Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream | Bakes & Blunders
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Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

If you find most frostings to be too sweet, you might just need to check out my Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream.  It’s silky smooth and uses a fraction of the amount of sugar you’ll find in traditional frosting. This frosting isn’t the quickest recipe, but you’ll love the results!


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This recipe was originally published on October 28, 2019 and was republished on May 27, 2021 with updates.

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Frosting Breakdown


For me, “frosting” has always meant that crazy sweet American buttercream that we all know and love from countless birthday cakes and family parties.  But, as my baking and tastes have matured, I have come to discover that there are so many more frosting options out there.

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream | Bakes & Blunders

The most common frosting varieties are American Buttercream (ABC), Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC), or Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC).  Most of my recipes use ABC because it’s crazy easy and what I’m used to. My fault line cake and carrot cake both use a SMBC and it isn’t too tricky. 


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Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream


I’ve made this chocolate Italian meringue buttercream a few times now, and I’ve got to say, it is like eating a chocolate cloud.  Well, technically, Ben said that after I gave him a spoonful.  For a more intense chocolate buttercream, check out the one I used on my German chocolate cake.

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream | Bakes & Blunders
I used Ateco Tip 888.

The first time I made this recipe was for some mini chocolate cupcakes for my No Kid Hungry bake sale.  It was delicious!  But this time around, I added some dark cocoa powder to up the chocolate punch.  This is totally optional.  And to go with the whole chocolate vibe, I used my vegan chocolate cupcakes because they are crazy easy to make, super moist, and have a great flavor.


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Making the IMBC…


Before you make this, let me give you a warning. This frosting is delicious.  But it might taste different than what you’re used to because it is less sweet and more fluffy.  I love that it pairs really well with chocolate cupcakes because it’s not overpowering. 

Chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream | Bakes & Blunders

Now that you’re ready, let’s dive into the details.  You’re going to make an Italian meringue by pouring crazy hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites.  Once that mixture has cooled, add soft butter. Finally, finish off with flavorings and melted chocolate.  See! That’s not too bad.  You just have to approach each step carefully.


Piping Tips for Beginners | Bakes and Blunders


Top Tips for Meringue

  • Wipe your bowl and whisk with a bit of vinegar to remove any residual fat or grease.
  • Separate your egg whites one at a time into a small bowl before adding them to your big bowl. This is to prevent any stray yolk from ruining the whole batch!
  • Acid (like cream of tartar or lemon juice) can help stabilize your egg whites.
  • Whip your eggs at a medium speed for longer to create a more stable meringue and minimize the risk of over whipping.
  • Room temperature egg whites will whip up faster, but it’s best to separate the eggs while they’re cold.


Related Reading: All About Meringue: Covering the Basics


Adding the Butter


To be honest, adding the butter is the scariest part of the whole recipe.  It sounds simple, and it is, but it is going to look awful. After you add that first stick, don’t panic.  Your frosting is going to be deflated and a little soupy looking. Just keep adding that butter slowly.

Adding butter to the Italian Meringue | Bakes and Blunders

After that final stick, you’ll wonder why you even doubted yourself!  The IMBC will be smooth and silky. While this is the part that will give you a heart attack, my son loved helping me plop each pat of butter into the bowl.  


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Tips & Tricks


Once you break it down, it really isn’t that difficult, but there are some key points to keep in mind.  The sugar syrup must hit 240℉. That is considered “soft ball” stage and it will give the meringue the right structure.  Once the syrup is ready, pour it carefully down the side of the bowl. You do not want to hit the whisk.

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream | Bakes & Blunders
Ateco tip 888

The next most important step is to let the meringue cool to room temperature before adding the butter.  Naturally, if you chuck butter into a bowl of crazy hot meringue, you’re going to end up with a mess. Let the meringue whip for 15- 20 minutes and you can even pack the bowl with ice (or frozen fruits and veggies…).




Fixing Italian Meringue Buttercream


I am no expert with IMBC, but I am aware of the most common issues.  The big one is adding butter while the meringue is too warm. If the frosting starts to look melted or curdled, pop it in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then continue whipping.  It should come together.  

Piping chocolate buttercream

After 20 minutes of beating my meringue, it still felt a bit warm on the bottom.  I popped my meringue in the fridge for 3- 5 minutes before adding the butter. Now, I don’t know if this made much of a difference, but my chocolate Italian meringue buttercream frosting came out just fine!


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Let’s Talk Flavor


You can make this stuff into any flavor under the sun (more or less…).  For chocolate Italian meringue buttercream frosting, chop and melt 4-6 ounces of chocolate.  Once it’s cooled a bit, beat it into the frosting.  I like to amp up the chocolate flavor by adding in some cocoa powder as well.


I’m a HUGE fan of chocolate, so naturally I think this buttercream goes best with my vegan chocolate cupcakes or even my Devil’s food cake.  But I truly think this stuff would taste great on just about anything.  


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No Kid Hungry Bake Sale  (Back in 2019)


Bake sale, you say?  I don’t know if you realize this, but I really like baking.  It’s been so exciting to turn that passion into a blog and a business, but I wanted to do more.  Then I saw an ad to host a bake sale to raise money for No Kid Hungry and knew I had to do it!  

