How Italian Buttercream Works

  • By Inside Baking

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  • Illustrations by Ian Francisco

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  • August 31, 2016


Buttercream is basically a mixture of sugar and butter. There are several types of buttercream such as American, Italian, and Swiss, all of which have different recipes and textures. Here, we focus on an Italian buttercream recipe.

Learning the technique of  making Italian buttercream is something we should consider as it is used as the base icing of many different products such as pound cakes, cupcakes, and chiffon cakes. Italian buttercream blends the light texture and sweetness of a boiled icing with the richness of butter, hence you get the best of both worlds.

Inside Baking was with Academy of Pastry Arts’ Chef Hannah Granado to show us how to make this versatile frosting.

Italian Buttercream Recipe


90g egg whites

150g sugar

30g water

200g butter



1. Put sugar and water in the sauce pan.

italian buttercream recipe

2. Boil until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 degrees Celcius).

temperature reading

temperature reading

* It is important to reach this temperature as the amount of cooking done in sugar greatly affects its hardness when cooled. At 240 degrees Fahrenheit, the sugar caramelizes and is now in the soft ball stage, just the right consistency to make the meringue nice and stiff.

3. When you reach 235 degrees Fahrenheit, start beating your egg whites on the mixer.

beating egg whites

*This is a good way to give you enough time to whip up your meringue before the sugar/caramel reaches its desired temperature.

italian buttercream recipe

4. Beat it on high speed until it gets foamy.

beating egg whites

5. Whip the egg whites in high speed with the whisk attachment. Add simple syrup once the egg whites are foamy. Gently pour it on the side of the bowl to prevent splashes.

whip egg whites

6. Continue to beat until soft peak (slightly bent).

soft peaks

7. Add butter bit by bit at slow speed with the paddle attachment this time. The butter must be cold yet soft enough that you can press it slightly.

butter in baking

*This type of butter consistency will allow it to be semi-solid when mixed inside the meringue.

italian buttercream recipe

8. Gradually increase the speed of the paddle.

paddle and cream

9. Continue to beat until it comes together and softens.

making italian buttercream

Now it is ready to be flavored, piped, and frosted.

frosting a cake