Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream
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Cook time: 
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Serves: about 4½ cups
Super silky swiss meringue buttercream speckled with vanilla bean.
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons extract)
  1. Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk lightly to moisten the sugar. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the bowl over the pan of water to create a double boiler (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl) and stir occasionally until the mixture is hot and the sugar has dissolved. To test this, dip a finger into the mixture--it should be hot to the touch and when rubbed between two fingers should not contain any sugar granules. If there are still some bits of sugar, keep heating and stirring. Once the mixture is ready, place the bowl on the stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Beat on high for about 10 minutes until a medium stiff meringue forms and the bowl has returned to room temperature and heat no longer escapes from the meringue. Switch the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment and, with the mixer on low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, followed by the vanilla bean seeds. Once everything has been incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes until the buttercream is silky and smooth. Use the frosting immediately or store in a lidded container in the refrigerator until ready to use. If you refrigerate the buttercream, bring it back to room temperature on the counter and then beat with a mixer until smooth.
Frosting adapted from Layered by Tessa Huff

The butter should be soft but not so soft it can't hold its shape, is melty, or appears greasy on the surface.

If the buttercream looks curdled, just keep mixing it! There are many troubleshooting references online and in books for swiss meringue buttercream, but I often find that mixing it longer will do the trick most of the time.
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