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What To Use As a Meringue Powder Substitute?


Baking expertly decorated cupcakes is no joke. Adding a small amount of meringue powder assists in this task and creates perfect royal icing. If you’ve run out of meringue powder and still want smooth, fluffy icing, here is a meringue powder substitute list you can use.

two cans of Wilton brand meringue powder

What is meringue powder?

For those who don’t bake often, you may not recognize meringue powder. It’s used in the baking world to stabilize frosting and certain baked goods like meringue cookies or pavlova treats. You will not find meringue powder in savory recipes due to most brands including sweetener and vanilla flavoring.

The history of meringue powder is vague, though it is thought that the Wilton Brands Company invented this powder. The first version of meringue was noted in a Switzerland town named Meiringen in the 1600s. Meringues are the dessert that inspired meringue powder to be created.

The first recipe book to include meringues was published in the late 1600s. Somewhere between this cookbook being released and today, meringue powder was created.

Meringue Powder Substitutes and Alternatives

1. Pasteurized Egg Whites

As egg whites are the main ingredient in meringue powder, it makes sense that they work as a substitute for meringue powder. It will take much more work to turn whipped egg whites into a useable consistency for baking. However, the flavor will be pretty similar in your baked dishes.

Pros
The flavor profile of fresh egg whites will closely match meringue powder, so most people will not notice any distinct flavor changes. Egg whites also work well with baked goods like meringue cookies.

Cons
Pasteurized egg whites in recipes like royal icing or frosting can still cause illness even with the sterilization process. It’s best to avoid this option when the formula is not cooked.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 3:1 ratio to replace meringue powder.
  • Mix in cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice in the egg whites to ensure the air does not escape after whipping the egg whites.

2. Egg White Powder

Using powdered egg whites as a substitution works well also. Again, this swap provides the same egg taste expected in most dishes, including meringue powder.

Egg white powder does not have additional ingredients that meringue powder typically contains, like cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla. You will likely need to add these in to complete the recipe; otherwise, the flavor may be lackluster, and the dish will probably not be set right.

Initially, egg white powder was created by allowing egg whites to dry and then pulverizing them to make a powder. Now, egg whites are dried using the spray dry process. This process involves dispersing egg whites into a drying device while blowing hot air on them. The final result is the same egg white powder without the pulverization step.

Pros
Egg white powder is an excellent swap for meringue powder because it provides a similar flavor. It also does not spoil while sitting on the shelves as regular eggs would.

Cons
Again, there is a slight possibility of the egg whites making someone ill in frosting recipes. Use this powder only in cooked recipes. Other ingredients will need to be mixed into egg white powder before this substitution can be used for baking, adding additional steps to any recipe.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use a 2:1 ratio when using egg white powder.
  • Egg white powder needs to have water added to it before it can be used. Add any additional ingredients in at this time before baking with it (cornstarch, etc.).

3. Aquafaba

Aquafaba works as one of the best meringue powder substitutes. When opening a can of chickpeas, a yellowish liquid is present once the chickpeas have been removed. This liquid is aquafaba. It can be whipped to create a similar version of stiff peaks that egg whites would typically offer.

Since this ingredient derives from chickpeas, it works as an excellent vegan alternative for those who follow this lifestyle. As aquafaba comes from garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), it will have a different flavor to uncooked recipes.

Pros
There are no eggs incorporated in this swap, making it work well in both cooked dishes and frosting/icing. This ingredient has a neutral taste when used in cooked recipes, so it won’t be easy to detect. Vegans can use this ingredient to provide a fluffy, light texture to recipes that generally call for meringue powder.

Cons
The flavor profile is different than that of meringue powder. You will notice the taste difference when using aquafaba in frostings or other uncooked recipes. It will add a little bit of a bean flavor. It will take around 10 minutes to whip up the aquafaba adding time to your recipe.

Cooking Tips:

  • For every 1 tablespoon of meringue powder, a recipe calls for the use of 1.5 tablespoons of aquafaba.
  • Vanilla and sweetener will need to be added to aquafaba for a more similar flavor in recipes.

4. Agar-Agar Powder

Agar-agar powder, aka agar, is another alternative that can be incorporated into dishes instead of meringue powder. This powder is created from algae found in nature – it can not be recreated in a lab. This white powder has no flavor, color, and aroma, making it an excellent option for any baked goods or unbaked goods.

As agar is created from seaweed, vegans can consume this option as well. Agar powder is most often used as a gelatin replacement. However, once combined with water and chilled, you can whip agar like aquafaba. It provides a similar consistency as well as the sought-after stiff peaks.

Pros
This powder is quite versatile since it does not add any taste when incorporated into recipes. It’s vegan-friendly and provides peaks that mimic egg whites.

Cons
It can be tricky to find agar in stores as most grocery chains do not carry this item. Additional ingredients will need to be added for flavoring, like vanilla. It also adds time to the recipe when using agar powder due to needing to be refrigerated and whipped.

Cooking Tips:

  • A 2:1 ratio can be used in recipes once the agar powder has been combined with water.
  • This option will also require you to add flavoring since it is tasteless.

5. Arrowroot powder

Arrowroot powder is often used as a flour substitute in recipes that are intended to be gluten-free and paleo-friendly. This powder comes from the root of exotic vegetation, otherwise known as Maranta Arundinacea.

