These beautiful little meringue nests are both crunchy and soft, and once bitten into, they will melt in your mouth. Make them large or mini, and fill them with anything you want.
Growing up, I didn’t really love meringues and found them too sweet, but that all changed once I found out that there are different versions of meringue such as pavlova, flavored meringues, and filled meringue nests, also known as meringue shells.
Meringue is made with very few ingredients. Egg whites and sugar are a must, and the rule of thumb is to use 1/4 cup of sugar for every egg white. The addition of cream of tartar is optional, but I recommend it as it helps in stabilizing the meringue and reaching its full volume. However, if you want to substitute it, you can use lemon juice, white wine vinegar, or even a pinch of salt. Lastly, vanilla extract is added for a great flavor.
What you won’t be able to get enough of is the meringue texture. The outside shell of these meringues is crispy, but the inside is soft. Once you bite into the crunchy crust, it instantly melts in your mouth. Just imagine combining it with whipped cream and fruit, lemon curd, or chocolate.
How is meringue made?
Before you start, make sure that the bowl and beaters are clean and grease-free. Grease prevents the egg whites from whipping up properly, so it’s very important that everything is perfectly clean.
Beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until they start to get foamy, then add cream of tartar. Keep beating until soft peaks just start to form. That’s the time to start adding sugar and increasing your mixer speed. Adding sugar by the spoonful is a process that takes a few minutes, and then you’ll need to keep beating until the sugar fully dissolves into the meringue and stiff peaks form. You can rub a bit of meringue between your thumbs to check if it’s gritty or smooth. If gritty, keep beating.
Is it ready yet?
Meringues require a long baking time at a low temperature. They are usually ready once they appear dry and are easily lifted from the parchment paper with their bases intact. Sometimes, though, especially for large meringues, it’s hard to know if the center has baked properly. It’s ok if it’s quite soft and marshmallow-like, but it shouldn’t be sticky like gum. If you don’t care how white your meringues are, you can slightly increase the temperature and bake for less time.
Fill the meringue nests with regular or flavored whipped cream, lemon curd and fresh fruit, or drizzle with fruit sauce.
If you love meringue, then I have some special treats for you:
The most perfect pavlova ever
Eton mess, which is a strawberry, whipped cream, and meringue trifle
Simple white meringue cookies or kisses
Also, check out this guide that shows how to pipe meringue nests.
- 4 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar , or 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup (220 g/7.7 oz) caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 200F/90C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepare a pastry bag fitted with a round or star tip (mine had a 1cm opening). Set aside.
Before you start, make sure that your mixer bowl is extra clean and not greasy, as that would prevent the egg whites from reaching their full volume. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks start to form.
Then, while mixer is running, add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and increase mixing speed to medium-high. Go slowly. Adding the sugar and continuing to beat may take 5-10 minutes. The meringue is ready once stiff peaks form, it’s glossy and completely smooth but not dry, and the sugar is fully dissolved. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that no sugar is sticking. Beat in vanilla extract.
Transfer meringue to the piping bag. To prevent the parchment paper from sliding, pipe a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the paper and ‘stick’ it to the pan. Pipe a 5 cm (or any other size you want, depending on how big or small you want them) round spiral base on the prepared baking sheet, and without lifting the tip, pipe 2-3 circles on top of the outer edge to create a nest.
The amount of nests really depends on how wide or tall you make them. This recipe can make anywhere from 10 large to 30 minis. I usually make mine quite tall with a 5 cm base, and it yields me around 16-20 nests.
If you want to make pavlovas without using a piping bag, drop small mounds of meringue onto the baking sheet and, using a spoon, create a border so that the edges are slightly higher than the center.
Place in the lower part of the oven and bake for 2-3 hours, or until the meringues are dry, their centers aren’t sticky, and they are easily lifted from the parchment paper with their bases intact. Turn off the oven and, without removing, let meringues cool completely for at least one hour, or overnight.
Meringues will keep for several days in an airtight container at room temperature.
When ready to serve, fill the nests with a filling of your choice, such as whipped cream or lemon curd, and top with fresh fruit if desired.
NGOC LANAugust 5, 2015 at 2:24 am
Thank you so much for this meringue version. I really want to try this recipe. Your photos and food styling are admirable.
ShiranAugust 5, 2015 at 3:36 am
Thank you so much for your sweet words! 🙂
Nardia may LawlessDecember 19, 2020 at 2:13 am
Best ones I have done
love the recipe
Nao KondoAugust 7, 2015 at 6:16 am
and looks like Bibendum 😉
ShiranAugust 9, 2015 at 4:21 am
It does! 🙂
AnneAugust 10, 2015 at 4:57 pm
These are adorable Shiran!!!
ShiranAugust 14, 2015 at 9:33 am
Thank you Anne!
VanessaFebruary 26, 2016 at 12:14 am
How far ahead can you make these? Would like to make them for a wedding.
ShiranFebruary 28, 2016 at 11:20 am
Hi Vanessa, there should be no problem with keeping them at room temperature for several days as long as you keep them dry and in an airtight container to avoid moisture. Don’t place them in the fridge or expose them to air or they would start to soften. Also make sure to bake the meringues until they are completely dry.
