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Don’t you hate it when you have a recipe all planned out only to realize that you don’t have all the ingredients you need?  Well, if you’re facing this challenge now and don’t have the meringue powder you need to make royal icing, cookies, or another treat, don’t worry.

Fortunately, there are a few different meringue powder substitutes that will help you ensure that your recipe turns out perfectly.  Whether you’re looking for a substitute for meringue powder in royal icing or need a meringue powder replacement for cookies, you’ve come to the right place!  Continue reading, and I’ll share some of my favorite meringue powder substitutes, many of which you probably already have in your fridge or pantry.

What is meringue powder?

Meringue powder is a dried powder that you may see called for in various baking recipes.  I bet your next question is, “what is meringue powder made of?”

The main ingredient in meringue powder is egg whites.  The egg whites are pasteurized and then ground, turning them into a fine powder.  

In addition to the egg whites, other ingredients are added to the meringue powder as well.  These include:

  • Sugar:  To sweeten the powder
  • Cornstarch:  To absorb moisture and keep the powder fresh
  • Calcium sulfate:  To help keep the powder dry (as a desiccant)
  • Gum arabic:  To thicken the consistency of the mixture
  • Citric acid:  To stabilize the egg foam
  • Cream of tartar:  To stabilize for the egg foam

There are a variety of benefits associated with using meringue powder instead of raw egg whites when making a recipe.  These include:

  • Meringue powder is dry, shelf-stable, and doesn’t require refrigeration, unlike egg whites.
  • It is pasteurized and free from bacteria.  This makes it safer for recipes where the egg whites may not be baked at a high enough temperature to fully cook.
  • Meringue powder is more stable than egg whites and will whip up to form stiff peaks more quickly.
  • When using meringue powder, it is always a consistent amount.  There is less room for error than when using eggs of potentially different sizes.
  • Meringue powder does not require any additional prep before being ready to use.

What is meringue powder used for?

Meringue powder has a variety of applications when baking.  It can be used in recipes that require you to whip eggs so that they hold a stiff peak.  

Some potential applications for meringue powder include:

  • Meringue cookies
  • Royal icing
  • Fillings and toppings for pies
  • Buttercream frosting
  • Cookie icing
substitute for meringue powder

What can I use instead of meringue powder?

Now that you know all the benefits and uses of meringue powder, you may be feeling even more dismayed if you don’t have any available for the recipe you want to make.  Just like you may have a mini heart attack if you need to find a fast substitute for cottage cheese for a recipe, it can be frustrating not having the meringue powder you need.

There is no need to feel this way, however, because there are a few good substitutes for meringue powder that you can try instead when making a new recipe.

These include:

  • Egg white powder
  • Egg whites
  • Flaxseeds
  • Agar powder
  • Chia seeds
  • Gelatin
  • Xanthan gum
  • Mashed bananas
  • Aquafaba

Egg Whites

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = ½ egg white

If you don’t have meringue powder, your best bet is to use egg whites.  Egg whites are the original ingredient used to make meringues.  They have, obviously, been around a lot longer than meringue powder, so it only makes sense to give them a try if you don’t have meringue powder available.

If you’re used to using meringue powder and choose to use egg whites as a substitute, just be prepared for them to take a lot longer to whip up properly and form the stiff peaks.  Meringue powder is designed to be prepared more quickly, so you may not be ready for the additional time needed to beat egg whites until they form the stiff peaks you need for a meringue.  While it may take longer, you should expect it to take about 5 minutes for the stiff peaks to form when whipping egg whites.  

Also, if you are going to use egg whites instead of meringue powder, you should also add about a teaspoon of cream of tartar before you begin mixing.  Cream of tartar is a stabilizer and will help the meringue form and prevent it from falling.

alternative to meringue powder

Egg White Powder

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = 1 teaspoon egg white powder

What can you substitute for meringue powder?  You can also use powdered egg whites.  A benefit of using powdered egg whites over fresh eggs is that they are pasteurized, meaning that there isn’t as much of a risk of ingesting harmful bacteria.

The consistency of powdered egg whites is very similar to that of meringue powder.  This should make sense, because meringue powder’s main ingredient is powdered egg whites.

However, there are other key ingredients found in meringue powder that aren’t in plain powdered egg whites.  For this reason, if you want to use egg whites as a substitute for meringue powder, you’ll have to add in some of these other ingredients, such as vanilla, sugar, and cornstarch.

Flaxseeds

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = ½ teaspoon flaxseeds

What can you use instead of meringue powder?  Well, flaxseeds or flaxseed powder is another great option to consider.  Flaxseed is vegan, so choosing to use flaxseed over meringue friendly can help you create a vegan-friendly meringue.

If you want to use flaxseeds instead of meringue powder, start by boiling the flaxseeds or powder in a little water.  Keep the water lightly boiling for about 45 minutes, then strain the water out of the pot and transfer the flaxseeds to another container.  Leave the container in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill the flaxseed.

When you remove the flaxseed after a few hours, you’ll notice that it has a gel-like consistency now.  It is now ready to whip into your meringue.

