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No Fail Italian Meringue

5 from 20 votes
Total Time: 25 mins
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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!

No Fail Italian Meringue on a wire whisk.

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!

Toasted No Fail Italian Meringue on a wire whisk.

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:

Classic Uses

  • Lemon Meringue Pie (try my Mini Lemon Meringue Pies)
  • Pavlovas
  • baked Meringue Cookies
  • Italian Macarons (base)
  • Baked Alaska

Modern Uses

  • 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.

Image of Meringue on Wire Wisk.

Tools Needed

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.
Overhead shot of tools needed for No Fail Italian Meringue including wire whisk, stand mixer and bowl, stainless steel pot, spatula, digital thermometer, vinegar and towel for cleaning the tools.

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:

  1. Egg Whites; room temperature – when whipped, the proteins in egg whites create a foam which creates stability and volume
  2. Granulated Sugar – acts as not only a sweetener but a stabilizer for the whipped egg whites
  3. Water – helps to make the sugar into a thick, sweet syrup
  4. Cream of Tartar – acidic compound which stabilizes the egg whites and contributes to a fluffy, airy meringue
  5. Lemon Juice; fresh – acid which helps the egg whites to hold onto air and prevent collapsing
  6. Vanilla Extract – purely for flavor!
Overhead shots of ingredients needed for No Fail Italian Meringue including sugar, water, egg whites, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and 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 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.

Pot with sugar water, spatula, and set digital thermometer.

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.

Overhead shot of proper Sugar Syrup prior to adding to egg whites.

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.

Overhead shot of completed No Fail Italian Meringue in bowl

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:

Can I double this Italian Meringue recipe?

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.

Can I add extracts to flavor the Italian Meringue?

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.

Can I add food coloring to make a colored Italian Meringue?

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.

Will Italian Meringue hold up in the freezer?

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.

How far ahead of time can Italian Meringue be made?

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.

Is the lemon juice necessary?

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.

My Italian Meringue tastes acidic, what can I do?

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:


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Enjoy Entirely, Elizabeth
Soft, fluffy, bright white Italian Meringue on a wire whisk.

No Fail Italian Meringue

Elizabeth Swoish
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.
5 from 20 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 4 cups
Calories 209 kcal

Equipment

  • Stainless steel saucepan
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • Digital thermometer
  • Silicone Spatula

Ingredients
 
 

  • 3 egg whites; room temperature
  • 1 cup granular sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

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.

Notes

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.
NOTE: If you use this meringue as a component to another recipe, the storing information may change depending on how you use it.
Keyword ITALIAN MERINGUE, MERINGUE

If you make my No Fail Italian Meringue, don’t forget to leave this recipe a rating, comment, or like. Tag me on social media using the hashtag #EntirelyElizabeth when sharing your own personal photos making this recipe. I would love to see your version and know your thoughts!

By Elizabeth Swoish on July 29th, 2021

57 thoughts on “No Fail Italian Meringue”

  1. 5 stars
    This is the first time I’ve made any meringue. I wanted the stability of Italian meringue to top orange curd tartlets. It’s shiny and beautiful! Your recipe is perfect.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Needed to make Italian Meringue for the first time to top a pie, this was perfect!!!! So helpful and so easy once prepped and going with instructions, thank you!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Regular meringue (French?) seemed to deteriorate in our humid Florida climate even with the use of cream of tartare. Followed your recipe as written and it worked perfectly! I used it to frost a lemon Swiss roll cake. The little bit of lemon juice tempered the sweetness of it. I have some leftover and will use it for pecan meringue cookies. I’ll keep your Italian Meringue recipe in my file. Many thanks for your clear easy to follow instructions.

    Reply
  4. I would like to try this for something called a Hot Cocoa Cake with Peppermint-Marshmallow Frosting. It would mean replacing the lemon juice/vanilla with one drop of peppermint extract. The meringue would then be added to the top of a (cooled) chocolate cake (not browned on top). Would this work?

    Reply
    • Hey Stacey:
      Yes! This will work. I would add a 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract. If you are referring to essential oils, then yes 1 to 2 drops will suffice. The lemon juice is for added stability but the recipe will still come out beautifully with only the use of cream of tartar. I am making a Hot Cocoa Trifle today! I am actually doing the same thing with my meringue and I am adding a drop or two of red food coloring. Great minds think alike.
      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  5. 5 stars
    Best merengue ever !!!! Holds amazingly. Thanks for all the tricks . I use it a lot now on my cakes . Can I double it ??? I am making a big cake and would love to use this merengue .
    Thanks

    Reply
  6. I plan on using this recipe for a baked meringue, but need to color half of it red (gel coloring). What stage would you recommend adding that in? Thanks!

    Reply
  7. I am making my first Baked Alaska and wondered if can I frost the ice cream cake with this Italian Meringue on the cake and then freeze it for about 6 hours before serving it. Will the Meringue hold up in the freezer?

    Reply
  8. Can I make this 2-3 days ahead of time, refrigerate it and then use it to top a trifle on Christmas day? How long can it sit on top of a trifle before serving?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Lisa;
      Yes you can. Before you go to put it in and on your trifle give it a good whip with a whisk. And make sure it is stored in an airtight container, not just a bowl with plastic wrap (you want zero chance of moisture getting in there).
      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  9. 5 stars
    First timer. It was so fun making this!!!
    I cannot thank you enough.
    My pies will be perfect for thanksgiving tomorrow ❤️

    Reply
  10. 5 stars
    Thanks for the great recipe!! If egg whites are not foaming properly, meringue looks kinda runny, can I still add butter to make Italian meringue buttercream? Thank you.

