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Basic Italian Meringue

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Let’s talk about Italian Meringue, the unsung hero of the baking world. This isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill meringue. This is the smooth, sophisticated cousin that doesn’t crumble at the first sign of trouble.

If you’re ready to elevate your dessert game from “meh” to “wow,” stick around. I’m about to show you how to whip up Italian Meringue that’s so good, it might just steal the spotlight from whatever it’s paired with. 

A whisk with Italian meringue.

This recipe offers a wonderfully silky, stable, and glossy meringue that’s not only gorgeous to look at but has an ultra decadent flavor and texture, similar to marshmallow cream. 

Here is Why This Fluffy Meringue Recipe Works

  • Stability: Italian Meringue is known for its remarkable stability. The hot sugar syrup cooks the egg whites, making the fluffy topping more durable and less prone to weeping or collapsing.
  • Versatility: This cloud-like fluff can be used in various ways, from topping pies (like our lemon meringue pie) and making Italian buttercream to making mini crisp meringues like our lemon kisses that melt in your mouth. 
  • Silky Texture: Thanks to the method of preparation, it has a silky and smooth and fluffy texture .
  • Safe to Eat Without Further Cooking: The hot syrup in this recipe actually cooks the egg whites as it’s mixed in, making the meringue safe to eat without the need to cook or bake further. 

Each type of meringue has its own appeal, but when it comes to stability, Italian Meringue takes the cake.

Unlike French Meringue, which is made simply by beating sugar into egg whites, or Swiss Meringue, created by heating sugar and egg whites over a double boiler, Italian Meringue stands out. The process of adding hot sugar syrup to the egg whites not only gives Italian Meringue its silky texture but also a stability that surpasses other type.

The Ingredients

You really only need three ingredients to make this decadent dessert, but extract and salt add flavor to the meringue and the cream of tartar makes the egg whites more stable as they whip. 

  • Pantry: Sugar, vanilla extract, cream of tartar, salt. 
  • Others: Egg whites, water. 

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Sugar: In place of regular white sugar, you can use superfine sugar for a quicker dissolving process.
  • Cream of Tartar: If you don’t have cream of tartar, a few drops of lemon juice or white vinegar can be used to stabilize the egg whites.
  • Vanilla Extract: Almond extract or other flavorings can be used for different flavor variations.
Ingredients used to make Italian meringue.

Do Carton Egg Whites Work?

Carton egg whites might seem convenient, but they’re not the best choice for meringue. The pasteurization process that egg whites undergo inhibits their ability to form a stable meringue. Pasteurization heats the egg whites to kill bacteria, but this also alters the proteins, reducing their ability to trap air and expand, which is crucial for that perfect meringue texture.

Additionally, carton egg whites often contain additives for extending shelf life, which can further impact their whipping properties. For the best results, it’s advisable to stick with fresh eggs, as they have the right structure and consistency to achieve the light, airy peaks for a well-made meringue.

Whisking Sugar into Perfection: Recipe Highlights

Here is a brief overview of how to make this easy, sweet, fluffy meringue. You will see more details if you scroll down to the printable recipe card below. 

  1. Start by making the syrup with sugar and water, boiling it to a specific temperature (check out the recipe card for details).
  2. Simultaneously, whip egg whites with cream of tartar until medium-soft peaks form.
  3. Gradually drizzle the hot syrup into the whipped egg whites while continuing to beat.
  4. Beat the mixture and use it in your dessert recipes. 
A collage of four process photos showing how to make Italian meringue.

Tips for Success

It’s the little details that transform a good recipe into one you’ll love and use time and time again. So, keep these pointers in mind to guide you to a flawless result every time.

  • Use a candy thermometer for precise syrup temperature.
  • Avoid Overbeating: Whip the egg whites to the right consistency to prevent them from becoming too stiff. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup is at the correct temperature, lower the speed of the mixer until the syrup is ready. 
  • Make sure your mixing bowl and beaters are grease free. If there is even a speck of grease or egg yolks in the egg white mixture, they will not whip into a fluffy, airy texture. 
  • If you plan to make Italian meringue buttercream, make sure the meringue cools down before adding the butter. 
A mixing bowl filled with stable meringue.

Serving Suggestions

You can use this in various dessert recipes. Use it as a topping for pies, fold it into a mousse for a lighter texture, or simply pipe it onto a baking sheet to make meringue cookies and bake them at a low temperature until crisp. 

Try it on our mini lemon meringue tarts.

Meringue on top of tarts.

Storage

Store the meringue in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. You can freeze it, but the texture will not be as fluffy after it thaws.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make Italian Meringue without a candy thermometer?

While it’s possible, a thermometer ensures accuracy which is crucial for the perfect meringue.

Can I use Italian Meringue as a frosting?

Absolutely! It makes for a light and fluffy frosting. However, it doesn’t hold up for as long as meringue buttercream and you will want to consume your frosted cake within 1 to 2 days. 

So, there you have it – Italian Meringue, the secret weapon in your baking arsenal that’s been hiding in plain sight. It’s not just a fluffy show-off; it’s a reliable, versatile, and downright delicious addition to your desserts. 
Forget about those less stable meringues that can’t handle the heat. 

So, share this little gem of a recipe with your friends and watch as they marvel at your newfound chef prowess. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about the recipes we create, but the memories and smiles they bring to the table. 

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A whisk with Italian meringue.

Perfect Italian Meringue

Get ready to be wowed by this meringue! It's like marshmallow cream's fluffier, airier cousin. Imagine scooping up a spoonful of something so light and fluffy it's like a little cloud of sweetness in your mouth. It's the kind of topping that turns a simple dessert into something really special.
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 5 cups of meringue
Calories: 24kcal
Author: Dahn Boquist

Ingredients

  • 1-½ cups sugar divided
  • cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg whites room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the syrup:

  • Place 1-¼ cups of sugar, the water and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until it comes to a boil then stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. You will let the syrup boil until it reaches between 238°F to 245°F. 

Whip the egg whites:

  • While the syrup boils, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl. Stir to incorporate the cream of tartar and keep the mixer on low speed. 
  • Keep an eye on the candy thermometer. When the syrup reaches 230°F to 235°F, switch the mixer to medium-high speed to whip the egg whites. Slowly add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue whipping until the egg whites reach medium soft peaks (when you lift the whisk, the meringue should create a pointed peak then slowly droop back down). 

Pour the syrup into the egg whites:

  • As soon as the syrup reaches between 240°F to 245°F, remove it from the stove and slowly drizzle the syrup into the meringue. Keep the mixer on medium to medium-high speed while you drizzle in the syrup and avoid getting the syrup on the edge of the bowl or on the beaters. 
  • Once all the hot syrup is added, pour in the vanilla extract and beat the mixture on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes. You can pipe the meringue while it is still slightly warm but if you want to use it to make buttercream, wait until it cools completely. 

Notes

  • Use a candy thermometer to accurately gauge the syrup's temperature.
  • Whip the egg whites to soft peaks before pouring in the hot syrup. If you reach soft peaks before the syrup is ready, just dial down the speed on the mixer. 
  • Before starting, ensure your bowl and beaters are completely free of grease or yolk remnants. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 cup | Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 40mg | Sugar: 5g

Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandchildren or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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