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Ooh La La! French Buttercream

Imagine transforming your favorite gourmet vanilla ice cream into something thick, creamy and perfect between two layers of cake. You’re imagining French buttercream!


Made with rich egg yolks, sugar and butter, French buttercream is easy to whip up, versatile and totally delicious.


  • 6 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 sticks (1 lb.) unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or paste, or other flavoring of your choice to taste
  • 1/4 tsp table salt

Egg Yolks

Step 1:

Put your six room temperature egg yolks into the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until the yolks have thickened slightly and are paler in color. This takes about 5 minutes.

Making Buttercream

Step 2:

Meanwhile, put the sugar and water into a saucepan and cook on a high heat until a candy thermometer registers 240°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you are looking for the “soft ball stage.” At this stage, a little sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft ball. When the ball is taken from the water, it will flatten in your hand after a few seconds.


Step 3:

While the egg yolks are slowly whipping and the sugar is reaching 240°F, cut your butter into chunks and leave to soften at room temperature.

Mixing Egg Yolks

Step 4:

Once the water and sugar has reached 240°F, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly pour the syrup on the egg yolks.

Step 5:

Once all the syrup has been poured on the egg yolks, turn the mixer to medium-high and whip until the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch. This can take 10 to 15 minutes. Do not continue to the next step if your bowl still feels at all warm.

Egg Yolk and Sugar

Step 6:

When your mixing bowl is neutral to the touch, the egg yolk and sugar mixture should be thick, creamy and pale yellow in color.

Mixing Bowl

Step 7:

Add vanilla extract or paste, or other flavoring of your choice, plus the salt. Whip briefly to incorporate.

Buttercream Recipe

Step 8:

At this point, your butter should be slightly softened. It should yield to a press of the finger, but not be completely soft. Turn your mixer to medium-low and start slowly adding the butter, one chunk at a time. This can take up to 5 minutes.

Whisked Buttercream

Step 9:

Continue to whisk at medium-low speed until the butter is incorporated and no lumps remain.

Finished Buttercream

Step 10:

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to high and whip the buttercream for a final 2 minutes.

This buttercream can be refrigerated for five days, frozen for two months and kept at room temperature (72°F) for one day. It is now possible to buy pasteurized in-shell eggs at some supermarkets, and the use of these would give the buttercream a longer shelf life at room temperature.

This buttercream is very creamy and soft, making it less suitable for piping or using as a icing under fondant. As a filling, it is perfect when paired with a chocolate ganache icing, as the firm ganache stops the filling from squashing out when the cake is stacked. It should always be served at room temperature.

Ready to decorate your cake with this delicious buttercream? Joshua John Russell’s FREE Bluprint mini-class Modern Buttercream reveals trade secrets for creating a flawless smooth or textured buttercream finish every time.

Have you tried Italian and Swiss meringue buttercreams? I’d love to hear what you think of their French counterpart!



Ohhhh La La!!! Fantastico!!!
Looks fairly easy to make!! Gonna give it a try!!!
Thanks Craftsy!!!!!! (•‿•)

Tammy Oliver

I am going on a mission trip to the Philippines in September. While there I am going to be teaching the older children in an orphanage how to decorate cakes. I have been buying up lots of Wilton supplies and have shipped them over. I was wondering do you have a recommendation for a recipe for an icing that can endure the heat and humidity there? Thanks for any ideas.


I would recommend a traditional American buttercream, and you can find recipes all over the internet. You can make it with a combination of butter and shortening, or use all shortening. As I’m sure you know, shortening has a much higher melting point than butter, so it works better in the heat. If you use all shortening, you might want to consider adding some good quality flavorings to make it a little tastier. It’s not the gourmet’s choice, but it will certainly do the job for you!


Hi Tammy, where will you be teaching? I’m from the Philippines and would like to know how I can be of help? I am not a decorator, but maybe I can assist and learn along the way? I have been baking for quite some time now but not really an expert yet 🙂

By the way Lesley, I clicked on the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe but it shows instructions on how to make marshmallow fondant? =)


I think Craftsy have fixed the link now, Mye. At least it works for me… thanks for letting me know!