    Reply
  11. I hate being one of “those people” but is the lemon juice SUPER necessary? I plan on flavoring the meringue with espresso powder and amaretto for topping on mini tiramisu’s, just worried about it affecting the flavor.

    Reply
    • Hey there!
      I LOVE this question. Short answer, you can definitely leave it out. The lemon acts as another stabilizer but the meringue. This is where the “no fail” comes into the recipe. You will still have a great meringue without it. Your creation sounds so delicious by the way. I would love for you to share a picture with me when it’s done ([email protected]).
      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  12. I want ro use this recipe to decorate the top of a cake, like piled on top and then torch it. Will it be ok and hold it’s shape in the fridge overnight or will it weep?

    Reply
    • Hey Rebecca;
      This will definitely work how you want it to. It will hold it’s shape in the refrigerator overnight, and no it will not weep. I have done the same thing and kept my cake uncovered.
      Come back and let us know how it turns out!
      ~E

      Reply
    • Hey Mel;
      Definitely do not put this on a warm pie. It will melt the meringue. Instead, put the meringue on your room temperature pie and chill it for about an hour before toasting the meringue in the oven.
      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  13. I like how this turned out! No issues at all – your directions were very good!
    If I refrigerate it over night , will a gentle folding with the spatula bring it to life tomorrow when I’ll torch the merengues? ( I don’t want to bring my stand mixer with me, as I am finishing the assembly tomorrow ) oh -and should I wait for it yo cool before covering and refrigerating it ?

    Reply
    • Hi Mary!
      So glad to hear it turned out well for you. And yes, cover it and refrigerate over night. Fold it with a spatula a few times in the morning and it’ll be good to go. It toasts beautifully cold or at room temp so no worries there. If your meringue is at room temperature it is okay to go in the refrigerator.
      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  14. 5 stars
    So am I being dumb…..can you not cook Italian meringue into shaped meringues and cook them crispy, just to have as meringues?! Mine have been in the oven sooo long and they’re still soft on the outside, so beginning to wonder if they’re not supposed to be cooked and only torched haha! Please can someone enlighten me so I can turn my oven off lol!

    Reply
    • Hey there;

      I am not sure but if you try it I would love to know how it works out for you. It will definitely store well overnight but baking it in a macaron I don’t know. I typically make my Italian macarons all in one afternoon. Try it out and let me know!

      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  15. 5 stars
    This is a really easy recipe, and makes an incredibly light and fluffy frosting.
    My egg whites were slightly separated when i poured in the syrup, but it didn’t affect the end result.
    I think that a tablespoon of lemon juice is a bit much if you want a neutral flavor, but it makes a nice pairing with a sweet cake.

    Reply
    • Hey Jenna;

      Yes you do have to re whip the meringue. I recommend doing it by hand, not with your stand mixer or hand mixer, so you do not compromise the integrity and shape of the meringue. I use a silicone spatula and fold it several times.
      Thanks for the question.

      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  16. 5 stars
    Super delish and was easy to work with! the only thing I need to perfect is step 6, how do I not fling syrup mix onto side of bowl while whisking ? can I slow speed on mixer?

    Reply
    • JoLee;

      My syrup does the same thing. I do not recommend turning down the speed because the hot syrup can ruin the meringue if it isn’t incorporated quick enough. I let my syrup slide down the side of the bowl and it tends to reduce the amount that gets flung around. So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  17. 5 stars
    Love the detail in your methodology! I plan to use this first for key lime pie. I need to make 2 pies and wondered if you have tried doubling the meringue recipe? Any reason you think it wouldn’t work?

    Reply
  18. Just made your recipe yesterday and it turned out great and stable. Yours was the 3rd variation of recipe I have tried to get a good meringue. Used it on mini tarts, some toasted, some not.
    Small question- It seems to have a slight acidic taste from the lemon. I may have made a mistake with bottled lemon juice instead of fresh. Is fresh best? or can the amount be reduced slightly without affecting the stability?

    Reply
  19. 5 stars
    Absolutely the best meringue recipe, I used it to top a chocolate pie. I was so worried to make meringue until I found this recipe, super easy and delicious. I lightly toasted mine with a torch after and it held up great.

    Reply
    • Kelsie!

      I am so happy you had success. Meringue is definitely intimidating and I am glad my recipe made it easy for you. And as a side note: your chocolate meringue pie sounds amazing!
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
    • Marlene;

      I have done that in the past and have had no issues. I also like to top my pie with the meringue and allow it to chill overnight (this works especially well on lemon and key lime meringue pies).

      ~Elizabeth

      Reply
  20. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I dont have a sugar thermometer but i cooked sugar until soft ball stage. (Kept on checking it) it worked beautifully. I use it to top the classic tarte au citron. And brown it slightly with a blowtorch. I find that when i sprinkle a little cornflower on the filling before topping with meringue it doesnt separate and reduces moisture between layers. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

    Reply
  21. 5 stars
    Thank you!!!!!!!! First time to ever make Italian Meringue and it is a show stopper!!! I cannot believe how easy this was to make!! It made such a beautiful presentation on my home made chocolate pie! It made glossy and gorgeous peaks. Then I preheated my broiler on high and put in my pie. 20 seconds and it browned perfectly. Literally 20 seconds! I will NEVER NEVER EVER EVER AGAIN make meringues any other way!!!!!

    Reply
  22. 5 stars
    I love meringues and always looking for a great recipe to follow. Definitely will use yours as it looks simple and your instructions very easy to follow, thank you.

    Reply

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