bowl to measure temperature. Stop the mixture and stick your finger into the meringue to see if it still feels warm. I find that sometimes the bowl feels warmer than the actual meringue. Also, I’ll give you a little cheat. If you use slightly cooler butter and throw it in very quickly you can get away with the meringue being a little warm. Just be careful because if the butter is very cold you might end up with lumps. As I said, it’s a bit of a cheat you can use when you get very comfortable making IMB. I do that all the time. Also, you can try making Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead.

    2. @Eileen Gray, Thank you for the suggestions. I will definitely try testing the temperature with my finger. I used a digital thermometer, but it makes sense that I got a high reading because it was so close to the bowl. I also used frozen veggies to cool the bowl one time to expedite the cooling but the texture was off. I was able to “fix” it later, but more dishes to do, more clean up, etc.

      Thank you again!

  28. Hi Eileen, I’m trying to understand what is happening. I made several batches of the IMB. I use 4 egg whites with 1/3 cup sugar. The syrup is 1 cup of sugar. I will vary between 1/4 cup of water and 1/3 cup of water. (I was trying to see if there was a difference).I will use the syrup between 235-240 no hotter. In one batch it whipped up fine but it was very dense and heavy and could only cover 20 cupcakes. The second batch whipped up also but it was very light an airy and could cover 35 cupcakes. Do you have any idea what might have been the difference?

    1. The amount of water you start with in the syrup won’t make a difference since that water boils away until you reach the softball stage. More water will just mean it will take longer to get the syrup to the softball stage. I would guess that the difference in texture of the buttercream is due to the the temp of the butter, bowl, room, etc. If the room, bowl and butter are cooler the buttercream won’t whip up as light as if everything is a little warmer. If your buttercream seems dense try warming the bottom of the bowl as the buttercream whips. If you have a blow torch you can wave it back and forth over the bottom of the bowl or you can place a bowl of warm water under the bowl to warm it up.

  29. I really don’t find any difference in the quality of the buttercream Going to 248°F. Using a high butterfat butter is key. The problem with your temperature is it won’t kill salmonella. FDA guidelines to kill salmonella state the egg whites must be held at a temperature of 132°F for six minutes. Even those of use who use 248°F are not holding the egg whites at 132°F for that six minutes standard. That is why I use Swiss meringue buttercream more often than not.

    1. This is the recipe I used to make wedding cakes for 10 years. So I’ve made, literally, hundreds (maybe thousands) of pounds of IMBC. I find a definite difference in the texture of the buttercream when the syrup is cooked to the firm ball stage. I agree that if you’re concerned about salmonella you should use Swiss meringue instead.

    2. @Cate, 132° and 248° is a major difference in temperature, and I would assume a higher temp would kill salmonella faster, although salmonella is extremely rare in raw eggs believe it or not.

  30. Is this the type of buttercream they use to coat continental cakes? I’ve been looking for the name for so long!

  31. Hi! This looks amazing! If I need enough icing for a crumb coat, final coat, and piping, should I make a double batch/1.5 batch of the icing?

    1. This recipe should be enough for filling, a crumb coat, final coat and border on an 8″ or 9″ round cake.

  32. Thankyou for the detailed explanation and precise temperatures, this has explained why my buttercream has been collapsing. My room temperature is far higher than 70 degrees, hence, my butter has been too soft. Thank you.

  33. Hello! I want to make a cinnamon flavored IMB will I have to make any substitutions to do that with this recipe? How much cinnamon would you suggest?

    1. You can definitely make cinnamon flavored buttercream, I’ve done it. Just add cinnamon at the end to taste. I would say to start with a teaspoon and go from there.

  34. This recipe is wonderful. Made it today for the first time with real vanilla and tasted gorgeous. However, I want to cover a cake with chocolate version and after adding nearly cooled chocolate to the wonderful vanilla IM it started to shrink down and looked like it started to curdle? I’ve put it in the fridge quickly and hoping I havent ruined it? Should I leave it and whip it up again or have I ruined it by not having cold chocolate added? I also want a bit firmer as covering a cake and want straight sharp edges. Please help xx

    1. This is a very resilient buttercream and you can almost always bring it back. The biggest problem with chocolate is when the chocolate cools as it hits the buttercream. If you got little lumps of chocolate in the buttercream there’s not much you can do about it. If the butter started to clump from the cooled chocolate it might be possible to rewhip it and bring it back. It’s hard to say without seeing what you’ve got. The key with adding the chocolate is to have the buttercream at room temp and the chocolate cooled but still flowing. I got straight sharp edges with this buttercream all the time. It’s the only buttercream I used in my wedding cake business for 10 years. It’s easiest to ice the cake if the layers are chilled and the buttercream is at room temperature.

