Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC)

Those who claim buttercreams are too rich, too heavy and too “buttery” have probably never tried a meringue buttercream. This Italian-style meringue buttercream is light and delicate on the tongue, with a butter flavor that can be drastically de-emphasized (though it’s beyond me why you’d want to) with flavorings.

Italian buttercream is the more durable of all the buttercreams, though not necessarily the most food-safe. Don’t get me wrong, with all the microbe-killing sugar, the fat and (at least to some extent) heat, I would never call this buttercream un-safe. However if absolute, 100% food safety is your concern, then Swiss Meringue Buttercream is your ticket. The basic components are these:


5 room-temperature egg whites
pinch salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1.75 ounces (1/4) cup sugar


7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1/4 cup water


1 lb., unsalted, and soft

Start by separating your eggs, conserving the yolks for another purpose. French buttercream, if you’re me this week.

Insert them into your mixer fitted with the whip attachment and turn on medium-high. When the whites get frothy, add the cream of tartar which will help stabilize the foam:

Increase the speed of the mixer to high and whip the whites to soft peaks. About like so:

Turn the mixer back on and add the sugar in a stream.

Meanwhile get those syrup components on a medium-high flame.

After about 30 seconds or so the whites and sugar should be beaten to a glossy “stiff peak” consistency. Let them sit while you turn your attention to the syrup.

Now then, heat your syrup to 245 degrees.

Then pour it into a pyrex measure for easier handling.

Add it slowly to the meringue by drizzling a little on top of the foam with the mixer off, then turning the mixer on high for five seconds. Add a little more syrup, turn the mixer back on for five seconds, etc., until all the syrup has been incorporated (scrape the last firming syrup out of the measure with a rubber spatula).

Why do it this way? Because if you were to simply pour the syrup into the bowl in stream with the mixer running, much of the syrup would splatter out onto the upper lip of the bowl and stick there, never making it into your mixture. So then, when you’re done you should have a silky and luxurious meringue:

Beautiful, isn’t it? Sadly it won’t last — because it’s butter time. However before adding your butter it’s important to make sure the meringue isn’t still hot from the syrup. Feel the outside of the bowl. If it’s warm to the touch, simply run the mixture for a few minutes (up to ten) to cool the contents of the bowl off. When it’s no longer hot (warm is alright) switch out the whip for the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on medium-high and begin adding the butter about a tablespoon or two at a time.

The meringue will fall to a large extent as the fat is introduced. It may even become rather liquid-like. Keep beating. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about buttercream over the years is that nearly all problems can be solved by continued beating. Is the mixture still liquid-y after all the butter has been incorporated? Keep beating. You’ll soon hear the change as the emulsion suddenly comes together. The sound of the bowl will go from plop, splop, gorp, ploop to a sudden thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap and you know you’re buttercream is ready:

Now then, I was lucky here that my temperatures were such that the buttercream achieved a perfect consistency without passing through a “curdled”-looking phase, which is what happens much of the time. Often this is due to the butter being cooler than the meringue, which causes it to collect together in masses. If that vaguely “chunky”-looking texture happens, don’t worry and keep beating. In a minute or two the temperatures in the bowl will even out and the buttercream will turn smooth and spreadable.

At this point you may color and flavor it in any way you wish. A teaspoon or two of vanilla is standard, though a couple of tablespoons of just about any kind of liqueur can be added as well. There are many other possibilities that I’ll discuss later in the week.

119 thoughts on “Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC)”

  1. Hi there, just wanted to know how long will this type of buttercream hold its form? Will it be like that of boiled icing, watery the next day.
    Hope you can help me with this coz’ I’m just starting with baking and hoping to bake one for my niece. I wish she can be proud of me…. so pls. help …
    Have a nice day …

    1. She will be proud of you if you make this, I promise. This icing will hold up very nicely in the refrigerator for several days.

      1. Thanks!

        By the way, with this measurement what size of cake can I use?

        Again thanks and God bless….

