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Perfect Meringues

Whether soft and fluffy on a pie, or as a crispy base to Pavlova, snowy white meringue is an ethereal delight.




At its simplest, meringue is made up of just egg whites and sugar. Sometimes salt and an acid, like lemon juice or cream of tartar, is added to stabilize the egg foam.


The Basics

Use a clean, dry bowl. The bowl must be grease-free, because any trace amount of fat will wreck a meringue. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and copper bowls are all suitable. Plastic bowls may appear clean, but may still have trace amounts of oil, so do not use them.

Cold eggs separate easily, but eggs whip to a higher volume when at room temperature. The solution is to separate the cold eggs, and then set them aside for 10 or 15 minutes.

Separate each egg into two small bowls, one for the white and one for the yolk, and then add the white portion to the larger bowl. This allows you to reserve any with broken yolks for another purpose. Even a small amount of yolk can deflate the egg whites, so be careful.

Cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice can all be used to stabilize a meringue.

  • Add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar per egg white to the unbeaten eggs. (If you're using a copper bowl to make your meringue, don't add any acid: it can react with the copper and discolor the egg foam.)
  • Whip to medium-soft peaks. Beat in 2 tablespoons white sugar per egg white. Continue to beat until egg whites are glossy and hold a firm peak.
  • Adding sugar early in the beating process results in a firmer, finer-textured meringue.


Safety

Pasteurizing egg whites is not a concern when preparing a meringue that is going to be baked longer than ten minutes in a moderate oven (350 degrees F/175 degrees C).


Cooked Meringues

For buttercream frostings, baked Alaskas, or meringue pies, however, the egg whites should reach at least 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) for safety's sake. Some supermarkets sell pre-pasteurized egg whites; these require a much longer whipping time to reach the desired volume for a meringue.

Italian Meringues

Italian meringues are made with a sugar syrup. Sugar and water are boiled to the soft-ball stage (240 degrees F/115 degrees C) and carefully poured in a thin stream into a mixer bowl of whipped egg whites. The mixture is whipped until cool. Because of the constant whipping, the bowl cools quickly, and the egg whites may not reach pasteurization temperature; you can use an instant read thermometer to check the meringue's temperature after the first minute or so of whipping.

Swiss Meringues

Swiss meringues are made by combining sugar and egg whites and heating them over a double boiler.

  • To prepare a Swiss meringue, whisk the sugar and egg whites enough to break up the whites, but not so vigorously that they form an airy foam.
  • The sugar will melt and act as a protective shield against coagulation of the egg whites; heat and whisk constantly until the temperature of the whites reaches 145 degrees F or hotter.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat, and beat the warm egg whites until they form stiff, glossy peaks.


Common Problems

Beading, weeping, and shrinking are common complaints. Overcooking causes beading, the formation of water droplets on the surface. Weeping--loss of water between the meringue and the pie filling--is caused by undercooking. Shrinking is a loss of volume during baking.

Meringue Pie tips


A never-fail method for producing the perfect meringue is one that uses a cornstarch and water mixture to form a gel: beaten gradually into a meringue, the thickener will prevent shrinking problems. See the Never-Ever-Fail Meringue recipe for an example of this technique.

  • Spread meringue over piping hot filling, and spread to the edges to seal. Hot filling is necessary to ensure that the inside of the meringue cooks, preventing weeping. Swiss or Italian meringues, since they are already cooked, are less prone to shrinking and weeping.
  • Fine cake crumbs, vanilla wafer crumbs, or soft white bread crumbs sprinkled lightly over the filling will absorb liquid between the layers, another preventative against weeping.
  • Bake your meringue pie at a high temperature with a short baking time. This prevents overcooking the outer layer of meringue, so beading is avoided. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 4 to 5 minutes.

meringue ice cream dessert
Comments
Patricia 
Sep. 4, 2009 8:47 am
I always have trouble getting my meringue to reach a high enough volume. Where most people can use 4 egg white and gets lots of volume, I'd have to use twice that many. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
 
BETHA519 
Sep. 24, 2009 10:46 am
Hi Patricia, First off, make sure you are using LG or XLG eggs. Second, thewhites MUST be room temperature to whip up high (about an hour after being separated, not the 10-15 mins they say here). Third, if you are using a handmixer instead of a traditional Stand mixer, it will take longer to beat (about 5-10 mins more!). Patience and practice makes perfect! Hope this helps!
 