      1. Thankyou for such a quick reply:)
        I’ve tried re whipping after being in the fridge but the mix still looks a bit split and slightly slippy when I move the bowl? However, no lumps. Before I added the chocolate the IM was delicious. Maybe the quality of chocolate I used was not the best. Do you whip on high speed when adding chocolate and other flavours or does this not matter? How long would you whip for at this stage of would you just incorporate with paddle mixer attachment instead of whisk? XX

        1. If you whip the IMB while it’s still chilled it will separate and can slip around the bowl. Try warming the bottom of the bowl a bit as it whips and it should come back together. I use a blow torch lightly over the bottom of the bowl, but you can also slip a bowl of warm water under it or wrap the bottom in a warm towel.

  35. This is an excellent recipe that I’ve used many times, so thank you. Have you ever made a honey-flavored buttercream? I considered using honey to replace some of the water and sugar in the syrup, but I was concerned the different sugars in the honey would affect the consistency of both the syrup (wouldn’t reach soft ball stage) and the end result. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again.

    1. I haven’t tried using honey. A quick google search led me to this discussion on a beekeeping forum. Seems that, as you suspected, the honey wouldn’t behave as table sugar does in a syrup. The great Rose Levy Beranbaum has a recipe for honey buttercream in one of my favorite baking books of all time, The Cake Bible. That is a yolk based buttercream and she just replaces all the sugar and water with honey which has been brought up to the boiling point. Not sure if that would work with a meringue buttercream. What you can try is to use the honey as a flavoring. I add 2 tablespoons of molasses to this buttercream to make a “brown sugar” buttercream. It works really well. Of course, molasses has a much stronger flavor than honey, but I think it’s worth a try. This buttercream can take a surprising amount of liquid. Start with 2T and see if you get the flavor you like. If you want a stronger flavor try adding a little more at a time and keep an eye on the texture. Let me know if you try it how it works out.

      1. Thanks for the suggestion. I ended up using 5 Tbs of honey and it actually could have been more strongly flavored. The buttercream easily withstood the addition of the honey with no texture change. Even able to pipe roses.

  36. Wow! Never made this before and I am quite a novice in the kitchen but it came out brilliantly! I found it really useful that all the different temps were added – I kept a probe thermo on me at and I think that really made the difference. Also great to have the ‘things that can go wrong’ advice. I also used a pre-prepped bag of ice to put under my mixing bowl to cool the whites and that really worked well. Thanks very much!

  37. Hello thank you for this recipe! I live in Houston tx and it’s often really humid. Is this recipe really firm? Or what do you recommend me?

  38. Fixing a cold butter buttercream is totally do-able!

    I came across small lumps of butter in my buttercream and I looked at it in total disappointment thinking, wow I’m gonna have to make this again.
    Then I thought back to when in class, we were making buttercream and mine curdled, chef told me to warm up the bottom and re whip. I did exactly that and now I have a beautifully whipped buttercream!

    SO, if you have cold lumps of butter in your buttercream, warm the bowl a bit and try to re whip, patience is very very important!

    Thanks for the great recipe!!!

  39. This is an excellent recipe! I’ve made this recipe several times now and it always turns out delicious and buttery. I’ve used it to fill cakes, ice cakes and cupcakes. I have a batch in the freezer that I will use to fill macarons.

  40. Wow! This frosting is amazing. Was looking for something not so sweet. I was afraid to try this but I’m so glad I did. It is fluffy and light like a cloud with just the right amount of sweetness. I’m not convinced it will pipe decorations well but I’m making a naked cake so I don’t need it for that right now. All I can say is DELICIOUS! One question if I cooked the sugar mixture to a higher temp would the frosting have a bit more structure? Thanks so much for this recipe.

    1. Hi Stephnaie, I find that if the sugar is cooked to a higher temperture the texture becomes a bit marshmallowy. I find that a little harder to get a smooth coating on the cake. But you can play with the temp to get the texture you like.