        1. This amount if buttercream will cover one 9″ double-layer cake, probably with a little to spare. Cheers! – Joe

          1. Hi Vania!

            I depends on how much decorating you want to do! 😉

            It has enough for some extra frills, but you might want to boost it by 25% if you want to do flowers and such.


            – Joe

  2. Hi Joe..

    I am a huge fan…there is so much to learn on your site! Wondering if you’ve ever used “All Whites” to make your meringue buttercream? I’ve used them for a swiss meringue with good results but wasn’t sure if they would hold up under the syrup.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Malaika! Thanks for the email. Though I have never made a meringue with those, I don’t know why they wouldn’t work. As with any egg product that’s been pasteurized they’ll take some extra time to whip up, but that’s the only difference I can think of. Let me know how it goes! – Joe

    2. Malaika, they work. That’s the only way I make mine, all the time. I buy the cartons of egg whites. You have to beat a little bit longer before they’re ready for the syrup, but they do work.

      1. When I use the carton egg white I let them warm to room temp before I use them they whip better that way.

        1. No question, warm egg whites whip better. Cool egg whites aren’t as runny, so the whip has to work harder. A good reminder for us all!


          – Joe

  3. Joe, I made italian today for the first time. I made a triple batch, but I only added 2 lbs. of butter before the thwap-fwaps came and it turned into a mass of golden beauty! I’m quite pleased that it didn’t take that enormous sum of butter I expected, but I’m concerned only because I’ve had problems in the past with swiss structure. Will my italian structure hold up okay with a 3rd less butter?

    1. It might be a little looser as a frosting than normal, but it should hold up OK. But a triple batch, you say. What are you making?

  4. I just found your site and wanted to say this worked out wonderfully and tastes so good. Compared to a standard buttercream, there’s no comparison! So light and airy, but still buttery and delicious. I didn’t think I could make this type of frosting (egg whites and I usually don’t along) but with your pictures and instructions it was easy! Thank you.

    1. Yours is the sort of email I live for, Lisa! Life with IMBC is richer in so many ways…

      Thanks do much for the note,

      – Joe

  5. Hi Joe, I first grew to love you site when I discovered your recipe for fried doughnuts. I haven’t made them yet but look forward to doing that in the future. I would like to ask you how much chocolate I would need to add to your buttercream recipes that use 1 cup sugar/1 pound butter. What should be used, cocoa or melted chocolate and what kind (sweetness, etc) should be used? How much of it per 1 recipe and at what point is it added to the buttercream? So many questions, but thanks in advance for your time and assistance.

    1. Hi Eric!

      Thanks for the kind compliments — and do try the doughnuts soon. Then get back to me and tell me how you liked them. As for the chocolate buttercream, start with two ounces and see if that gives you the flavor you want. If not, add another ounce. It won’t affect the texture very much. Good luck!

      – Joe

      1. Thanks, Joe, I will sure do that. What I really want to do is make up ALL of the different kinds of buttercream using your recipes and then line them up and do some tastes tests to decide my favorite. The French version seems like it’s probably just out of this world. Thanks so much for the quick and helpful reply as well as all of the other helpful information on your website. I will be sure to post comments when I make your recipe.

        1. Yes, please do. I’ll be curious about the results of your taste test!


          – Joe

  6. Joe,

    I have been on the hunt for the perfect buttercream for YEARS. I’ve tried tons of Swiss Meringue recipes, even a few Italian Meringue recipes but they never turned out quite right. (some might say I’m picky, I prefer the term “buttercream connoisseur”) Most of them ended up too buttery (I didn’t think this could ever be a problem, until I was eating a cupcake with what tasted like a stick of butter on it) or practically flavorless.

    Let me just tell you, this one was PERFECT. It tastes exactly the same as the one from our favorite bakery and I was eating it right out of the mixing bowl. If it weren’t for you and your wonderful blog, I’d still be wasting pounds of butter and cartons of eggs. Thank you so much, Joe! I can’t wait to try all of your other delicious looking recipes!!

