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traditional butter cream recipes: French, Swiss, Italian and German

Updated on February 19, 2013

Have you ever tried to make your own butter cream icing?

or maybe you have but you've only tried one version and not the others?

Swiss, French, German and Italian are all different types of butter creams, each with their own characteristics

Swiss and Italian butter cream use egg whites, and each recipe cooks the egg whites at different stages. in these recipes, the egg whites allow for a stiffer consistency frosting than what you get in the store.

Swiss is great for coating cakes, while Italian is best for decorations.

French butter cream uses both whole eggs and egg yolks. this results in a slightly softer frosting, but is much richer due to the egg yolks, but is still stiff enough for borders and writing.

German butter cream uses pastry cream instead of eggs, which results in a softer butter cream which isn't generally used for decorating professionally, but makes a delicious filling.

if this recipe is too buttery for your liking, or if you would just like it to taste sweeter, you can try cutting the butter down by 1/4 of the amount.

equipment needed:

- food thermometer

- double boiler

- whisk

- stand mixer with whip attachment


  • 1 pound sugar
  • 8 oz egg whites
  • 1 1/4 pound butter
  • soft and cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. 1) Using the stand mixer bowl as a double boiler, combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl and set over a pot of simmering water and, whisking constantly, bring the temperature of the eggs to 165 degrees and remove from heat. don't let any of the egg scramble on the side of the bowl.
  2. 2) place the bowl back on the stand mixer and whisk on high speed and whip them to stiff peaks. (stiff peaks is when you take the sip attachment off and hold it upside down, the mixture either remains pointing up, like a mountain peak) The mixture will also look and taste like Fluff, if you've ever had that. And you've just made a meringue!
  3. 3) still whipping on high speed, drop the butter chunks in one at a time, until all the butter is in and the mixture is light, fluffy and a smooth consistency.
  4. 4) mix in the vanilla last and store the frosting in a container until ready to use.
Cast your vote for swiss meringue buttercream

Italian butter cream - makes 2 pounds of frosting

equipment needed:

- stand mixer with whip attachment

- small sauce pan

- food thermometer


  • 10 2/3 ounces of sugar
  • 5 1/3 ounces of egg whites
  • 2 1/3 fl oz of water
  • 5 1/3 ounces of butter
  • cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. 1) combine 2 1/2 ounces of the sugar with the egg whites in the stand mixer. do not whip yet.
  2. 2) combine the water and remaining sugar in the saucepan on medium heat. stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved, then don't stir any more. let the sugar slowly boil until it reaches 230 degrees. if you notice one spot is browning faster than the rest of the pot, move the pan in small circular motions instead of stirring, this will prevent the sugar from crystallizing.
  3. 3) once the sugar has reached 230 degrees leave it on the stove at the same temperature. you want the sugar to come up to 240 degrees and while it's going from 230 to 240, start whipping your egg whites on medium speed until they reach 'soft peaks'.
  4. $) keep the mixer on medium speed and take the sugar, now at 240 degrees and very very slowly, pour the sugar down into the egg whites. try not to pour the sugar onto the whip as it moves, or onto the side of the pan, you won't be able to scrap it off and mix it in afterwards, but if you do get a little on the whisk or sides, it's not a huge deal. after all the sugar is in, continue whisking on the mixer until the mixture is room tempurature.
  5. 5) once cooled you can star dropping in the butter chunks one or two at a time. whisk until light and fluffy. if you want a smoother result (less air bubbles, you can do this step with the paddle attachment for your mixer)
  6. 6) place frosting into a container and set aside for later use.

French butter cream - makes 2 pounds of frosting

equipment needed:

- stand mixer with whip attachment

- sauce pan

- food thermometer


  • 5 1/3 oz whole eggs
  • 5 1/3 ounces egg yolk
  • 12 ounces sugar
  • 2 2/3 fl oz of water
  • 12 1/3 ounces soft butter cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. 1) combine the eggs and egg yolks in the stand mixer and whip on high for 5 minutes
  2. 2) combine sugar and water in the sauce pan and bring it to a boil on medium heat. stir the sugar with a spoon until it is dissolved, then don't stir it any more. wait until the sugar comes to 240 degrees before removing from stove.
  3. 3) when the sugar reached 240 degrees, turn the mixer back on to medium speed and slowly pour the sugar into the eggs, try not to pour any on the whisk if you can.. Leave the mixer on medium and continue to whip until mixture is cool.
  4. 4) once cool, you can start dropping the butter into the mixer one chunk at a time until all the butter is whipped in and the mixture is light and fluffy. if you want a more solid (less air bubbles) frosting, you can mix the butter in with a paddle attachment instead of a whip..
  5. 5) blend in the vanilla and set aside in a container for later use.

German butter cream - makes about 2 pounds

All the ingredients from the milk through the vanilla extract are for making pastry cream.

This pastry cream will be mixed into the 1 pound butter and 4 ounces sugar for the actual frosting, so keep the two measurements of butter separate. :)

equipment needed:

- medium saucepan

- stand mixer with paddle attachment

- medium or large frying pan.

- plastic wrap


  • 10 2/3 fl oz milk
  • 2 2/3 ounces sugar
  • 1 ounce butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ounce cornstarch
  • 4 ounces eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound softened butter
  • 4 ounces confectioner sugar


  1. combine 2/3 of the milk with half of the sugar, the 1 ounce butter, and the salt in a saucepan and boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. 2) combine the remaining sugar with the cornstarch in a large bowl, and whisk it together with the remaining milk. then whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. 3) whisking constantly, pour 1/3 of the milk slowly into the egg mixture. this will bring the eggs up in temperature slowly so that they don't scramble. once the 1/3 of the milk has been mixed in, add that back into the remaining milk and the pan back on the stove on medium heat, whisking constantly until the pastry cream become thick enough that your whisk leaves lines in the cream as you whisk.
  4. 4) pour the cream into the frying pan and cover it with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is laying directly on top of the pastry cream. this is important or the liquid in the cream will separate from the rest of the mixture. let cool to room temperature before use.
  5. 5) while the pastry cream cools, combine the confectioners sugar and the butter in the stand mixer with teh paddle attachment for about 5 minutes.
  6. 6) when the pastry cream has cooled, gradually add the pastry cream to the butter, scraping down the bowl occasionally. once the pastry cream is completely mixed in, you can put the frosting in a container and place in the refrigerator for later use.

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    • KatsumiShiokawa profile image

      KatsumiShiokawa 4 years ago

      @flashkid: thank you for the feed back. I could pull up a recipe that makes butter cream without eggs but I'll probably make a separate lens for it and then link it here, because without the eggs they aren't french/italian/etc butter creams.

      so maybe in the intro I'll say something like, 'if you would like an egg less butter cream, please look here *link* '


    • profile image

      flashkid 4 years ago

      It would be nice to see a recipe without eggs