The plant looks like a sweet potato in shape before being processed. Once processed, this starch can be used in recipes to add thickness. Arrowroot powder can be used in savory and sweet dishes, making it a versatile alternative.

It also has no flavor, so it’s undetectable when used as a meringue powder substitute. Keep in mind; you cannot use this substitution to create stiff peaks.

Pros
You’ll want to use arrowroot powder for frosting or icing – this will help them thicken easily. Use arrowroot with any flavor of frosting/icing as it is a flavorless flour.

Cons
As arrowroot powder lacks flavor, it will be an extra step or two to create a final dessert that is tasty. This flour can not be used to develop meringues or for meringue-like desserts.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 2:1 ratio when cooking with this substitute.
  • The flavor will need to be added as well when using arrowroot powder.

6. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds also work as a meringue powder substitute. When allowed to sit in liquid (water, milk, nut milk), they absorb the moisture and turn into a jelly-like substance. To avoid the seed-like texture in your baked goods, grind the seeds first using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder.

You’ll find that chia seeds also do not have much flavor, though they provide a slightly nutty taste. This swap can make meringues as the jelly-like substance produced can be whipped (like aquafaba).

Pros
Chia seed powder can be used both as a thickener and as a base for meringues. As this option is plant-based, it works well for those who are following a vegan diet.

Cons
Using chia seeds as a swap requires a good amount of extra work and time. Once you grind the chia seeds, they’ll need to be soaked for at least a few hours. Then, the produced gel will need to be whipped for about 30 minutes. You’ll also need to add vanilla and sweetener when using this substitution.

Cooking Tips:

  • Combine chis seed powder with water before using it as a substitution.
  • Combine one teaspoon of chia seed powder with two tablespoons of water. This mixture replaces two teaspoons of meringue powder.

7. Gelatin

Gelatin is one of the most accessible ingredients, as it’s highly likely you have this in your kitchen already. You can use unflavored gelatin powder as a thickener or help frosting hold its shape.

Again, this replacement does not have any flavoring, so you’ll want to add vanilla and sugar to mimic the taste of meringue powder. This swap can be used to create meringue-like desserts, though only as a stabilizer.

Pros
Gelatin is readily available and likely situated in your kitchen. It is unflavored and doesn’t have much taste, so it can easily be combined with other flavors. This powder works well for thickening frosting or icing. It also helps stabilize whipped cream or different cake layer fillings.

Cons
This swap can be high maintenance as well, as you’ll need to combine the gelatin powder with warm water and allow it to thicken slightly before use. As noted above, additional flavoring will be required when using gelatin in recipes.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use three tablespoons of warm water combined with one tablespoon of gelatin powder to replace two teaspoons of meringue powder.
  • Ensure you do not allow the gelatin to thicken fully as it will become challenging to cook with.

8. Xanthan Gum

Xanthan Gum is similar to agar in that it arises from natural ingredients. Sugar, bacteria, and alcohol are combined to create this powder, which turns into a gel-like substance. Then, the substance is dried to a powder form. This gum is used in many food items already, from chips to dips and even some shampoos.

This powder is considered a food additive, and you can use it as a thickener in different recipes. As this gum originates from sugar, it will have some sweetness in it already. Though, you’ll likely want to add flavoring like vanilla extract.

Pros
You can use xanthan gum in most recipes that meringue powder would be included, with modifications. It works well as a thickener for recipes like frosting.

Cons
Xanthan gum will need to be altered to be used in meringue recipes. It does not create stiff peaks like egg whites. It will need to be used in conjunction with items like aquafaba for the correct meringue texture.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum with ¼ teaspoon of water to replace two teaspoons of meringue powder.
  • An important note is that you need to whip the water and gum combination before adding to any recipe.

FAQs

What is Meringue Powder used for?

Meringue powder is used mainly in baking and in frostings. It is commonly used to replace egg whites that have been whipped to form peaks. It’s both a time-saving agent and prevents you from potentially consuming raw eggs as the egg whites are partially sterilized in this powder.

Can I use cornstarch instead of meringue powder?

Even though cornstarch is typically in meringue powder, it can not be used as a swap by itself. The additional ingredients in meringue powder are what help stabilize frosting. It is best to use meringue powder or one of the above options instead of cornstarch on its own.

What is the shelf life for meringue powder?

Meringue powder can last a few years when stored correctly. As with other baking ingredients like flour, you should store it in a dry spot where the temperature stays relatively cool. When appropriately kept, meringue powder can last for two years.

What are meringue powder ingredients?

Meringue powder mainly contains dried egg whites. There are a few other ingredients which include cornstarch, sugar, and cream of tartar.

What does meringue powder do for royal icing?

Meringue powder is often used in royal icing to help prevent the frosting from cracking. Royal icing is intended to dry into a hard layer, unlike frosting you’d find on cupcakes. Using meringue powder allows the icing to dry quickly enough to avoid cracks.

Summary

You can easily swap Meringue powder for any of the above alternatives. Egg whites are the best choice for cooked recipes as they will provide the most similar flavor – they also can be whipped for a fluffy consistency.

Using aquafaba as a substitution provides the ability to make frostings without fear of using raw eggs. Use this choice when you want to make tasty royal icing for cupcakes or desserts. Try the above options as replacements when you’ve noticed that you have run out of meringue powder.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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