    1. I’m going to be smiling all day after that one, Steph! Thanks very much for the note!

      – Joe

  7. Hi, love the recipe! I was wondering if this would hold up well in hot weather. you see i live in Corfu, Greece and I’m planing to make 130 cupcakes for my daughters baptism. the problem is the cupcakes will be outside for about 3 hours in shade before being eaten. I wonted to decorate the cupcakes with buttercream and fondant butterflies. The weather here will be about 85-90 F. What can i do?????? Thank you Estelle

    1. Hi Estelle!

      The tragedy if buttercream and heat is that they simply don’t mix. Is there nowhere you can keep the cupcakes cool until half an hour before serving? If you can’t you may need to go over to a classic frosting ( which will hold up a bit better. It won’t have the same butter taste, but unless the sun is positively scorching you don’t have to worry about it slipping off. Sorry I don’t have better news!

      – Joe

    2. Have you ever considered something like this, Estelle? This will hold up a bit better than buttercream. It tastes almost exactly like the real thing, which means it isn’t as sweet as a classic frosting:“heritage”-a-k-a-“boiled”-a-k-a-“flour”-a-k-a-“cooked-flour”-a-k-a-“gravy”-a-k-a-“cloudburst”-frost/

      Just another option for you! I brought it to a school picnic this summer, and while it got quite soft, it didn’t run or slip off the cake.

      – Joe

  8. hi joe

    i have tried making this italian buttercream recipe, still cant imagine how easy it is!
    only one question though, how should i keep my leftover? in freezer or in fridge? kinda sounds stupid i know, sorry abt that.
    oh by d way, i have tried a few of your recipes, n i have to tell u, they are all greatttttttttttttttt! You should publish a recipe book (perhaps you already have?), i would surely rush out to buy one! Seriously, recipes that good should be shared with more people. You have no idea how easy making pastries has became after I chanced upon your website!

    1. Hey Evon!

      That’s not a stupid question! You can do either: refrigerate or freeze. You’ll just need to be sure to let the buttercream warm up to room temperature before you try to use it again. Especially if it’s been frozen you may need to re-beat it to make it fluffy again, but that’s about all the work you’ll need to put in. Buttercream keeps in the fridge for a week before it starts taking on funky flavors, but it will freeze for several months in an airtight container.

      And thanks for the terrific compliments! I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to a book, but you know where to find the recipes any time you need them! I’m not planning on going anywhere…


      – Joe

      1. thanks a lot joe n hve a great wkend (with croissants n pain au chocolat to start with of course)

          1. Evon you can also try this to get your buttercream fluffy again right out of the fridge for that quick buttercream fix:
            Put the cold buttercream in the bowl with a whip attachment and add 1/3 microwaved buttercream slowly whip till perfect again.

          2. VERY interesting solution. Thanks again, Melanie!

            – Joe

  9. Hi Joe, I’m in pastry school now and we just finished our first week of cakes & buttercreams. I love using your website as a tool for my notes and catching things I may have missed in class. Just wanted to let you know my chef said that to avoid the broken stage make sure your butter and egg/sugar mixture are the same temp. So warm the butter and wait longer for the mixture to cool down. Just thought I’d share & maybe it will help someone. =]

    1. I whip my butter first to warm it up and let my egg white whip till cool to the touch on the bowl.

  10. Hi Joe,

    I tried this buttercream recipe and found it a bit too sweet, so i ended up adding an extra lb of butter/shortening to it, which probably makes it not an italian buttercream anymore..i find that adding shortening to this buttercream helps to make the cream more resistant to heat, and maintain the shape after piping.

    my question is, can i cut the sugar in half for the sugar syrup stage? will that still work or will it affect the stability of the meringue?

    1. No question cutting the sugar back by half will impact the meringue. Which is not to say it will collapse, but it will be weakened substantially. There’s also the food safety aspect to consider, since the sugar helps keep down the microbes. What about switching to a French buttercream?

