The Best Brandy Italian Buttercream

A sweet syrup of brandy and sugar meets whipping egg whites and a mountain of softened butter to create this delicacy known as Brandy Italian Buttercream. It's sweet. It's floral. It's nutty. It's fruity. It's warm. and it's divine. Use this buttercream on your next cake, and you'll be in love.

Brandy buttercream. 

I never felt like I would be saying those words, or let alone, be eating it (and by "it" - the brandy buttercream) out of the mixing bowl. I just can't get over it.

I had no idea how good it would be until I started playing around with it. 

It is a perfect creation, really. It is smooth, sweet, fruity, slightly floral, warming, and not too heavy. The Brandy is mostly cooked out, with the exception of a big splash added in at the end, and it brings such a beautiful unique flavor. I can't even fully explain the experience. It is beautiful and magical, and need I say more? You better be bookmarking this recipe right now.


It was the perfect addition to the Sidecar Cocktail Inspired cake that I made for the judges in Episode 6 of Halloween Wars in the Fall of 2022. I'm still dreaming of that moment on set, and I keep thinking back to what the judges said about the cake. I had never heard of or tried a Sidecar cocktail before getting this assignment and doing research on it. So, this was a whole new world to me. It was so fun though, and boy, and I proud of the end product.

Ingredients You'll Need for Brandy Italian Buttercream

- Granulated Sugar, divided

- Brandy: For this recipe, I swapped all of the water in an original Italian meringue recipe for brandy. I used E&J Brandy, but I'm sure other brands are fine. I know nothing about liquors, so I just grabbed this one. If you happen to have a preference, use that.

- Egg Whites: these are fresh egg whites straight from the shells, not from a carton. The carton egg whites don't whip as well as we need them to for this recipe.

- Butter, unsalted and softened

- Vanilla Extract

- Salt

- Lemon Juice, fresh

What is Italian Buttercream?

This buttercream is made by combining Brandy Italian Meringue with a whole lot of softened butter, creating this Italian Meringue Buttercream. It's delicious. It's not too hard. I promise boiling hot sugar might seem daunting at first, but with a reliable thermometer and a little practice - it will become your new favorite buttercream. 

Like I mentioned, the base is an Italian meringue. Italian meringue is the only type of meringue that is fully cooked. The hot sugar syrup gently heats the egg whites to the point where they are fully safe to eat. Once your meringue is made, softened butter is added, along with the chosen flavorings. It's easy, but it does take a bit of practice on the timing of things. 

You want your whipping egg whites to reach medium peaks at the same time your sugar syrup reaches temperature, at 239°F. It just takes a little practice and a bit of multitasking. 


How to Store and Freeze Italian Buttercream

For the Fridge: You can store this buttercream at room temperature for up to 1-2 days, if you're planning on using it all up. However, if it's going to be a bit before you can finish working with it - pop it in the refrigerator covered for up to 7 days. When you're ready to use it, let it set out on the counter and come up to room temperature and rewhip it in your stand mixer. You may need to add a little heat by using a blowtorch on the sides of the bowl for a couple seconds. (Make sure your buttercream is in a metal bowl for this, not glass or plastic) Or, you can heat it over warm water for a few seconds. Just be patient and let it mix. It will come back together, even if it looks like cottage cheese for a bit. Sometimes it just takes 5-7 minutes to come back together and re-emulsify. 

For the Freezer: This buttercream freezes perfectly, and I do it regularly. A lot of times I will prep this in advance, freeze it, and thaw it to rewhip right before I need it. I've never had issues! You can freeze buttercream for up to 6-8 months, as long as it is wrapped up well.

I usually lay out some plastic wrap flat on the counter, add the buttercream into the center, and fold the plastic wrap tightly around it. Don't forget to label it with what it is and what date you made it.

You can just as easily store this in an airtight container in the freezer, as well. I just like using the plastic wrap for easy clean up and easy thawing. 

Once you're ready to use it - I thaw mine on the counter overnight or until room temperature, throw it into my stand mixer, and rewhip it like normal. It's easy!

Recommended Tools for Italian Buttercream

- A good thermometer

It is hard to make a good Italian buttercream without a good thermometer to know what temperature the sugar syrup is at all times. You can use a standard candy thermometer, but I find those finicky, because usually you need quite a large amount of liquid for the thermometer to read correctly. 

You can use a handheld, instant read thermometer, but those are annoying because of having to hold it there the whole time. 

My personal favorite tool is this Chef Alarm thermometer, because I can set what end temperature I want to reach, and my thermometer will go off when I have reached that temperature. No messing with it, no staring at the thermometer the whole time, and no worrying that I'll overcook it. Not sponsored at all, but the ThermoWorks Chef Alarm is my holy grail, and I wish everyone in the world could have one. 

It's a bit of an investment, but I've had mine since starting pastry school, and I use it super often. SO helpful.

- A kitchen torch or propane blow torch

I can't tell you how many times I use this. It has a permanent home in my kitchen, and I use it for so many things from making creme brûlée, to melting cheese on a burger, to helping rewhip Italian buttercream. 

Something like this will do: small kitchen torch or large propane torch

- A kitchen scale

I rarely make anything in the kitchen without using my scale. It makes measuring my ingredients not only easier, but faster and so much cleaner. I can measure everything I need into the same bowl without having to dirty a million measuring cups and spoons. It's incredible.

I'll never go back to cups and ounces. Culinary school ruined me from ever doing that. A kitchen scale is the way to do it, plus.. it's more accurate. Here's the one I use.

Other Recipes Similar to This One

Vanilla Italian Buttercream - it's a classic, but it's perfect. So smooth, creamy, and buttery.

Milk Chocolate French Buttercream - it's rich, creamy, and almost like a chocolate mousse. It's pretty dang phenomenal.

Peanut Butter Italian Buttercream - how can you go wrong with peanut butter? This peanut butter buttercream is fabulous on its own or on a chocolate cake with chopped peanuts and salted caramel. I sure love it like that.

Fresh Blueberry Buttercream - talk about bright, fresh, and beautiful. Blueberry buttercream has a vibrant blue/purple color that is all natural and comes straight from the blueberry puree we make and add to the Italian buttercream. Sooooo delicious.

Buttercreams like Italian Meringue (like this Vanilla Italian Buttercream or Fresh Blueberry Buttercream) and French Buttercream (like this Milk Chocolate French Buttercream) are very forgiving. They take a bit of practice to figure out the timing but are beyond worth the extra work. If your buttercream splits, usually it can always be fixed. If the buttercream is too cold and chunky, that can be fixed. I have learned to always keep my blowtorch handy and near by - it's one of my most used kitchen tools. You've got this.

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