Hoffie 
Oct. 10, 2009 5:12 am
When I make mint meringue cookies I always have so much batter, I want to know if I can freeze the batter and if so for how long?
 
CHEVYYVONNE 
Nov. 6, 2009 6:43 am
When I make my meringue, it is always high when put in the oven, but when I get it out and it cools it shrinks down and is not a pretty merinque
 
Tammy 
Nov. 30, 2009 11:21 am
Can I freeze meringue cookies?
 
Dave 
Dec. 3, 2009 10:53 am
Add your sugar very very slowly as you beat your egg whites. Also try 1/8 teasp of vanilla.
 
Adithya 
Dec. 4, 2009 7:53 am
Can you make a meringue in a microwave?
 
The Bee's Knees 
Dec. 5, 2009 5:31 pm
There were always peppermint meringue cookies hiding in grandmas freezer at christmas time. Sneaking them was half of the fun!
 
Maria 
Feb. 14, 2010 12:17 pm
What happens if you dont use cream of tartar in the egg whites? I used 3 whites with 1/4 tsp C tartar and 6 T sugar. They were very smooth but not enough voulume for the 9" pie. My egg whites were out of the frig for about 20 minutes.
 
piccola 
Mar. 5, 2010 1:55 pm
There is no reference as to the oven temperature and time in the meringue recipes. Please advise
 
r horn 
Mar. 9, 2010 5:03 pm
My meringue seems tough when I cut into it. What can I do to prevent that?
 
alamo1girl 
Mar. 31, 2010 5:29 pm
Don't know what I am doing wrong!!! The filling is hot when I put the merinque on, but I am still having trouble with weeping. I bake it at 400 for approx. 8-10 min. Is that too low and too long or what? Help!!!
 
leitecrb 
Jun. 1, 2010 9:50 am
I have beaten to high peaks. The sugar was fully dissolved. I baked the meringue for 30 min. at 200F. I let it cool in the oven. Still, when I took it out it was dry in the outside but very chewy inside. How to fix this? Many thanks!
 
johnpaul 
Sep. 4, 2010 7:13 am
The higher quality eggs are always my preference because the chickens are healthier which greatly affects the flavor and the potential for the egg to resist bacteria like salmonella. A healthy egg can be at room temp for two weeks or more. It may also be the difference needed (texture and stability wise) for many of the problems others are having while preparing this recipe. I am surprised that no one else has mentioned this and if no one thinks there is a difference between an egg of 1.69/doz and one of 4.99/doz they are very mistaken. Today I am making creme broulee with the yolks and meringue cookies with the whites. I am looking for a healthier alternative to the confectioners sugar but I don't think there are any. Maybe finely ground sucanat (which I suppose would affect the color)? Anyone?
 
Oct. 2, 2010 10:23 am
HELP!? I tried to make meringue cookies 3 times in a row and each time they were more like icing and not "puffy." They look more like little pancakes on the baking sheet. Am I not beating enough?
 
Oct. 15, 2010 9:40 pm
SO COOL!!!!!
 
mary45 
Oct. 29, 2010 7:03 am
I though I was the only 60 year old who couldn't make a pretty meringue. I love all these tips. Plus I'm glad I'm not alone
 
Nov. 16, 2010 11:30 am
I was also wondering what the best storage method would be (obviously air-tight to avoid moisture, but room temp or in the freezer?) Also, would they fall apart if I wanted to dip one side in melted chocolate? Any tips are appreciated!
 
Nov. 26, 2010 4:55 pm
I bake my meringues at 175 degrees for about 2 hours. That way they're completely dried. And when I put a meringue on a pie, it's 325 for about 20 or 25 minutes.
 
