Italian Meringue Buttercream- Shirley's Method

Italian Meringue Buttercream- Shirley’s Method


  • 5 large Egg whites beaten to stiff but not dry peaks
  • 1 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar

  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch of Cream of tartar cooled to 240 degrees
  • 3 sticks (12 oz.) salted butter cut into small pieces, semi cold

  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1/2 capful orange extract


  1. Cut your butter into small pieces and leave in fridge while cooking syrup. Beat the egg whites in KitchenAid bowl with wire whisk attachment. Stiff, but not dry peaks.
  2. Cook sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat, stir until sugar dissolves and syrup begins to boil. Cook to 240 degrees. Remove butter from fridge while syrup is cooking, set aside.
  3. Turn mixer speed to medium low and pour the cooked sugar syrup at a steady stream, not too slow but not all at once either. Pour between the beater and the side of bowl to prevent splashing. Turn mixer to high speed and beat until the outside of bowl feels cool to the palms of your hands. Change to the paddle mixer attachment, turn speed to medium low and add butter a few pieces at a time till it is all used and begins to combine, turn mixer speed to high and beat until the outside of the bowl feels cold to the palms of your hands and mixture has begun to come together, looks fluffy and shiny. Add the flavorings and beat till well combined.
  4. If mixture looks curdled or separated it may be because the syrup wasn’t cooked to 240 degrees, you pour the cooked syrup in too quickly, or you added the butter too quickly and it may have been too warm. It needs to have a slight chill to it. You can still salvage the icing, continue to beat on high speed until it comes together and is fluffy. If you end up with a soupy mixture at the bottom put the mixer bowl and paddle attachment in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Beat again on low speed until it begins to come together, than turn speed to high and beat until fluffy and shiny.

Comments (7)


I used your recipe as far as amounts of ingredients goes. Except I added 1 T of glucose to the sugar syrup before it began to boil and I switched my whip for my paddle when I started adding the butter. The only other thing I did differently was use my signature flavoring combo and Voila ! Excellent silky smooth and light buttercream. Thanks for sharing!!


I haven't checked the comments here in ages, sorry. Yes, it can be used under fondant, just chill the cake first until the icing is cold, spritz lightly with a mist of water before covering with fondant.

No, margarine will not work in this recipe.

The amount of icing this recipe makes is enough to cover the outside of a 10" round, plus the dam between layers. Filling would be extra. For a 12" cake I double the recipe and it works well.


For some reason people read those few drops of orange extract and want to omit it because they think the icing will taste like orange or citrus flavor. It really doesn't at all, combined with the vanilla it just gives it a nice fresh flavor and cuts the sweetness a bit. Rather like adding lemon or orange zest to a chicken recipe, you don't taste the citrus, just the combination of flavors. Same with the extract. Try it sometime for yourself.