  41. I’ve seen cakes that have just an Italian meringue as the frosting, which is the light no-fat flavour I’m going for but I wonder if it will be too loose for what I’m trying to achieve. My happy medium idea was to half the butter of your recipe to possibly still have some structure when cold but the lightness of meringue. Do you think its possible? I may still try it to report back,

    1. I can’t say for sure, Caitlin. Half sounds risky. But if you try it let me know if it works.

  42. Hello Eileen,
    Thank you for a very simply written and informative post.
    I would like to try out some Russian flower piping tips, will IMB hold it’s shape well enough ?
    Thanks Nan

    1. Yes, I think it should as long as you don’t work in an extremely hot room. I haven’t specifically used the Russian tips, but I’ve piped roses and all sorts of flowers with IMB with great success. If you make a cake and use social media, please tag me so I can see it.

  43. Bonjour
    Cette quantité est-elle suffisante pour un gâteau de 20 (comme votre gâteau au pépite de chocolat), intérieur extérieur?

    1. I ran your question through a translator. I believe you’re asking if this recipe is enough for a cake that serves 20, both as filling and frosting. This recipe makes enough buttercream to fill and frost an 8″ or 9″ cake. I estimate about 16-20 servings for that size cake.

    1. Of course changing the amount of butter will change the texture. You can try to gradually reduce the amount of butter and see what is does to the texture to find the amount that doesn’t compromise the texture so much that that the buttercream becomes unworkable. Can I ask the reason for reducing the butter? Are you looking for a sweeter flavor?

  44. iv made this before but i end up with it always seeming a bit greasy and its firm but not firm enough.. what can i do to stiffen it up

    1. IMB is more buttery than American buttercream, but it certainly shouldn’t be “greasy”. You can chill it briefly to firm it up. Basically, just treat it like butter. Chill to firm it up, take it out to room temperature to soften it up.

  45. My goodness me, this is the most sublime buttercream I have ever tasted, its well worth the extra effort. Brilliant instructions, thank you so much. I added two teaspoons of rosewater to make a lemon and rose cake, its just amazingly silky smooth, light, an absolute delight.

  46. Hi! I keep getting this yellow/ clear “strings” at the bottom of my whisk. (I don’t even know how to describe them)
    I’m not sure where they’re from but it only happened when I use my bigger kitchen aid. Just wondering if you might know why?

  47. HI,

    I made your Velvety Soft White Cake and IMB and it was absolutely delicious. I was wondering however, if you could double the recipe for IMB in one batch or if it would be better to do two separate ones? I’m making a 50th Anniversary Wedding Cake and need extra frosting.

    1. Hi Tracey. You can definitely double the IMB if your mixer is big enough. I can just fit a double batch in my 5 quart stand mixer. It’s mostly that the bowl has to accommodate the whipped egg whites and it will take a little longer for the whites to cool down after the syrup is added. When I had a 20 quart mixer for my cake business I would make a 5x batch of this exact same recipe.

      1. Hi- When you had your 20 qt mixer, was it a typical 3 speed commercial mixer? Was the fastest speed fast enough for adding the butter and whipping it up nice and light?

        1. Hi Laura, Yes and yes. I would whip and eggs and when they were cool I would add the butter on the second speed. The turn it up to #3 and whip until nice and light.

  48. Thank you for this recipe! I made this buttercream but found it not sweet enough. Is there a way to sweeten it after it has all been made? Maybe adding more sugar syrup?

    1. IMB is less sweet than American Buttercream but I prefer it for that reason. Adding more sugar syrup would make the buttercream too loose. You can try adding some powdered sugar to the finished buttercream to make it sweeter. Just do it gradually in case it starts to change the texture too much. If you read back through the comments you’ll see that a reader used less butter in her IMB and was happy with the results.

  49. The frosting turned out pretty good but would like a little stiffer. Any suggestions? I did everything right but just wat a little more firm

    1. The texture of the buttercream will depend quite a bit on the temperature. Chilling for just a few minutes and re-whipping will firm it up a bit. Unless the buttercream is very warm, it should be firm enough to pipe roses.

  50. Hi there, I made the buttercream and then put it in the ridge overnight. Can I still use it to pipe flowers? Can I just let it naturally get to room temp overnight on counter before re-mixing and adding gel color?
    I took a little out and added color and tried to mix it cold and that def didn’t work! The color became very liquidy and the texture stayed clumpy!

    1. Hi Holly, Yes you can certainly refrigerate or freeze Italian Meringue Buttercream. You need to get it back to room temperature and then re-whip it. If you try to whip it while it’s still cold it will separate and release liquid. But even it that happens it is salvageable. Put a bowl of warm water under the mixing bowl and whip it until it comes back together. Then continue to whip it until it gets light and fluffy. As you whip it the mix will swirl around the bowl because of the loose water. Just keep whipping slowly and have patience until it comes back together.

