Meringue powder can be your best friend when you are making beautiful, light-as-air clouds of meringue piled high on a lemon meringue pie or piped into delicate swirls. It’s convenient and both easy to store and use. While egg whites, per Cooks Illustrated, may be the preferred ingredient to use when whipping up those stiff peaks that can make or break a dessert, sometimes they are simply not an option.
Brown Eyed Baker shares the key ingredients to a lovely meringue begin with sugar and egg whites. Add to that some cream of tartar to make strong meringue, along with a little vanilla and salt for taste, and you are in business. But many home bakers will forgo using egg whites and use meringue powder instead because it is a shelf-stable, all-in-one ingredient that is comprised of cornstarch, dried egg whites, sugar, citric acid, and some stabilizers. Simply put, it makes life a little easier. But what happens when you are whipping up your favorite pavlova and you realize your pantry has been depleted of meringue powder? We have found 10 substitutes that will keep your meringue — and even your favorite icing, cookies, brownies, and other baked good recipes — tasting just as delish.
1. Fresh egg whites
Egg whites are the best substitute for meringue powder. Spiceography shares that, before meringue powder existed, egg whites were the go-to ingredient and suggests that your final baked goods and desserts actually taste better when you use egg whites over meringue powder. However, the publication also notes that, if you need to whip up a lot, that can be a challenge. If you are going to use egg whites, you will need to add some cream of tartar along with a little lemon juice to help prevent all of those beautiful egg whites you have spent the last 20 minutes whipping up from sinking. Blogger Jessica Gavin explains that it is the egg whites’ "foaming capability" that makes them a superior alternative compared to others.
But, according to Reddit users, it might take some time to master using egg whites in place of meringue powder. Redditors shared they found pasteurized egg whites to be "temperamental." That said, one pro suggested that you could try unpasteurized egg whites, writing, "You don’t need pasteurized egg whites, but someone mentioned they found the egg white temperamental. Unpasteurized will be more temperamental, which is the primary reason for the suggestion, but still 100% useable. I used unpasteurized this Christmas. Also pro tip: avoid bubbles in your egg whites, also makes it needlessly temperamental."
2. Powdered egg whites
If the thought of using fresh egg whites feels a little daunting, but you still want to have egg whites as the base for your meringues and icings, you could try powdered egg whites instead. Powdered egg whites are exactly what they sound like: pasteurized egg whites that have been dehydrated and need to be reconstituted with a little water. Cooking America shares that you’ll want to follow a 1:2 ratio when you use this substitution. This means you will need 2 teaspoons of dried egg white plus 2 tablespoons of warm water for every 1 egg white the recipe calls for.
Powdered egg whites are convenient because you can keep a canister of them in your pantry for about 12 months. They also eliminate the time and waste of separating the egg and the white that fresh egg whites require. You can purchase powdered egg whites in most grocery stores. Just head over to the aisle where you find all the wonderful ingredients for baking and decorating your cakes and cookies.
Aquafaba can be a great substitute for meringue powder. If you are not familiar with this wonder, per Good Food, aquafaba is the thick, golden or sometimes cloudy-looking liquid you find in a can of chickpeas. Aquafaba is Italian for "bean water." Many of us just toss this liquid when we drain our chickpeas, but it has properties that make it an ideal alternative if you want a recipe to be vegan or simply do not have meringue powder. To use when making a meringue, Good Food suggests whipping up your liquid gold for 10 to 15 minutes to get those stiff-looking peaks.
How do you substitute aquafaba for meringue powder or egg whites? According to The Kitchn, it will take 3 tablespoons of aquafaba to equal one whole egg white. The good news is, a can of chickpeas probably has anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of a cup of liquid in it. The Kitchn shares this can equal anywhere from 8 to 12 tablespoons. One pro tip: Your aquafaba needs to be thick if you are going to whip it up for your baked goods. The Kitchn also notes that, if your aquafaba looks watery, you can simmer it on the stove so it will thicken up. This will also reduce the amount of aquafaba by about one-quarter, so plan accordingly.
4. Agar-agar powder
Agar-agar powder, according to Taste.com.au, is made from red algae, making it another great vegan substitute for meringue powder. Also referred to simply as agar powder, this substance doesn’t have a taste, smell, or color, so it is easy to use as an alternative in your baked goods without adding any new funky flavors or tastes to your end product.
How do you substitute agar-agar for egg whites or meringue powder? Per Food 52, you will need 1 tablespoon of agar and 1 tablespoon of water to have the same effect as 1 egg white in your recipe. Baking Overseas explains you need to boil your agar-agar mix and cool it before you whip it up. Additionally, it can be mixed with lemon juice to provide the stabilizer that is found in meringue powder. Food 52 notes agar-agar powder works best as a meringue powder substitute when you are making breads, cakes, or custards specifically.
