Our Best French-Style Buttercream

May 14, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Makes about 4 cups
Author Notes

French buttercream is the black (or should I say pale yellow?) sheep of the buttercream family. In addition to butter and sugar, French-style buttercream is whipped up with whole eggs and extra egg yolks. Because of this, the frosting emerges from the mixer sunny as can be—custardy rich and lovely tasting, but unfit for food coloring.

If you’re looking for a frosting that comes together more quickly, turn to >Italian or >these other five. —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

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Our Best French-Style Buttercream
  • 3 (170 g) large eggs
  • 5 (180 g) large egg yolks
  • 2 cups (398 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) water
  • 18 ounces (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 g) vanilla extract
  1. Place the eggs and egg yolks 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 until the syrup reaches 230°F.
  3. As soon as the sugar reached 230°F, begin whipping the eggs and yolks on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg mixture become pale yellow and thick by the time the sugar reaches 240°F.
  4. With the mixer running, add the sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture is pale and very thick and the bowl is no longer noticeably warm to the touch.
  5. With the mixer running, gradually add room temperature butter in 1 tablespoon (14 g) chunks to the mixer. Continue adding and mixing until all of the butter is added and the frosting 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.

  • drew1632
  • Lygia
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, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

2 Reviews

drew1632 September 11, 2022
Excellent recipe. I piped this onto some cupcakes for someone that wanted a lighter frosting than American buttercream. It has a wonderful richness from the eggs but it seems to hold more air making it lighter and by dissolving the sugar there's no grittiness like you'd get from American buttercream and it doesn't form a crust, hours later it's still soft. I love that it's not sickly sweet but still has a great richness.

Step 6 mentions salt but a qty isn't listed, I added about 5 grams in with the eggs before I started beating them. I use coarse kosher salt so I thought this would give more time for it to dissolve than adding it at the end! It's not mentioned but use good butter, I definitely love some Kerrygold or Tillamook. Look for 80%+ butterfat or "European style". Cut back on salt if you use salted butter.
Lygia September 26, 2017
Great recipe! I use French buttercream to fill my chocolate and salted caramel cakes. I esp love that this recipe uses whole eggs. I often have leftover egg yolks in baking and this is a great way to use them. I followed the directions exactly and it turned out great. I added a dash of salt too. French buttercream freezes beautifully too :)