  51. Hello Eileen, thank you for the fantastic & detailed instructions – I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe! Just one question regarding vanilla – I need a whiter frosting for a cake I’m making and while I MUCH prefer pure vanilla or (vanilla bean paste) I’m wondering if it will make the frosting tinted to a more ivory color than using clear vanilla. Your thoughts? If I use a clear, imitation vanilla (like Watkins clear vanilla flavor), will it really degrade the flavor of this frosting? Thank you for your help!

    1. Honestly, Gina, I don’t think the vanilla makes a huge difference in the color of the frosting. Because there is so much butter, even without the vanilla the frosting is off-white, not pure white. I generally find that the frosting seems white unless it’s right next to some that is pure white, like fondant. If you want a pure white frosting you’ll have to use shortening instead of butter. I haven’t tried making IMB with shortening. Most folks that want a very, very white icing make an American buttercream using shortening.

  52. I’ve made other Italian meringue buttercreams before and have loved them. Unfortunately, I lost my recipe! I’m hoping to make this one tomorrow and I need a lot of it for a HUGE cake. I’m wondering whether a double batch would fit in my 5 quart KitchenAid mixing bowl. Do you know if it’ll fit or should I stick with a single batch? I know the meringue can really puff up!

    1. Hi Laura, you can fit a double batch in a 5 quart KA. If you watch the video you can see how full the bowl is when the meringue it whipped. A double batch will fill the bowl, but it’s doable.

      1. Hey Eileen,

        You were definitely right, a double batch did fit in my mixer but holy moly did it take forever to cool down. Probably just because there was a larger volume of hot meringue. Thanks again for your help! Delicious recipe!

  53. Hi. Is it ok if I add food colouring because I want to make it red. Will it be red or just pink if I add the colour?

    1. Yes, you can add food coloring to this buttercream. I recommend gel color rather than the liquid color since it’s more concentrated. I like Americolorgel colors. Red is a little difficult. You’ll have to use a good amount of gel color. Whisk it in very briskly and you’ll end up with a dark pink color. Set it aside for at least a half an hour, an hour or more is even better. Go back and whisk it again and the color should deepen. It takes some time for the color to darken to a true red.

  54. Eileen, I would like to make a cream cheese Italian meringue butter cream. Should I add cream cheese to the meringue after the butter, or should I make separate recipes for each and then combine them? Thanks for sharing your expertise. Judy

    1. Hmmm, I’ve never tried this, but I’m intrigued by the idea. My first thought would be to replace some of the butter with cream cheese. Maybe half and half? That’s the ratio I use for my regular Cream Cheese Frosting. Also, a little squeeze of lemon juice will enhance the cream cheese flavor. If you try it, please let me know how it works. I might give it a try myself.

  55. I was excited to find such detailed clear information & instructions for this recipe, but really wanted to see the video that it lists above to watch; however, there is no link I could find anywhere on the page to view the video.
    Am I missing something?

    1. Hi Karen, I’m sorry for the confusion. I’m in the middle of making a change to how the videos display. Right now the recipe video is at the top of the post. If you’re working on a desktop the video should “follow” as you read. If you’re working on mobile, go to the top of the post and you should see the video. I apologize for any inconvenience.

  56. Hi Eileen! I tried this recipe for my lemon cake using less butter and it came out so well. I added lemon zest and flavoring to the frosting and was so surprised at the compliments. I have a question though, can I add rum flavoring to IMBC? If so, does it matter what kind of rum? I have white rum but noticed that you used dark rum in your recipes. Also, can the rum be used in the cake batter as well? Is 2 TB the ideal amount to use for both frosting and batter and can the rum be used with lemon flavoring? Lastly, why can IMBC be left out at room temperature? I was thinking it should be refrigerated because of the egg content, yet my cake has sat out with no problems. Thank you for your patience in answering all of my qurstions!

    1. Hi Kay, I’m glad your cake was a hit! I use plenty of rum in my cakes. Yes, you can certainly add a little to IMB, start with a tablespoon or two than adjust to your taste. I prefer the flavor of dark rum to light rum. Instead of baking it into the cake I like to put it in the syrup that I sprinkle on the cake. That way the flavor comes through. But you could add a tablespoon or so to the batter (vanilla is alcohol based). With lemon cake I like to use Limoncello. It’s wonderful on the cake and in the buttercream. IMB can be left at room temperature because the egg whites are “cooked” by the hot syrup. IMB is relatively high in sugar content and low in water content, which makes it an unfriendly environment for bacteria. I’ve left IMB at room temperature for a few days with no problem. I think more than a couple of days and the flavor might start to go off.

