This pumpkin Italian meringue buttercream is a more advanced recipe, but the reward is a silky and buttery frosting that's perfect on a wide range of baked goods. The buttercream has a light sweetness and the subtle flavor of pumpkin. It's SCD, gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free.
I'm gonna be completely straight with you, this frosting is a labor of love! It takes a bit of time to make AND it can easily go sideways, but it's totally worth it!
What is Italian meringue buttercream?
Italian meringue buttercream has a meringue base which is one of the more stable and also more advanced buttercream's to make.
The buttercream has a meringue base, which is comprised of whipped egg whites and hot sugar syrup. Butter is then added and the mixture is whipped for upwards of 20 minutes.
Since my buttercream recipe follows the SCD diet, honey will be used for the meringue as opposed to a granulated sugar syrup.
- Make sure the bowl of the stand mixer is completely clean and dry. Any residual oils from previous use will inhibit the buttercream from setting up. Reference my Honey Italian Meringue post for more tips on how to make a perfect meringue!
- The meringue AND the butter need to be at room temperature. Add the butter SLOWLY to the meringue.
- If the buttercream starts turning into soup when adding the butter, DON'T PANIC, it can be fixed!
- I find it's best to use the buttercream immediately after making it.
- Buttercream can be made up to a week in advance if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow the buttercream to come to room temperature before re-whipping.
How to make the Pumpkin Italian Meringue Buttercream
As stated above, this buttercream is a labor of love and a more advanced recipe, but you'll be rewarded with a delicious frosting if you follow the directions and tips provided.
The first step is to make the meringue. Place the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Occasionally stir the honey until a candy thermometer reaches 240F. The honey will be bubbly and frothy.
While the honey is on the stove, place two large room temperature egg whites in the bowl of a clean and dry stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Whisk on high speed. Once soft peaks start to form, add the lemon juice and continue whisking.
When the honey has reached a temperature of 240F, slowly and carefully pour the hot honey in a steady stream into the bowl of the still running mixer. Be sure to avoid pouring the honey onto the whisk or hot honey will be thrown from the mixer!
Continue to whisk until the meringue is glossy, has doubled in volume, and has come to room temperature.
Add the room temperature butter one tablespoon at a time and don't add the next tablespoon until the previous one has been fully incorporated.
This is a long process and you might be tempted to just throw the whole stick of butter in there at once...don't do it! Slow and steady my friends, slow and steady!
Add vanilla extract, pureed pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Continue to beat the buttercream until smooth and silky!
The most common buttercream problem is...
The meringue becomes "soupy" after adding the butter. I find that this happens when the meringue hasn't cooled enough. If you find the meringue getting too thin, stop adding butter and place the bowl (including the whisk) into the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the bowl AND meringue is at room temperature. Continue whipping and adding the butter.
How to use Pumpkin Italian Meringue buttercream
This mouthwatering, seasonal frosting is perfect for topping a variety of cakes and cupcakes.
Try these seasonal desserts!
If you’ve made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below!
This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten's Orange Buttercream Frosting.
Pumpkin Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 2 large egg whites at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup honey a light sweet honey is recommended
- 12 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature I suggest leaving the butter out on the counter overnight
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup pureed pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling
- Pour the honey into a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The honey will begin to bubble and become frothy, keep over the heat until a candy thermometer reads 240F.
- While the honey is on the stove, add the room temperature egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the egg whites become frothy. Add the lemon juice and continue whisking until soft peaks have formed.
- Once the honey has reached 240F, remove from the stove and pour it in a slow and steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites. Continue running the mixer on high speed while adding the honey.
- Continue running the mixer on high speed until the meringue has doubled in volume and has come to room temperature. The meringue HAS TO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE before adding the room temperature butter.
- Once the meringue is at room temp, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time to the mixer which should still be on high speed. Wait until the butter has fully incorporated before adding the next tablespoon.
- After all the butter has been added, you'll notice a slight thickening of the buttercream. Continue whisking until the buttercream becomes silky. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pureed pumpkin to the mixer. Give a taste and adjust flavors as needed (be sure not to add too much more pureed pumpkin or the consistency of the buttercream will change).
- Use the buttercream right away to frost a cake or cupcakes.
- The buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The buttercream will harden in the refrigerator, bring it up to room temperature before re-whipping.
- If you notice the buttercream becoming "soupy" while adding the butter, stop. It means the meringue is still too warm. Place the bowl of meringue along with the whisk in the refrigerator until it has cooled to room temp.
- While adding the butter, if you notice it staying in little clumps instead of incorporating into the meringue, stop. It means the butter is still too cold! Bring the butter to room temp in the microwave (don't melt the butter though).
- The recipe makes about 2 cups of buttercream and should be enough to frost a 2 layer, 6 inch round cake or single 9 inch round cake.