Easy (Almost) French Buttercream

Do not tell anyone that is actually French about this recipe. My methods might get me burned at the stake for my heretical behavior. This recipe does not solely include egg yolks (sacrilege!) and instead of carefully cooking a temperature-specific sugar-water syrup on the stove top, I have skipped steps and used a microwave (sacré bleu!).  While the methods may be unconventional, this French Buttercream is a rich, creamy, and flavorful and easy enough for anyone to enjoy.


If you have never made a French Buttercream now is the time to try it. French buttercream has a flavor profile that is much different from Swiss Meringue Buttercream, bordering on custard-like with rich, warm notes. The fat and emulsifiers from the yolks also make this buttercream smooth and silky like no other.  When I let my children try a small taste they both said they wanted a bowl full for Christmas; yes it’s that good.

You can flavor this buttercream in endless ways. I am going to show how to make the chocolate version, but the recipe will describe the vanilla option as well.A-sugaryolkweb1. Mix: Combine the yolks and the sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and whisk well. Add the whole eggs and corn syrup and whisk thoroughly, really thoroughly. Be sure your egg yolks do not sit long before you whisk them with the sugar. They can start to thicken and coagulate if they are not readily mixed  and then will be difficult to incorporate smoothly.A-yolk2web2. Heat: After the eggs and sugar are well combined heat the mixture on high in the microwave in 30 second intervals to dissolve the sugar (about 2-4 minutes total). Whisk well in between to prevent the eggs from cooking.A-thermo-web

3. Check: When you can no longer feel grittiness in the bottom of the bowl when whisking,  check the temperature with an instant read thermometer to ensure your mixture has reached a salmonella-safe temperature (above 160 F/72 C). Then carefully taste the mixture to see if it is truly sugar crystal free. If not, continue to heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

4. Chill: Pour the mixture in a cake pan or shallow metal bowl and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it feels cool. If the hot mixture appears to have any lumps of egg, strain the mixture before chilling.S-butter-web5. Beat: When the egg syrup is almost cool enough, cream the butter until smooth. Add the cocoa powder if making the chocolate variation and beat for 2 minutes until light and creamy. A-choc-bcweb6. Combine: Add the cooled egg syrup to the butter in 2 intervals beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds until smooth. Now frost or fill your bakery product of choice!A-random-threee-webAbout this recipe:

  • Egg whites-I have added egg whites to this recipe in order to add some stability to the buttercream but also to aid in dissolving the sugar. The egg yolks contain so little water that it is difficult to get the high concentration of sugar to dissolve in them without major coaxing(hence the traditional use of a sugar-water syrup).
  • Corn syrup-The inclusion of corn syrup adds an element of sweetness without sugar’s crystalline characteristic to contend with. It also helps prevent recrystallization of sugar molecules.
  • Cocoa-Traditional European buttercreams use melted chocolate to add chocolaty flavor, but the effect is minimal. Because of the mixing method, you can add a hefty dose of  cocoa powder to the butter before the syrup is added for a lovely, pronounced chocolate taste.
  • Stability– French-style buttercreams are less stable at room temperature than egg-white buttercreams because they contain less protein and more fat. If you are not going to use this buttercream immediately it will need to be rewhipped and it is best if this buttercream is kept relatively cool once it is applied to a project. It becomes very firm when chilled.

I hope you enjoy this delicious, simple buttercream!

Easy (Almost) French Buttercream


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 14 ounces (397 grams/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ounces (57 grams/3 tablespoons) corn syrup
  • 16 ounces (454 grams/2 cups) unsalted butter, soft but cool
  • 3 ½ ounces (99 grams/1 cup) high quality cocoa powder (such as Pernigotti or Callebaut) (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract


  1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl; whisk in the eggs followed by the corn syrup. Make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high in 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 f/72 C. Pour the syrup into a cake pan or shallow metal bowl (straining the mixture if any lumps are present) and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it is cool.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer until smooth, about 30 seconds. If using the cocoa add it to the butter. Continue to beat for 2 minutes on high until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. Add the cooled syrup in two additions to the butter beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds until smooth; use immediately.
  3. You can store this buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months. If you have stored this buttercream, you will need to rebeat it before using. This works best if it is barely cold.











41 thoughts on “Easy (Almost) French Buttercream”

  1. Thank you very much for this recipe i will try it but i want to ask you if i can add colour to French buttercream?

    1. Yes you can, but it is very golden so your colors will have a yellow tinge to them that you may need to adjust or account for.

  2. Hi Summer!!! I’m always looking forward to your posts and every time I see a new one I feel I want to go to the kitchen and get cooking!!! You are awesome, thanks so much for sharing your talents!

    Is there any possibility you will tackle the different types of ganache some day? I’m ok making the dark chocolate ganache but have been avoiding white chocolate ganache like the plague :-O

    Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!!!!!

