How to Make Meringues with Any Amount of Leftover Egg Whites

March 10, 2014

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Don't throw away leftover egg whites -- make meringues with whatever you've got, no recipe needed.

How to Make Meringues from Food52

When you make lemon curd or crème brûlée, you save the leftover egg whites for meringues right? Egg whites keep, covered in a clean glass jar in the fridge, for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for heaven knows how long. 

Since meringues are nothing more than sugar and egg whites with cream of tartar or vinegar for stability, all you need is a ratio (egg whites to sugar to cream of tartar) plus baking details (time, temperature, and pan preparation).

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More: (Even More) Best Ways to Use Leftover Egg Whites

My ratio for meringues is easy to remember: 1 part egg whites to 2 parts sugar. I stabilize the meringue with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or 2 teaspoons white vinegar for each 1 cup of egg whites. (Here’s how I remember the amount of cream of tartar: it’s half the amount of egg whites, but measured in teaspoons instead of cups; the amount of vinegar is the same as the sugar, but measured in teaspoons instead of cups)

Here’s an example: If you have 1/2 cup leftover egg whites, you will need 1 cup of sugar plus 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of vinegar.  If you have 1/3 cup of egg whites, you need 2/3 cup sugar, etc.

How to Make Meringues from Food52

Once you have your measurements, here's the procedure for making dry, crunchy meringue cookies or layers:

Heat the oven to 225° F and position a rack in the center or two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar or vinegar in a clean dry mixing bowl. If the egg whites are cold, set the bowl in a pan of hot water, or swirl the bowl over a burner, until they are room temperature or slightly warm to the touch. Beat at medium to medium-high speed until the mixture is white and creamy looking -- no longer yellowish and translucent -- and holds a soft shape when the beaters are lifted. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar a heaping teaspoon, one after the other -- without delay but without rushing. (If you are working with 1/2 cup of egg whites and 1 cup of sugar, it should take 2 to 3 minutes to  add the sugar)

Drop (or pipe) rounded tablespoons of meringue 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Or, spread larger amounts of meringue in discs 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick. 

How to Make Meringues from Food52

Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside to cool completely. As soon as the meringues are cool, put them in an airtight container to prevent them from softening. They keep for several weeks, so long as they stored in an airtight container. 

How to Make Meringues from Food52

• Meringue should be baked as soon as it's mixed, so don’t mix more at one time than your oven can hold. Unless you have a convection oven that allows you to bake successfully on more than two racks at a time, limit yourself to 1/2 to 2/3 cup of egg whites per batch.

• You can fold chopped nuts, dried coconut, or bits of chocolate into the meringue after the sugar is added. Don’t add bits of dried fruit; these get too dry and hard in the oven.

• For more about meringues and more meringue desserts, see Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, by Alice Medrich (Artisan, 2011)

Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet. 


Photos by James Ransom


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Chris S. July 22, 2018
Thanks for the ratio. My Eaton Mess will be all the better for it.
jpriddy February 3, 2018
The last photo above, shows a tray with stems and caps ready to bake a dozen mushroom meringues. I used to make them every Christmas. The stems are added to the cpas with chocolate and a drift of cocoa over the caps is perfection.
Lily P. May 27, 2014
But what about vanilla?
jacee August 26, 2017
Hi. I would like to know about the vanilla as well. Is it missing from the recipe or do you feel it is not needed?
dizit March 22, 2014
I make meringues often, and my Pavlova is famous with family and friends. I've found that baking the meringue last thing in the evening and then leaving them to cool overnight makes for the best result.
BONGO March 16, 2014
Perfect ratio, thank you ! Superb meringues every time, very crunchy and light... I baked mine 40 to 50 minutes, it was enough (as soon as they're dry to touch, I turn off the heat and forget them in the oven for an hour or so).
MelissaH March 10, 2014
Your ratio is by volume. Do you have a mass-based ratio?
Author Comment
Alice M. March 10, 2014
Sure, for every 260 grams of egg whites you want 400 grams of sugar and 2 grams of cream of tartar.
Michele March 10, 2014
Oh thank you so much for this! I always end up with so many egg whites, which I dutifully freeze, and then don't know what to do with them. I thought meringues were something hugely elaborate, and they don't seem so. Now I can make Eton mess!!!!
HalfPint March 10, 2014
I usually freeze any leftover eggwhites. They freeze and thaw very well and I've not seen much different between frozen/thawed white vs 'fresh' egg whites. But it's good to know the magic ratio for meringues.
Tereza March 10, 2014
Great article! Love that this classic recipe is both gluten-free and lactose-free.. So easy!<br /><br />http://lifeandcity.tumblr.com