French Buttercream

Leave it to the French to find a way to make one of the richest preparations in all of pastrydom even richer. How do they do that? By employing egg yolks in their classic buttercream instead of an egg white foam. What impact does this have on taste and texture? As you’d expect it makes the finished product denser and still more buttery tasting, yet it renders this form of buttercream probably the silkiest and most luxurious of the lot. The ingredients are as follows:

6 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 pound unsalted, soft butter

Start by putting your room temperature yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whip attachment:

Turn the mixer on high and whip the yolks for five minutes or so, until they appear light in color and somewhat foamy.

While the mixer is going, prepare your sugar syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring them up to 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Oops, this is a little hot.

Immediately pour the syrup into a pyrex measure for easier handling.

Now then, as with Italian meringue buttercream, start drizzling the syrup into the yolks a little at a time. Do it with the motor off so as not to splatter it all onto the sides of the bowl where it won’t do your buttercream any good. Drizzle a little, run the machine a little, drizzle a little, run the machine a little until all the syrup is incorporated.

When all the syrup is in, you should have something that looks like this:

Whip this sweet yellow “foam” until it’s cool…about room temperature. Once that’s achieved, switch to the paddle (beater) attachment and start adding your butter, a piece or two at a time until it’s all in.

Oh no! Mayo!

Turns out my egg yolk and syrup foam was too warm when I started adding the butter, so my buttercream is almost soupy. What to do? If you said “beat it”, you get an A for this course.

Ah, there we go, a few minutes on high and all is well.

Now then, you can see from the way this French buttercream hangs off the beater that it’s not as good for piping as the meringue buttercreams. But then who says every buttercream has to be pipable? This stuff is a silken, butter lover’s paradise, and as it happens, my favorite buttercream for cupcakes.

As with the others, this is the time to add your flavorings and/or colorings. A teaspoon or so of vanilla for starters, then just about anything you want.

128 thoughts on “French Buttercream”

  1. the first time i made french buttercream was for pistachio orange sans rival….lets say the f&b director loved it, the chef loved it, and the chef table’s guests had the silkiest dessert in town that night.. all hail the french

      1. My first attempt at french buttercream was also for a Sans Rival, and I have to admit I failed miserably (which is why I’m here now!). It was runny like a batter and I didn’t know how to salvage it. I was pressed for time, so I begrudgingly made an American buttercream.

        I suspect that my yolks weren’t cooled enough and my butter was too warm, but I also used a whip for the entire process, so now I know what to do different.

        1. Sounds like a temperature issue, Scotty. Next time just keep beating and it should come together. More beating is the magic fix-all for buttercream. In time the temperature would have evened out and you would have been able to recover it I think.

          Better luck next time, Scotty! Keep trying!

          – Joe

  2. This looks amazing – I can’t wait to try it. Would you mind telling me how well it keeps though? As in… what is the shelf life at room temperature? In the fridge? In warm weather? etc.

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Sure Vivianne! Like all the real buttercreams that contain eggs, this will keep about a day at room temperature, a week in the fridge and two to three months in the freezer.

      – Joe

  3. I have been searching for years for this particular recipe!!! I have finally found it because of your web site. I have looked for this since I was a teenager and have tried many diferent “buttercream” recipes to no avail. I blame it on my parents because as a teenager they introducted me to French cooking via a quaint little bistro in town. Since they moved I have been searching. I am not a chef by no means so I am not the best at any particular cusine. I love to experiment and try new things all of the time. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Store bought buttercream cakes are anywhere close to this texture.

    1. Indeed, Alex! The only way to get real buttercream nowadays is to either buy a wedding cake, or make the buttercream yourself. Glad you found me! Come back soon!

      – Joe

  4. Thank you for posting this topic. Now I won’t get a mini heart attack when I attempt to do this. I was wondering if French buttercream is stable enough to withstand humid climate. I live in the Philippines and it’s very warm here. I always make SMB because it doesn’t easily melt. I like this one better, though. I’m just worried that it might melt the moment I spread it on cupcakes or meringue layers. Some cake shops here use half butter and half margarine compound or butter-flavored shortening when making French buttercream, to improve stability, I suppose. However, I find the taste “plastic-y”. It just isn’t the same when you use real butter. Anyway, your site is very helpful. Keep up the good work! 😀

    1. Thank you, Kathy! Yes, whenever the temperature gets up above the point where butter melts, buttercreams start to, well, come apart. French buttercream is one of the least stable in that regard. Italian meringue is the most stable, but even it doesn’t do well much above 85 degrees. Humidity isn’t as much of an issue, even though meringue is a component of many buttercreams — it’s the darn heat!