      – Joe

  11. Hello there. I just wanted to tell you that I tried this recipe and it turned out wonderfully. Your instructions are very clear and the pictures of the process makes it even easier to understand.
    Now, I have finally found my new go-to recipe for frosting. This is great. I feel that SMBC is a million times better than buttercream but still a little bit too rich and heavy for me, and I heavily dislike regular buttercream, but this one is pure perfection.
    I’m temped to try your french buttercream now!

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    1. IMBC is extremely versatile – not to mention delicious! I’m very happy it works so well for you. Thanks for the note and Merry Christmas!

      – Joe

  12. Came back for this ref, I remember reading the whole BC seres as you wrote it. In my mind this post is the standard for IMBC. Ill ALWAYS be back! Thanks Joe, from a long time reader.

    PS Will we ever get that family fruitcake recipe? 🙂

    1. Great to hear from you again, Tara. Thanks so much! As for the family recipe, I don’t know if/when that’s every going to happen. My father is a stubborn man…

      – Joe

  13. Hi Joe,
    I was wondering if theres a small-batch version of this recipe? All I have are 2 eggs and a stick of butter right now (and the sugar of course), but I’m very eager to try this recipe! I’ve made SMBC a few times, and I love it. I want to compare the two 🙂

    1. Hey Noelle!

      The great thing about baking recipes is that they can be scaled up or down has much as you wish. As long as the proportions are correct, the recipe should turn out just fine. Just reduce it so it fits with what you’ve got!


      – Joe

  14. WOWOWOWWOW! Thank you so much for the AMAZING tute on Italian Buttercream! Honestly, I think I just kicked my baking up another level. I can’t believe I waited this long to try IMBC but I can honestly say that It was because I couldn’t figure out most recipes. They are often convoluted and daunting.

    Thank you so much Joe, and you’ve gained a true follower with this one. I wish I could send you a piece of the cake I’ve made! By the way, I filled my Lemon-Buttermilk cake with a mixture of your IMBC and lemon curd mixture. It’s amazing.


  15. THANK YOU JOE!!!

    With being a keen cupcake baking girl, but only ever icing with buttercream american style, you have truly made my (baking) days!

    It is a truly beautiful, gorgeous (and indeed very easy to replicate) recipe that you’ve put up here, one that will be made here in this house from now on, not only to cover cupcakes and cakes, but also to be wedged inbetween one of my new passion, French Macaroons!

    Thanks again from the other side of the ocean :o)


    1. Very happy to help, Annie!

      Thanks so much for the email and please visit often!

      – Joe

  16. FANTASTIC!!!!! We used to live in Maryland and always purchased our special-occasion cakes from a bakery that had the most delicious icing ever! I always wanted to learn how to make it but never could get the recipe right…that is until I stumbled upon your wonderful site! Thank you sooooo much for making this incredible recipe easy for those of us only dream of being a real chef! 🙂

    1. I’m not a real chef either, Liz, but thanks! I’m very glad the buttercream worked so well for you.

      – Joe

  17. Hi Joe! Thank you soooo much for posting this very, very, very easy to follow recipe with pictures! I had so many questions about making my first IMBC and your blog addressed each one. It turned out beautifully on my first attempt! I started a couple days early because I didn’t know if my first try would be a success. I can totally rest easy now that my yummy vanilla IMBC is in the refrigerator. 🙂 Thanks!

    1. So glad to hear it, Wendy! I’m very pleased.

      Remember that you may have a few moments of anxiety warming the buttercream back up. Let it warm all the way through if you can. It may be fine as-is. If not you’ll need to re-beat it. At first it may curdle…just keep beating until it smoothes out again…however long it takes!

      Cheers and thanks!

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe! I left it out for a couple hours, then put back into the mixer and whipped it up for about 30 seconds and it turned out beautiful! I then piped onto cupcakes – 2 batches of this IMBC frosted 72 cupcakes generously. I popped the iced cupcakes back in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill, then put them in an ice chest with some cool packs, made an hour drive, decorated them, put them on my tower, and the guests RAVED about the frosting. When guests were leaving the party about 4 hours later with a perfect cupcake in hand, I was so relieved. I can’t wait to experiment with other flavors and colors. BTW I have never written into a blog before but your recipe and instructions saved me so I thought I would let you know how it all went. 🙂 Thanks!!