  3. Do you have a delicious buttercream recipe that does not include eggs? My family cannot eat eggs because of a high intolerance. I make one with shortening but it seems to lack the depth of flavor I’m looking for. Thank you!

    1. The Whipped Buttercream that is listed with the Fresh Strawberry Cake is lovely and is egg free. It does contain dairy, but if you are dairy intolerant I am sure you could use an alternate “milk” and sub half shortening and half dairy free margarine for the butter. I have also had some success using alternate syrups in place of the egg-sugar syrup in SMBCs. I have used sweetened condensed milk and thick caramel and beat it into the butter for a variation. It is not quite as stable but still very delicious 🙂

  4. This sounds delicious! We always make Italian Meringue Butter Cream and it is hard to get a chocolate version. We find it breaks when we add too much chocolate so it never has a strong chocolate taste! We are loving your recipes and other information that you share here!

    1. You can do a similar version with SMBC if you make it like I have in the Easy SMBC. That is one great advantage to making it this way. You can work in a generous amount of cocoa before adding the egg syrup and get a pronounced chocolate flavor. It always seemed wimpy tasting and affected texture when I added melted chocolate like you said. I hope you have great success with this! Just remember, this is pretty soft when it gets warm. A whole egg or egg-white version holds up better over time 🙂

  5. My buttercream is still runny after beating in the mixer for approximately 8 mins. Any idea why? My only explanation is that I was 100 gram short of butter. I used smbc all the time and have always reduced butter without any compromise to the structure. So I really don’t know what happen here. But I have to say, it does taste wonderful! Just wondering what am I gonna do with a batch of runny but yummy custard.

    1. Try chilling it and rebeating on high. You may need all the butter on this one. Because you lose the structural element with the lack of egg whites the structure of the butter fat may be necessary. There is more wiggle room with SMBC. I have found with this one it helps to add your syrup when it is pretty cold and after it comes together use it as quickly as possible before it loses volume. I hope you can whip it into buttercream. Although delicious, that may be a bit much to eat alone (my kids would argue against that point ;))

      1. Hi Summer, I found your website through Jessica Harris’s site, and I love it! So many delicious recipes, and I really appreciate how you reference the science/chemistry of baking. And I’m so happy to see your suggestion for using cocoa powder to enhance chocolate flavor–I’ve always been frustrated by Chocolate SMBC as it’s light on the chocolate flavor but gets runny when I add increase the amount of melted chocolate.
        Quick question–do you think this “French” Buttercream and your sour cream version of french buttercream are stable enough as fillings in fondant cakes served at room temperature? I love the richer flavor of these buttercreams (even more than SMBC), but I’m concerned about too soft or oozing fillings when the cakes are cut. And even though I store these cakes chilled, I prefer to serve them at room temperature (for the taste of the cake). Would love your thoughts. Thank you!

        1. Hi Amy, Thank you!! On the buttercream, there is kind of a fine line with these. If they are just at room temperature and that room temperature is 70 F, yes, they would be great. But if they are in 80 F plus heat and will sit out long I would probably opt for something a little sturdier. If you make a whole egg buttercream it seems to do much better stability wise and still have that lovely custard-like flavor. Use the same volume of egg as you would with SMBC just add in the yolks too. It’s delicious and much more firm and resilient than the French. 🙂

          1. Hi Summer- Thanks so much for such a quick reply! Just to clarify the measurements on the whole egg-version, is there an easy weight-based ratio (like the 1:2:2 or 1:2:3 weight ratio for egg whites/sugar/butter in SMBC) that you can use for the whole-egg version? I’m so dependent on my scale these days- although if there isn’t an easy weight ratio, I’m sure I can just measure it out by volume. Thanks again!!

          2. I just stick with the 1:2:2 ratio by weight (eggs:sugar:butter). The volumes may vary a slight bit but not enough to make a difference. Good luck! 🙂

  6. Awesome! Just made this recipe. Had to cut in half given a butter shortage and also added some melted dark chocolate. Just delicious and easy. My new go to recipe. Thank You!

  7. I made both the vanilla and chocolate version. This is the best buttercream I’ve ever tested. I’m eating some by the spoonful as I type.

  8. I made this recipe last night and it was a disaster the texture was great but the taste and look was horrific – I thought I could get away with using a Hershey cocoa powder – well I was wrong.
    I don’t have access to that cocoa powder you used, any suggestions to an alternative?

  9. can i freeze frosted cupcakes/cakes? will the frosting hold its shape from freezer to fridge to room temp? if not, which frosting do you recommend that i could apply ahead of time to cupcakes/cakes and freeze? thanks

  10. Omg, this is the best buttercream I’ve ever made. My daughter loves it, she keeps asking for just the buttercream. And you know what’s really good about this as well, I freeze some and when I took it out, it was just like ice cream (actually tastes better than most chocolate ice creams!!).

    Anyway, I have question, can we use this type of buttercream for decorations (like for piping flowers) or won’t it be stiff enough like the swiss meringue buttercream?

