What is meringue powder?
As holiday cake decorating season approaches, you may find yourself browsing ingredient lists and discover one that calls for meringue powder. If you’ve never handled this specialty baking item, you may be confused. For starters, where do you buy it? (It’s not found in most standard grocery stores.) What does it do?
Meringue powder is a shelf-stable product of dried egg whites, used to make meringues (as you may have guessed), but is also commonly used in making royal icing. We’ll break down where to buy it, how to use it, and why you should have some meringue powder on hand this holiday season.
What is in meringue powder?
Aside from dried egg whites, it usually contains sugar, cornstarch and other ingredients such as flavourings, gums and preservatives.
What does meringue powder do?
Meringue powder is designed as a substitute for fresh egg whites beaten to stiff peaks in recipes. It is also used as a stabilizer for decorations and other desserts. For example, it can help prevent whipped cream from curdling.
Meringue powder can be a great alternative option in many recipes where fresh but uncooked egg whites are used, to avoid consuming them raw. (Or if you simply don’t want to separate the eggs or have a lot of extra yolks).
The most common baking application for meringue powder is royal icing, where it is used to create a shiny glaze for all types of cookie designs. For instructions on how to turn meringue powder into royal icing, see our main site Easy Royal Icing for Cookies.
What is not: Substitute for eggs in dough, cookie dough, and more; In those cases you want to use fresh eggs.
How to replace meringue powder for egg whites
To use meringue powder, you can reconstitute it with water, but the amount of water varies from brand as well as recipe to recipe. Each brand will come with its own instructions on how much of their product to use to approximate one egg white in a viable recipe.
For example, Wilton Meringue Powder instructs bakers to use 2 teaspoons of the powder plus 2 tablespoons of water for one egg white.
Where to buy meringue powder
Most specialty baking stores carry meringue powder, as well as larger retailers that offer baking and cake decorating supplies departments. You can also order the product online.
How to store meringue powder
Although it is an egg product, meringue powder is shelf-stable and can be stored in the pantry. It should last for years if stored properly, but you should also refer to the best-by dates on the package.
Frequently asked questions
No, cream of tartar is often used as a stabilizer in meringue to keep it from crumbling, it is not a substitute for meringue powder.
Powdered egg whites do not contain the sugar, cornstarch and other additives that meringue powders do. This is because meringue powder is designed to replace the ingredients in meringue, not just eggs.
Yes, but not as fast as fresh egg whites. It should last for about two years, but always check the best-by dates on the packaging.