        1. Fabulous, Wendy! Thanks so much for the great story. Real buttercream does make an impression, doesn’t it? Nothing like the real thing!

          – Joe

  18. Hi Joe! Tonight I decided to make all three non-American Buttercreams (ABC is too sugary). The French Buttercream was light and fluffy, but a bit too greasy of a texture. The Swiss Buttercream had an odd aftertaste, but got better when I added semi-sweet chocolate. My favorite though was the Italian Meringue Buttercream. So fluffy, light and the texture was amazing. Adding some chocolate made it even better! I’ll never use any other buttercream!

    Anyway, I’ve been trying recipes from your site for a while now and wanted to thank you for you work. Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi BJ! I’m glad you settled on a favorite! For me it’s a close match between the Italian and Swiss, though I lean toward the Swiss I think. Have a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!

      – Joe

  19. Hi Joe!

    If I want to halve this recipe, should I use 3 egg whites? or 2?


    Megan Auld-Wright

    1. Hey Megan!

      I’d suggest weighing it and just using 2.5 ounces of egg white.

      – Joe

  20. Thanks Joe, worked perfectly. I was using the recipe for a V-day gift of Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla and Crushed Red Hots IMBC!

  21. Hi Joe,
    This tutorial looks fabulous– I’ve made IMBC just once before, and your instructions are a wonderful refresher 🙂 I’m planning on using it to pipe roses onto a cake. I originally used cream cheese frosting in a trial run (it’s a triple-layer carrot, chocolate, and red velvet cake with praline filling), but the frosting was too soft to get well-defined roses. I’m wondering what would happen if I replaced a portion of the butter in IMBC with cream cheese, just to get the flavor. Or maybe do a thick crumb layer in regular cream cheese frosting, and the roses in IMBC. Do you have any advice? I think I’ll have to experiment 🙂

    1. Hey Katherine!

      I honestly don’t know about combining IMBC and cream cheese. I can’t think of a reason why it wouldn’t work. But I guess I’d be inclined to do what you’re thinking: a crumb coat of the cream cheese for flavor, then pipe with the buttercream. Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,
        I did a trial run on the cream cheese IMBC this weekend, and it turned out great! I made a double batch, and alternated between adding butter and cream cheese until I got the texture I wanted. It ended up being all of the butter + about 2 lbs of cream cheese! The cream cheese taste wasn’t quite as strong as it would be normally, but it was very tasty. I think I’ll do a couple more trials to play around with it some more 🙂

        1. While it’s not exactly my cup of tea, I applaud your spirit of experimentation, Katherine. It’s good to know it works so well…and I’m sure it stabilizes the buttercream to boot.

          Thanks for the update!

          – Joe

  22. I came across your website looking for buttercream recipes. I tried this one last night for our Easter cake. It was heavenly! Now I’m excited to try some more yummy recipes on your site.

    I saw your recent naan recipe. Our favorite restaurant naans are the ones that have cheese in the middle. Any thoughts on how that is accomplished?

    Thanks for an awesome site!

    1. HI Katherine! And thanks!

      Many of those cheese-filled Indian breads start out as balls of cheese surrounded by paratha dough. The whole thing is then flattened and gently rolled out, then baked. Let me know if decide to try them. I’ll be interested!

      – Joe

  23. First time trying this and it was a success! My sugar syrup wasn’t quite right because to started to harden as soon as I transferred it to the pyrex cup so I was afraid it wouldn’t work. Will try again using a different pan for the frosting.

  24. Hi Joe! I was wondering if you had a recipe for a cream cheese frosting similar to this. I’m making red velvet cupcakes and I prefer this style italian buttercream. Its light and airy and more similar to a whip cream. I can’t stand the sugary frostings.
    Thanks in advance!

