What Is Pavlova, and How Do You Make It?

Learn how to make a light, airy pavlova that will be a perfect centerpiece for any dessert table—it’s easier than you may think.

Sweet and savory—there are so many ways to cook eggs. They can be fried for breakfast, hard-boiled for salads, used as a binding agent for cookies, and help maintain structure in homemade cakes. Perhaps my favorite way to bake with eggs is whipping egg whites into a dreamy meringue for pies and stunning desserts such as pavlova (pronounced paa-vlow-vuh). With just a handful of ingredients, you can bake fluffy whipped egg whites into a crisp base for sweet whipped cream and fresh fruits. When learning how to make pavlova, you'll quickly find the process takes a bit of time and patience, but is really quite easy. Read on for a step-by-step guide on making pavlova as well as tasty pavlova recipes to practice the baking technique.

Strawberry Mango Rose Pavlova
Andy Lyons

How to Make Pavlova

If you've ever made a meringue-topped pie from scratch, making pavlova is going to be a breeze. Most pavlova recipes will have a similar meringue base. You can use our strawberry-mango pavlova recipe (pictured above) as a guide, but feel free to change up the fruit to whatever's in season or in your kitchen.

Step 1: Prepare Egg Whites and Pavlova Template

Separate the egg whites from yolks and place them in a bowl. Allow them to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using them to make pavlova—this allows them to whip to a higher volume. While the egg whites are hanging out, place a 9-inch baking pan ($13, Amazon) pan on a sheet of parchment paper and trace with a dark pen or marker. Place it marked side down on a baking sheet. This serves a guide for shaping your pavlova.

whisk showing egg whites at stiff peaks
Blaine Moats

Step 2: Beat Egg Whites

In the bowl of a stand mixer ($200, Amazon) with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until soft peaks form. (A hand mixer is also perfectly fine to use here. It just might take a few more minutes to complete this step.) Turn mixer to high speed and add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form and meringue is no longer gritty (18 to 20 minutes), scraping down bowl as needed. Add in lemon juice and any additional extracts or flavorings the recipe calls for before gently folding in cornstarch.

Step 3: Bake Meringue for Pavlova

Spread meringue mixture over the circle on parchment, building up edges slightly to form a sort of bowl-like space for the cream and fruit. Bake 1½ hours (don't open the door). Turn off oven; let dry in oven with door closed for 1 more hour. Remove; cool completely on sheet on a wire rack ($14, Walmart).

Step 4: Prepare Fruit and Cream Filling

Combine your fruit of choice with sugar and let stand 20 minutes. This technique is called macerating and allows the fruit to soften and the natural juices to come out. In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream (along with mascarpone or other ingredients, if called for) with a hand mixer ($23, Amazon) until soft peaks form.

Step 5: Build and Serve Pavlova

Spread cream mixture into the meringue shell first before spooning fruit mixture over the top. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Test Kitchen Tip: Store unfilled pavlovas in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

Lemon Berry Pavlovas
Blaine Moats

What Is Pavlova?

It's unclear who first created the famous dessert Pavlova. The name (and dessert), however, first started to appear when world-famous Russian ballerina and choreographer, Anna Pavlova began touring across America, Europe, and the UK in 1910. The fruit-topped meringue recently rose in popularity after Masters golf tournament champion, Phil Mickelson requested pavlova as the dessert for an annual pre-Masters meal, where he also instilled knowledge of the dish to his questioning colleagues.

Now that you can successfully make pavlova from scratch at home, you can get creative with the cream and fruit fillings. Utilize summer-ripe berries or garden-fresh mint for a seasonal pavlova recipe. Serve pavlova with pomegranate for a wintry take. If you want to go for a different size or presentation, try turning pavlova into mini versions or a full-size tray.

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