How to Make Swiss Meringue
Learn how to make Swiss meringue, the most stable of all meringues, along with a little food science about how Swiss meringue is different than the other meringue preparations. This post is part of my Baking Fundamentals series where I teach basic baking techniques.
Hello there! It is currently extremely early in the morning and I am very foggy eyed, but I am here and excited because today I am sharing another baking fundamentals post with you! Today I am teaching you about Swiss Meringue, how to make it, and a little science behind what makes it different than the other meringue preparations.
Last week, we talked about the French Meringue preparation. French Meringue is awesome because it requires very few steps, very little equipment, and very little time or technique to make. Essentially egg whites are whipped, sugar is gradually added and whipped into it halfway through, and the mixture is whipped further until stiff peaks are formed.
While this is all fine and good and I make French Meringue a lot for certain things (like that angel food cake), there are times when it is just not stable enough and a more stable meringue is needed.
Enter, Swiss Meringue! Swiss Meringue is the most stable of all meringues. It is also more dense and glossier, almost marshmallow like. Swiss meringue pipes like a dream and holds its shape well without weeping for a much longer time than french meringue. For this reason, it is great to use as a pie topping especially if you aren’t serving it immediately. The preparation of Swiss meringue also makes it safer to eat if you aren’t baking it because you heat the mixture during the preparation.
Let’s walk through the steps, shall we?
How to Make Swiss Meringue
Step 1- Whisk together the egg whites and sugar. In a very clean bowl, free from all oil/grease, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. No need to use superfine sugar here, like we did with French meringue, because the sugar is going to get completely dissolved during the process anyway.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h5″ icon=”flask”] Baking Science Fun Fact![/feature_headline]
The egg whites in meringue serve two main purposes. They are the liquid in which the sugar is able to dissolve in and they also serve as the protein structure for creating the web that will trap the air bubbles to create the volume in meringue.
The sugar serves the purpose of stabilizing the protein web that traps the air (as well as sweetening the mixture). The earlier in the process the sugar is added, the more stable the meringue. This is why Swiss meringue is the most stable.
Step 2- Heat the mixture over a double boiler. A double boiler is essentially a pot of simmering water that your bowl can sit on top of. You don’t want the bottom of the bowl to be touching the water. Sit your bowl over the pan and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is heated to 160F. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, whisk until the mixture turns opaque and the sugar has completely dissolved. It should feel completely smooth between your fingers. This should take about 5-7 minutes. I do this right in my mixing bowl so that I don’t have to dirty another bowl when we move to the next step.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h5″ icon=”flask”] Baking Science Fun Fact![/feature_headline]
Plain egg whites begin to thicken and coagulate starting at 145F. But the sugar acts on the proteins in the egg whites and will slow down the coagulation process so that the whites will remain liquid during this heating stage.
Step 3- Whip the mixture on high to cool it down. With the whip attachment, whip the eggs on high. This will cool the mixture down and begin creating a foam. If you have made french meringue before, this is going to take much longer to thicken than that preparation does. In about 3 minutes it will start to turn white and foamy.
Step 4- Continue whipping to stiff peaks. This is more of a continuation of step 3 as you do not need to do anything other than keep you mixer working. But I seperate it out because the first few minutes the mixture is cooling down and after it is cool enough then it will start working toward that stiff peak stage. The mixture will turn very glossy, thick, and almost marshmallow like.
After about 6-8 minutes the mixture will hold stiff peaks. It is possible to overmix this meringue just like any of the others, but it isn’t as easy to do here as it is with french meringue. It is just more stable all around.
Now your meringue is ready to use for whatever your little heart desires. Top a pie with it and give it a quick torch or a flash under the broiler. Or use it to make a swiss meringue buttercream which is what I used this for! I have the cake and buttercream recipe coming up for you so stay tuned!
But here is a little teaser to get you in the mood!
One year ago: Eclairs with Espresso Glaze and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Two years ago: Apple Streusel Muffins
Three years ago: Easy Breakfast Pastries for Valentine’s Day
Swiss meringue is the most stable of all meringues. It is more dense and glossier, almost marshmallow like. Swiss meringue pipes like a dream and holds its shape well for a much longer time than French meringue. For this reason, it is great to use as a pie topping especially if you aren’t serving it immediately.
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Set up a double boiler (a pot filled with water not all the way to the top) and bring the water to a simmer.
- In a very clean heatproof bowl (I use the bowl of my stand mixer) whisk together the egg whites and the sugar.