  25. Hi Joe,
    First of all, i just wanted to let u know that i just love your recipes and thank you very much for uploading step-by-step pictures. ^^ Seriously, it made them less intimidating and seems doable even by beginners like me. I also have a question regarding buttercream in general. I never made any and I would love to try it but I noticed that paddle attachment plays an important role in making buttercream. However, currently I don’t have any paddle attachment, so I’m wondering if it will still work if I just use whisk attachment instead. What do you think?

    1. Hello Nadrah!

      And thank you very much! I have made buttercream using just the whip and it turns out well. It’s a bit lighter since it has more air whipped into it, but if you don’t whip it too hard for too long it behaves much like buttercream made with the paddle. Have fun!

      – Joe

      1. Thanks Joe!
        I haven’t tried it yet and I’m not exactly sure when I will(thanks to my summer classes >_<) but i'll let you know once i did! =]

  26. Hi Joe

    First , thank you soo much for uploading step by step with pictures. It’s very easy to follow. I have tried your IMBC several times and it turned out great, the consistency and taste was good. However when I add colors to pipe or cover the cake, the colors are not coming great. I tried liquid and also ameri color gel paste. But IMBC , just not taking the color. It’s very pale and unpresentable. Any suggestions please..


      1. Hi Saki!

        Yes you can, though you’ll have some of the same problems because buttercream has quite a lot of fat in it. Sorry for the bad news!

        – Joe

    1. Hi Saki!

      I’m glad this recipe has worked well for the most part! But yes, when it comes to color it’s very difficult to get an intense tone. Usually it can be “tinted” well…into various pastel-type shades, but that’s about as far as it goes. The reason is all the fat, which doesn’t disperse color very well. Lower-fat frostings are much better when you want a nice, deep color.

      – Joe

  27. Hi Joe. I have been making IMBC without any incidents numerous times. Just when I thought I had it down pat, I decided to add cooled melted dark choc to the bc, then the unthinkable happened the last 2 times I tried that. It split! Do you know what happened? Was it the speed (I used medium on both my KW and KA). Appreciate your input. Thanks.

    1. Hey Mel!

      It was the temperature I’m sure. It probably went in warm and melted the butter a bit, throwing the emulsion off. It would have smoothed back out again had you kept beating until the temperature evened out again. Next time just leave the mixer running and all will be well!


      – Joe

  28. Joe,

    I’m off to make raspberry-chocolate ganache opera cake today, and your IMBC is the one recipe I keep going back to. I will make Silk Meringue Butter Cream with this IMBC base (with raspberry conserve as flavoring), tried other IMBC recipe, but this one is the solid, no nonsense, tried and true recipe.


    1. Whoa, that sounds fabulous, Katzies. What time is dessert? I’m pretty sure I can make it.

      – Joe

      PS – And thank you, I’m very glad it’s working so well for you. Will you send me a picture if you think about it?

      1. Will do! 🙂
        By the way, I draw from your joconde cake recipe to pull this one, too! As usual! 😀


  29. Hi awesome Joe,

    I’m curious about mixing shortening and butter in IMBC. It can be hot and humid here in Ottawa, Canada. Is there a balancing ratio of shortening to butter without compromising the flavour too much?
    Btw, thanks so much for all your insights and tips.

    1. Ha! Hey Maggie!

      Thanks for the kind word and the question! I’ve found that at about a 50-50 ratio you can get the holding power you need without making it taste “like shortening.” See what you think, to me it’s a reasonable compromise.

      – Joe

  30. Hi – I am in UK and loving your clear instructions. I am very much a novice, but planning to make a chocolate fudge ‘special’ birthday cake with raspberry filling of some sort, topped with chocolate ganache. However, time and skill is at a premium! Would your IMBC be suitable if I were to make the cake, say, Tuesday, fill with IMBC on Wednesday and then freeze complete. Then, on Thursday, top with the ganache, leave chilled until Saturday party? Sorry this is all very confusing, but I am confused!!