MLitson 
Dec. 25, 2010 7:43 pm
I visited my sister-in-law and her husband this last summer in France. He's Swiss, she's French. He gave me some meringue (looked like a bar-shape) which he crushed up and simply poured creme fraise (spelling?) over and it was...heavenly. Anybody have any idea what that meringue he gave me was, or what would be close to it?
 
Jan. 15, 2011 3:56 am
i make a lemon meringue cake, and it doesn't say anything about baking the meringue... my problem is that i can't seem to get it stiff enough. after a while, it starts drooping, but i don't know if i'm supposed to keep it refrigerated all the time? i've heard something about using a really cold metal or glass bowl to mix it in, and i was wondering if this is true? i recently aquired a stand mixer, but i havent tryed it for meringue yet.
 
joy laughlin 
Jan. 27, 2011 7:10 am
Had a coconut meringue pie recently . the friend says maringue was made with cornestarch,sugar and eggwhites. I havent got the recipe yet . anyone know about this one.
 
Feb. 23, 2011 8:34 am
I learned this one from a restaurant owner. They have their meringue pies in the cooler case for a week or more. The secret is to look for a recipe that calls for making a syrup and pouring it in a small stream into the beaten egg whites. Works great for me.
 
Feb. 23, 2011 8:36 am
to M Litson, my guess is that he made meringue shells which get rock hard when baked. Try this and see if it seems the same.
 
veta joyce 
Feb. 23, 2011 8:33 pm
After making many merinque creme pies I finally found the "proven and cannot fail". The cornstarch cooked syrup poured into the stiffly beaten whites really worked. I have always had the weeping merinque pies that cried buckets of tears. They were beautiful at first but continued to fall the cooler they became, and then the tears flew when the pies were cut. I always held my breath hoping and sometimes, they were great. I am now 76 , so it isn't too late to learn. Cooked cornstarch and sugar from now on. Veta
 
Sharon 
Mar. 4, 2011 7:23 am
My meringue looks great but shirks away from the edges after I put them in the frig. I wait for the pies to cool but still has the same results. Any advice?
 
Yoke San 
Mar. 9, 2011 9:54 pm
My meringue turn out well crispy but in just few minutes it becoame sticky outside and chewy. What's wrong?
 
cherry-red-kitty 
Mar. 19, 2011 5:18 pm
I LOVE MERINGUES! How can I make them look like toadstools?
 
Katiebeth527 
Mar. 26, 2011 8:24 pm
I'm trying to figure out: Is it GOOD to have a firmer, finer-textured meringue (as they say above, if you add sugar early in the beating process.).
 
Linda 
Apr. 1, 2011 7:13 pm
Veta Joyce, I have never heard of a cornstarch coked styrup merinque, can you share the recipe? I get so frustrated when making merinque. Thanks
 
marthacooks 
May 1, 2011 9:38 am
I tried making a lemon meringue pie, but never made it into the pie crust for either yolk mixture, or white mixture, neither one turned out, my husband and I are about to try again, but all these negative turnouts have me worried, I will let you all know how it goes, Optimisticly hopeful :-)
 
May 17, 2011 8:53 pm
please will you send the cornstach and sugar meringues recipie to me Thanks Fern
 
messycook 
Jul. 2, 2011 7:55 am
After many failed attempts with various meringues recipes, I've started beating the egg whites in medium sized glass water pitcher. My cousin said that she always uses a tall narrow dish. No problems since! There's something about containing the air in the pitcher.
 
Virginia 
Jul. 19, 2011 10:41 am
Can you make a meringe using honey instead of sugar? Does anyone have a recipe for this if possible?
 
Teelabrown 
Sep. 23, 2011 1:15 pm
Taking a cold bowl,and tilting it as far as you dare will make the eggs froth quickly and smoothly. Then level it out to add in your flavorings.
 
ChefBoy 
Oct. 15, 2011 12:24 pm
@alamo1girl The standard meringue will be cooked at around gas mark 2, for about and hour, maybe more or less.
 