Another great option for a meringue powder substitute is flaxseed or flaxseed powder. Per Bhavna’s Kitchen blog, flaxseed can be used to make a vegan meringue. The process is a little involved, but basically you are going to boil your whole flaxseed with some water for about 40 minutes. Once you have done this, you will then strain the liquid from the mix and let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, where it will form a flaxseed gel that can be whipped into a meringue. The blogger notes that whipping this liquid will take about 25 minutes to achieve your end goal, which may seem a little time consuming.
The Pretty Bee shares you can use ground flaxseed and combine it with water to create a substitute, too. The blogger explains that, if you mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 1 tablespoon of water, you will end up with a gelatin-like substance. Per Substitute Cooking, you will need to mix 1 tablespoon of flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water for every 2 teaspoons of meringue powder the recipe calls for. They share that this substitute works best when making cookies, muffins, and pancakes.
6. Chia seeds
Chia seeds can also be used as a substitute for meringue powder. According to Substitute Cooking, chia seeds offer a nutty flavor to recipes. Much like flaxseed, if you soak your chia seeds in water, they are going to leave behind what they describe as a "gel" that can be used as a binding agent.
If you want to use it as a substitute for meringue powder, you will need to grind the chia seeds into a powder. The Pretty Bee shares chia seeds are not a favored substitute because of the color it adds to your baked goods. They suggest you use white ground chia seeds if you are going to use it as a meringue powder substitute to avoid altering the appearance of your end product. Substitute Cooking also notes that you will want to use 1 teaspoon of chia mixed with 2 tablespoons of water for every 2 teaspoons of meringue powder.
7. Tofu aquafaba
House Foods shares you can also use tofu aquafaba — yep, not just chickpeas create this juice — as a meringue powder substitute when making your favorite pavlova or meringue cookies. That said, the recipe still calls for some cream of tartar to help stabilize. But NPR shares aquafaba from soy or any neutral tasting bean will actually work as a replacement for egg whites and can be whipped up to produce the same effect in your recipes that whipping up egg whites does.
The story goes on to quote Goose Wohlt, who created a Facebook group called, "Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses!" They wrote, "Aquafaba is unique among egg replacers in that it captures some but not all of the characteristics of both egg white and yolk. It can be used as a thickener, binder, emulsifier, foaming agent, and more." This group has more than 103,000 followers and is worth checking out for tips and tricks for creating vegan meringues that delight. One follower shared, "One egg is generally replaced by three tablespoons of aquafaba! And, yes, you can store aquafaba in the refrigerator for 2 to 10 days, until it starts getting stinky – but you can also freeze it!"
Gelatin is one of those ingredients that most bakers always have on hand. Whether you are a fan of "watch it wiggle, see it jiggle" Jell-O treats, or simply like to use it as a thickening agent for your yummy desserts, gelatin is a baker’s friend. Byrdie notes gelatin, by itself, is a colorless, tasteless, water soluble ingredient, while Substitute Cooking shares all of these properties make it a natural substitute for meringue powder. Either the non-flavored powder or gelatin sheets will work by stirring together 3 tablespoons of warm water for ever 1 tablespoon of gelatin to replace every 2 teaspoons of meringue powder.
Gelatin is easy to find in your local supermarket and easy to store, making it a great alternative if you find you are without meringue powder. But, obviously gelatin is not a vegan substitute since it is generally derived from the collagen of pigs or cows. So, if you are trying to stick to vegan meringue powder substitutes, this, unfortunately, is not one of them.
9. Xanthan Gum
Substitute Cooking shares xanthan gum can also be a substitute for meringue powder. What is xanthan gum? Per Healthline, xanthan gum is a food additive. Flip over a package of store-bought salad dressing and you will likely find xanthan gum listed as an ingredient. King Arthur Baking notes xanthan gum is used to help prevent ingredients from separating, and when you mix it with the likes of water, it becomes thick and gel-like in appearance. Xanthan gum can be found at your local grocery store or even the likes of Target and Walmart.
How does this substitution work? Substitute Cooking explains that you will need to stir together a quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum with a quarter teaspoon of water for every 2 teaspoons of meringue powder. You will need to whip the mixture before you can use it, however. One important thing to remember, according to Healthine, is that xanthan does come from sugar, but not just cane sugar. It can also come from wheat, corn, soy, and dairy. So, if you have an allergy to any of these ingredients, you may want to opt for another substitute.
Bananas are an unlikely suspect when it comes to a substitution of meringue powder; however, bananas are actually a vegan’s secret weapon when it comes to replacing eggs in recipes. Per Nature’s Path, bananas are generally used in place of an egg to add moisture. So, this alternative ingredient is not going to be something you use when you make your royal icing or meringue pie. (Think cookies and bread instead.) That said, banana has a very distinct flavor, so factor this into what you are baking.
How do you substitute? According to Substitute Cooking, mashed up bananas can easily replace egg white powder and add "volume and moisture" to a recipe in the process. If you remember, egg white powder is a great substitute for meringue powder. The substitution ratio for banana to egg white powder is pretty straightforward. You will need a quarter cup of mashed up bananas for every 2 teaspoons of egg white powder.