Vegan Coffee Buttercream (Swiss Meringue Buttercream)

Silky smooth vegan Swiss meringue buttercream with a kick of espresso. This vegan coffee buttercream is completely eggless and dairy free and made with brown sugar! Perfect for frosting vegan cakes and cupcakes.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
5 from 3 votes
closeup of vegan coffee buttercream

I wanted to create a coffee frosting recipe that was fluffy and lighter than American buttercream but a little less complex than Italian buttercream. So this was the perfect opportunity to put together my vegan version of Swiss meringue buttercream for you!

The result is quite similar to my vegan Italian meringue buttercream recipe but this Swiss meringue method takes a little less preparation making it much easier to whip together. Plus, it only uses 4 ingredients!

This fluffy frosting makes the perfect accompaniment to my vegan coffee walnut cake.

What makes this vegan frosting so good?

  • Made with brown sugar giving it a slight caramelised flavour! You can also use regular white caster sugar (superfine).
  • Tastes like buttery whipped coffee
  • Light and airy consistency
  • Not overly sweet like most American buttercream recipes
  • Fully customisable, you can mix up the flavours or just keep it plain and simple
  • Easier to make than Italian meringue buttercream but still follows a somewhat traditional Swiss meringue buttercream method (with a vegan spin!).
  • Doesn’t require a candy thermometer
  • No need to reduce the aquafaba. 
 

vegan swiss meringue buttercream in a bowl.

What is Swiss meringue buttercream?

Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) is a meringue based frosting that involves heating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler. The mixture is then whipped to stiff peaks before slowly incorporating the butter.

What’s the difference between Italian and Swiss meringue buttercream?

Italian meringue buttercream is a little more technical in terms of cooking temperatures and method in general. It involves making a sugar syrup which is then slowly added to whipped egg whites (or in our case, aquafaba) before incorporating butter and flavouring. I do find that my vegan Italian meringue buttercream is a little less dense in comparison to this vegan Swiss buttercream, yet it is very stable. 

Ingredients overview

Aquafaba: This is the viscous liquid leftover from cooking chickpeas or other white legumes. It works as an alternative to egg whites in many ways and can be used to make cakes and brownies, marshmallows, meringues and many other vegan-friendly versions of classic desserts and treats.

Light brown sugar: I find that brown sugar gives a nice “caramel” flavour to this vegan frosting which compliments the coffee really well.

Vegan butter: There are many brands of vegan-friendly butter available these days, it’s important to note that this recipe calls for stick butter, not the spreadable kind from a tub, I use flora unsalted plant butter.

Coffee: You can’t have coffee buttercream without coffee lol. Make sure it’s a good quality one that you don’t mind drinking as the flavour will shine through in this recipe.

ingredients to make coffee swiss meringue buttercream.

How to make vegan Swiss meringue buttercream (with step-by-step images)

(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)

Add the aquafaba and sugar to a large bowl and place the bowl on top of a saucepan with a few inches of water in the bottom – this is known as a bain-marie (water bath). Bring the temperature up to medium and allow the mixture to heat for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture will be dark brown in colour, but don’t worry! It will become lighter once whipped up later.

Remove the bowl from the heat and use an electric whisk (or transfer the syrup into your stand mixer) and beat on high speed for about 20 minutes until the mixture is completely cooled and combined. It should be thick and glossy, and thick enough to stay in the bowl if you turn it upside down (carefully!)

Start slowly adding the chunks of butter to the meringue, one at a time, allowing the mixture to incorporate for about 5 seconds between each one. The mixture will flatten as you add the butter, just continue to add the butter as it will stiffen when the full amount of butter is incorporated.

Once all the butter has been added the mixture be thick like buttercream, continue to whisk on low for 5 minutes. If the mixture looks split, don’t worry it will come together with enough blending.

Lastly add the cooled coffee mixture to the buttercream and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes until combined. You can make the coffee flavour as strong or weak as you like, however I don’t recommend adding more liquid as this will affect the texture of the buttercream. Just increase the coffee strength if you want a stronger flavour.

close up of vegan coffee buttercream.

Ways in which to use coffee Swiss meringue buttercream

 

How to store this buttercream

You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will harden when chilled, so before use, allow it to come to room temperature until it comes back to a creamy consistency.

Variations

  • Plain vegan Swiss meringue buttercream: You can skip the coffee flavouring and keep this buttercream plain. I recommend adding a half teaspoon of vanilla instead to give a dreamy vanilla flavour.
  • White sugar: You can use caster sugar (superfine) instead of soft brown sugar for this recipe. 
 

vegan coffee frosting piped onto a coffee cake.

Related recipes

closeup of vegan coffee buttercream

Vegan Coffee Buttercream (Swiss Meringue Buttercream)

5 from 3 votes
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Silky smooth vegan Swiss meringue buttercream with a kick of espresso. This vegan coffee buttercream is completely eggless and dairy free and made with brown sugar! Perfect for frosting vegan cakes and cupcakes.
Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 16

INGREDIENTS

  • 9 tbsp aquafaba *see recipe notes
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar or caster sugar (superfine)
  • 8.8 oz vegan butter room temperature, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 ½ tbsp instant coffee granules plus 1 tbsp boiling water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix together the instant coffee and boiling water and set aside to cool.
  • Add the aquafaba and sugar to a large bowl and place the bowl on top of a saucepan with a few inches of water in the bottom - this is known as a bain-marie (water bath). Bring the temperature up to medium and allow the mixture to heat for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and use an electric whisk (or transfer the syrup into your stand mixer) and beat on high speed for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is completely cooled and glossy. The mixture should be stiff and glossy, and should stay in the bowl if you turn it upside down (carefully!).
  • Start slowly adding the chunks of butter to the meringue, one at a time, allowing the mixture to incorporate for about 5 seconds between each one. The mixture will flatten as you add the butter, just continue to add the butter as it will stiffen when the full amount of butter is incorporated.
  • Once all the butter has been added the mixture be thick like buttercream, continue to whisk on low for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and lightened in colour. If the mixture looks split, don't worry it will come together with enough blending.
  • Lastly add the cooled coffee mixture to the buttercream and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes until combined.
  • You can store this coffee buttercream in an airtight container in the fridge. It will harden when chilled, so before use, allow it to come to room temperature until it comes back to a creamy consistency.

RECIPE NOTES

*Aquafaba; the liquid part from tinned chickpeas. 

Storage instructions

You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will harden when chilled, so before use, allow it to come to room temperature until it comes back to a creamy consistency.

 

Variations

  • Plain vegan Swiss meringue buttercream: You can skip the coffee flavouring and keep this buttercream plain. I recommend adding a half teaspoon of vanilla instead to give a dreamy vanilla flavour.
  • White sugar: You can use caster sugar (superfine) instead of soft brown sugar for this recipe. 

NUTRITION

Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 105mg | Potassium: 39mg | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
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