This No Fail Italian Meringue recipe is easy to follow and perfect for hot and humid weather. It is very stable and will not weep, leak, collapse, or be too sticky. Not to mention, it is so fluffy and toasts up beautifully! AND it can be made ahead of time!
What Is Italian Meringue?
Italian Meringue is a whipped mixture made from combining sugar syrup with frothy egg whites. Since it is a cooked meringue you do not need to worry about Salmonella bacteria or the type of egg whites you use. It being a cooked meringue is also one of the reasons why it is so stable.
Disclaimer: Italian Meringue does have a reputation for being the “most difficult” type of meringue you can make. Personally, I think it is the easiest because it requires less work and more babysitting (you will see what I mean).
This no fail recipe has four major steps: (1) Prep for Success, (2) Making the Sugar Syrup, (3) Whipping the Egg Whites, (4) Incorporating Everything Together. With my recipe and tips you will soon be able to make it with your eyes closed!
What is Italian Meringue Used For?
Since this No Fail Italian Meringue recipe is so stable it also makes it adaptable. It can be baked in the oven, toasted with a kitchen torch (like the next picture), or ate as is. Use it as a topping, filling, or base to another recipe which requires meringue. I have included some ideas for you:
- Lemon Meringue Pie (try my Mini Lemon Meringue Pies)
- baked Meringue Cookies
- Italian Macarons (base)
- Baked Alaska
- Smore’s Cake filling
- Key Lime Pie Cupcakes topping
- Chocolate Meringue Pie
- Meringue Cookie Sandwiches
- Baked Meringue Brownie
Be creative with it, the possibilities and flavor combinations are endless with Italian Meringue.
All you are going to need is a stainless steel saucepan, stand mixer with whisk attachment, digital thermometer, and a silicone spatula. I have a few notes about why I recommend these tools. To be honest, in the beginning I failed miserably making Italian Meringue and I do not want you to make those same mistakes.
- I do not recommend anything other than stainless steel saucepans for this recipe. Nonstick saucepans crystallized my sugar syrup every single time. Once I bought a stainless steel saucepan and I instantly had success.
- A stand mixer makes this recipe effortless and consistent. Using a hand mixer made it difficult because I was stuck holding that hand mixer.
- Digital thermometers changed my world and they are much more accurate than a candy thermometer.
Ingredients In Italian Meringue
There are only six simple ingredients needed to make No Fail Italian Meringue. Each one is important so I do not suggest omitting or substituting as it can result in an unsuccessful meringue. Let me explain:
- Egg Whites; room temperature – when whipped, the proteins in egg whites create a foam which creates stability and volume
- Granulated Sugar – acts as not only a sweetener but a stabilizer for the whipped egg whites
- Water – helps to make the sugar into a thick, sweet syrup
- Cream of Tartar – acidic compound which stabilizes the egg whites and contributes to a fluffy, airy meringue. I always use Frontier Co-op brand.
- Lemon Juice; fresh – acid which helps the egg whites to hold onto air and prevent collapsing
- Vanilla Extract – purely for flavor!
Prep for Success
Use white vinegar to wipe down all tools; saucepan, mixer bowl, whisk attachment, thermometer probe, and silicon spatula. Any oily residue leftover will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly.
Measure out all your ingredients and set up your stations. Place sugar and water into the saucepan, egg whites into the stand mixer bowl, and set the cream of tartar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract next to your stand mixer. Set digital thermometer to 240° F (116° C) next to your saucepan.
Making the Sugar Syrup & Whipping the Egg Whites
Heat the sugar and water over medium heat for five minutes and DO NOT STIR. Stirring disrupts the sugar from dissolving. Once five minutes has passed gently stir the sugar water mixture with your silicon spatula for one minute. It will look slightly cloudy at this point and no more stirring.
TIP: The lower heat allows the sugar to properly melt and combine with the water. Heating the sugar water too fast causes the mixture to crystalize and the meringue to be grainy. If your mixture is heating too quickly turn down the heat for a few minutes.
Let the mixture continue to heat until bubbles start to come from the bottom of your saucepan, it usually takes another three to five minutes. Once you see these bubbles place your thermometer probe into the saucepan and increase heat to medium-high. The mixture should be clear at this point and rapidly bubbling.
Once the sugar water mixture reaches 230° F (110° C) turn your stand mixer on high to allow the egg whites to whip to peaks. Continue to monitor the sugar syrup mixture and egg whites. Once the syrup reaches 240° F (116° C) remove it from the heat. Allow the mixture to come to a slow to no bubble before pouring into the egg whites. I have found this helps to keep the egg whites from collapsing. It should look like the image below.