      Good luck and thanks for the email!

      – Joe

  5. Thanks so much for this great recipe!! I made it last night and LOVE it! I’m making a wedding cake with french buttercream filling, and wanted to know how I could make this into a chocolate buttercream. I’ve read adding a few melted ounces of chocolate, but wanted to know if I’d need to skimp on the sugar, then? Any help would be much appreciated!

    Thanks again,


    1. Hey Ashlee! Up to about four ounces of chocolate will work just fine. A darker chocolate will deliver more flavor, more body and less sugar. I’ve never found that chocolate adds a noticeable amount of extra sugar. If the chocolate tastes good alone and the buttercream tastes good alone, they’ll taste fine together, knowadimean?

      Have fun!

      – Joe

  6. Dear Joe, Would this french buttercream be okay to make “strawberry buttercream”, or would the yolks make it too rich and strong for a fruitier flavor? I have always made the strawberry flavor using the swiss meringue style, thanks for your advice. bao kim

    1. Hello Bao! A French buttercream would work splendidly with strawberry, so do go ahead with your plan. In fact I think the strawberry would be an especially good match there as French buttercream can be a little heavy feeling in the mouth. Please let me know what you think of the results!

      – Joe

  7. Dear Joe, I will be making a birthday cake for my niece this weekend, will report back after I tried the Strawberry French Buttercream! I just tried making the French Macaron, if I would like to use buttercream as the filling, which one do you recommend? The Swiss, Italian or French? I am just worried that the buttercream filling might melt if the macarons sit at room temperature for too long. Again, would really appreciate you advice. Thank you, bao kim

    1. Hello!

      Any of those buttercreams will hold at room temperature for at least a full day, provided the temperature of the room doesn’t rise much above 85. However meringue will provide a little extra holding power if things get warm, so I’d suggest either the Italian or Swiss. I should add that you can use lots of other things to fill macarons if you wish. Frostings, jams, curds, all will work well for that job and won’t have the melting/separation problems.

      – Joe

  8. Hi Joe, So here is my report! I made a strawberry Swiss buttercream and also a strawberry French buttercream to have a Taste Test side by side:) I find the Swiss buttercream tasted a bit fresher with the strawberry flavor, now with the French buttercream, I find that the Strawberry doesn’t taste as lively, I wonder if it’s because the egg yolks are richer therefore overwhelmed the strawberry flavor? The French buttercream definitely tasted Richer, but after leaving both buttercream sitting at room temperature for several hours, it seemed that the French buttercream got much softer than the Swiss buttercream. Is this the characteristic of French buttercream? Would it be out of the question to mix the 2 buttercreams together to get a firmer and still spreadable buttercream? Or would it totally destroy the BOTH buttercreams? I am very much a beginner in the buttercream department, I hope you dont mind my crazy questions:)

    Thank you for all your help and advice, bao kim

    1. Not a problem Boakim!

      French buttercream gets softer because it doesn’t have a meringue base to help hold it up. Thus it behaves pretty much like butter at room temperature. But there’s no problem combining the two if you’d like. Beat them together and you’ll get something, well…sort of in between! It’s interesting that the Swis had a brighter strawberry flavor. But then the buttercream is lighter, it has a bit more air in it…that might be ther difference right there.

      Thanks so much for the report, Boakim!

      – Joe

  9. Hi Joe-

    Just a quick question – In your opinion, what works better for a cake frosting: IMBC or French? Would the French style be too butter-intense (if that even exists) for a cake…does it work better in smaller portions like cupcakes?

    Thanks much!


    1. Hey Megan!

      I prefer the Italian or Swiss for number of reasons…they’re a little lighter and they also hold up better as a frosting. French buttercream is best as a filling or in a very thin application on a cupcake. It’s pretty heavy duty stuff, butter-wise.

      – Joe

  10. This is super helpful! I love the pictures. I had to make a nougat recipe that was similar with stirring in a hot syrup and the directions were horrible, which led to hard deposits of sugar on the bowl, and not enough goodness in the base! I had to redo it, similar to how you’ve shown here. I am definitely bookmarking this for future use.

  11. Awesome, Joe! I just saw Martha Stewart and Julia Childs make this together on the PBS special for Julia Child’s 100th birthday. It looks super delicious!

