What Is Meringue Powder's Role in Creating Delicious Desserts?

If you haven't used meringue powder before, it's a great substitution for egg whites in frosting (and meringue) recipes. Learn exactly what meringue powder is, and the best recipes to use it in.

Typically, meringue powder is used as a substitute for fresh egg whites in recipes that aren't cooked and don't reach safe temperatures to kill any potential bacteria in eggs. So, is egg white powder the same as meringue powder? Not exactly—you can find simple powdered egg whites to use for baking and cooking, and they can also be used as a protein powder. But while meringue powder includes dried egg whites in its list of ingredients, it also usually includes a small amount of cornstarch, sugar, and stabilizers to prevent whipped meringue from collapsing. You can learn how to make meringue powder at home if you want, but it's also easy to find anywhere cake decorating supplies are sold.

Peppermint-Fudge Pie
Blaine Moats

What to Make with Meringue Powder

Meringue powder is most commonly used in recipes that call for egg whites that aren't baked or cooked. Fresh, raw egg whites can be contaminated with salmonella. But since the egg used in meringue powder has been dried and pasteurized, it's okay to eat without cooking. That makes it a better, safer choice to use in uncooked recipes like royal icing and other frosting recipes. It can also be used as a substitute for any dish that calls for egg whites beaten to stiff peaks, like meringue cookies.

Buy It: Wilton Meringue Powder ($15, Walmart)

How to Use Meringue Powder

If you're using purchased meringue powder, follow the instructions on the package for adding to recipes. Usually, you'll mix the powder with water before stirring it in with other ingredients. About 2 teaspoons of meringue powder mixed with 2 tablespoons of water can be substituted for one egg white.

Still, there are some cooked recipes that may taste better using real egg whites. Since meringue powder contains a small amount of sugar, it'll always add a touch of sweetness, so it's best used in desserts. And if the meringue powder isn't completely dissolved in water, it can add a slightly grainy texture to your dish, which isn't ideal when you're craving a fluffy, pillowy pie topper. But if you mix it and whip it well enough, you won't notice much difference between meringue powder and egg whites.

Meringue Powder Substitutes

If you find yourself without any meringue powder on hand, fresh egg whites are the easiest substitute, as long as you plan on cooking or baking the recipe so the eggs become safe to eat. You can also use other powdered egg whites; just keep in mind that they won't have the extra sugar or stabilizers that real meringue powder has, so your recipe might not be quite as sweet or fluffy.

Another unexpected substitute you can use is aquafaba, or the liquid leftover from canned chickpeas. Surprisingly, if you beat aquafaba, it'll form fluffy peaks just like egg whites or meringue powder. And as a bonus, it's vegan. You'll just have to add a little sugar and vanilla to make it sweet enough for dessert.

Does Meringue Powder Expire?

Another major advantage of using meringue powder is that it can have a shelf life of up to two years (much longer than fresh eggs). Just keep it in a cool, dry environment—like the back of your pantry or a cabinet. Since it lasts so long, it's a good idea to pick up a container of meringue powder to keep on hand, especially if you're an avid baker. You might be surprised at how often you find yourself reaching for it.

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