  57. Hi Eileen!

    First attempt at IM Buttercream was a complete fail. Definitely added the butter too soon, which resulted in a runny buttery mess. Also used carton egg whites, which didn’t whip up nicely at all. Decided to give it another try about 2 weeks ago for a cake. Used fresh egg whites this time, whipped up great. Added the sugar/water mixture, everything was going perfectly. However…maybe like 10 minutes of whipping the meringue, it cooled, but the bottom of the stand mixer bowl was still fairly warm to the touch. Unsure if over-whipping would ruin the meringue, I added the butter and kept whipping. This time it wasn’t a complete pool of butter and sugar, but it for sure was still too loose. So, I kept the mixer going and rubbed ice on the bowl and it actually came together. I put it in the fridge… thinking, “I’ll just rewhip it in a half hour or so when I need it”…, but when I took it out, I ran my spatula through it and it had an odd texture. It looked like it was separating, and was watery. Scrapped it, and had to make American Buttercream.

    Any tips? Can I do the rubbing of ice cubes on the side of the mixer technique to cool the bowl and meringue, before adding the butter? Or should I just let the mixture keep running until the bowl cools? Is 15-20 minutes too long??

    I’m determined to master making IM Buttercream! Maybe a 3rd times the charm…

    Hope to hear back!!

    1. Hi Matthew – If you try to mix or whip the buttercream while it’s still cold from the refrigerator it will separate. You need to wait for it to come up to room temperature before you re-whip it. Even if it separates like that you can still save it. With the mixer running warm the bowl, either with a blow torch or a small bowl of hot water under the mixer bowl. It will take a few minutes, but it will come back together. I have even held the mixer bowl high above a low flame on my stove while whisking it by hand to warm it just a bit. Sounds like you did everything right and your buttercream would have worked. Next time just wait for it to soften up before you mix it. As far as the bottom of the bowl still being warm, I’ve found that just touching the bowl doesn’t always indicate exactly the temperature of the meringue. Try turning off the mixer and sticking your finger into the meringue. You might be surprised to find that it’s cooler than the bowl is. IM buttercream is much more forgiving than folks realize. I think many people end up scraping batches that can be saved. Good luck!

  58. Hi Eileen! Thank you for this recipe. Is there a way to prepare IMBC without it tasting as if you’re swallowing mouthfuls of butter? I love the way it spreads and that it is less sweeter than American buttercream, however I get a lot of complaints regarding the butter ‘feeling.’ It’s the only thing preventing me from using it. I use lots and lots of Vanilla extract but that doesn’t seem to work. Can it be prepare with less butter or perhaps another variation? I was thinking only 3 sticks of butter and perhaps more meringue or adding whipping cream? I really want this to be my ‘go to buttercream’ as well. Please help!

    1. Hi Kay – Well, I haven’t tried anything to make IMB less buttery because I like it as it is. I do know some bakers who’ve added a little confectioner’s sugar to sweeten it up. I think you’d have to experiment with using less butter. But, in the end, what makes IMB so nice to spread is the specific texture, and that texture comes from the butter and the meringue. Sorry I don’t have a better answer. You can look for other types of buttercream. Maybe a German Buttercream would be better for you? German Buttercream has custard as a part of the recipe (I may put that on my list for a future post) which mitigates the butteryness. Another possibility is Ermine Icing – which has a base of milk & flour.

      1. Thank you Eileen. I have an event coming up next month, so I have time to experiment as you suggested. Love the idea of German Buttercream. Would love to see your recipe for it in a future post!

  59. Hi Eileen, thank you for this recipe. Are the fresh eggs that you use, pasteurized fresh eggs? Any other options? I am also concerned in regards to storing this frosting at room temperature. Does it pose a risk for salmonella? Thanks for our reply.