  12. I made this yesterday with leftover pate a bombe for some gluten free cupcakes. I mixed in a few ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate. It. Was. Absolutely. Delicious. Despite the strange [read: different] consistency of the cupcakes. I cannot stop eating it by the spoon. Thank you, once again 🙂

    1. That’s a very legitimate way to make French buttercream, Mariana, with pate a bombe. Wonderful solution! Next time invite me, K?

      – Joe

  13. Thank you for posting. I love french buttercream and it’s my favorite filling for macarons. I’d like to add coconut milk and pandan essence as flavoring. Do you know if the coconut milk would change the consistency of the buttercream?

    1. Hi Melanie!

      Coconut milk probably won’t help as much as coconut “cream” which you can find in the cocktail section of a liquor store or supermarket. Much more bang for the proverbial buck! Plus it won’t thin the buttercream as much as the milk will. Use about 1/4 cup.

      That’s my best suggestion!

      – Joe

    1. Hi Melanie! You’ll want to let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then the next day let it come completely to room temperature over a period of about four hours…stirring it every so often. It will need to be re-beaten to fluff it up again. Don’t worry if it breaks, just keep beating it until it returns to its former consistency.

      – Joe

  14. Can I use an electric mixer instead of something like a kitchen aid for this or any other recipe?

  15. Hey, I made a french buttercream and I must have done something wrong. It tasted like I was eating straight butter, it was really gross. Any idea what I might have done wrong?

    1. Sounds like you did it right! Though the butter may have had a particularly strong flavor for some reason. But buttercream — especially the French style — tastes like butter, no question. You know how they are with their dairy products! 😉

      – Joe

  16. Joe, I have made your recipe several times and it is absolutely fantastic! I searched for almost 4 years to perfect a buttercream icing recipe and this by far is the best! I do have a question though. I prefer a “softer” icing and I have noticed that this icing firms up pretty quickly in cold weather. Sometimes I let my cupcakes go tanning to soften the icing up a bit by letting them sit under a low heat lamp! Do you have any ideas of letting the icing stay at room temperature? I follow the recipe exactly but am wondering if I’m doing something wrong?
    I visit your site often and love it!
    Thank you,

    1. Hey Heather!

      Great to hear it’s been working so well. But yeah, it behaves pretty much exactly like butter, there being so much butter in there. If it’s cool out, it’ll want to firm up. I can’t think of any ways to soften it per se…I mean, adding a little milk or cream would do it, but it could probably make it too loose to spread or pipe well.

      My suggestion would be to go over to a buttercream that’s less sensitive to temperature, like Swiss meringue buttercream. The air bubbles inside give it a little more…give, shall we say.

      Best of luck!

      – Joe

  17. Hi joe,
    Am new in buttercream. I like French buttercream. But from the previous comments, I understood that it is less stable. Can we add butter flavoured shortening instead of butter to get more stability,like to pipe flowers and borders. My daughters bday is coming, pls give me a quick reply.

    1. Hi Faseela!

      Yes you can use shortening instead. This will give you a result much more like an American buttercream, a recipe for which is also on the site. Just look under “Pastry Components”, then “Buttercreams.”

      – Joe

  18. Hi joe,

    Thank you for ur response. I have already tried American buttercream with shortening, but it is slightly grainy. So that I thought to make french buttercream with shortening in order to avoid that grainy texture and to make it rich.I didn’t have any professional training in baking. Thank u once again for ur response.

    1. Let me know how your experiments go, Faseela. Other readers will want to know!

      – Joe

  19. Hi joe,
    I tried it, more stable at room temperature, we can pipe roses. But personally I didn’t like the taste of French buttercream, eating like a stick of butter. So am going to try mousse line buttercream. Hot sugar syrup will kill salmonella or not.

    1. Hi Faseela! Another name for that is Italian Buttercream and I have a recipe for that on the site as well. You can’t count on the heat to kill salmonella, however the sugar probably will do the job. Also microbes don’t grow well in fat. It’s not a complete assurance of safety, but it’s enough for me! 😉

      Let me know what you think and thanks for checking back in!

      – Joe

  20. Hi Joe, I made your French buttercream the other day! It was awesome, we loved it. Definitely on the rich side… especially after I added one pureed banana and a generous helping of dulce de leche for flavor… yum yum!

    I filled and iced a cake (lightly) with it, and have plenty left over…how long would you say does it keep in the fridge?