    1. Hi Lilly!

      Welcome and thank you! Regarding your question, buttercream needs to be re-whipped after it’s frozen to regain its consistency. I’d suggest just making the cake layers on Tuesday and freezing them. Make the raspberry filling Wednesday and refrigerate it. Make the ganache on Thursday and let it sit out overnight. Make the IMBC on Friday and assemble the cake, then refrigerate the whole thing overnight. Take the cake out of the fridge 2-3 hours before serving.

      Cheers and have fun!

      – Joe

  31. That is so very helpful of you. Thank you so much. Timing is always a problem. Now back to making the fondant toppers!!

  32. Hi Joe!

    I love love love this recipe! Recently I attempted to flavor with melted sweetened chocolate chips…which kind of worked. I used 12oz total. It was light and delicious but kept melting in the bowl while I was piping onto cupcakes.

    How you would you recommend I go about flavoring with chocolate in a way that would maintain the light consistency of the base?

    1. Hey Jeanine!

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you. To answer your question, that’s a lot of chocolate for this much buttercream. My suggestion is that next time use a bittersweet chocolate and use just 4-5 ounces. That should help maintain the integrity of the buttercream.

      Cheers and thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

  33. Hah! You should make bumper stickers that say ‘don’t worry, keep beating’.

  34. Hi Joe,

    I’m planning to make a birthday cake for my daughter. My idea is to make your white cake filled with lemon curd and iced with IMBC. I don’t have much experience asseming cakes ahead of time, so if this is a silly question, please forgive me. Will the cake hold up well if I assemble and decorate the night before and chill until party time? Thanks!

    1. That’s not a silly question at all, Emily. Indeed it’s a very good one. That will be a lovely combination and the cake will hold up very well. One word of advice: before you apply the lemon curd in the filling layer, put down a very thin scraping of buttercream to keep any weeping liquid from the curd from soaking into the cake while it sits.

      Let me know how it goes and thanks very much for the question!

      – Joe

  35. Hi Joe, Thanks a lot for the imbc recipe. My doubt is each Imbc recipe has different measurements. What I need is a thick italian meringue buttercream recipe so that I can pipe roses, and other flowers. Now what I get is a silky soft buttercream ideal for spreading and excellent taste. Can we modify this recipe to get a thicker Italian meringue buttercream. Please help.

    1. Hi Susan!

      Interesting question. This is a fairly standard IMBC which should pipe pretty well. You can try backing off the butter a little (maybe a stick at the most) to see if that helps, however the type of butter you’re using may be playing a role. Mass market butters can be very soft depending on the diet of the cow and have a lower melting point. My suggestion is to move up to a Plugra or even a real Euro-style butter to add body. I know it’s more money but I think the results will be worth it!

      Cheers and good luck!

      – Joe

  36. Hi Joe,

    I have been making IMBC for a long time now. But it was for the first time I faced the problem of curdling when I re whipped the defrosted IMBC. And it wouldn’t come together. I think it happened bcoz it had melted quiet a lot. Even re freezing for a little time didn’t help. It just don’t come together and was a mess. Joe what am I doing wrong? The temperature of my room in which I re-whipped the melted frosting was 30 degree C. Could you please help!

    1. Hi Mani!

      30 C is pretty warm for a buttercream, even if it’s been frozen and is cool/cold when you beat it. My sense is that the butter melted, the air bubbles in the meringue mostly collapsed and that’s what caused the mess. I have that problem myself from time to time and all I can think is that the it’s the variation in the butter that causes it: sometimes you just have a different blend of fats in the mix with lower melting points. A cooler room (maybe you can whip in the early morning instead?) would help things I have no doubt. Better luck with it, Mani!


      – Joe

  37. Hi Joe,

    I have a weird question. Is it possible to flavor IMBC with cream cheese? I like IMBC’s texture and enough sweetness but wondering if I can incorporate the cream cheese flavor… Thanks!

    1. I confess this pains me a bit, Nicole, since I detest cream cheese. Adding it to IMBC seems like heresy, but I believe it will work. Just make sure the cream cheese is fully at room temperature. It may temporarily curdle the buttercream in the mixer, but just keep beating. Another option might be to just go with something like this:

      It’s easy, it’s bottled and no extra hassle! Cheers,

      – Joe

    1. Woohoo!

      Thanks Bel! Another real butter buttercream evangelist is born!