Marie from Ireland

What size of cake does this quantity cover? It looks easy to make. Must try it in the next few days.


As suggested in the post, this buttercream might not be suitable as a frosting, it’s better used as a filling. This recipe is enough to fill an 8″ four layer cake.


I have tried to make this three times in a row and my sugar syrup crystallizes as soon as it touches the egg yolk mixture, and I only had the sugar syrup liquid up to 200 degrees. I even checked it with water and seemed to be at soft ball stage. Is there a trick to this that I’m missing? Any help would be appreciated!!


I’m sorry to hear that, LURAJEAN! I’m afraid this has never happened to me! Do you have the mixer running as you pour in the sugar? If you are going to eat the buttercream yourself as soon as you make it, don’t worry too much about the temperature of the sugar. As long as the sugar crystals have dissolved, you’re good to go.

The other thing to try is using room temperature eggs so that the yolk mixture isn’t cooling the sugar too quickly as you pour it in.

I’m so sorry, I can’t think what else it can be!

Tara Wright

Soft ball stage is around 240 degrees not 200. You should try it again making sure your sugar syrup gets to at least 240. Hope this helps.

shirley borne

will this work as filling in a cake roll

Lesley Wright

I’m afraid I’ve never tried it in a cake roll, but you might find it’s a little soft for that purpose.


This is Italian Meringue and not French meringue. French meringue is when you whist the egg white and sugar on a Bain Marie to 60 degrees and then whisk in the machine until cold.

cori pullin

Is this filling shelf stable? How long is it good for in a cake sitting on the counter?


This is mentioned in the tutorial towards the bottom.


Ayelet, I think if you do some more research you’ll find that egg whites beaten with sugar and then whisked until cold, with butter added is definitely Swiss (or Italian if the boiling sugar is poured on to the egg whites). I’ve never seen anything to the contrary. The egg yolk mixture is always known as French. I’m always happy to be proven wrong though, so please link me to your sources if you can!

Plus, this recipe has been on the Craftsy blog for six months. I highly doubt anyone would have let me get it wrong for this long without pointing it out! 🙂


You mention that this is shelf stable at room temp for one day. And it can be more than that if pasteurized eggs were used. Do you know approx how long it can sit at room temp if pasteurized eggs were used?


To clarify the Swiss/Italian/French meringue/buttercream definitions from the discussion above:
A basic French Meringue (NO butter) is simply egg whites and sugar, whisked until the proper consistency (soft peaks, stiff glossy peaks, etc) is achieved. It is often seen on top of Lemon Meringue pies (slightly browned) and is also called Common Meringue.
A Swiss Meringue BUTTERCREAM is a filling/frosting that is created by whisking egg whites and sugar while warming to approx 145 degrees F (some choose to warm the mixture as high as 165 F) The mixture is then placed in a mixer and whipped to create a glossy thick meringue, to which softened butter is added.
An ITALIAN Meringue BUTTERCREAM is created by adding cooked sugar syrup to egg whites. The sugar is cooked to 121 C/ 238-240 F, then added to the whites. (At this point, it is commonly known as an Italian meringue and is more stable then the Common/French meringue.) When softened butter is whipped into the Italian meringue mixture, it is an Italian meringue Buttercream, and is more stable than the Swiss. Both are commonly used for cake filling, finishing and decor (at least here in the US)
The technique described in this blog is for a type of French Meringue BUTTERCREAM. The egg yolk/cooked sugar mixture is known as a pate a bombe. Sometimes the yolks/sugar is simply warmed, then whisked and is often the basis for mousses and other desserts. A proper French meringue Buttercream is created when cooked sugar is added to yolks/whole eggs, then softened butter added to the whipped/cooled mixture and occasionally, an additional amount of Italian meringue is folded in as well. It is far less stable than the other buttercreams, but also much richer (hence the additional Italian meringue to lighten it). Hope this helped!


Thanks, Paige! The lady who thought I was wrong didn’t come back to prove her point, so I assume she realised she’d made a mistake!


Any idea what might happen if Champagne were substituted for the water in the cooked sugar mixture?


How would this frosting do in a “stacked” cake (3 layer). Is it too soft where it would “ooze” out or is it stable enough to withstand the layers?


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