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Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream is an elegant frosting that has a silky smooth finish. This easy chocolate frosting recipe is light, fluffy, and less sweet than American buttercream. Use it with your favorite cakes and cupcakes for a gorgeous dessert!

Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream swirled in a silver serving dish with a pan of cupcakes in background.

A Creamy Chocolate Frosting That’s Not Too Sweet

Looking for a frosting that’ll give your dessert that extra something – without meaning extra work for you? This swiss meringue buttercream recipe may be just the thing.

It’s silky smooth, creamy, and rich in chocolate flavor without being overly sweet. It pipes beautifully too!

Unlike my chocolate buttercream frosting, this swiss meringue frosting requires a bit of cook time. This is because swiss meringue Buttercream is made with egg whites and sugar that have been briefly cooked in a double boiler. Sound complicated? It’s not!

I’m going to show you how to make the best Swiss Buttercream frosting and will share all my tips for perfect frosting every time.

One chocolate cupcake frosted with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream

What Is Swiss Meringue Buttercream?

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a stable yet silky frosting that is less sweet than American buttercream. It is also called SMBC.

The name comes from the method used to make this frosting. First, you make a Swiss Meringue. This is a dense, glossy, and almost marshmallow-like meringue that can be used in all sorts of desserts. For example, you can use swiss meringue as a pie topping and even give it a quick “toast” with a torch.

When Swiss meringue is used to make buttercream frosting, that frosting is elevated into a Swiss meringue buttercream. Butter and any additional flavorings are added after the meringue has been beaten into stiff peaks. This kind of frosting has a pale color that makes it ideal for coloring.

The whipping process takes a bit and is usually where people run into trouble. You don’t want to rush it, but you don’t want to overbeat your frosting either.

Make sure you read my tips and tricks below, including how to tell when your frosting is ready.

Cupcakes frosted with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream in a muffin tin.

Recipe Ingredients

You are just five ingredients away from easy chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. See full instructions on the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Egg whites – Don’t use egg whites from a carton as they won’t setup as well. Instead, just buy eggs from the market and separate the whites from the yolks.
  • Granulated sugar – Because the sugar is cooked with the egg whites, we are going to use granulated instead of powdered sugar.
  • Butter – Unsalted and at room temperature, this is really important!
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark chocolate – Use a high quality chocolate bar, not chocolate chips if you can help it.

How to Make Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Step by step how to make my chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.

  1. Prep your bowl. Wipe down a stainlesssteel bowl with vinegar to remove any grease.
  2. Add the sugar and the egg whites. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl.
  3. Make a double boiler. Fill a medium pot with 1 ¼ cups water. You want to cover just the bottom with water. Set the mixing bowl over the pot, then place the pot over medium heat. The water in the pot will come to a simmer and gently heat the bottom of your bowl, which will cook the egg whites and sugar.
  4. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture reaches 140°-160°. The sugar should be dissolved in the egg whites. You can test this by placing a drop on your fingertips and rubbing them together. The mixture should be completely smooth with no little bits of sugar granules.
  5. Melt the chocolate. Microwave the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring each time until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  6. Place the bowl with your cooked egg white mixture on your stand mixer. Use the wire whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on low for 2 minutes, then increase to medium-high speed.
  7. Beat for another 5 minutes. At this point, your frosting should have turned white and the body of the meringue will start to form into a foamy mixture.
  8. Increase the mixing speed to high. The meringue will start to look glossy as the peaks begin to form. Beat for another 5-8 minutes until the bottom of your bowl is cool to the touch and your meringue has stiff peaks.
  9. Add the butter. Turn your mixer down to medium-low. Slowly add your butter, 1 tbsp at a time. As you add more butter, the frosting might appear to have curdled and lost its body, but it will come back together.
  10. Switch to the paddle attachment. Once all the butter is added and starts to incorporate, add the vanilla extract and continue beating on medium-high speed until your frosting starts to form.
  11. Add the chocolate. Slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate. Continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 3-5 minutes.

How Do I Tell When Stiff Peaks Have Formed?

Lift up your whisk attachment. If the frosting has a peak and holds its shape, then it is ready. If you detach the whisk from your stand mixer and invert it, you’ll have a peak of frosting on top that looks like a pretty little wave.

Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream swirled in a silver serving dish with a pan of cupcakes in background.

Tips for Success

Now that you know how to make Swiss Buttercream frosting, let’s talk about how to ensure perfect results. There are a few “gotchas” that you can easy avoid with a bit of knowledge.

  • Temperature matters. Your butter must be at room temperature to properly incorporate into the meringue.
  • Use a glass or metal bowl. Plastic will hold onto fat and can make your meringue fail. Plus, you can’t use a plastic bowl with a double boiler without the plastic melting or leeching chemicals into your food.
  • Only use a clean and dry bowl. It is essential that your bowl is 100% clean and dry. If you are worried that there is grease in the bowl, wipe it down with lemon juice or vinegar. Fat molecules from the grease will impact your frosting.
  • No egg yolk – none! Speaking of fats, the egg whites cannot contain any egg yolk. Not even a spec. Fats in the yolk will also prevent your frosting from setting up and getting those lovely stiff peaks.
  • Always use unsalted butter. This allows you to control how much salt is in your frosting.
  • Use good quality chocolate. I like to use Scharffen Berger, Lindt or Ghirardelli chocolate.
  • Let the melted chocolate cool. Allow your chocolate to cool completely before adding it to the buttercream so that your frosting doesn’t melt.
  • This recipe is made with dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate will work too, but the result will be a sweeter frosting.
One chocolate cupcake frosted with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream with a pan of more cupcakes in background.