      Thanks for checking in. Cheers,

      – Joe

    1. Hi Leslie!

      Yes it does. Really, as close in temperature to the other ingredients as possible.

      Good luck!

      – Joe

  38. Hi Joe! Another question, I did this before but it turned so oily, buttery and more liquid .. Is it because of the hot weather ? I did it 10 times .. Pls help

    1. Hi Leslie!

      Yes it could indeed be hot weather. If the butter is actually melting you’re going to have a hard time getting a good whip. If it’s that hot in the room you may need to just try a different frosting. But you can also experiment with brief periods of refrigeration to help the butter stay at least a little firm during whipping. I’m sorry to hear about all your troubles!

      – Joe

  39. Hi Joe,

    I come from tropical country, i have been searching for recipe that could holds up in very humid weather. will this recipe work for me? thank you!!

    1. Hello Vania!

      It will work better than French buttercream, but heat and humidity will be hard on it. However you can swap in some shortening in place of some of the butter to give it more heat resistance. Best of luck!

      – Joe

  40. To readers that are ready to throw in the towel:

    Just wanted to say thanks! I decided to attempt IMBC for a second time after a lengthy failed attempt a couple years ago. Well I thought I had it alright, but it was not as thick as I’d like. I portioned it in half, and added chocolate to the first half – BEAUTIFUL and thick.. and then I looked at the vanilla half sadly, and decided after some trouble shooting that it needed more butter. I guess it was a little too cold b/c I ended up with a tiny chunks of butter throughout. This is when I almost gave up. But then I found your recipe, and looked through the steps, and took heed of your advice – Just keep beating!! I put a warm cloth under to lower the temperature, and after 10 mins -no luck. How long can I go on I thought? Having a hand mixer, not a stand, this was daunting. Finally I tied the mixer up to my cabinet handle so it would stand on it’s own, turned it on, and walked away. I would either walk back into an apocalyptic mess, or beautiful buttercream. Much to my surprise – BUTTERCREAM!!! I squealed and proudly began to pipe it on some cupcakes.

    Thanks for the encouragement to keep going 🙂

    1. Woohoo! Thanks Sarah! Aspiring buttercream makers need to hear this sort of testimony. Way to go!

      – Joe

  41. Hi Joe. …thanks a million for this very useful recipe… I feel embarrassed to tell you how many butter cream recipies I have tried and literally threw in the garbage…so many pounds of butter and kilos of sugar just gone..finally I got a thermometer and tried your recipe…it’s a dream… The mouthfeel of the texture is husband who hates sweets said that this was the lightest frosting he has ever had..I can thank you enough..

    I don’t have to rely on American buttercream anymore…

    Thank you… Thank you.. Thank you…

    Much love and blessings….

    1. Yay!

      So glad it’s worked so well for you, Harriet! There really is nothing like the real thing. Thanks for the note and keep up the great work!


      – Joe

  42. Hi Joe!! I would like to give your recipe a try but would like to make it with either lingonberry jam or strawberry preserves , how much of it should I add to it. If I crumb coat and coat a cake to latter add fondant to it, is always better to coat it with IMBC that has no fruit in it?, (is it better to put in freezer for 15min before puting fondant on?, sorry for so many questions, I recently started making cakes for family members, I’m a work in progress. Would really appreciate your in put. Than you in advance!

    1. Hi Erla!

      A batch of buttercream can handle at least half a cup of jam and about a third of a cup of preserves, depending on how watery/loose they are. As for a crumb coat, use the plain buttercream as it will be more stable. And yes, let the buttercream firm in a fridge or freezer before the fondant goes on. If the buttercream gets too warm it will go liquid and the fondant will start to slip off. Having it chilled buys you more time to work. Indeed the whole cake should be well chilled if you can manage it. An overnight in the fridge with the crumb coat on is best of all.

      Have fun!

      – Joe

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