- Set the bowl over the double boiler, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl, and whisk while the mixture heats to 160F. You can check with a kitchen thermometer, or if you do not have one the mixture will become very liquid as the sugar melts and it should feel very smooth between your fingers. This will take about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to your stand mixer (or you can do it with a hand mixer but it will take much longer), whip at high speed with your whisk attachment to cool the mixture down.
- Continue whipping at high speed until stiff peaks are reached. The mixture will become very thick, glossy, and almost marshmallow like. This will take about 6-8 minutes of whipping.
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35 Comments on “How to Make Swiss Meringue”
Wow that chocolate cake looks incredible! I love swiss meringue, used to be my favorite frosting before I switched to egg-free baking…haha. It’s good to know some of the ideas behind it! 🙂
Hi June! I am totally hooked now on swiss meringue buttercream. I never really like frosting, but this stuff I can do. But I still almost always prefer cream cheese to any other!
I love the baking fundamental posts! So helpful for a newbie like me. I will be looking out for that cake and buttercream recipe!
I’m so glad you like them Kimberly! I always worry I’m boring everyone with my love for baking science, but glad people find them helpful! xoxo!
Though eating is certainly enjoyable, the science behind it all grabs my interest. Thanks so very much for taking that direction in your posts. Definitely not boring.
I’m so glad you enjoy it Suzanne! I love the science of it too! <3
recipe? type of sugar? I don’t have a clue here.
Hi Don! The recipe is always posted at the bottom of the post. Can you let me know if for some reason that isn’t showing up for you?
I LOVE THIS! Now I wanna make swiss Meringue!
additionally…omigosh that cake-I can’t wait!
I find the ‘scientific facts & 101’ invaluable, enjoy reading them all, it explains why one would choose a particular method/recipe over another…
‘Everything for a reason’ or ‘A reason for everything’…
Knowing why is a big part of the fun of how the chemical reaction occurs, which results in understanding & achieving the desired result. The perfect bake, as you always provide great recipes, results & the information to achieve it.
I’m loving the ‘Swiss Meringue Method & Butter-Cream Frosting’, it’s awesome, tried, tested & it’s easy to make, use & very forgiving when frosting the Chocolate Cake, makes a pleasant change from butter-cream icing.
Your Chocolate Cake recipe with Chocolate Frosting tastes delicious, so pleased with how it baked, all credit is down to you, many thanks, much appreciated.
However, my favorite has got to be cream-cheese, chocolate, caramel & crumb topping with lots of Pecans, looking forward to more recipes in the near future that include these.
You’ll wish you hadn’t asked for suggestions on what your readers would like to see, especially me, this will be a difficult combination to include, impossible to have them all together, unless that is you can find a way, which wouldn’t surprise me!
I’m making another Chocolate Cake today (should have made two).
My family, friends & neighbors & myself do adore your ‘Pecan-Crumb-Diamonds’, I’ll make a double batch today to share.
All these ‘goodies’ will make me a popular person today, I’m sure that one of the reasons I get many visitors popping in each day, they must follow gorgeous aroma coming from my kitchen.
Joking aside, it is great that some home-made baking can bring pleasure to others receiving them, as it gives me great pleasure in giving, which brings happiness to us all, makes my day & is a small price to pay. It’s a feel-good-factor for all that the gift of baking brings & sharing this makes it worthwhile & even better.
Many thanks for providing me with all of the recipes, tips & ideas.
Odelle Smith. (U.K.)
Like your post, could you tell me how long the meringue would hold for before being used, I want to put it on top off a lemon meringue cheesecake, just before I serve it, & blow touch the top
Looking forward to technical solutions to cookery.
I have just discovered your site while researching meringue. I am interested in changing up my mom’s recipe for strawberry Scrumptious from the 1960’s. I now learned the meringue in this 4 layer dessert is a French Meringue using 4 egg whites and 1/2 c. sugar.
Here is my ?: It is baked on a vanilla wafer crust in a 350 degree oven for 15-17 min. (FYI:then sweetened cream and strawberries are layered on top before serving) CAN SWISS MERINGUE BE BAKED LIKE THAT?
Also, please clarify “flash under the broiler.” Exactly how long and what temp does it take to brown Swiss meringue if I just use it on a tart. I’m not good with a blow torch!