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

    1. Hi Fleur!

      Great news! I’d say about a week. You’ll need to let it completely return to room temperature before you re-beat it. Don’t worry if it breaks at first, just keep beating it until it re-emulsifies.

      – Joe

  21. Dear Joe,

    I have been using your great recipe for a while now so thanks for posting! As I use buttercream a few times a week I was wondering if its possible to make using cold sugar syrup. It would speed up the process substantially if I didn’t have to melt the sugar each time I make the frosting. Thanks,


    1. Hi Charlotte!

      That’s an interesting idea…make-ahead syrup. The trouble is that once it cools it’ll get awfully darn firm. But that wouldn’t preclude you making a larger quantity, then simply re-heating it until its pourable again. In theory it should work!

      Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  22. Ever since I learned that French buttercream existed I’ve been DYING to try it… And I got my chance tonight!

    I added a bit of rum flavour and put it on coconut cupcakes—the results were scrumptious, but guilt-inducing (so buttery!). I will definitely have to bear in mind that cupcakes do not need a thick layer of this icing at all.

    I found that half this recipe was MORE than enough for 12 cupcakes.

    Thanks so much for the recipe!! I will definitely be trying (and tweaking) it some more. =)

    1. Hey Cathryn!

      Oh yes, this recipe will do much more than a dozen cupcakes, for as you point out, a little buttercream goes a long way. We’ve all been conditioned to put too much special sauce on our cakes and cupcakes, when just a dab will do you!

      Glad you liked it overall, however. And what a great improvisation on it,

      – Joe

  23. Hi Joe,
    I just found your website today for the first time.

    I have bookmarked so many recipes today,…..

    I am in love with you

    What fun I will have this summer trying out so many of these exquisite recipes, my friends all love my cooking and fussing.

    My arsenal just got 10 x’s bigger !

    1. Thanks so much for the kind, kind note, Vivienne!

      Please don’t hesitate to write in should you have any questions about anything on the site. I’m generally around!

      Your friend,

      – Joe

  24. is one of these buttercreams a very shinny and looks like whip cream
    my aunt made a frosting and would not share with any family members it was very shinny,spread like whip cream colored great and colors did not bleed together not sweet
    hope you can help
    going to try the Ital BC frosting be my first
    thanks april

    1. Hi April!

      All the buttercreams except the American buttercream are very glossy as you described. The French is probably the shiniest. Let me know how they go!

      – Joe

  25. Hi Joe! Love your site. I’ve been using your technique for french buttercream for my cashew dacquoise for sometime now and I have always had great success. Thank you! 🙂 I recently tried to double the recipe (by simply doubling the quantities) and I’ve ended up with runny/soupy buttercream. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve decided to attempt this on the hottest of days(making the butter melt much too rapidly), or if my syrup is too watery… Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Josephine!

      Thanks so much for the note — glad this has worked out so well (until now). I’ve made this in huge batch sizes before without a problem. My guess is that heat was indeed the culprit since it does loosen awfully quickly in warm weather. Of course if you think your syrup was runny that would be a factor as well…but there’s nothing in principle wrong with making big batches. Let me know if you keep having problems, please.

      Have a great weekend!

      – Joe

  26. love the website. I would like to make french buttercream raspberry flavor. how much of it and should I use fresh or frozen? thanks

    1. Hi Caroline!

      A fresh-made raspberry sauce (like a coulis) is the best for the job since it combines great flavor with body. A high quality jam also works great! Have fun!

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe

        For the recipe above how much fresh raspberry sauce would I make for it?

        1. You’ll only need about a quarter cup to flavor it, Caroline. Perhaps as much as a this cup,but that’s all I’d add lest you change the texture of the buttercream.

          Have fun!

          – Joe

  27. Hi Joe,
    Your website is the bomb. Have just made the danish pastry and want to make a cream-like filling. Pastry cream seems too perishable and wonder which type of your butter cream would be best. So glad I discovered you.

  28. Hi Joe,

    I was wondering if you could help me out, I want to make a diffrent buttercream for a birthday cake coming up and looked at my local bakery’s website to see what kind of icing they use. The bakery icing is very good and creamy. It list that it uses French Buttercream. The entire cake is frosted with this icing. Is this recipe good for icing the entire cake? also the bakery’s icing does not taste like pure butter, or too sugary, but im not sure what exactly it is, or how to make something close to it. can you help me out? i love their icing.

    thank you

    1. Hello Katrina!

      To answer the first question, you certainly can use a buttercream to frost an entire cake, though since it’s so rich I tend to use less of it than I do a traditional frosting. As for the French buttercream that doesn’t taste much like butter, I’m not sure what it contains. It’s possible they use a combination of fats. 50-50 butter and shortening is a popular blend since it gives some butter flavor and delivers the silkiness of a conventional buttercream. That may be the secret.