    Thank you so much for your recipes!!

  11. Hi, two questions on this. Is the cocoa, Dutch processed? I plan to make this for a birthday party so it may sit out for a couple of hours, will that be ok? No fondant, just yummy chocolate buttercream!

  12. Hi Summer, forgive me if this has already been asked, but could I use honey instead of corn syrup? I’m also torn between this icing recipe and the one on your Strawberry Cake… I’m making your vanilla sour cream cake (it’s my birthday day cake go-to!!) and looking for something that’s easy but not too sweet… Easy being more important with a newborn and toddler in tow. 😉

    1. Hi Liz! Oh how I know those days with littles! Time is of such value. Honey shoud work beautifully here as a stand in for the corn syrup. Simple Silky Buttercream is also an easy option and you can control the sweetness by varying the powdered sugar added. (Don’t be afraid. Its not your typical American buttercream). Good luck!

      1. OH my goodness… That icing was devine (and so easy!!). Appreciate your help and thank you for sharing all this sweetness.

  13. Hi Summer,

    I want to make a small 8×8 sheet cake for my birthday and I want to make it a day ahead and store it on the counter, but my kitchen gets pretty warm. Would it make more sense for me to use the Swiss buttercream recipe (with egg whites) because it is more stable than the French version? Also, I want to make it chocolate, so can I add the same amount of cocoa powder (1 cup) to the SBC recipe (http://thecakeblog.com/2014/06/no-meringue-swiss-buttercream-recipe.html)?


    1. I would use the SMBC, especially in the summer months. The French hold up best when its cool. And yes, you can add the chocolate in the same proportion and method to the SMBC as with the French. Have a Happy Birthday! 🙂

  14. The flavor is phenomenal, but it always comes out grainy for me, no matter what sugar I use. The granulated white sugar had smaller granules than the organic off white sugar, but they are still there. I’ve tried other french buttercream recipes using the traditional method, but they all refused to come together and remained soupy.

    1. Hi Keisha, It sounds like your sugar crystals are not dissolving all the way in your syrup mixture. There are some different options to can try alone or in combination to achieve a silky buttercream. First, try starting with finer grains. You can buy baker’s sugar, which has a very fine texture, or process your sugar for a minute in a food processor or blender to reduce the grain size. Second, you can cook your syrup longer and hotter to more effectively melt the sugar crystals. You can heat above 160 F without cooking your eggs, but if you do get any cooked bits simply stain the syrup to remove them. Third, whisk extensively as you are heating the syrup. The mechanical energy will help melt the sugar. And finally, you can swap out two yolks for an additional whole egg. The extra water in the egg white will aid in dissolving the sugar granules. I hope this helps! If you continue to have trouble please let me know and I will continue to look for a solution that works for you. 🙂

  15. You list two eggs in your ingredients but do not say what to do with them. Do they get added to the egg yolks and sugar?

    1. Hi Ann! The whole eggs get whisked in after the yolks. …”Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl; whisk in the eggs followed by the corn syrup…”
      I hope that clarifies! Thanks for the question.

  16. I am SO HAPPY to have found your website. Your methods of making meringue buttercreams are totally taking away my fear. Do you have an easier method of making Italian Meringue Buttercream or Korean Buttercream? Thanks.

    1. Hi Rachel! I hope you have great success with this method. I do not have shortcut recipes for Italian or Korean Buttercreams. They are a bit tricky to fudge with since they require cooking a sugar syrup to a high temperature. I do make Italian-style buttercream by microwaving the sugar syrup, but that is just a matter of preference that allows me to skip using stovetop cooking. One of my favorite buttercreams that is very easy to make is Liz Marek’s Easy Buttercream . It uses pasteurized egg whites and powdered sugar which creates a very stable buttercream that is great to work with. It is a little less refined than SMBCs, but the ease of making it is worth that little sacrifice. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  17. I absolutely love the way that you use easier, different methods for making buttercream frostings that produce the same results. I have been wanting to try making Italian Meringue Buttercream, but I worry about getting the syrup to the correct temperature at the same time the egg whites get to the correct consistency. Do you have an alternate method for making Italian Meringue Buttercream? Thanks.

    1. Italian buttercream differs from Swiss buttercream in the liquid the sugar is dissolved in. Swiss uses only egg and heat to dissolve the sugar, while Italian uses heat and water to dissolve the sugar. The long cooking time and temperature exactitude ensures enough water has cooked off to make a stable buttercream. It is tricky to find a shortcut for Italian buttercream because of the sugar-water heating process needed. You can save yourself some timing worry though. Get your sugar water combo to desired temperature and then remove the syrup from the heat (you can hold the syrup at this stage for a period of time). Start the egg whites beating and return the syrup to the heat on low to medium depending on how cool it is to start. Once the egg whites are ready and the syrup is back up to temperature, you can add it to the egg whites and proceed with the recipe. I’m not sure if that is helpful to you, but it is an option!

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