Italian Meringue Vanilla Buttercream

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes About

    500 g

Appears in



By Lorraine Pascale

Published 2017

  • About

This is made from an Italian meringue, which produces a stable and very silky buttercream. It’s perfect for show-stoppers such as wedding cakes and is one of my favourite buttercreams for piping, because it is very easy to work with. You can also make it well in advance. It takes a little bit of time, but the end result is worth it! As a guide, this makes enough buttercream to cover a two-layer 20cm cake.


  • 220 g granulated sugar
  • 90 ml water
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 220 g butter, softened
  • seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • sugar thermometer (optional)
  • stand mixer or hand-held electric whisk


Put the sugar and water in a small pan over a low heat and allow the sugar to dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Use a wet brush to brush the sugar from the sides of the pan.

Use a sugar thermometer to measure when the temperature reaches 120–122°C (250–252°F). If you do not have a sugar thermometer you can check that it is ready by placing ½ teaspoon of the syrup into a mug of cold water. Wait 15 seconds for it to harden and then use your fingers to pull out the sugar syrup – it should have formed a little ball that is firm to the touch. If the ball does not form, then the sugar syrup needs to be cooked for longer.

As the sugar syrup cooks, put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on low–medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk on a medium–high speed until medium–stiff peaks form (but not until they are super stiff). As soon as the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature, remove it from the heat, and then, with the mixer running add one fifth of it into the beaten egg whites. Whisk the egg white mixture to form stiff peaks and then gradually continue to add the sugar syrup in a thin steady stream, making sure that the sugar syrup does not touch the whisk or the sides of the bowl. Use the full amount of the sugar syrup and make sure that it does not get lost around the sides of the pan. If you are using a hand-held electric whisk, add the sugar syrup one quarter at a time, making sure that the egg whites are whisked to stiff peaks between each addition.

Once all the sugar syrup has been added, continue to beat on high speed for about 5 minutes, until the meringue has cooled right down to room temperature. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Keep going until you have added all of the butter and then add the vanilla, beating the buttercream for another good 2–3 minutes. It will keep at room temperature for 3 days, or up to 2 weeks in the fridge covered with cling film. Use as required.