Recipe: Homemade meringues

This is my failsafe meringue recipe, used here for individual nests. This works well for a pavlova too or for the meringue on top of a lemon meringue pie. You could try something different and stir in a couple of handfuls of roasted chopped hazelnuts to add crunch

Eton mess

Prep time: 20 minutes
Time baking in the oven: 30–40 minutes
Cooling time: 20–30 minutes


  • 4 medium egg whites (at room temperature) or 125ml (4 ½ fl oz) pasteurised egg whites (I found them in the milk section of the supermarket)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour

  1. Preheat the oven to 130°C, (fan 110°C), 250°F, gas mark ½. Using an 8cm (3 ¼ in) diameter template (like a small saucer or bowl), mark out 12 circles on 2 sheets of baking parchment. Turn them face down onto 2 large baking sheets and set aside.
  2. Now for the meringues. Get a really clean medium bowl. If it is not spotlessly clean, it can mean that the egg whites don’t whip up properly. This goes for all the equipment.
  3. A hand-held electric whisk or freestanding electric mixer is best for the job, but you can do this with a hand whisk and plenty of elbow grease. Tip the egg whites into the bowl, squeeze the lemon juice in and then whisk them to a medium peak. To test, lift the whisk out of the meringue with some of the white foam on the end. Then point it upwards and the bit of meringue on the end should flop over like Noddy’s floppy red hat.
  4. Next add a spoonful of the sugar to the meringue and whisk really hard until all of the sugar has ‘dissolved’ and the mixture starts to look a bit shiny. Then add the remaining sugar gradually, while whisking all the time, until the mixture becomes really shiny and very stiff.
  5. If you perform the whisk trick at this time, the peak would be almost straight up in the air with only a hint of Noddy’s floppy red hat. If you are using egg white from a carton, the peak will still remain quite floppy, but the mixture will be very shiny and stiff.
  6. Finally, whisk in the cornflour for a second or two until smooth. This gives the meringue a bit of an inner chewiness.
  7. Put tiny dots of the meringue on the four corners of the baking sheets for the paper to secure to. You can then dollop blobs of the mixture into each of the 12 circles on the paper and spread each one out to the circle edge with the back of a spoon. I like to put either a number 2D or a star nozzle in a piping bag and fill it with the meringue mixture. Then, starting in the centre of each circle, holding the piping bag vertically and squeezing it gently as you go, go round and round until the entire circle is filled to give a pretty flat rose shape. When you come to the end of the rose shape, keep the bag moving but stop squeezing it. This will give a neat ‘end’ to the rose. Repeat with the rest of the mix and then bake in the oven for about for 30–40 minutes.
  8. If your meringues crack or weep, just turn the oven down by 10°C or so. Once the meringues are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.