French meringue is the easiest meringue preparation. Learn how to make easy meringue with only two ingredients and just a few steps.
This preparation can be used for baked meringues, pie toppings, folded into cake batters and many other uses!
I have vivid memories of grade school and first learning addition and subtraction. I was good at it.
We had this timed test where you were given 100 addition or subtraction problems and if you could do them all correctly in 5 minutes your paper would go up on the wall of fame and you would be given a set of more difficult problems the next time around.
I believe they were called “mad minutes” or something like that. I was among the first to get my papers up on the wall. I wasn’t as shy back then as I am now so I’m sure I wasn’t so humble about it. But rules and processes have always made sense in my brain.
Learning the rules and processes is what drives me in baking. When I first started baking and I would learn a new skill I would have these “aha!” moments where so many other things in baking would start to make sense.
It’s like a new rule or new skill opened up so many more possibilities. My baking mind just keeps growing each and every day that I learn something. I do learn something new every single day!
What is meringue?
The most basic definition of meringue is egg whites beaten with sugar to stiff peaks. There are 3 types of meringue- French Meringue, Swiss Meringue, and Italian Meringue.
Each kind has it’s own method in which the sugar is added to the egg whites. Today we are only talking about French Meringue also known as common meringue. It is the easiest to make and the one used most commonly by home cooks.
French Meringue Basics-
In its most simple form, french meringue is made with only egg whites and super fine sugar. It is the simplest preparation of all the meringues and can be used as topping on pies, baked for meringue cookies, folded into sponge cake batters, or if you are feeling particularly skilled, use it to make french macarons.
The ratios of sugar to egg whites varies depending on how the meringue will be used. The lowest sugar ratio used is typically a 1:1 ratio of egg white to sugar by weight. The higher the ratio of sugar the more stable the meringue will be.
However it will taste much more sweet and if baked the texture is not as tender and melt-in-your-mouth. If the meringue is being used as topping for pie you will want a more stable meringue where as if it is being baked for cookies less sugar can be used because the baking will set the meringue.
French Meringue Method-
Step 1- Make superfine sugar. In a food processor (or I use my Ninja blender), process the sugar until it is very fine. This takes about 2 minutes. You can buy superfine sugar if you can find it, but I think that’s kind of silly when it can so easily be made with what you have on hand.
Superfine sugar will dissolve more quickly into the whipped egg whites and leave you with a meringue that is not gritty.
Step 2- Measure out your egg whites and superfine sugar. Depending on your final use for this meringue it may or may not be important to actually weigh your ingredients very accurately.
If you are using as a topping on a pie then the exact ratios for your meringue aren’t really as important as if you were going to fold it into a cake batter or for macarons.
Baking Science Fun Fact!
It is also very important here that you take extra care not to get any yolk in your egg whites. Egg whites are made up of about 90% water and 10% protein. When you whip egg whites the proteins unravel and create a sort of protein net that traps the air and stabilizes the foam.
If fat is present the bits of the protein that are attracted to fats (also known as hydrophobic) will associate themselves with those fats and will not be available to create the “net” to trap the air.
Step 3- Let the egg whites come to room temperature. We all know that heavy cream whips faster if it is cold, well exactly the opposite is true for egg whites. Egg whites separate more easily while they are still cold, so I always separate them straight from the refrigerator and then let them come to room temp before whipping.
I have also used packaged liquid egg whites to make this foam and they also worked, however because they are pasteurized, I had to beat for much much longer.
Step 4- Begin by whipping just the egg whites. Make sure that the bowl you are using is clean and free from oil and place just the egg whites in the bowl. You want to begin by whipping on a low speed which will allow the proteins to unravel and begin forming their network to trap the air bubbles.
It is optional, but a pinch of cream of tartar or a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar are often added here. These acidic ingredients will lower the ph and in turn strengthen the proteins and create a more stable meringue.
Step 5- Slowly add in the superfine sugar. Once your whites have reached soft peaks, continue mixing on low speed while adding the sugar in slowly. I add about 1 tablespoon at a time.
Step 6- Beat to stiff peaks. Watch the egg whites carefully and stop beating once you reach stiff peaks. The whites will look glossy and the whites should stand up straight with just a slight bend on the end. That second picture at the top of the post is a good example of stiff peaks.
And see this picture below how it looks glossy? If you take the whites too far the gloss will go away and they will start to break down, look dry, and begin separating. If you go this far you need to stop and start over!
That’s it! Your meringue is now ready for use in whatever you desire. I used this batch to make an angel food cake that was really amazing! I’m giving you that recipe next. I was really impressed with how good it turned out. I’m excited to share the angel food cake recipe with you but for now, here is a little sneak peek!
One year ago: 5 Ingredient Basic Drop Biscuits
Two years ago: Granola Blondies
Three years ago: Quinoa Fruit Salad with Greek Yogurt
This is a 1:1 ratio french meringue. It creates a moderately stable meringue. For a more stable meringue you can increase the sugar by up to double the amount. I use this meringue for folding into cakes or for use as pie topping that will be served that day as well as for meringue cookies.
45 minPrep Time
45 minTotal Time
- Place the sugar in a food processor and process for about 2 minutes until very fine.
- Separate your egg whites from the yolks and allow them to come to room temperature. This usually takes about 30 minutes.
- In a very clean large bowl, begin whipping your egg whites on low speed until frothy and soft peaks begin to form. If using, you can add a pinch of cream of tartar or a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar at this point.
- Slowly add in your superfine sugar, about 2 TBSP at a time, while continuing to whip on low speed.
- Once all of the sugar has been added and the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks, stop beating.
- Use immediately.