Meringue powder is a versatile ingredient that can revolutionize your baking.
What Is Meringue Powder?
Meringue powder is a dried, powdered form of meringue made from pasteurized egg whites, sugar, and starch. It may also contain gums for thickening, cream of tartar for stabilization, and silicon dioxide as an anti-caking agent.
The key benefit of meringue powder is that it has been dried and pasteurized, making it safe to consume without cooking. This allows you to use it as a substitute for raw egg whites that need to be whipped into foamy peaks in recipes like royal icing and meringue cookies.
Meringue powder should not be used to replace eggs in baked goods like cakes, cookies, and breads. For those recipes, regular eggs work best.
Some common brands of meringue powder include Wilton, Bake It Better, Majik, and Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener.
How To Use Meringue Powder
Using meringue powder is quite simple. Here are some tips:
- Reconstitute the powder by combining it with water before adding it to a recipe. The amount of water varies by brand, but generally 2 teaspoons powder + 2 tablespoons water = 1 egg white.
- Beat the meringue powder mixture on low speed at first, then increase speed once it starts to thicken. This prevents overmixing.
- Make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and free of grease. Any residual oil will prevent the meringue from whipping properly.
- Store leftover meringue powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It will keep for up to 2 years unopened.
Key Takeaway: Reconstitute meringue powder with water before use and beat slowly at first for the best results. Grease-free bowls and beaters are also essential.
Using Meringue Powder for Royal Icing
One of the most popular uses for meringue powder is making royal icing. This glossy white icing is perfect for decorating cookies, piping borders and flowers, adhering gingerbread houses, and more.
Here is a simple recipe for royal icing using meringue powder:
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 6-8 tablespoons warm water
In a stand mixer, combine the meringue powder, powdered sugar, and 6 tablespoons water. Beat on low speed until combined.
Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes until stiff peaks form. If icing is too thick, add remaining water as needed until you reach the desired consistency.
For outlining and piping, make the icing fairly stiff. To flood cookies, thin it with more water until it drizzles smoothly off a spoon.
Cover any leftover icing tightly to prevent drying out. Royal icing made with meringue powder will last 2-3 weeks refrigerated.
Benefits of using meringue powder:
- No raw eggs to worry about
- Bright white color
- Dries hard and glossy on cookies
- Holds its shape well for piping
- Shelf-stable so you can make icing ahead
Tip: Add gel food coloring to tint your royal icing any color you like.
Using Meringue Powder for Whipped Cream
In addition to royal icing, meringue powder can be used to stabilize whipped cream frostings and fillings. This prevents your perfectly piped cream from deflating into a puddle after just a short time.
For basic stabilized whipped cream, use this easy formula:
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the meringue powder and cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue whipping just until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat.
Use this stabilized whipped cream as a topping for cakes, filling for layer cakes, or as a base for ornamental piping. It will hold its shape much better than plain whipped cream.
Tip: For even more stability, use mascarpone cheese or whipped cream cheese instead of heavy cream.
Making Meringue Cookies
Crisp, sugary meringue cookies are the perfect way to use up leftover egg whites. But with meringue powder, you don't need fresh egg whites at all!
This simple recipe makes about 30 bite-size meringue cookies:
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 225°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Combine water, meringue powder, vanilla, and 3 Tbsp sugar in a bowl. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes.
Gradually add remaining sugar and beat 5 more minutes until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Spoon meringue into small mounds on the baking sheets.
Bake 60-90 minutes until dry and crisp. Cool completely before removing from parchment.
Jazz up these plain meringues with mix-ins like chocolate chips, lemon zest, crushed candy, or chopped nuts. You can also pipe the meringue into fun shapes before baking.
Tip: To help the meringues retain their shape in the oven, pipe small indentations in the bottom of each mound before baking.
Making Meringue for Pies
Meringue powder allows you to top pies with fluffy, sweet meringue without using raw egg whites that could carry salmonella.
Follow this simple formula:
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2-4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring
Combine the meringue powder and water in a bowl and beat until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Spread or pipe the meringue onto the filled pie.
Bake at 350°F just until the meringue is lightly browned. For added flair, use a kitchen torch to brown the tips of the meringue after baking.
You can also make individual meringue nests to hold freshly baked fruit. Pipe or spoon mounds of meringue onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake as above until dry and crisp.
Fill the pre-baked meringue cups with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, or other fillings.
Making Macarons with Meringue Powder
French macarons, those colorful cookie sandwiches filled with buttercream or jam, are easier to make with meringue powder. No egg whites to whip and whip!
Here is an easy French macaron recipe relying on meringue powder:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch of salt
- Food coloring (optional)
In a bowl, beat the meringue powder and water until foamy. Add the powdered sugar, almond flour, and salt. Beat until a smooth batter forms. Divide and tint batter if desired.
Pipe onto parchment paper and rap sheet on counter to release air bubbles. Let sit 30 minutes to form a skin.
Bake at 325°F for 14-18 minutes until set. Cool completely and fill.