      Let me know what you think, Katrina!

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,

        I gave this recipe a try tonight, oh my Butter!! It was like eating straight butter. This is not anywhere close to what they use, I am completely in the dark now. It was very creamy, i even tried to add shortening to it to see if that would change the flavor, it didn’t. Im so completely lost. Any way you can take a look at the bakery’s website just to get some sort of idea for me? Its I really appreciate all of your help. I usually make a crusting Buttercream from shortening, butter, powdered sugar, merengue powder, vanilla, and milk. Im trying to find a happy medium for a smooth, silky, creamy frosting for cakes as well as cupcakes that is not too sweet or buttery. any help is appreciated

        Thanks so much!!

        1. Hey Katrina!

          Buttercream is buttery, not question about it. That’s its charm!

          If their buttercream doesn’t taste like butter I confess I’m at a bit of a loss. But have a look at the frosting recipes on the site (under “Components” then “Icings and Frostings”). The classic American frostings maybe be more what you’re looking for!


          – Joe

  29. Hi Joe,

    I’ve been making French buttercream according to Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book without a hitch for about a year now. But the past two batches have come out almost grainy–separated–there seems to be a separation between the butter and the moisture as opposed to one smooth, totally incorporated mixture like it has been before. I’m not aware of doing anything different, I am following directions to a “t”, but clearly I’m doing something wrong somewhere. For the life of me, I can’t figure out where I’m running off the road. I’m bringing the syrup to 238 as the recipe instructs, I’m beating the eggs to a foam while the syrup cooks, I’m beating until completely cool, adding butter a tablespoon at a time . . . Any thoughts? Do I need to beat it more? Less? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Kris!

      It sounds to me like a temperature issue. Sometime if the butter is still a little cool int he center it will throw the emulsion off. All you need to do is keep beating until the temperature equalizes and the buttercream smooths again. As with all buttercreams: when in doubt, beat!


      – Joe

  30. Hello Joe!
    I’m planning on making an opera cake this weekend for my aunt’s birthday, using the recipes you’ve provided. I’ll be making a classic opera for the adults, and a white chocolate raspberry opera-esque thing for the kids (omitting the coffee, since they’re energetic enough without the caffeine) by making about 1/3 of your joconde recipe.
    How much of this buttercream did you use for the full size opera? I’ve made a very small amount of this stuff before and loved it, but don’t want to end up having a lot of extra when I’m done with assembly. I was planning on making the full recipe, then splitting it up to flavor with coffee for one portion, then raspberry for the other, but I’m still afraid that it’ll be too much.
    Sorry that was so long, hahaha. Thanks!

    1. That should work out about right, Anne. And don’t worry about leftovers, buttercream freezes very very well and it’s always handy to have some around!

      – Joe

  31. Hi Joe!

    I’ve been exploring different buttercreams & frostings the last couple weeks. I first tried the IMBC, which all my taste testers thought was too buttery (yes I thought they were crazy too!) I loved the butter tatste, however, I wanted the vanilla bean I added to be the star. My question is, can I add less butter or add some shortening to any of the European buttercreams and still have that beautiful light fluffy texture?
    Thank you & I love your site!
    Misty 🙂

    1. Joe, I am so sorry! I just found my answer where you helped someone else out! I should’ve read more before I asked. Sorry again.

      1. No problem, Misty! Glad you got the info you needed!

        Always happy to help (or let someone else help 😉 )

        – Joe

  32. This buttercream worked beautifully. I love the blog! May I also add that your photos are really well composed. I have a new favorite site to add to my bookmarks. XO

    1. Hi Daniel!

      Thank you very much for the high praise! You do some amazing things. I shall return to Cakemonger often to see what you’re up to!


      – Joe

  33. Hi there,

    I am making a wedding cake for my brother in August. I would like to use French BC, but am reluctant as it is softer than Swiss BC (what I’m used to).

    Can you tell me how it will hold up being out at the reception for at least 6 hours?

    Also, was thinking of making a dummy cake because it will be a time crunch, I’m in the wedding, traveling 12 hours to get there, and am making the cake. Will French BC adhere to styro-foam?