TIP: Be sure the mixture is clear. If it seems cloudy or is crystallized and you add it to your egg whites, it will cause the meringue to be clumpy, and grainy. Also, your egg whites should be to frothy peaks. If they are overwhipped, separated, or look runny this will affect your meringue. If you find yourself in any of these situations it is best to restart.
Incorporating Everything Together
Keep your stand mixer running on high as you slowly pour an even stream of sugar syrup into the whipped egg whites. Keep the stream of sugar syrup between noodle and pencil thickness. Adding to much too fast can cause the egg whites to deflate.
TIP: Try to avoid the whisk or it will fling the mixture all over the bowl instead of incorporating it into your meringue.
Immediately after the sugar syrup is poured, add the cream of tartar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Allow your meringue to whip until the mixture has cooled, this takes anywhere from three to five minutes. Keep an eye on your meringue because you don’t want to whip too much air into it.
TIP: I test the warmth of the meringue but feeling the temperature of the bowl. Once it is somewhere between room temperature and slightly warm to the touch I stop the mixer. To be safe, I will immediately put it in another glass bowl so the residual heat doesn’t affect.
Storing Information & Making Ahead
This No Fail Italian Meringue stored covered in the refrigerator for up to five days and at room temperature covered for up to two days. This can include being in piping bag or a covered bowl, etc. Again, the stability is what makes this possible. Please note if you use this meringue as a component to another recipe, the storing information may change depending on how you use it.
TIP: It can be made ahead of time too! Refrigerate it over night and in the morning whisk it for a few minutes prior to using!
Frequently Asked Questions About Italian Meringue:
YES! You can even triple it for even more pillowy goodness. In the recipe card you can hit 2x or 3x to scale up the recipe.
Of course. This recipe tastes great with mint extract, almond extract, and any other extracts. Just substitute the vanilla extract and add it in the step where the extract is incorporated.
Of course! You can use gel or water based food coloring. You will want to add it to the egg whites in the stand mixer before they have been whipped. As the egg whites come to soft peaks it will color the meringue. Right before you are about to add the vanilla extract, assess the color, and add more along with the vanilla extract.
Yes it will, but only temporarily. This makes it a great option for Baked Alaskas. I do not recommend storing it in the freezer for longer amounts of time though.
1 to 2 days at the most is my recommendation. I do recommend keeping it separate from whatever you plan on serving it with. For example, if you are making a trifle, keep it in a bowl by itself for up to 2 days. Assemble the trifle up to 12 hours prior to serving.
Yes and no. Lemon juice adds an extra layer of stability to the meringue. You will still have perfect meringue without it thought. If you are afraid the Italian Meringue will taste like lemon, don’t worry, it leaves no lemon flavor.
This is most likely due to the brand of cream of tartar used. I recommend reducing the amount by a quarter teaspoon next time.
More Frosting Recipes You Might Enjoy:
- Almond Buttercream Frosting
- Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
- Not So Sweet Chocolate Buttercream
- Not So Sweet Buttercream
- Nutella Buttercream Frosting
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No Fail Italian Meringue
- Stainless steel saucepan
- Stand mixer with whisk attachment
- Digital thermometer
- Silicone Spatula
- 3 egg whites - room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prep for Success
- Use white vinegar to wipe down all tools; saucepan, mixer bowl, whisk attachment, thermometer probe, and silicon spatula. Any oily residue leftover will prevent the meringue from whipping together properly.
- Measure out all your ingredients. Place sugar and water into the saucepan, egg whites into the stand mixer bowl, and set the cream of tartar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract next to your stand mixer. Set digital thermometer to 240 °F.
Making the Italian Meringue
- Place sugar and water mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes. Do not stir it at all during this time. The mixture will look cloudy.
- Gently stir the mixture for 1 minute. There should be little to no granules of sugar left at this point.
- Once the mixture begins to bubble from the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, place the digital thermometer in the pot and increase to medium-high heat. Do not stir it at all after this.
- Allow the mixture to come to a boil and watch carefully. Once it reaches 230 °F turn stand mixer on highest speed to whip egg whites to peaks.
- Once the sugar syrup reaches 240 °F, remove from heat and remove the probe. This takes about 4- 6 minutes. Allow the boiling to come to a slow bubble before moving on.
- Slowly pour sugar syrup (steady stream) into egg whites. Avoid the whisk attachment or it will fling your mixture all over the bowl.
- Immediately after, add the cream of tartar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
- Allow mixture to whisk for another 3-5 minutes.
Storing and Make Ahead Information:No Fail Italian Meringue can be made ahead of time and stored in a piping bag or covered bowl.
- In the refrigerator covered for up to five days.
- At room temperature covered for up to three days.
Metric conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.