Ways to Use Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Try this easy-to-make buttercream with many dessert recipes.

  • Perfect for cake recipes. Use it as a silky filling between layers or to frost the outside of your cakes or cupcakes. You can use it with any of these chocolate cakes, like this chocolate cake with strawberry filling or any of these vanilla cakes.
  • Ideal for cupcakes. If you prefer a lighter frosting over traditional buttercream, try it with my favorite chocolate cupcakes.
  • Decorate baked goods. You can use this frosting to decorate sugar cookies or brownies. This is where a swiss meringue buttercream not being overly sweet is helpful!
  • Sandwich it between cookies. Frosting is for more than topping things, you can also make a simple cookie sandwich by placing some frosting between two cookies. I love doing this with peanut butter cookies for that classic chocolate-peanut butter flavor pairing.
Chocolate cupcakes frosted with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream in a muffin tin.

How Much Does This Frosting Make?

It makes about 4 cups of frosting. With this recipe, you can frost 24 cupcakes. If you’d like to use it for a 3-layer 8-inch cake, I recommend doubling the recipe.

How to Store This Frosting

Make this chocolate frosting ahead of time and store until ready to use.

  • Fridge: In an airtight container, you can refrigerate this frosting for up to two weeks. Before using, you’ll need to bring it to room temperature and rebeat with the paddle attachment until it is silky and creamy again.
  • Freezer: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw this frosting at room temperature then beat it with your paddle attachment until it is silky and creamy again.

Desserts that are frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be stored at room temperature unless it’s hot or humid.

Since this is a butter-based recipe, it is prone to melting if it’s too hot or humid. In that case, store the cake covered in the refrigerator and then bring to room temperature before serving. Once refrigerated, the frosting will harden due to the high butter content.

More Best-Loved Frosting Recipes

Here are some other easy chocolate frosting recipes to try.

Print
A vintage measuring cup filled with silky chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 42 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups

Description

Easy to make, this rich chocolate frosting is silky and light in texture and less sweet than American buttercream.

Ingredients

For the frosting

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (237.5 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces (226g) dark chocolate, melted

Instructions

  1. Wipe down the inside of your stainless-steel bowl with vinegar to remove any grease. Combine sugar and egg whites in the bowl with candy thermometer attached.
  2. Set the bowl over top of a pot with 1 ¼ cups water covering the bottom. Place over medium heat.
  3. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture reaches 140°-160°  The sugar should be dissolved in the egg whites. You can test this by placing a drop on your finger tips and rubbing them together. The mixture should be completely smooth.
  4. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring each time until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  5. Immediately place the mixing bowl on your stand. Using the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low for 2 minutes then increase to medium high.
  6. Beat for another 5 minutes. At this point, your frosting should have turned white and the body of the meringue starts to form. Increase the mixing speed to high. It will start to look glossy as the peaks begin to form. Beat for another 5-8 minutes until the bottom of your bowl is cool to the touch and your meringue has stiff peaks.
  7. Turn your mixer down to medium-low. Slowly add your butter, 1 tbsp at a time. As you add more butter, the frosting might appear to have curdled and lost its body, that’s ok. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  8. Switch to the paddle attachment, add the vanilla extract and continue beating on medium-high speed until your frosting starts to form. Slowly drizzle in the chocolate and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 3-5 minutes.

Notes

  • This recipe makes about 4 cups of frosting. With this recipe, you can frost 24 cupcakes. If you’d like to use it for a 3-layer 8-inch cake, I recommend doubling the recipe.
  • To make ahead:
    • Store in the fridge: In an airtight container, you can refrigerate this frosting for up to two weeks. Before using, you’ll need to bring it to room temperature and rebeat with the paddle attachment until it is silky and creamy again.
    • Store in the Freezer: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw this frosting at room temperature then beat it with your paddle attachment until it is silky and creamy again.
  • Storing frosted cakes and cupcakes: Desserts that are frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be stored at room temperature unless it’s hot or humid. In that case, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature before serving. 
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Stand Mixer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Swiss Meringue Buttercream, chocolate frosting, swiss meringue frosting, SMBC

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

14 Responses
    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Roneka, no this is not a good frosting for warm climates because the butter will melt very quickly

  1. Gypsy

    It was perfect! Very very tasty and just as silky and delicious as merengue buttercream should be!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      You can use chocolate chips, they just tend to be more oily, so make sure that you melt them down until they’re nice and smooth

  2. Molly

    Julianne,
    Can I used chocolate chips in this recipe or would a Baker’s chocolate bar be the better choice?
    Thanks

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Molly- A Bakers chocolate bar would be a better choice if you have it, but chocolate chips will work

  3. Mariana

    Hi! Thanks for sharing all these recipes.
    Question: If I want to make the chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, for how long can I store it in the fridge?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Mariana, I would say if you need to store it for longer than a week, you might consider freezing it. While I have frozen regular buttercream, I have not personally tried to freeze a Swiss Meringue buttercream- as you might need to do some additional research. Note that it should be at room temperature when you decorate and you may need to rewhip it a bit prior to using

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      I don’t see why you couldn’t use a super fine sugar, I just never have it, so I use regular, granulated sugar.

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