    1. Hi Candace! I use fresh egg whites from normal (unpasteurized) eggs. In 30 years I’ve never had a problem with salmonella from IMB. I have taken the temperature of the whites right after adding the sugar syrup and found that is goes over 160F, the temp to kill salmonella. Remember, if you start with room temperature egg whites (not cold from the fridge) and you add a syrup that is 240F in a fairly quick stream this brings the temperature of the whites up pretty fast. According to salmonella is killed instantly at 160F and even at lower temperatures after a few seconds. That being said, if you’re worried or you are serving to someone elderly or with compromised immune system you can use whites from pasteurized eggs if you can find them in your store. You can also use pasteurized egg whites from a carton. Just make sure the carton says the whites can be used for making meringues. I have found that some pasteurized whites don’t whip up properly. I do store my IMB at room temperature for a couple of days at a time. There is a very low water content and high sugar content in the buttercream, which makes it less likely to grow bacteria. If I’m holding more than a day or two I refrigerate or freeze the buttercream.

  60. I’m wondering if this recipe can be made using meringue powder instead of egg whites. Do you have any experience with that?

    1. I don’t really work with meringue powder so I can’t say for sure. You do need a good meringue for successful IMB. I have tried using pasteurized egg whites and they don’t whip up properly and don’t work for this recipe.

    1. Can you be more specific? Does the buttercream break down when you add the butter? Does the meringue whip up properly?

      1. once im whipping the meringue and add the water and sugar mix which i get to a 240 degree , im still whipping the meringue on med high speed, i slowly add in the mixture while on high speed and it begans to get soupy instead of a peak, then once the butter is added its even more soupy.

        1. Hi Sharita. Are you using fresh egg whites or carton egg whites? Many brands of pasteurized egg whites are not good for meringue and will not whip up properly.

  61. This frosting is fantastic! I’m making a cake for my neighbour’s daughter’s birthday and she wanted something not too sweet. This is perfect and I’m not sure I’ll ever make American buttercream again! 😉 One question, I have to frost a 10″ cake and do some piping as well. One batch barely crumbcoated the cake so I think I’ll need 2 more. Can I double this recipe or should I do the batches separately?

    1. Hi Meagan. I’m so glad you like the IMB, it’s the only buttercream I use. You can easily double the batch as long as your mixer has the capacity to hold the meringue. I’ve done double batches in my 5 quart and 6 quart Kitchen Aid mixers.

  62. I made this today it tasted delicious! I did find mine came out quite marshmallow like and when I was trying to ice a cake there were lots of air bubbles and I couldn’t get a really smooth finish, any tips?

    1. Hi Geraldine – sometimes IMB will get spongy if it’s been sitting. You can whisk it a bit by hand before icing the cake to get rid of some of those bubbles. Also, As you’re smoothing the cake wipe the spatula clean with a damp cloth to create a really smooth surface. You can watch this video to see how I ice a cake.

  63. Awesome recipe! For those of us who are newish, is there a way to cook the sugar without a candy thermometer? I don’t have time to go buy one ( source not near where I live)

    1. Hi Gina, Yes, you can cook the sugar without a thermometer (you can buy them on-line too). You can test the temperature of the sugar syrup with the ice water test. The sugar is cooked the to “softball stage” for this recipe. The name comes from the fact that if you drop a spoonful of the syrup into ice water it will form a ball that barely holds its shape and can be easily squeezed – a “soft ball”. To do the test have a container of ice water next to the stove while the sugar cooks. After the sugar is boiling for a few minutes, dip a small spoon into the pot and scoop out a little of the syrup. Dip the spoon into the ice and hold it there a few seconds until it’s cold. Use your fingers to try and scoop the sugar off the spoon. If the syrup won’t clump together and drizzles into strings it’s at the “thread stage” because it forms threads but not a clump. If you can form the sugar into ball that barely holds it’s shape, that is the “soft ball” stage. If it form a ball that firmly holds it’s shape that’s the “firm ball” stage, meaning the sugar has been cooked too long. You can add a few drops of water and test the sugar again if you boil it too long.

    1. Hi Mandy, Italian Meringue Buttercream can definitely be made ahead. You can make it and ice cupcakes the day before, or make the buttercream ahead of time and ice whenever you’re ready. The prepared buttercream can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days. If it becomes stiff (which always happens to me in the cold weather months) just put it back on the mixer and whip it up a bit.

  64. I tried this recipe and it turned out fantastic! I definitely got praise for the buttercream 🙂 I do have one question, however. When I poured the softball stage syrup into the egg whites, it took a very long time for it to cool down to 80 degrees fahrenheit. When perhaps 15 or more minutes passed (with the mixer on) it still hadn’t cooled all the way. I had to stick the bowl in the fridge for a bit. The final result was still tasty, and no one seemed to notice (they all thought it was great) but I couldn’t help but feel it was over whipped due to waiting for it to cool before adding the butter. How long does it take your syrup/egg mixture to cool to 80, before you add the butter?