JoChris 
Oct. 23, 2011 10:33 pm
My mum used to bring home pineapple meringue pie from work - she was a caterer, but did not make them herself. The meringue was crisp,but the recipes for meringue pie seem to make chewy, marshmallow like topping. How can I make a pineapple meringue pie with a crisp topping? Longer cooking time at cooler temp?
 
sisplanet 
Nov. 21, 2011 5:46 pm
Try this stabilized meringue recipe, it has never failed me. I use this as a topper for cooked pudding in pies. Start with 1 T. CORNSTARCH, 1 T. SUGAR and 1/3 c WATER in a small pan. Heat until the mixture thickens and turns translucent stirring constantly. This will take only a matter of minutes. Allow to cool while you begin making the meringue. 4 large EGG WHITES - beaten on medium-high until very frothy. Add 1/4 t CREAM OF TARTER and 1/2 t VANILLA EXTRACT and continue beating on medium-high until thickened(3-5 minutes). To this mixture add in very small amounts at a time 1/2 cup GRANULATED WHITE SUGAR which has been ran through a food processor for 2-3 minutes. I measure the sugar after I process it. Keep the mixer on medium-high while adding the sugar. Mix until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture by spoonfuls, mixing for about 1 minute after final addition. Spoon onto the still hot pie anchoring the meringue to the edge of the crust and bake at 350 degrees for
 
Dec. 4, 2011 5:23 pm
Meringues use to scare the outta me but after making my first one I discovered that it was no mystery and anyone can do it.....
 
Dec. 11, 2011 11:55 am
To help egg whites whip up higher try these tips: 1) Have the egg whites at room temperature. If you don't have much time then gently place the whole uncracked eggs in a bowl of warm water until they warm up. 2) When separating the eggs don't let even a little bit of the yolk in with the whites, the fat in the yolk will make it take MUCH longer to whip (and by much longer I mean HOURS at least). 3) If you have access to a copper bowl whip the egg whites in that, egg whites whipped in a copper bowl have much more volume. Hope this helps! -Meredith
 
jasa1051 
Dec. 15, 2011 12:42 pm
I have just used 2 dozen eggs trying to make a meringue crust. It comes out like pudding and will not peak. how long do you whip it( i am using a hand mixer with the whip) Its very frustrating Please help me!
 
boucher11982 
Dec. 16, 2011 1:46 pm
i made two batches of meringue cookies and they both came out burned tasting and burned in the inside. why did this happen? I had it at 300 degrees for 1 hour and then shut the oven off and kept them in there for 2 hours. Is there something wrong with the oven or the cookie batch?
 
Marsha 
Dec. 17, 2011 4:33 pm
Here is my question..I have made a dbl batch of meringue. The portion that is not used do I have to refrigerate?
 
Jan. 6, 2012 4:34 pm
boucher: for meringue cookies preheat your oven to 350 degrees then turn it off as soon as you place your cookies in the oven. Let them sit in the oven overnight and DO NOT OPEN IT! They should be just right.
 
Khalilah 
Jan. 17, 2012 10:36 pm
For those of you that are having problems with piping cookies with your meringe cookies. When making swiss meringue cookies you must add starch or flour to your meringue in order to pipe cookies. Hope this helps.
 
Khalilah 
Jan. 17, 2012 10:40 pm
Meringue cookies should be cooked at a temperature of 200 for an hour. Then turn oven off and crack oven door slightly and let the cookies rest overnight.
 
Khalilah 
Jan. 17, 2012 10:55 pm
P.s. please not that there are 3 different types of meringue that are all used for differentq purposes and using the right meringue for a certain purpuse will solve a lot of your meringue problems that several are having. The three types are: French or also called common, Swiss, and Italian. French is is made from egg whites at room temerature, beaten with sugar. It is the easiest to make and it is reasonably stable due to the high percentage of sugar. Swiss is made from egg whites and sugar that are warmed over a hot-water bath while they are beaten. This warming gives the meringue better volume and stability, Italian is made by beating a hot sugar syrup into the egg whites This meringue is the most stable of the three because the egg whites are cooked by the heat of the syrup. When flavored with vanilla, it is also knwn as boiling icing. it is also used in meringue type buttercream icings. Has a longer self life then the other two meringues and is generally used for fruint pies such
 
