Bake

Our Best Italian-Style Buttercream

May 14, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Italian buttercream is lighter in color and texture than French- style buttercreams. It is similar in look, taste, and texture to Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way. Today, a very sweet lesson in all things frostings, icings, and glazes. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Our Best Italian-Style Buttercream
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes about 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 5 (180 g) large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon (<1 g) cream of tartar
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) water
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 g) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) fine sea salt
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. When it begins to boil, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pot (if any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water). Continue to cook the syrup until it reaches 240° F (final desired temperature).
  3. As soon as the sugar hits 230° F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240° F.
  4. With the mixer, add the sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture reaches stiff peaks and the bowl is longer noticeably warm to the touch. The meringue should be smooth and glossy, not clumpy or dry.
  5. With the mixer still running, gradually add room temperature butter in 1 tablespoon (14 g) chunks. Continue adding and mixing until all of the butter is incorporated and the buttercream is light and smooth.
  6. Beat in the vanilla and salt and mix to combine. The buttercream can be used immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Binky
    Binky
  • Janelle
    Janelle
  • Zee Long
    Zee Long
  • Wilmer
    Wilmer
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.

7 Reviews

Binky June 5, 2021
This was the best buttercream frosting I ever made. Easy to work with and sooooo delicious!,,
 
Janelle February 8, 2020
Absolutely delicious! I’m not a fan of American buttercream because I find it too sweet, so this recipe was just what I wanted. Reminds me of whipped cream, but silkier, and honestly, in terms of difficulty not very complicated as long as you have a good thermometer. I paired it with a matcha green tea cake and orange marmalade—a perfect combo!
 
Zee L. October 23, 2019
This was a good recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream - smooth, slightly sweet, and easy to make. It just didn't knock my socks off. And it left an fatty layer on my tongue. I followed the recipe to a T but was hoping for more. 3 out of 4 stars.
 
Wilmer May 10, 2018
How can I replace the homemade sirup with sirup karo?
 
Caroline N. August 1, 2016
I tried making this frosting last night and it was super soupy. Did my butter get too warm?
 
Gina March 16, 2016
I can't Waite to try some of these delicious looking recipes .
 
Cindy March 8, 2016
This is a great recipe for me as I make a lot of hollandaise and freeze the whites. Usually after about a dozen frozen whites I make macaroons or Pavlova. I just happen to have a container of 4 whites in the freeze. Time for a chocolate cake and your icing. Here I go..............