    1. Hi Rudy. How long it takes to cool will depend on the room temp and the temp of the whites when the syrup goes in. I have found that in a warm kitchen it can take a while for it to cool down. Did you use a stand mixer or a hand mixer? Once the sugar and sugar syrup are added to the whites it’s pretty hard to over whip them. If you whip them at a steady, medium-high speed you shouldn’t have a problem. You can also try putting a bowl of cool water under the mixer bowl to help it along (like I did with warm water in one of the the photos above). There is a little bit of a cheat if you’re willing to try it. Sometimes, when I’m impatient, I keep my butter a little cooler than normal (maybe 65 degrees F) and put it in when the egg whites are still a little warm. I don’t mean that the butter is out of the refrigerator cold, but that it is still fairly cool in the center. Quickly throwing the cool butter into the slightly warm whites will cool down the whites and at the same time the slightly warmer whites will warm up the butter. I will admit that this trick does take a bit of experience with meringue buttercream and knowing how far you can push the temperature limits. If you’re willing to experiment you can give it a try in when your kitchen is on the warm side.

  65. Is it possible to make the IMB frosting raspberry flavored? Should fresh berries, cooked berries, or jam be used? Or possibly make a raspberry sugar syrup? And what quantity of raspberries/jam would you suggest? Thanks, looking forward to using this recipe!

    1. Hi Ann. I’ve made raspberry buttercream with IMB many times. I use raspberry puree for the best, fresh-raspberry flavor. I find that raspberry preserves don’t have a bright enough flavor. The easiest way, I think, to make raspberry puree is to buy frozen raspberries. Let them defrost then puree and strain out the seeds. The amount will be to taste. I would start with about 1/4 cup then taste. Also, a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice will heighten the raspberry flavor. Thanks for visiting the blog!

    1. Hi Heather. Salted butter won’t change the texture of the buttercream, but it will change the taste. I prefer unsalted butter, but I know some folks who like that little bit of salt in the flavor. If you prefer the salted flavor, it should be fine to use salted butter.

      1. Is there anyway to flavor the imbc with cream cheese ? Imbc is usually my go-to and I wanted to pair it with my red velvet cupcakes

  66. If been able to bring soupy buyer cream back, chill overnight in fridge then beat with the paddle attachment till it all comes back together

  67. Hi! When you make flowers with IMBC do they get firm ever or do they stay soft? I’ve always made mine with American buttercream but love the smooth glossy look of the IMBC.

    1. Hi Samantha, The flowers will get firm if you refrigerate the cake and will soften at room temperature. But even when they’re soft they’ll hold their shape at normal room temperature.

  68. I’ve tried other buttercream recipes and they weren’t great. Your instructions are wonderful, lots of tips, and thats good to know about the carton egg whites as I was considering trying them before I came across your post.

  69. I have never even heard of Italian Meringue Buttercream until today, and now I cannot wait to make a cake so I can try it!! I am hosting my sisters baby shower in July so I am bookmarking this one now!

  70. This looks so incredible. I wish I enjoyed baking at all… Although reading your blog has started to inspire me. I feel like I’m baking vicariously through you. This is my favorite type of frosting and I rarely see it on cakes anymore. My boyfriend is diabetic, so I try not to use sugar in anything. Have you ever tried this with a sugar substitute?

    1. Hi Nicole, Unfortunately I don’t have much experience using sugar substitutes. I’ve used Stevia a few times in baking experiments and it does work very differently than sugar. But this type of buttercream is definitely less sugary than the American style buttercream.

  71. Hi there! I’m trying to make a champagne buttercream using the Italian meringue method, and can’t seem to find a recipe anywhere that isn’t an American buttercream. Would I be able to use champagne in the syrup in place of water without it changing overall? I know you said you use rum and limoncello, but just wanted to double check. Thanks!

    1. Hi Danae! When I use rum or limoncello to flavor the buttercream I just add it to the finished buttercream. Because those liquors have a strong flavor a couple of tablespoons will flavor the buttercream enough. Since champagne has a lighter flavor you’ll probably need a little more to get the flavor you’d like. I think your idea of using it in place of water is a good one. Try that and then maybe also add some after the buttercream is finished. Be careful not to add too much to the finished buttercream or it might break the buttercream. Please let me know how it works out. I’m very intrigued by this idea. Also, if you want good champagne flavor in whatever cake you’re making, make a champagne syrup and sprinkle on the cake layers. See my Vanilla Layer Cake post to see how I use rum syrup for flavoring vanilla cake and my Simple Syrup post about making the syrup. Try making the simple syrup with champagne instead of water. Can’t wait to hear how it turns out.