SusanApril 9, 2016 at 9:55 pm
How did you fill the nests so neatly? They look beautiful?
ShiranApril 10, 2016 at 3:16 am
Thank you, Susan! I used a piping bag to fill them.
NicolaApril 20, 2016 at 1:45 pm
Hi, what temperature would you use for a fan oven? 200 seems high, many thanks
ShiranApril 21, 2016 at 6:15 am
Hi Nicola, fan ovens are indeed stronger but every oven is different. I would suggest baking at 160F/70C.
IdaSeptember 17, 2016 at 10:33 am
Do I have to fill these right before serving, or can I fil them a few hours before?
ShiranSeptember 19, 2016 at 9:24 am
Hi ida, filling them a few hours before is perfectly fine.
SyiraNovember 16, 2016 at 4:28 am
My oven is a little smaller so only one pan can be baked at one time. how about the balance meringue? while waiting for the ones in the oven finished baking should i pipe them in advance and let them sit at the counter or put in fridge..? appreciate your suggestion. ?
ShiranNovember 20, 2016 at 11:25 am
Hi Syira, I remember the time when I had a small oven 🙂 Basically meringue should be baked immediately after you make it, but if you have no other choice, just leave the other pan in a cool place (and do pipe them in advance).
RifkaFebruary 18, 2018 at 8:04 pm
Hi Shiran the meringue nest looks so scrumptious. Want to try my hands on it.Does the mini too needs 2-3 hours of baking at 200*c??
ShiranFebruary 19, 2018 at 5:31 am
Yes, meringues require a long baking time at a low temperature because they need time to dry out without burning.
AyseDecember 3, 2018 at 7:40 pm
I used vinegar instead of cream of tartar and the mixture did have peaks but didn’t hold the tall shape that you had.
Although I realised I had put 1/2 teaspoon of it rather than 1,any ideas why that happened?
ShiranDecember 7, 2018 at 1:42 pm
If the issue was that the meringue didn’t whip up properly, I recommend reading this guide about the common mistakes.
AnneJanuary 16, 2019 at 7:20 am
Hi Shiran. Since I don’t t have caster sugar, could I use regular or powdered sugar instead?
ShiranFebruary 14, 2019 at 4:35 am
Hi Anne, you can make your own caster sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor until fine.
LiviDecember 23, 2019 at 4:22 pm
Hi, this is definitely my go-to recipe. I used cream of tar tar and the meringues held there shape very well indeed. The meringues were light and fluffy. I would strongly recommend this recipe to those trying to find a good recipe. Every recipe I have tried has not worked. These are beautiful with a berry compote.
TinaFebruary 5, 2020 at 9:22 pm
Hi, I was wondering I want to make some meringue cups and fill them the night before serving. Do you know if they will hold up in the fridge?
ShiranFebruary 11, 2020 at 3:13 am
Hi Tina. You can keep them for several days in an airtight container at room temperature.
MakenzieNovember 9, 2020 at 12:37 am
Hello. I would like to make these as a surprise. Is there any way I can turn temperature up to make it cook faster? And if so what temperature ?
SharonDecember 30, 2020 at 4:55 pm
I have made these several times and they are outstanding — a wonderful light and fresh dessert. I put homemade lemon curd in the meringue nest, top it with fresh blueberries and then a dollop of fresh whipped cream. It is absolutely phenomenal.
Deborah RogersApril 1, 2021 at 3:59 pm
I make meringue cookies every Christmas and in Wisconsin they call these little meringue shells, Schaum tortes. A secret ingredient I use to keep them crisp and keeps the humidity from affecting them is Meringue Powder by Wilton. I substitute the cream of tarter for this.
MaryJuly 19, 2021 at 10:29 am
Hello! How much meringue powder do you use in this recipe. I have been looking for a way to keep them crisp when humid. Thank you!
Heather HudsonJune 8, 2021 at 6:19 pm
I am not an experienced cook and had a craving for meringues to go with fresh strawberries and ice cream and couldn’t find any at the store. While I totally flubbed the piping part and ended up with rather abstract shapes on the pan they came out PERFECT!!! They were crisp and fluffy and not at all gummy – EXACTLY what I wanted. I will definitely make again and hope I can master the shaping.
BarbieJune 20, 2021 at 8:38 am
Great recipe! Honestly, these were so easy and makes you look like a pro. Crispy, pure white, piped like a dream. First time making meringues, they turned out perfectly, even on a humid day. Thank you!
Maggie S.April 13, 2022 at 11:40 pm
Hello! I’m going to give these a try for Easter. Would you recommend to strain the egg whites to remove the water the egg whites have for a stiffer meringue? Thanks in advance!!
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.April 17, 2022 at 3:44 am
Hi Maggie, I don’t think this step is necessary. You can achieve stiff peaks without straining out the water. It’s simpler, saves time, and will achieves the same result 🙂
Kevin SpinosaMarch 25, 2023 at 5:13 pm
Love the recipe but had some foamy eruptions from the middle is that normal or positive/negative lol thanks will sure be using this one again!
Stephanie @ Pretty.Simple.Sweet.April 2, 2023 at 3:41 pm
Hi Kevin! Meringue can be a little tricky. As long as it tastes good, I think you’re fine!