    I usually make cakes with Swiss BC and am able to put it in the fridge/ freezer when smoothing the sides and tops because it sets up very well because of the butter. I’m not sure how French would compare.

    Advice? Thanks!

    1. Hey Samantha!

      Very interesting. I wouldn’t say that French buttercream is necessarily softer than Swiss meringue buttercream (it depends on the quality butter you use), but it is a bit more sensitive to temperature. So if the cake has to stand in a warm place at all, you’ll do a little better with SMBC since it can take a bit more warmth (though not much more). Provided it stays at room temperature it will hold up as well as SMBC, and will indeed adhere to styrofoam. Does that help?

      – Joe

    2. Also I should say that there’s always the option to add a ratio of shortening to the buttercream to give it extra holding power. That’s sacrilege to some but it’s worth mentioning. If half the fat is butter and the other half is shortening you still retain a lot of butter flavor but reduce the melting risk. Anyway, just a thought!

      – Joe

  34. Joe, I know that this recipe has been up for a few years but I think you have a typo in the temperature for making the sugar syrup. You say in the text to bring the syrup to 248F but I think it should read 238F, which is the softball temp. Also, your photograph shows your thermometer reading 239F and you say “Oops, this is a little too hot!”

  35. …and I thought I knew some recipes before passing by Your immense website, Joe!

    I am always alert when using raw eggs. Is there any way to get around either without them or with minimum thermal processing? My purpose – a “safe” cofee flavourd buttercream for the Opera cake.

    1. Hi Cris!

      Thanks for you very kind compliment! I greatly appreciate it. I know what you mean about egg safety. I worry about it myself. There really isn’t a work-around that I know other than using pasteurized eggs, which are more and more available these days. My suggestion is to ask around at some local grocery stores. You might be surprised at what you find. You can also pasteurize eggs yourself with a sous vide machine should you have access to one of those.

      Hope that helped at least a little — and thanks again!


      – Joe

      1. Thanks for a previous answer, Joe! Unfortunately, I haven’t found pasteurized eggs near by. The party in which I should, well, make my debut, is too close for an extensive search. Could you advise any other raw egg-free cream that would fit for an Opera “cheated” cake? Maybe even a standart conditery cream – I know, I know a culinary perversion in this case – would do?

        1. A coffee-infused pastry cream would work very well, Cris. What do you think of that solution?

          – Joe

          1. Thanks for advice! I’ll try it and describe the results later.

            Thanks for such an encyclopedic website, it’s just incredible!

          2. It’s my great pleasure, Cris! Get back to me on it for sure. And thanks for all the high praise. Gives me some impetus on a day where my allergies are killing me!


            – Joe

    2. Cris,
      I don’t know whether your event has come and gone already, but if not: Julia Child’s recipe for butter cream (in From Julia Child’s Kitchen) calls for heating the egg mixture after the syrup has been added. This is done over a hot water bath; Julia says to heat while stirring until the mixture is too hot for your finger, then allow to cool before adding the butter. Obviously the yolks will curdle if you heat too much, but I use this method all the time.

  36. Hi Joe,

    I’ve been making french butter creams for a while now, without failures. Recently, the texture of my BC was not silky smooth and it wouldn’t hold at room temperature. I made it twice, once with sugar syrup boiled to 238F and to 244F. The only change made was a new brand of butter I tried. Could it be the butter? It was written on the packaging that the butter had 60% fat content.

    Appreciate your insights and pls fuel my curiosity too!!


    1. Hello Zurati!

      Thanks for the question. I think it certainly is the butter. If it’s only 60% butterfat then the remainder is mostly water, which explains why the buttercream isn’t holding well. You need a butter that is more in the 80-85% butterfat range.

      Get back to me with your results, Zurati as I’ll be interested!


      – Joe

  37. Hi Joe,

    As some one who is new to homemade buttercreams your site has been extremely helpful. I have a couple of questions. How would you recommend making a toffee flavored version of this French buttercream? Pour in 1/4 cup of a cooled toffee mixture after beating in all of the butter?

    Also, can you substitute clarified butter for unsalted butter?

    Many thanks,


    1. Hi Matt!

      Thanks very much! On the toffee, yes I’d say up to a third cup of cooled toffee can be whipped in. It should be a somewhat pourable consistency, at most the thickness of peanut butter. If it’s too thick you can heat it up and add a little butter to loosen it up, then let it cool again and test it.