    1. Hi Laurie, Yes I’ve made peanut butter icing using this recipe. After you finish mixing the entire recipe add peanut butter to taste. It’s really delicious with chocolate cake!

      1. I’m thinking about making the peanut butter icing with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake on your website. What do you think?

        1. I think, Yum! You could also add a little peanut butter to the ganache for more peanut butter flavor.

  72. Hi Eileen. I’d love to make this chocolate. Does cocoa work better, or melted chocolate? About how much? And would I then increase the sugar?
    Thanks. This looks like the buttercream I’ve been waiting for.

    1. Hi Jody! I make a chocolate version of this all the time. No need to make any changes to the basic recipe. Melted chocolate is best. You can do it to taste, but I would start with about 4 oz of melted semi or bittersweet chocolate. After you’re done making the buttercream according to the recipe you can add in the melted chocolate with the mixer running (make sure the chocolate has cooled, you don’t want to melt the butter). The color will look pale but the flavor will be chocolatey.

      1. I made your recipe yesterday and frosted a cake. It was chilled prior to taking to the venue where it was left at room temp for approx 3-4 hours. The b/c was still surprisingly firm and tasted quite buttery. Any idea what I might have done wrong? I think it could’ve been a bit sweeter so how much extra sugar and water could I add.

        1. Just like a stick of butter, this buttercream will remain firm in a cool room. I can tell you from 10 years of selling cakes that it always surprised me how long a cake will stay chilled. There’s a lot of mass from the center of the cake outwards so they can take quite some time to soften up. In cool weather, unless there is a perishable filling there is no reason to chill the cake if it will be eaten within a day or two. As far as the buttery taste, IMB is more buttery and less sweet than powdered sugar based frosting (what I call “American” buttercream).

  73. hi there,

    I have tried twice now to make Italian buttercream and the issue I have is that my bowl never ever cools down after I add the syrup. I even tried an ice bath. So by the time it is maybe cool (still feels warm), my butter is not rt anymore and i have over whipped my egg whites.

    i want to avoid this issue before I even try your recipe. Help!

    1. Hi Katie. Temperature is the biggest variable when making IM buttercream. Do you mean your butter is too soft or too cold when it’s ready to go into the whites? Also, I’ve noticed that sometimes the bowl still feels warm but if you shut off the mixer and stick your finger into the meringue you’ll find that it’s cooler than it seems by feeling the outside of the bowl (especially in the warmer months). In general, I prefer to have the egg whites a little warm and the butter a little cooler. Once the egg whites are completely cooled if the butter is at all cool you can get lumps. Also, room temperature butter is about 65-70F and should still be somewhat stiff, not completely softened and melting. Please let me know if I can answer any other specific questions. Eileen

  74. Hi Erica. I do weigh my eggs when working in my professional kitchen. A large egg white weighs slightly more than an ounce. I would use just over 5 ounces of egg whites. Depending on the type of scale you use and how exact it measures, I would use between 5.25 and 5.5 ounces. You could go up to 6 ounces and the recipe will still work. The only caution with carton egg whites is to be sure they can be used for a meringue. I’ve found that some ultra-pasteurized egg whites don’t whip very well. Hope you daughter enjoys her cake!

    1. Thank you so much for your help Eileen! My icing turned out absolutely perfect, and the cake was beautiful. You were right about the egg whites: the ones in the carton didn’t work so I switched to real eggs. Lesson learned! I’d like to ask you one more question for next time I do this icing, if you don’t mind: I felt like the final product could have been a little sweeter. Is there a point at which more sugar could be added to this recipe to get a sweeter icing? I dislike American buttercream mainly because it’s too sweet, but I’d like to find a happy medium. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it!

      1. Oh, I’m so glad Erica! If you’re on Instagram I would love if you’d post a photo of the cake and tag me eileen.bakingsense.

  75. Thank you so much for the detailed instructions! I’m attempting this for my daughters birthday cake. Do you ever weigh your eggs? If so, could you provide your weight measurement? I prefer to use weights, plus I’m using a carton of egg whites, so it’s easier. Thank you!

  76. 5 stars
    Thank you so, so much for posting this recipe with such clear instructions! I made it today for a celebration, & it was the first time ever that I was able to make a successful buttercream that I was proud to share with others.