However, one downside of using flaxseeds instead of meringue powder is that they can take a lot longer to whip to the right consistency.  Be prepared to spend between 20 and 30 minutes whipping the flaxseed to get it to form the frothy white mixture with stiff peaks that you need for meringue.

meringue powder replacement

Agar Powder

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = ½ teaspoon agar powder

Do you need to find the best substitute for meringue powder in buttercream icing?  If so, you might want to try agar powder.   This powder, which can also be called agar-agar powder, won’t add any smell, flavor, or color to your meringue.  It is also a vegan-friendly substitute as it is made using red algae, not any animal products, like eggs.  

Agar powder can also be a good substitute for meringue powder when baking cakes, custards, or breads.  Before you try to whip agar powder, add water to it (about 1 tablespoon of water for each tablespoon of powder) and boil it.  Let it cool completely before beating it with your blender.

You may also want to consider adding a little lemon juice to the agar powder before beating it.  Lemon juice is acidic and can function as a stabilizer to help your meringue turn out better. 

Chia Seeds

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = ½ teaspoon chia seed

Wondering what to use instead of meringue powder?  Well, you can also try using chia seeds.  Soak the seeds in water to create a gelatinous substance.  The texture of the soak chia seeds will resemble that of egg whites.

If you enjoy nuts, you may like the way the meringue tastes when you use chia seeds.  They have a bit of a nutty flavor.  

However, there are a few concerns with using chia seeds as a substitute for meringue powder.  In addition to altering the taste of the meringue, they can also change the way it looks.  Unless you use ground white chia seeds, your meringue may have a bit of an off color.

Gelatin

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = 1 ½ teaspoon gelatin

Those looking for an alternative to meringue powder to help them create thick and delicious meringues can consider trying gelatin.  Gelatin is frequently selected as a thickening in various other desert types, such as pudding and panna cotta.

Unlike some of the other substitutes for meringue powder, gelatin is pretty easy to store.  However, because gelatin is made from the collagen of cows and pigs, it is not a vegan-friendly alternative.

Xanthan Gum

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = ⅛ teaspoon xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is another thickener that can work well as a meringue powder replacement.  You can find it in various other baking recipes where it is used to not only help thicken the mixture, but also to keep it from separating and crumbling apart.

Xanthan gum is tasteless, making it a good substitute for meringue powder in your recipes.  To use xanthan gum, you’ll need to mix it with water (combine the water and xanthan gum in a 1:1 ratio).  Then, whip the water and xanthan gum recipe for a good amount of time until it becomes quite thick.

Mashed Banana

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = ⅛ cup mashed banana

If you’re searching for “what is a substitute for meringue powder,” look over in your fruit bowl.  If you have some bananas, they can work well for some recipe types, such as breads or cookies.  Bananas can help make these types of recipes moister.  However, you won’t want to try bananas as a substitute for meringue powder if you’re making frosting or icing; it won’t turn out properly.

If you like the light and slightly sweet flavor of a banana, then you may enjoy the way they make your recipes taste.  However, some people are such fans of banana-flavored goods, in which case, you may want to try a different substitute. 

Aquafaba

Substitution ratio to follow:  1 teaspoon of meringue powder = 4 to 5 teaspoons of tofu aquafaba

Last, but not least, aquafaba can also be used as a meringue powder substitute.  Aquafaba is also a vegan-friendly meringue powder substitute.

If you haven’t tried chickpeas before, they are soaked in a liquid.  That liquid, called aquafaba, is what you can use to make meringue.  The aquafaba has a similar consistency to egg whites and will whip up nicely to create a meringue to add to a recipe.

If you open canned  chickpeas, and aren’t ready to immediately make meringue, you can store the aquafaba in the refrigerator.  It can keep for up to 10 days, or until the smell changes.  However, in some cases the aquafaba will only last a few days before going bad, so you may want to plan to use it relatively quickly to avoid spoiling.  

Meringue Powder Substitute:  What to Choose

If you don’t have meringue powder and a recipe you want to make calls for it, it is perfectly OK!  One of the other ingredients I shared above will work as a substitute and save the recipe.  The right substitute for you will vary depending on the specific recipe that you are making and which ingredients you have available in your fridge or pantry.

FAQs

Can you use cream of tartar in place of meringue powder?

While cream of tartar alone will not work as a substitute for meringue powder, it could be used in addition to another ingredient.  Cream of tartar and meringue powder has different uses and consistencies.  While meringue powder is primarily made up of dried egg whites and is meant to be mixed with water, cream of tartar works as a stabilizer.  So, you could use cream of tartar along with fresh egg whites or one of the other substitutes shared above if you don’t have meringue powder on hand.

Can you use cornstarch instead of meringue powder?

No, cornstarch alone is not a good substitute for meringue powder.  While there is cornstarch in meringue powder, using cornstarch alone will not yield the desired results.

What is the best substitute for meringue powder in royal icing?

If you’re making royal icing and don’t have meringue powder, fresh eggs are the best substitute you can use.  Alternatively, you can also try powdered egg white, lemon juice, and confectioner’s sugar.

How do you make meringue powder at home?

To make your own meringue powder, combine one part dried egg white powder with three parts sifted confectioner’s sugar.  Add a small amount of cornstarch and cream of sugar (about one pinch of each for each cup of powder).  Then, whisk well, sift the mixture four times, and place it in an airtight jar.