These baked meringue cookies are crisp, sweet, and light as a cloud! Plus, lots of tips on how to make a meringue that’s stiff and fluffy.
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this meringue cookie recipe
- Ingredients and notes
- Tools and equipment
- How to make meringue cookies
- Expert tips
- Recipe FAQS
- How to use meringue
- Making in advance
- How to store meringue cookies
It may seem pretty simple to whip egg whites and sugar together until fluffy and stiff, but it can be pretty tricky if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
I get a lot of questions about it!
So I thought it was about time I put together a comprehensive guide for how to make meringue.
And these cutie-patootie classic meringue cookies are the perfect place to start!
Why you’ll love this meringue cookie recipe
Light and airy texture: Meringue cookies have a delicate and airy texture that practically melts in your mouth. They’re crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow-y in the middle.
Versatility: Meringue cookies can be flavored in lots of different ways! Add vanilla, almond, or other extracts, or incorporate ingredients like cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or even dried fruits to create different variations.
Beautiful presentation: Chewy meringues can be piped or shaped into all kinds of different forms. From simple swirls to elegant rosettes or nests, meringue cookies are often used to decorate desserts or served as standalone treats.
Suitable for special diets: Meringue cookies are suitable for many dietary preferences. They are naturally dairy-free and gluten-free, making them the perfect addition to any cookie tray.
Ingredients and notes
Egg whites are the main component of meringue cookies. They provide structure and create a light and airy texture. The egg whites’ proteins help stabilize the meringue and allow it to hold its shape when baked.
Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is an acidic ingredient often added to meringue recipes.
It helps to stabilize the egg whites and increase their volume when whipped.
Cream of tartar also helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing, resulting in a smoother, glossy meringue.
Salt carries the flavors and intensifies them. The end result won’t taste salty, but it will make everything so much more flavorful!
I like kosher salt best because it doesn’t have any additives (table salt usually contains iodine and that can leave a bitter taste), so the flavor is pure. It’s also inexpensive and easy to find in a regular grocery store.
Sugar sweetens the meringue and contributes to texture and stability.
When whipped with the egg whites, the sugar dissolves and creates a stable structure by forming a matrix with the proteins.
It also helps to create a crispy exterior and a soft interior.
Vanilla extract or other flavorings like almond or citrus zest are added to enhance the flavor of the meringue cookies. They add a pleasant aroma and taste to the otherwise neutral base.
Substitute for cream of Tartar: If you want to make meringue without cream of tartar, just sub in a few drops of lemon juice or white vinegar. They all pretty much do the same thing.
Create other flavors: You can get creative with flavors. Vanilla isn’t the only option! Try adding almond extract, rosewater, lemon, or orange blossom water, for example. You could even fold in freeze-dried fruit (like raspberries) ground to a powder in the food processor.
Tools and equipment
You can make meringue with just a few basic kitchen tools:
- Stand mixer: A stand mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment) makes this recipe a snap! But if you don’t have one, an electric handheld mixer will work too.
- Measuring cups & spoons: To measure out the ingredients.
- Silicone spatula: To get every last bit out of the bowl.
- Piping bag & tip: I prefer a 16-inch featherweight bag and a jumbo French star tip. But you could also just spoon the meringues out.
- Parchment paper sheets: So the meringue cookies don’t stick to the pan.
- Baking sheet: I love my aluminum baker’s half-sheet pans.
How to make meringue cookies
The process for making baked meringue happens in 7 simple steps.
Step 1: Whip until foamy
Place the egg whites in a large, very clean mixing bowl, and add the cream of tartar and salt.
Whip the whites on medium speed using the whisk attachment until they’re starting to look foamy and just beginning to turn white.
Note: A stand mixer with a large bowl is really helpful for this, but if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a handheld electric mixer.
Step 2: Slowly add sugar
While continuing to whip, add the sugar very slowly (about 1/4 teaspoon at a time).
Step 4: Whip
When all the sugar has been added, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until the meringue looks really glossy and can hold a stiff peak.
Step 5: Flavor & tint
Stir in the vanilla extract, then fold in the gel food coloring (if using).
Step 6: Pipe
Step 7: Bake
Bake the meringues in a warm oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until light and crisp (do not brown).
The most important thing when making meringue is timing. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Add the sugar in too early, and your whites might never get fluffy enough.
- Add it in too late, and your meringue might weep because the crystals didn’t have time to dissolve.
- Add it in too fast, and it could deflate all the air out of the meringue.
- It’s a really delicate balance! But if you start adding the sugar when the whites are starting to look foamy and a little white and keep it going in S-L-O-W-L-Y (I’m talking like 1/4 teaspoon at a time!) you should be ok.
- Whatever you do, don’t open the oven door while the meringue is baking. It can cause the meringue to sink and crack!
There’s one other thing that is SO important when it comes to making meringue and that’s to make sure that everything is SUPER clean!
Make sure your bowl and your whisk are 100% free of any trace of fat. If any of your tools are at all greasy, your whites won’t whip up properly.
Wash everything in very hot, soapy water and dry it well.
Even the most microscopic trace of fat could make it impossible for your meringue to reach that critical stiff peak stage.
And do you know what contains fat? Egg yolks!
So be really careful when you separate the eggs too. If you accidentally pierce the yolk you may as well forget about ever making a proper meringue.
For these meringue cookies, we aren’t so much baking the meringue as drying it out.
These bake at a low temperature (only 200 degrees F) for a long time. This gets them nice and crisp all the way through without browning.
How to use meringue
These little meringue kisses are super cute and fun to snack on by the handful. But once you have meringue-making mastered there are all sorts of things you’ll be able to make.
Here are a few examples:
- Pipe the meringue into a cup or nest shape, and it can be filled with lemon curd, berries, or ice cream.
- Try your hand at pavlova– it’s baked a little faster, so it remains soft and marshmallowy inside.
- Top a lemon meringue pie or baked Alaska– the meringue that tops these desserts doesn’t get baked at all. Instead, it’s toasted with a brulee torch or under the broiler.
- If you can make a proper meringue, you’re halfway to making French macarons!
- You can also make my favorite ever frosting: Swiss meringue buttercream!
Making in advance
You might be able to get away with baking meringues ahead, but you’d be taking a big chance.
If it’s a dry day, that’ll probably work in your favor.
But if it’s at all rainy or humid, you’re likely to have trouble. They may come out of the oven just right, but over time they will re-absorb moisture from the air and become sticky.
I’ve had this problem a few times before, and it’s frustrating.
To me, it’s much better to make them just before you plan to serve them.
How to store meringue cookies
If you live in a dry environment and you want to take your chances, place the meringue cookies in an airtight container and seal it tightly to keep the humidity out.
They can last a few days at room temperature without spoiling, but they may become sticky.
If it is a humid day, the cookies will most likely become soft and sticky rather quickly.
Hopefully, this info will be useful the next time you need to make a meringue-based confection!
And if you have a question I didn’t cover here, feel free to leave it in a comment below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with an answer.
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- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
- Place the egg whites in a large, clean mixing bowl, and add the cream of tartar and salt.
- Whip the whites on medium speed until foamy and just beginning to turn white.
- While continuing to whip, add in the sugar very slowly (about 1/4 teaspoon at a time).
- When all the sugar has been added, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until the meringue is glossy and very stiff.
- Stir in the vanilla extract, then fold in the color (if using).
- Transfer the meringue to a clean piping bag fitted with a French star tip, and pipe 1-inch diameter kisses onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake the meringues in the warm oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until light and crisp (do not brown).
- Serve immediately.
**Other types of extracts can be substituted to taste.