Ever wonder how professional bakers always seem to have a little tin with powder in it? That little canister is usually filled with meringue powder. As an ingredient in many desserts, meringue powder is often considered a staple. But for those who are not as familiar with the ingredient, you may be wondering, “What is meringue powder?”
Today, you are going to find out what is in meringue powder and what you can use it for. Let’s get started.
What is Meringue Powder?
Meringue powder is the dried portion of what makes meringue so light and fluffy—the egg whites. Since fresh egg whites can pose some health risks, meringue powder has become the go-to for many at-home bakers and professionals. Pasteurized egg whites are not the only ingredients commonly found in meringue powder, though. Canisters of the stuff often contain:
- Cornstarch for moisture absorption
- Gum arabic as a thickener
- Silicon dioxide for free flowing powder
- Calcium sulfate for keeping the powder dry
- Potassium acid tartrate (cream of tartar) and citric acid to stabilize the eggs
This useful video explains it all:
Are Meringue Powder and Cream of Tartar The Same?
No, cream of tartar and meringue powder are not the same. These two ingredients are made of entirely different things.
As you now know, meringue powder is primarily composed of dried egg whites. Mixed with water, you get meringue.
Cream of tartar is a stabilizer that is sometimes included in meringue powder to keep meringue from collapsing. This means that cream of tartar is not a substitute for meringue powder and vice versa.
What is Meringue Powder Used For?
The main purpose of meringue powder is as a substitute for fresh egg whites. Instead of using fresh, uncooked eggs, meringue powder is made with dried out egg whites. They are safer to consume. Plus, meringue powder can be used in a number of recipes, including royal icing, meringue cookies, whipped cream frosting, and stabilizing marshmallows.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to using meringue powder. Due to the additives included in the powder, it does not dissolve entirely in liquid. Because of that, some of your meringue comes out a little grainy. It’s not entirely off-putting, but it does hinder the foaminess you get when using fresh egg whites. The drying process makes meringue powder safer, but it also impacts the ability of the egg whites to stiffen and peak.
How to Use Meringue Powder
As you may have already gathered, there are a couple of uses for meringue powder:
- Egg white substitute: Have a recipe asking for raw egg whites? You might be hesitant to do that, so grab some meringue powder instead. 2 tablespoons of meringue powder and two tablespoons of water are a direct substitute to a single egg white. Recipe calling for 4 egg whites? Then you are going to need 8 tablespoons of meringue powder and 8 tablespoons of water!
- Frosting: You can use meringue powder to make fluffier frosting. For instance, add meringue powder to sugar and butter to make buttercream frosting. Use meringue powder to stabilize whipped cream. Generally, you need a tablespoon of powder for a single cup of whipped cream.
- Royal icing: One of the main uses of meringue powder is to make royal icing, which requires powdered sugar, water, and meringue powder. The amount of water changes the consistency, so you can either use the royal icing for decoration, piping, or something else.
- Decoration: If you love a meringue-based frosting or icing, you can make the consistency a little thick then add in food coloring. Put the meringue in a squeeze bottle or piping bag to decorate cakes, cookies, and other baked treats.
Substitutes For Meringue Powder
Not fond of meringue powder or its grainy texture? There is no need to use meringue powder if you have fresh pasteurized egg whites on hand. Fresh egg whites are much better for those recipes that need more foam. It’s highly recommended that you choose pasteurized egg whites instead of using raw ones, because the risk of food-borne illness is lower.
Need a vegan option? Try aquafaba, the liquid that comes from cans of chickpeas. However, aquafaba tends to have a meatier taste to it that will carry over to your baked goods.
Storing Meringue Powder
To keep your meringue powder around for as long as possible, be sure to store it somewhere cool, dry, and away from sun exposure or heat. Also, you may want to remove the meringue powder from the canister it comes in if it’s not sealed tightly. Any moisture that gets into the meringue powder will inevitably ruin it, so airtight storage is best. You do not have to keep meringue powder in the refrigerator, either.
When properly stored, meringue powder can last for up to 2 years.
Recipes Using Meringue Powder
Now that you know what meringue powder is and isn’t, you probably want some recipes to inspire you, right? Fear not! The uses of meringue powder are many, and you will be surprised by how creative you can be with it.
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
Fluffy Whipped Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Looking for a delightful and light dessert frosting that goes with cookies, cakes, and fresh fruit? This fluffy whipped vanilla buttercream frosting is exactly what you need.
- 1 cup of butter, plant-based or regular
- 5 cups powdered sugar, separated
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder
- ¼ cup milk – can be oat, almond, or dairy
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a medium mixing bowl, whip up softened butter for about 5 minutes until it has lightened in color. You can do this easier with an electric mixer and a whisk attachment.
- Add in a single cup of sugar. Beat the sugar into the butter slowly. Keep mixing in each cup, being sure to thoroughly mix in before proceeding. Your frosting will look a little cakey.
- Add in meringue powder. Whip once more.
- Next, pour in your milk, lemon extract, and salt. Whip together for about 10 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.
- Be sure to use the frosting as soon as possible, as whipped butter does not last long at room temperature.
Optionally, you can follow this video to learn how to make royal icing:
Easy Meringue Cookies
For this recipe, you don’t need too many ingredients or a whole lot of time. The cookies come out fluffy, airy, and delicate. You can potentially customize this recipe with extracts and food coloring, especially if you want to create various designs and flavors.
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup meringue powder
- 1 and 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- (Optional) 2 teaspoons extract
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F (121 degrees C). Line your baking sheet with either silicone mats or parchment paper. Do not use oil or grease.
- Grab a medium sized bowl and add in your ¼ cup meringue powder and water. Whisk together slowly until peaks begin to form.
- Still whisking (or using a handheld electric mixer), gently add in the sugar. Use about a tablespoon at a time.
- Test the texture of the meringue by putting a small amount of your finger. If the meringue is too grainy, continue mixing.
- Add in any extracts or food coloring you have chosen.
- Scoop some of the meringue into a piping bag that has been fitted with a tip. Start squeezing out your cookies.
- Once you have the baking sheet covered, pop the meringue cookies into the oven for about 45 minutes. To get the cookies crispy, turn the oven off and crack open the door. Let them sit in the oven for about 6-8 hours.
You should now know the answer to the question, “What is meringue powder?” As a mixture of dried egg whites and a couple of additives, meringue powder is an ingredient used mainly in baking. You can make a lot of things with meringue powder, so feel free to unleash some baking creativity and give it a try.
There are two common substitutes for meringue powder: fresh or pasteurized egg whites or aquafaba. The latter is best used for vegan recipes. If you want to swap out meringue powder for fresh eggs, try using pasteurized egg whites, because they are safer to consume uncooked.
No, cream of tartar is not the same as meringue powder. Cream of tartar is potassium acid tartrate, a stabilizing substance that is present in meringue powder. Meanwhile, meringue powder is dried egg whites often mixed with other additives. You cannot use one for the other.
No, meringue powder and egg white powder are not the same thing. While you can make egg white powder into meringue, meringue powder usually contains one more ingredient: cream of tartar. Egg white powder usually lacks any additives needed to stabilize the egg white foam.
Meringue powder is most commonly used for making meringue, but you can also use meringue powder for icing, frosting, and stabilizing marshmallows.