The meringue powder gives the macaron batter the perfect light and airy texture to create the signature "feet" on the cookies.
Adding Meringue Powder to Frostings
A small amount of meringue powder can help stabilize buttercream and other creamy frostings.
For buttercream, beat 1 tablespoon powder into the finished frosting. For whipped cream frostings, add 1 tablespoon per 1 cup heavy cream as you whip it.
This extra stability prevents your beautifully piped and decorated cakes from losing their shape as the frosting starts to soften and melt after a period of time.
With stabilized frosting, you can be confident your cakes will look as gorgeous served as they did when you finished decorating them. No more frosting slump!
Making Marshmallows with Meringue Powder
Homemade marshmallows have a delicious fresh flavor that store-bought can't match. And with meringue powder, whipping up a fluffy marshmallow base is easy.
This simple vanilla marshmallow recipe uses meringue powder:
- 1⁄3 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine water and meringue powder in a stand mixer. Beat on high 5-7 minutes until foamy and stiff peaks form.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and salt. Heat to 240°F. With mixer on low, carefully pour hot sugar syrup into meringue.
Increase speed to high and beat 10-12 minutes until thick, sticky, and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat briefly to incorporate.
Pour into an 8" pan lined with oiled parchment paper. Smooth top and let sit uncovered at room temperature 4-6 hours to set. Turn out of pan, cut into squares, and enjoy!
For fun flavors, add peppermint extract, cocoa powder, or fruit purees to the finished marshmallow before pouring it into the pan.
Homemade marshmallows make great gifts or party favors. Kids will love helping make them too.
Troubleshooting Meringue Powder
While meringue powder makes whipping up fluffy meringue treats easier, you may still run into some issues:
- Not fluffy enough: Make sure to add the powder to room temperature water, and beat thoroughly after adding sugar. A pinch of cream of tartar can help stabilize it too.
- Grainy texture: Be sure to dissolve the powder fully in the water before adding other ingredients. Strain if needed to remove clumps.
- Weeping/deflating: Overbeating can cause meringues and whipped creams to break down. Mix just until stiff peaks form and no longer.
- Bitter flavor: Old, expired meringue powder may develop a bitter taste. Use fresh powder and store properly sealed.
Key Takeaway: Dissolve meringue powder fully, avoid overbeating, and use fresh powder for best results with meringues and whippings.
Storing and Shelf Life of Meringue Powder
When stored properly in a cool, dry place, unopened meringue powder will keep for up to 2 years. An opened container will last about 1 year.
Heat, humidity, and moisture are the enemies of meringue powder. Make sure to reseal the package tightly after each use.
If clumps develop, sift the powder through a fine mesh strainer before using. Discard any powder that smells or tastes off.
For optimal freshness and performance, try to use meringue powder within several months of opening. Write the date on the package so you know when it was opened.
Refrigeration is not needed, but place your container of meringue powder in the pantry or cupboard away from steam, drips, and spills.
Meringue Powder vs. Egg Whites
So how does using meringue powder really compare to fresh egg whites for whipping and whipping? Here are some key differences:
- Convenience: Meringue powder is easier to use - no separating eggs needed!
- Stability: The added starch and cream of tartar help stabilized whippings last longer.
- Flavor: Fresh whites have little flavor other than "eggy." Meringue powder is slightly sweet.
- Volume: Fresh eggs whip up lighter and fluffier than reconstituted powder.
- Safety: Pasteurized powder removes risks of bacteria from raw eggs.
- Storage: Powder lasts much longer than fresh egg whites in the fridge.
While fresh egg whites may make the most billowy, cloud-like whippings, for convenience and food safety purposes, meringue powder is an excellent alternative in recipes where eggs are not cooked.
Give it a try for yourself in royal icing, buttercreams, macarons, and other airy confections needing a lift!
How long does meringue powder last?
Unopened, meringue powder lasts 12-24 months stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it will last about 1 year properly sealed.
Can you use meringue powder to make meringue mushrooms?
Yes, meringue powder works great for making meringue mushrooms and other decorative elements thanks to its stability. Just reconstitute it with water and pipe into mushroom caps, stems, etc. before baking.
What's the best meringue powder substitute?
The best substitute is fresh egg whites. Next best is powdered egg whites, although they lack the sugar and stabilizers in meringue powder. Aquafaba (chickpea liquid) also works in some applications.
Can you make macarons without meringue powder?
You can make macarons with fresh egg whites rather than meringue powder. But the powder helps create the characteristic "feet" and sturdy structure of French macarons.
Is meringue powder gluten-free?
Most brands of meringue powder are gluten-free, but always check the label to be sure. Some may contain wheat starches or flour. Lakanto Monkfruit's meringue powder is certified gluten-free.
Meringue powder is a versatile baking staple that opens up a whole new world of recipes to create without raw eggs.
Use it for everything from crisp meringue cookies to glossy royal icing and stabilized whipped creams.
With proper storage, it lasts a long time in the pantry for whenever inspiration strikes.