Updated: Sep 26, 2020
I make meringue a lot, and at the start I struggled to get it perfect each time. But now after countless trials, recipes and egg whites, I believe I have an easy foolproof recipe to get the meringue right every time.
I make meringue kisses from this recipe to decorate my cakes and cupcakes. See here for my easy cupcake recipe.
On below images, I have sprinkled some beetroot powder on some of the meringues to make them pretty and pink! You can try beetroot powder or cocoa powder, or just leave them plain.
Different Meringue Recipes
There are three main meringue recipes that I know of, French, Italian and Swiss meringue.
I have tried all of them and they are all good recipes and with a bit of luck and good ingredients, they all are great for making meringue.
However, I have found French and Italian method a bit trickier.
French Meringue Recipe
In French meringue, you whisk the eggs in an electric mixer and start to slowly add the sugar spoonful at a time.
I used this method for a long time, as I think it is the most basic meringue recipe.
But every now and then I had issues with the sugar not dissolving by the time the egg whites were fluffy and perfectly beaten.
Mixing any longer, you risk over beating the egg white. If you add sugar too early you risk deflating the egg whites and they don’t beat well at all.
Italian Meringue Recipe
I used Italian meringue a lot for macaroons, and whilst it gives very good results, there are quite a few things that we have to be mindful of when making Italian meringue.
Over cooking your sugar syrup, it starts to get very thick and almost caramelising. I have an induction hob and it took a while to get the cooking temperature right. Also, some pots are thinner than others so again, the syrup boiled too fast.
Timing your sugar syrup to reach 118C and whisking the egg whites 1 minute before you add the sugar syrup. Sometimes, my eggs were whisked and ready for the syrup, but the syrup still took an extra minute, and it is so easy to over whisk plain egg whites. Another time, my syrup was ready but eggs still needed beating, and while I was waiting for the egg to become frothy, the syrup started to caramelize or crystallise.
Adding the sugar syrup fast enough that it doesn't caramelise, but slow enough not to overcook the egg whites, can also be a tricky bit.
Also many times, the meringue got over beaten very quickly. I understand there could have been a number of reasons for this.
The Easy Swiss Meringue Recipe
I love this recipe because there is not much mess involved. As the sugar and egg whites are mixed together at the start, there is no feeding of sugar or syrup carefully and slowly.
It takes a bit longer to beat the sugar and egg white mixture into a meringue, but that suits me. This way I am less likely to over beat it.
The meringue comes out fluffy, smooth and glistening. And I use it for mini meringues, pavlovas or macaroons. You can also beat butter into it and make Swiss meringue buttercream which is absolutely yummy!
Cream of Tartar and Vinegar
I always add a pinch of tartar and a splash of vinegar. It prevents the egg whites from over beating and makes it more stable.
In more scientific terms Nadia Arumugam explains that “When whipped, egg whites (also known as albumen) can swell up to eight times their initial volume. The acidity of cream of tartar helps egg whites achieve their full volume potential, and stabilizes them by helping hold in water and air.”
I bake a lot, and because of that the recipes I use need to be reliable, fast and enjoyable. Any hacks and tricks I find to make it easier the better!
Some people just use vinegar in their meringue recipe, and I have heard you can also use lemon juice. But I always use cream of tartar and vinegar, and that works for me.
But there is no harm testing out different stabilising ingredients to find what works best for you!
Baking Meringue Kisses
For mini meringues or meringue kisses, heat the oven to 100C.
I pipe about 1 inch diameter mini meringues on a baking sheet. I have silicon mats which are great as they are non-sticky and reusable. But you can use baking parchment on your baking tray.
I bake for 90 minutes at 100C. In this way, I get them as dry and crispy as possible and they will keep for months airtight.
After the 90 minute bake, I turn off the oven and leave them in to dry for 30 - 60 minutes.
Store in airtight containers. In this way they will keep for months.
Baking Meringue for Pavlova
Larger meringues for pavlovas are often purposely baked at a higher temperature for a shorter time so they get crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside.
Preheat oven to 120C.
Bake at 120C for 60 minutes, the turn off the oven and leave the meringue in it for 30-60 minutes to dry.
All ovens are different, and sometimes it takes a few trials to know what temperature works best for you in your home oven.
Ingredients for Easy, Perfect, Foolproof Meringues
If you are looking to bake your meringue, please heat the oven as per instructions above.
Please note, meringue works very well with 1:2 ratio, 1 part of egg white and 2 part of sugar.
It is best to use 3-4 egg whites and weigh them on your kitchen scales. And then use double the amount of sugar in grams.
If you don't have kitchen scales, use 50g of sugar per egg white. As a minimum I would recommend using 3 egg whites.
4 egg whites, weight out on kitchen scales
Sugar, double the amount in grams of the weight of the egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar (half a teaspoon)
Dash of vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Method for Making Meringue
1. Add egg white and sugar into your mixing bowl, mix them with a balloon whisk. The mixing bowl must be able to sit over a pot of simmering water (bain marie)
2. For the bain marie heat a pot of water until the water simmers on medium heat.
3. Place the mixing bowl containing egg white and sugar mixture on the pot with simmering water.
4. Keep mixing the mixture with the balloon whisk during the bain marie. All the sugar granules must dissolve into the egg white. This will take about 3 minutes.
5. After 3 minutes do the finger test. Take a small amount of of the egg white mixture in between your fingers to feel if it's grainy or smooth.
Be careful not to burn yourself, you may want to use a small spoon and scoop a small amount of mixture and wait for it to cool a bit before the finger test.
If it is still grainy keep cooking.
6. Once all the sugar is dissolved remove the mixing bowl from heat and place it in to the mixer and start to mix.
7. Mixing takes me about 6 minutes. But be mindful because it can take a bit less or a bit longer also (up to 10 minutes).
Start on medium speed until mixture becomes frothy, then increase to medium high speed, add below ingredients.
After 1-2 minutes add a pinch of tartage and dash or vinegar.
After another minute add vanilla.
Mix on high speed for the rest of the time.
11. Around minute 4 and 5, stop to check the consistency and scrape down sides.
Beat until foamy, smooth and shiny. Some of the meringue should stay in the middle of the whisk but still look foamy and smooth.
Below is a picture how it looks for me. What the picture doesn't show is that it is also very shiny.
Use a piping bag to pipe mini meringues or for pavlova scoop all the meringue on a baking tray in a shape of a cake, 2-3 inch high or as desired.
See baking instructions here.
Be Careful not to Over Beat
If meringue starts to look wobbly, dry, clumpy, coarse, grainy, unbinding (not foamy and smooth) then it is over beaten. I would start again. If you bake with over beaten meringue, it is most likely to pop and deflate.
Below is a very useful photo which shows the result to aim for, it also links to a video if you want to see further detail.