Hi Suzanne! YES! Any stile of meringue can be baked like that, so Swiss meringue will work well. When a recipe states to flash something under the broiler there really isn’t an exact time because everyone’s broiler works differently. I suggest literally standing there and watching it. I like to crack the door and peak in and watch it until it gets browned. It won’t take long so don’t walk away!
I’m excited to try your recipe!
How long will the meringue hold up? I’m topping cupcakes then torching.
How early could I make it in the day and should I wait to torch till I’m ready to serve or can they be torched early also?
Hi Sonel! You can definitely make the meringue the day before and torch it. It will technically hold up longer, but it won’t be quite as fresh if you do. If you are doing it the same day you will be good to pipe the cupcakes and torch them 8-12 hours before. Hope that helps!
I’ve made Swiss meringue buttercream for cakes but wonder if the meringue itself can be used on a cake. I have a friend who is allergic to dairy and while it’s easy enough to make an oil based cake, frosting is something else. I am trying to avoid coconut.
Hi Laurie, yes you can! You would want to do it as close to serving as possible. You could also torch it slightly to add a contrasting flavor and texture.
Hi can i make swiss meringue ahead of time ? Does it need to be refrigerated or better to keep it in the counter ? Btw i love in philippines where its hot everyday
Thanks in advance
Thanks for this recipe and method. I previously followed another swiss meringue recipe from a well-known cooking website, which called for taking the temperature up to 175F. Having never made swiss meringue before, the first couple of times I made that recipe, I got scared and stopped heating at about 165F. Both times, my meringue came out okay, thought not as insanely voluminous as promised by the recipe. The last two times, I got braver and took it up to 175F, and both times, the merinque failed to whip, in fact, it just thickened into white goo that didn’t hold any shape at all. My understanding is that likely, though I took it off the heat as soon as I hit 175F, I probably started cooking the egg whites, and so they would never really whip properly. Your recipe, going only to 160F but otherwise very similar to the recipe I was using, seems to confirm my suspicions about what went wrong! I will stick to 160F in the future for my swiss meringue.
This recipe is PERFECTION! I tend to make 2/3 of a batch because a full batch doesn’t quite fit in my large piping bag. We whip up a batch when we have dinner guests and use it to top scoops of ice cream – torching it briefly (an idea we stole from Wild Scoops Ice Cream shop in Anchorage, AK).
What will happen if too much sugar is added to the egg whites?
Does the meringue harden??? Bcoz my did when I added it on my trifle as a topping. It hardened after a while…is it supposed to get hard or have I put too much sugar in it.
I followed a recipe which says 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar per egg white. I used two eggwhites and did the math….I thought of adding 8 tablespoons but the granules of the sugar I used is much bigger hence I added 7 tablespoons of it.
I m concerned whether I’d put too much of sugar in the meringue…..
this looks so good..quick qs: if I add less sugar, like 1/2 cup instead, will this affect the stability of the cream?
Hi, yes it will. Swiss Meringue is so finicky already I wouldn’t try changing any of the quantities.
I love your swiss meringue but have a question. I was planning to make a pie with swiss meringue to take to a family dinner. There is a two hour car drive involved. My question is “Will the meringue loose its air and deflate due to the vibration of a two hour drive.?”
Hi Rick, I suspect it would be fine however I have not tried it in the car. A general rule of thumb is that Italian Meringue is the most stable and might be a good idea if you are worried about it.
I made this for my chocolate pies, it turned out great! It’s delicious and for people that don’t like the traditional meringue-this is a must!
So glad you like it!
I made this as a topping for my partner’s grandmothers pineapple frangipani tart and it was amazing. Light, fluffy and not too sweet. I’ve saved this as a keeping recipe.
That sounds wonderful!
I loved the way you describe all the steps on how to make swiss meringue… but I couldn’t find at what temperature should I put my oven and for how long. Did I miss it?????
Help. Did everything exactly as your recipe with the specific egg white and sugar measurements called for. Used a Thermopen thermometer. Rarely have any fails when baking but I could not get this to hold any shape or peaks. Got to the glossy, thick stage but no shape. Even put it in the refrigerator and tried again. Gave it plenty of time but just would not hold peaks. Any suggestions as to what I might have done wrong? Thanks.
Hi, I love this my mother and grandmother always made this. But we call it 7 minute frosting. and whip it when it is on the double boiler. Thank you for sharing. This is so yummy on Angle food cake 🙂
Any idea why stiff peaks wouldn’t form? There was no cream of tartar in this recipe. This is my first time trying to make meringue so I’m not sure. I beat the mixture for probably 15 min.