Mary 
Feb. 14, 2012 2:18 pm
Can you freeze cooked meringue? This is just plain meringue.
 
giftielid 
Mar. 15, 2012 3:19 pm
My first time making meringue cookies was a complete and utter disaster! I decided to use the food processor and i kept on whipping and whipping and whipping and i got this runny consistency. For some reason I decided to use the mixture and i put it in the oven for 1 1/2 hrs at 350°F. It was brown on the outside and chewy in the inside. Now, i made meringues yesterday and it was perfect! I used my hand mixture and whipped it till the mixture contained spikes. I baked it for 1 1/2 hrs at 225°F.



Suggestions:

Dont stop whipping it! You can safely stop when the mixture starts spiking up and is "stiff". When baking the meringue, do not and i mean DO NOT let it brown. It tastes horrible. Use room temperature egg whites. I hope you all have a good time baking meringue cookies! Bon appetit!
 
giftielid 
Mar. 15, 2012 3:20 pm
My first time making meringue cookies was a complete and utter disaster! I decided to use the food processor and i kept on whipping and whipping and whipping and i got this runny consistency. For some reason I decided to use the mixture and i put it in the oven for 1 1/2 hrs at 350°F. It was brown on the outside and chewy in the inside. Now, i made meringues yesterday and it was perfect! I used my hand mixture and whipped it till the mixture contained spikes. I baked it for 1 1/2 hrs at 225°F.Suggestions:Don't stop whipping it! You can safely stop when the mixture starts spiking up and is "stiff". When baking the meringue, do not and i mean DO NOT let it brown. It tastes horrible. Use room temperature egg whites. I hope you all have a good time baking meringue cookies! Bon appetit!
 
mendeng 
May 3, 2012 7:15 am
may i have the exact recipe of classic and Italian meringue.thanks and good luck with the meringue..
 
mendeng 
May 3, 2012 7:25 am
to virginia hi!sorry we can not use honey....
 
gamebabee 
Jun. 3, 2012 8:06 pm
im irritated ;( my meringue broke down, i added all sorts of "stabilizers" maybe that's why it's sooo unstable! Lol 2nd batch i froze the batter but it only held up long enough to get one cookie sheet done. mind you, the 1st batch actually worked, but they're still chewy so i keep putting them back into the oven lol. one out of the 3 sheets was perfect this last time, but then i got them all off of the parchment (thank goodness for the wet the UNDERSIDE down of the paper to remove them idea)...
 
mom 
Jun. 11, 2012 11:48 am
This article stresses the importance of adding the meringue to a piping hot filling, but the perfect meringue they link to says to add it to a cooled pie. So, which is it?
 
Jul. 17, 2012 2:31 pm
I am so confused... I wish perfect meringues didn't have to be so complicated. I just want to make great meringue cookies, that's all.
 
Aug. 4, 2012 2:57 am
help me please my meringue tend to be Browne and soooo soft and sugary plz plzzz tell me what to do
 
MM 
Feb. 26, 2013 2:25 pm
adams_ma egg whites room temperature? Mix sugar slower. I have found some wonderful recipes here & have a few I'd like to post but do not have pictures.
 
MM 
Feb. 26, 2013 2:27 pm
I have one for fudge that tastes just like a candy bar. chocolate peanuts & raisins... It is so fast, I've even cut the time in making it.
 
Linda Sassard 
May 13, 2013 11:51 am
A little trick. Temperature is key of course. Eggs should be room temperature, but keep your stainless mixing bowl in the freezer frosty prior to beginning the whipping process. I dont understand it but it really makes a difference.
 
Oct. 30, 2013 3:55 pm
I need a recipe for sugar free pavlova -any ideas? Thanks
 
rab124 
Apr. 8, 2014 6:19 am
I had no problem getting the egg whites to a stiff peak, however when I transferred it to the pie, my technique to make the peaks was a dismal failure - any tips for the correct 'flicking'?
 
 
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