Light and crispy with a delicate sweetness, these classic homemade 5-ingredient meringue cookies are like an air-puffed marshmallow that melts in your mouth.
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About Meringue Cookies
With a delicate shell and a subtle sweetness, meringue cookies are as elegant as they are light as air. And though the process to make them is easy, it does take time and patience – but it all pays off when you have a full batch of air-puffed vanilla cookie goodness to enjoy.
Keep reading to learn all the tips and tricks for making perfectly formed meringue cookies.
What are meringues?
An iconic cookie with roots in Swiss, French, Polish, and Italian cuisines, a meringue is a light and delicately crunchy dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar.
For someone that’s never had a meringue, one of the best descriptions I’ve heard is to say they’re like a light, airy marshmallow with a slight crunch around the outside.
What tools do you need?
- Baking sheet and parchment paper – For baking the meringues.
- A stand mixer or a hand mixer – For whipping up the cookie batter. And you will need an electronic mixer of some sort; meringue batter needs to become so fluffy that it’d be nearly impossible to incorporate all the necessary air by hand with a whisk.
- Pastry bags – Used to pipe the cookie batter onto the baking sheet. If you’re not concerned about fancy ridges and patterns, you can also use a ZipLoc bag with a corner cut.
- Piping tips – To help give meringue cookies their delicate ridges and designs. You can use any large star-shaped tip of your choice.
What’s in meringue cookies?
To whip up a batch of light and airy meringues, you’ll need the following:
- Egg whites – It’s best to use freshly cracked eggs for this, taking extra care to be sure that no egg yolk is included. If you’re using pasteurized egg whites (from a carton) my personal experience has been that it’s best to use slightly less than what the label reads for an equivalent amount of eggs. For example: Instead of using 1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites to equal four eggs, use a tablespoon or two less than 1/2 cup (with a minimum of 1/3 cup).
- Cream of tartar and salt – These help stabilize the batter and assist in forming stiff, high peaks.
- Granulated Sugar – Because every cookie needs some sweetness.
- Vanilla – A classically simple flavor addition. I’ve used both vanilla extract and vanilla paste.
What else can you add?
- Other flavor extracts – Such as lemon, peppermint, and almond. Can be added at the same time as (or replaced with) the vanilla.
- Food coloring – Can be added at the same time as the vanilla.
- Sprinkles – Add to the piped cookies just before baking.
- Candy coating – Fully baked and cooled meringues can be quickly dipped in melted candy or chocolate for a candy shell.
How long do meringue cookies last?
Once prepared and decorated, these cookies can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature (kept very dry) for at least one week, possibly up to two.
Can you freeze meringue cookies?
Mostly, yes, meringues can be frozen. The only thing to consider is that meringues need to be kept dry and the process of freezing and thawing can introduce moisture. You can avoid this by making sure you use freezer-safe or moisture-proof containers. And because meringues are delicate, it’s best to use solid or firm containers over freezer bags.
When properly stored, meringues can be frozen for one to three months.
Notes & tips for meringue cookies
- Before getting started, make sure all of your equipment that will come in contact with the meringue mixture (bowls, beater, etc) are free of grease and moisture. Meringues are finicky and a little bit of moisture can ruin the batch. This is also why it’s important to use parchment paper and not pipe the meringues directly onto the baking sheet.
- When mixing meringues, be patient! Blend in the sugar one tablespoon at a time, allow the sugar to dissolve in the mixture, then add sugar. Test the mixture by rubbing a little bit of it between your fingers; if it’s gritty, the sugar hasn’t dissolved yet and needs more time. And once all of the sugar has been added, keep mixing until the mixture is thick, shiny, and forms stiff peaks. Test this by lifting the mixer blades up; the meringue mixture should pull up to form mountain-like peaks and hold that shape on its own.
- Be careful not to overmix! Stop as soon as the mixture meets the characteristics of the above tip.
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How to make meringue cookies
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), add the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix on low until it starts to get foamy.
Step 2 – Increase the mixer speed to high and begin adding one tablespoon of sugar at a time. Make sure the sugar is dissolved before adding another tablespoon. Keep doing this until all the sugar has been added and the mixture is thick, shiny, and forms stiff peaks.
Step 3 – Quickly blend in the vanilla, then turn off the mixer and transfer the meringue mixture to a pastry bag.
Step 4 – Pipe the meringues on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Meringues don’t spread while they bake, so feel free to pack them in together (but not touching.)
Step 5 – Bake the meringues for one hour, but don’t take them out once the time has passed. Turn off the oven and keep the meringues in there for another hour (or until the oven is cool).
Step 6 – Serve and enjoy!
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then set aside.
- Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), add the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix on low speed until ingredients become foamy, about 2-4 minutes.4 large egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Increase mixture speed to high and add sugar to bowl, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure sugar has dissolved before adding the next tablespoon. Repeat this step until all sugar has been added and mixture is thick, shiny, and forms stiff peaks. TIP: To test if sugar has dissolved, rub a little of the mixture between your fingers. If it feels gritty, sugar hasn’t quite dissolved and needs more mixing.1 cup granulated sugar
- Keeping speed on high, blend in vanilla until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Transfer meringue mixture to a pastry bag with the tip cut off or with a decorative tip of your choice. Pipe meringues onto prepared baking sheet. Meringues will not spread while baking so feel free to pipe them close together but without touching.
- Bake for 1 hour. Once baked, turn off oven, but leave meringues inside with oven door closed. Allow oven and meringues to cool completely before removing, about 1-2 hours. You can also leave them overnight.
- Serve immediately.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.