      On the second question the answer is unfortunately no. Buttercream relies in part on the butter emulsion, and that gets destroyed when it’s heated to that extent.

      Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  38. Hi Joe!
    I am thrilled to have found your recipe! For many years my family’s enjoyed a Victorian Raspberry Cake (white cake filled with French buttercream and fresh raspberries)from a nearby bakery. Do you think I can add whole fresh raspberries to the filling? Any pointers on the best way to do so?

  39. Hi there…i am planning to try this french buttercream or any buttercream for sansrival or dacquoise but want to avoid the too much buttery taste.Though buttercream js really a butter taste like. Anyways, i want to add mango flavour, will i be using fresh mango or mango juice in can, mango puree from fresh fruit or in a bottle sold in Asian stores?
    What do u think?.Thanks

    1. Hello!

      Yes the butter taste is unavoidable, though you’ll get a little less of the butter favor with a Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream. I would add a canned mango puree to the finished buttercream, about half a cup. Let me know how it goes!


      – Joe

  40. Joe,

    I wanted to tell you I made this recipe to fill macaroons. I did add some really good vanilla to the flavor the buttercream and the cookies were amazing! I was so happy I didn’t waste the yolks after making the macaroons with the egg whites. Thanks for a great recipe!!


  41. A game-changing recipe for me! This is the first time I’ve made anything besides a simple confectioner’s sugar frosting at home and there is no going back. The frosting was so delicious, thank you for the excellent instructions!

    1. Great news, Kate!

      So glad to have another convert to real butter buttercream! I encourage you to try some of the others when you get a chance. The Swiss meringue is my personal favorite, but some people swear by Italian. I think you’ll love them all. Again congratulations and come back soon!

      – Joe

  42. I have been looking all over the “world wide web” for a recipe for white chocolate french buttercream. ..surprisingly the cake i had that i am trying to replicate was from a chain grocery store in Houston H.E.B. the label on the cake was simply “sculpted cake”, but there was something about this frosting that was indescribable but so yummy… i am used to either super sweet or whipped icing from grocery stores and they are just to much or just ehh…but THIS cake i could have eaten the whole thing, and i wanted to lick the box when it was gone. Since there was not really a name we started calling it. “Crack cake”lol. I looked on the website and found a cake that looked like the one i had and it said it was a white chocolate french buttercream…i am doubtful because i know a grocery store wouldn’t sell something that could potentially get people sick (the egg yolk dilemma) and it was a”sculpted cake? If this french buttercream is so loose it wouldn’t really be possible to sculpt a cake out of it and it was at room temp and had to be transported in hot humid houston weather and it didn’t melt. Do you think this is really made with French buttercream. …and how could i incorporate white chocolate into it? I am just dying to learn how to make this stuff. If i am successful i would be the queen in my house (my mother in law is a cake decorator and she always makes the cakes, and I’m sorry to say they are nothing special)..i am new to making frosting and have been using store bought stuff. But i know i can do so much better. I read all the comments and really think it’s awesome that you respond to people’s questions…sorry this is so long but I’m hoping you could help me.

  43. Hi Joe

    I look forward to trying this recipe. My question is about adding things at the end for flavoring. One person above talked about strawberry – what exactly did he add and how much? Was it a jam, a coulis or something else?

    I saw somewhere else adding a cup of caramel. That seems like a lot. Does it change the recipe for the frosting or do you just keep beating it until the consistency is correct?

    I am new at these buttercreams so I don’t know how to add and change the flavorings correctly.

    thank you!

    1. Hey Suzanne!

      You’re completely right that too much of an additive can end up making the buttercream too thin (or thick if it’s chocolate!). Strawberry is a particular problem since it’s so watery. He may have used a coulis, I really can’t remember. That’s generally going to be better than jam since it’s pure fruit, but it would have to be strained to eliminate the excess water. Most recipes like this can handle 1/3 to 1/2 cup of something-other other. Fruit coulis, jam, peanut butter, melted chocolate, caramel sauce, the list goes on. French buttercream is extremely buttery, which makes it stiffer than an IMBC or SMBC, so that’s probably why it worked.

      My advice, start with 1/3 cup especially if the additive is thin. If the buttercream seems to be holding its consistency well, add a little more!


      – Joe

  44. Hi Joe! Thanks for the recipe and easy tutorial, I saw in your picture that the end result is a white cream, mine was lemon colored, how can I make it white? The reason why I want it white is because I want to add pink food color gel. Do you think its possible? Also I am considering using crisco instead of butter hoping that it will help make the frosting white. You think it’s workable? Thanks in advance for any tips!

