Meringue powder is a dried convenience product used for baking and decorating sweet treats. You can find this ingredient in royal icing, meringue cookies, and stabilizing frostings.
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Veteran home bakers often have a small canister of meringue powder stashed in their pantries as a quick substitute for egg whites. I use it for baking light, and crisp meringue treats or whipping up sugar cookie icing to make edible decorations.
This dried product is excellent to use if you find yourself weary about consuming raw egg whites in some baked treats. Let’s learn more about what goes into meringue powder and common ways on how to use it.
What is meringue powder?
This product mainly consists of pasteurized dried egg whites that are ground into a fine powder. However, it also contains other additives such as:
- Cornstarch to help absorb moisture during storage
- Sugar for sweetness
- Gum arabic for thickening
- Calcium sulfate as a desiccant to keep the powder dry
- Silicon dioxide to help the powder flow
- Citric acid and potassium acid tartrate (cream of tartar) for stabilization of the egg foam
What’s it used for?
When a recipe calls for whipped egg whites that hold stiff peaks, this powder can do the job. Raw egg whites are the gold standard, but this is a suitable alternative. Royal icing, piped meringue cookies, the topping on lemon meringue pies, or pavlova are examples. A small amount also stabilizes frostings so that they hold their piped design and shape without weeping.
There are a few downsides to meringue powder. Not all additives completely dissolve in water. So you may get a slightly grainy texture. On top of that, it doesn’t create billowy and robust foam compared to using fresh egg whites as the drying process weakens its bonding and foaming capability.
How to use it
- To substitute one egg white: Combine 2 tablespoons of meringue powder with 2 tablespoons of water.
- For royal icing: Combine 4 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder, and 9 tablespoons warm water. Whip using the whisk attachment on medium-low speed until a glue-like consistency form. Whip on medium-high speed for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to make stiff peaks for a thicker icing to construct a gingerbread house.
- For stabilizing frostings: Depending on the frosting type, the amounts and how it’s added vary. A small amount (about 1 tablespoon) is added dry once the butter and sugar have been creamed together for buttercream frosting. For whipped cream, about 1 tablespoon can stabilize 1 cup; add it after the cream starts to foam.
- Decorating: Use food coloring or colored gels when making meringue-based icing or frostings. Use piping bags, tips, or squeeze bottles for creating intricate designs.
What is a substitute for meringue powder?
The best substitute is fresh, pasteurized egg whites because it has the best foaming capability. However, if you don’t want to consume a raw product, it should be avoided. Powdered egg whites work but need to be rehydrated and don’t have pre-added sugar or stabilizer. You can use aquafaba or whipped liquid from cooking canned chickpeas, but they may have a more savory taste.
Where to buy it
Many large grocery stores or craft stores sell small containers of meringue powder. They are pretty affordable and typically sold in 4 ounce or large sizes with a shelf life of about two years. Of course, you can find them online, I use the Wilton brand.
4 Ounce (Pack of 1)
Recipes to try
- Royal icing for cookies and gingerbread houses
- Making a meringue topping for pies
- Stabilizing whipped cream
- Meringue cookies and pavlova
Impact of pasteurizing and drying on egg whites
Raw eggs and egg products are pasteurized to eliminate Salmonella enteritidis contamination. Meringue powder uses completely dried egg whites, further reducing chances for bacterial spoilage and prolonging shelf life. However, heating the egg whites above 57ºC (135ºF), like drying into a powder, damages the foaming properties. You may need to increase whipping time to achieve the desired peaks.