No Kid Hungry Bake Sale

Several other military spouses, including Morgan from Blueberry Chronicles and Chelsea from Jonesin’ for a Treat, helped me pull this one off.  I made my famous Chocolate Chip Cookies, Funfetti Cupcakes, and mini chocolate cupcakes.  


Related Reading: Mini Mint Chocolate Chip Cake


Goal Met


I was shocked to learn that 1 in 6 children in America struggle with hunger.  Luckily, just $10 can provide a hungry kid with up to 100 meals! My goal was to raise $300 through online donations and a bake sale at a community festival.  


We slayed that goal!  My plan was to host a bake sale every year, but then 2020 happened and the pandemic changed everything.  Hopefully I’ll be able to host another No Kid Hungry Bake Sale soon.





American buttercream can be too sweet and overpowering for some people.  Chocolate Italian meringue buttercream frosting is the perfect solution to this dessert conundrum.  This frosting is smooth, creamy, buttery, and not too sweet. How will you use it? 

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream | Bakes & Blunders

I hope you loved this chocolate Italian meringue buttercream as much as I did.  If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream | Bakes & Blunders

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

This frosting tastes like chocolate clouds! It is light, fluffy, and full of flavor.
Pin this Recipe!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Birthday, Cake, Chocolate, Frosting
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Calories 193kcal
Author Colleen


  • 9 oz sugar
  • 3 fl oz water
  • 4 egg whites room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 12 oz unsalted butter softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chopped
  • 2 Tbsps cocoa powder sifted


  • Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pot for the first 2 minutes to help prevent crystallization. You will heat the sugar syrup to 240°F.
  • While the sugar heats, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup hits 200°F, begin whipping the egg whites on low. Once they start to foam, add the salt and cream of tartar.
  • Bump the speed up to medium (4 on a KitchenAid) and beat until you reach soft peaks. The whites should be ready right when your sugar syrup is ready.
  • Once the sugar is 240°F, the egg whites should be at soft peaks. Slowly and carefully drizzle the syrup into the bowl, being careful to avoid the whisk. Continue to beat the meringue on a medium speed until it reaches room temperature. This will take about 20 minutes. Pack the sides of the bowl with ice or frozen veggies to speed up the process.
  • When the meringue is no longer warm, you can begin adding the butter one tablespoon at a time. Wait about 10 seconds between additions. The mixture will deflate and look loose, but it will thicken up again. If it looks too soupy at any point, pop the bowl in the fridge for 5- 10 minutes.
  • Once the butter has been added, scrape down the bowl and whip on a medium high speed for 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl down, add vanilla, and whip to combine.
  • Place the finely chopped chocolate and cocoa powder (optional) in a heat proof bowl and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave just until smooth. Cool the chocolate slightly. Switch to a paddle attachment, add the chocolate, and beat to combine. If your buttercream is too warm/ loose, chill for up to 30 minutes, then beat again.


  • If the egg whites hit soft peaks before the sugar is ready, turn the mixer to low.
  • Makes enough to lightly frost 24 cupcakes.  You can scale this recipe up if needed.

My Favorite Products for this Recipe

Hi there! I’m Colleen, a novice baker with a passion for learning and improving my bakes… and blunders. On Bakes and Blunders, you can find all sorts of tasty recipes that range in difficulty, but most importantly, I’ll try to explain the reason behind important steps. If you know why a recipe works, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your unique tastes, and you’ll be able to reliably produce some very delicious treats. If you love baking and want to expand and grow your skills, or if you are a casual baker and just need some pointers, my blog is right up your alley! Join me on my baking journey and we’ll learn how to make more impressive recipes together.


  • Rachel

    5 stars
    I look so forward to trying this recipe. I used to think that American Buttercream was my favorite, until I tried Italian Meringue Buttercream. YUM! Could you tell me how many cups of frosting this recipe makes? Thank you.

    • Colleen

      Italian meringue buttercream is soooo yummy! I’m not sure how many cups this makes, but it’s generally enough to frost 24 cupcakes, or a standard cake (3 layer 6 inch or 2 layer 8 inch). If you tend to go heavy when you frost, you might come up short, but it’s enough for a light to medium coverage.

  • Ines

    5 stars
    I was thinking of swirling this frosting on chocolate cake squares for a pastry table. Will it hold up to being out for several hours when displayed at the event?

    • Colleen

      That sounds delicious! This frosting is softer than a traditional American buttercream. If the event is outside in the heat, I would not recommend using this recipe. But inside, in the air conditioning, this should do fine.

    • Colleen

      Most people don’t like super sweet frosting, so this recipe is perfect! It’s also a great way to use up extra egg whites. I mean, you could make a healthy omelet, but frosting is better 😉

  • Beth

    5 stars
    This seems like just the sort of frosting I’d really like with a mild chocolate-ness and all that lightness from the egg whites. I love how you included so many steps and possible pitfalls, it’s so appreciated.

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