    1. Hey Jill!

      If you’re after something truly white-white then French buttercream isn’t the thing. The egg yolks are going to tint it yellow, and depending on the butter you get it’ll get more yellow still. Using shortening instead of butter will only be a partial solution to your problem. Can I interest you in a nice Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream?

      – Joe

  45. Joe, would the addition of gelatine to the hot syrup make the FMBC more stable and suitable to fill macarrons for example?

    1. Oh, I see what you mean. To give a piped buttercream more longevity you absolutely can use a little gelatin, no problem. Hydrate it as directed, melt the hydrated gelatin into the syrup and you’re good to go!


      – Joe

  46. Hi Joe! Thanks for the tips, do you have recipe/tutorial for the Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream? Might as well share what I am planning to bake, my family liked the sans rival, I nailed it the first try, I was surprised because I’ve read a lot in the net that it’s not an easy cake to make. Since it became a big hit in my family and friends, I decided that’s what I will make for my daughter’s baptism party. But the frosting I want to make this easy swirl roses around the cake and color it pink. Is it still ok to have a swiss or italian buttercream for it? Thanks again!

    1. I surely do, Jill!

      Just have a look under Pastry Components, the Buttercream. They’re all there. And yes, you sure can use either of those two buttercreams. They pipe beautifully.

      Cheers and keep spreading the gospel of real buttercream!

      – Joe

  47. Hi Joe! How do I make this in a chocolate cream cheese variety?
    Thanks for the expert guidance!

    1. Hey Britt!

      You can beat in some cream cheese instead of the butter if that’s what you mean. That will give you a more stable buttercream. Add by all means add some melted chocolate at the end. Three or four ounces should do the trick!


      – Joe

  48. Ok so I’ve gathered that I can add up to 4 oz of chocolate but am wondering about the cream cheese. Can I sub some of the butter for cream cheese? How much would I need to sub in order for the cream cheese flavor to come through? Would the cream cheese make the final product softer or about the same as if I were to use all butter? Also wanted to add a suggestion/question for adding coconut flavor: leave a full fat coconut milk can in the fridge over night and spoon the ‘cream’ from the top, leaving the liquid behind. Not sure if that would add as much coconut flavor as the coco lopez (coconut cream for cocktails) though.

    1. Hey Britt!

      Cream cheese will make the buttercream firmer and more stable. You can safely do a third of the butter volume. Fully half might be pushing it.

      As for coconut flavor, you’re much better off with a concentrated emulsion. As you intuited, the coconut milk won’t do much. Good luck!

      – Joe

  49. Hello…. I would like to make this to top cupcakes. However, I would like to it to be white. Is there a more natural way of getting it that color, one that doesn’t involve adding white coloring? Also, can I add the scrapings of a vanilla bean? Thanks!

    1. Hi Elena!

      Unfortunately the color of the butter and the yolks will keep it a pale yellow without coloring. But I can suggest a Swiss or Italian buttercream, which are made with whites so they’ll deliver a lighter color. It still won’t be snow white, for that you’ll need an American buttercream. Thank goodness for options, no?

      Thanks for the question!

      – Joe

  50. Hi Joe,

    I just found your website and am thrilled!! My last French buttercream called for 7 yolks and it seems to not take room temperature very well at all. To say that it wilts puts it rather mildly.

    I’m very excited to switch to your 6 yolk version.

    Thanks for making the whole process make sense 🙂

  51. This is by far the best buttercream ever! Made it several times (and even a dairy free version since I’m now “medically” dairy free). So much more elegant than standard American BC. I’ll never go back.

  52. Hello. I really love French buttercream as it’s light and fluffy. My main concern is if I want to add a flavour like raspberry and I don’t wanna use any artificial flavours. What are the alternate to use fresh fruits in this or any jam or purée? Thanks much.

    1. Hello Purva! That’s an interesting question. A raspberry jam is what I’d use, but if I’m reading you right, you’re concerned about artificial ingredients in a commercial jam, correct? If that’s true you can always make your own jam, which isn’t difficult. Commercially, there are some all-natural fruit pastes out there, which are terrific. Lots of flavor with little water, no seeds and no articial ingredients. I know because I used them for my doughnut business many years ago. You’d need an account a place like Sysco or Bakemark to get them, but they’re out there. Hope that helps!

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *