Big Batch Italian Meringue Buttercream

Maximize the Size of Your 5-Quart KitchenAid Mixer


Years ago when making wedding cakes at home was a weekly occurrence, I quickly learned how to maximize the 5-quart capacity of my KitchenAid mixer so that I could make as few batches of Italian Meringue Buttercream as possible. An 8 egg white batch does the trick. Read all about working with IMBC for any troubleshooting.

Big Batch Italian Meringue Buttercream
Makes: Makes about 7½ cups
  • 11/4 cups plus ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1½ pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut pieces
  1. Place 1¼ cups of sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir to wet sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally. Dip pastry brush in cold water and wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pot once or twice. Allow sugar mixture to simmer gently as you proceed with egg whites.
  2. Meanwhile, place egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl and whip until frothy on low speed using the wire-whip attachment of a standing mixer. Add cream of tartar and turn speed to medium-high. When soft peaks form, add ⅓ cup sugar gradually. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  3. Bring the sugar/water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248˚ to 250˚ F. As syrup cooks, check visual cues to assess doneness if you do not have a thermometer: it starts out with a thin consistency and many small bubbles covering the entire surface. As the water evaporates, the mixture will become visibly thicker. Bubbles become larger and pop open more slowly. At this point the syrup definitely looks thickened, but it has not begun to color; this is the firm ball stage - if you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water it will form into a ball. When you squeeze the ball between your fingertips, it will feel firm and the syrup is ready.
  4. With the mixer running, pour syrup in a thin, steady stream directly over the meringue. Do not pour any on the whip or the sides of the bowl. Whip meringue until cool to the touch; this could take several minutes. With the mixer running, add butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Keep beating until the buttercream is completely smooth and spreadable, somewhere in texture between peanut butter and mayonnaise. Now the buttercream is ready to use. Any flavorings may be added at this point; variations are given below. Refrigerate up to 1 week in an airtight container or freeze up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bring to warm room temperature before re-beating. Always re-beat before using.

Bakepedia Tips

  • This is the version of IMBC to turn to when making large celebration cakes and wedding cakes so that you can make fewer batches of buttercream. I usually make this size since it freezes so well. IMBC in the freezer is like money in the bank.

27 Responses to Big Batch Italian Meringue Buttercream

  1. Cherrie Goh July 5, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    Hi Ms Dee,I love this recipe very much! It’s buttery yet silky smooth compare to the powdered buttercream ( too sweet yet grainy texture). Thanks for the ‘reconstitute’ buttercream video! I would never try other buttercream recipes again!

    • Dede Wilson July 6, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      So glad it was helpful. I always think the word “reconstitute” is a funny one but it really explains what we have to do to turn the cold buttercream into its former, silky glory!

  2. Gegee47 August 22, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Hi Mrs Dee can I used the silver bowl instead of the glass bowl
    since I do not have the glass bowl yet! I just recently purchase
    My kitchen aide mixer in order to make this icing.

    • Dede Wilson August 22, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      You know way back in the early 80s I bought my first KitchenAid mixer in order to make a wedding cake so that I could make big batches of batter and buttercream! It’s a good reason! Enjoy.

  3. Ania Kuchta September 24, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    Hi there, I have recently made IMBC, loved it. I would like to use it on a wedding cake I was asked to make but I have couple questions. Can I stick fondant decorations to it and will the fondant stain the surface of the IBMC?

    • Dede Wilson September 25, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      Interesting question. Folks use it under fondant all the time but I am picturing cut-out pieces here and there? This could be problematic because of moisture. The moisture in the IMBC might seep into the edges of fondant and darken and soften/weaken them and the color in the fondant (if there is any) might bleed onto the IMBC. I have never done this but these are my best guesses. I would make some IMBC, slather it on an overturned cake pan (no need to waste cake) and press some decorations on and see what happens! Let us know, too, because this might help others.

  4. Ania Kuchta October 17, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    So i tried a red gum paste flowers on the top of the IMBC and it did not bleed at all. I dried the flowers first and it worked great. I tried it in a room temperature.

    • Dede Wilson October 18, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Ania! Thank you for letting us know and red was certainly a bold test! I would imagine then it would work with any color. I think it is vital that you mention temperature. That could make a difference, as could humidity and “sweating” I would bet.

  5. Sally Wallace March 17, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    Hi Ms. Dede I am new to your site and loved it. I recently order your book Wedding cakes you can make at Amazon. I cant wait to receive it. Anyway the recipe for Big Batch IMBC would it fit in a 4.5 qt. bowl of Kitchen Aid mixer? Also I plan on buying 6″ pans what depth would you recommend 3″ or 2″? I am asked to make a tiered cake for a friends wedding. I thought since this will be my first tiered cake I would do a 6″, 9″ & 12″ Thank you for your response in advance.

  6. Sally Wallace March 17, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

    Ms. Dede, forget about my first question about the size of the bowl. I saw the recipe for IMBC that I think will fit in my mixer. I have done Swiss Meringue Buttercream before and had no problem with it. Is IMBC just as easy. Thanks

    • Dede Wilson March 18, 2015 at 7:30 am #

      The 5-quarts gets filled up. Some find Swiss easier but it is very similar.

  7. Katy H March 26, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Hi Miss Dede! I have been enjoying making, tasting, and wowing family with this amazing frosting. My brother and sister-in-law to-be have requested it for their wedding cake. The IMBC reconstitues beautifully from being chilled in the frig, but I have yet to try it from frozen. I’m hoping to make the Big Batch of IMBC in advance, freeze, and then thaw, warm, reconsitute etc. to construct the cake tiers. Is it possible to chill or freeze an IMBC frosted cake overnight and then warm or thaw it the next day? How long would that take to recover its delicious silky texture?

    • Dede Wilson March 26, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

      Hi Katy! What a nice enthusiastic note. So happy to hear you are enjoying working with the IMBC. I refrigerate the frosted cakes overnight (not freeze) so that they are sturdy for transport. Howe long it takes them to get creamy again depends on ambient temperature but you do need several hours.

  8. Susie June 9, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    The video was so clearly explained. Thank you.

    Q. Once the merengue is coated all over your cake and place in the refrigerator over night why does the merengue dry up and crack off the following day? It’s no longer smooth and silky but dry and brittle. What causes the merengue to change. Can I leave a coated cake over night on the counter instead or is it not safe to do so?

    • Dede Wilson June 9, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      It does sometimes crack. It is reacting to the temp. change. It becomes smooth again when it reaches room temperature. If cracks remain I simply use a small offset spatula and give them a swipe to seal them over. I have left IMBC cakes outside of refrigeration in very cool areas (basements, air conditioned rooms etc.) but only for personal use, not commercial.

  9. patti818 June 25, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    I have made three failed batches of IMB. My recipe says to combine the whites and sugar in my 5-qt. Kitchenaid bowl and place the bowl over a pot of hot water on the stove; whisking constantly, bring mixture to 110 degrees, then put bowl on the mixture stand and beat until cook to the touch. Twice the meringue looked beautiful and voluminous; then I added the butter, and it turned to soup. The last time, I could not get the meringue to be as stiff and thick as I wanted it before adding butter. Then, trying to avoid the soupy problem, I had the butter a bit firmer, and I got small lumps in the icing. AND it is soupy. Help!

    • Dede Wilson June 26, 2015 at 7:24 am #

      Hi there. The recipe you describe is Swiss Meringue, which is a different approach, however, certain things remain the same. The mixture must “cook” enough. I would calibrate your thermometer (put it in boiling water to get 212 degrees F reading) or buy a new one if necessary. Then, 2nd trouble-shoot is beating the meringue cool enough before adding the butter, and only adding a bit at a time. 3rd trouble shoot would be the recipe itself. Where did it come from? Could have been a typo in there in terms of ratios, etc.

      • patti818 June 26, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

        Dede, thank you for your reply. I watched your video again after posting my comment. I switched to the paddle on the mixer, and voila! My meringue soup turned to frosting! Now I wish I hadn’t thrown out the first two attempts. Today I will try your recipe. I have a feeling it will be fantastic.

        • Dede Wilson June 26, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

          Sometimes switching to the paddle can help; I have experienced that as well! You have good instincts!

  10. Dawn MacDonald May 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    Hello Ms. Wilson, I am a new member and baker! I came across this page while looking for a way to make scratch cakes fluffier in texture. I received my first wedding cake order and its a little more complex because she would like a strawberry shortcake three tier wedding cake! I am thinking that this recipe for IMBC wold hold up better in the summer sun than the traditional whip cream. What do you think?

  11. Renee Gerow Harper September 11, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    Hi DeDe,
    Wow…you’re amazing to watch! You’re instructions are so clear and you do a great job of really showing us the different consistencies, etc. I’m making a wedding cake this weekend and altering raspberries and lemon curd. Could I actually mix the prepared and chilled lemon curd with the IMBC for a more sutble lemon filling? If so, what ratio of curd to IMBC would you suggest? Thanks!

  12. patti818 March 8, 2018 at 9:50 am #

    I have made the IMBC recipe several times, always hoping that I will do it EXACTLY right this time, but always running into a soupy mess immediately when I start adding the butter. The volumn of the meringue disappears immediately. I chill the bowl, add some more butter, change to the paddle attachment, etc. In the end I come out with usable buttercream, but the volume seems much less than your volume in your tutorial. WHAT am I doing wrong?

    • Dede Wilson March 8, 2018 at 9:56 am #

      Hi there! It is ALWAYS temperature. No one ever has their meringue too cold, that’s for sure. When are you chilling the bowl? If it is chilled from the get-go then you are retarding the initial volume of the eggs. If you are chilling it after the meringue is made, you are again changing the recipe. Also, how is your ambient temperature? If it is 90 degrees with 98% humidity and unairconditioned, or similar, that can play a role.

      • patti818 March 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

        After pouring the syrup, I beat the meringue until it is room temperature before adding butter. I have an air-conditioned kitchen, so I don’t think the ambient temperature is a problem. Perhaps the butter itself is too warm! I chill the bowl after starting the butter additions. Back to an earlier step–The egg whites should be at room temperature to make the meringue, shouldn’t they?

        • Dede Wilson March 8, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

          If the butter is oily at all, it is too warm. I have never, ever chilled the bowl after adding the butter so that is very much the opposite of what I do. The egg whites should be room temp.

  13. Sarah April 15, 2023 at 8:54 am #

    Hey Dede, can I double this recipe?

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