If you ever made vegan meringue you have been in my spot before - you start to make an incredible aquafaba meringue topping and halfway trough, after countless minutes of beating, your vegan meringue suddenly collapses and become liquid again, or worse! It starts melting and weeping AFTER you place it on top of your lemon meringue pie, and now all you have leftover is lemon pie bathing in a soupy mess!
Oh no! What happened?!?
Well no need to wait anymore, today I’m troubleshooting aquafaba meringue and explaining meringue meltdowns and collapses.
Your vegan meringue might collapse, weep or melt if your aquafaba was either not thick enough, under whipped, over whipped, not stabilized properly, or if the sugar was added too quickly.
Let’s talk more about great ways to stabilize aquafaba soft meringue and other meringue tips and tricks to reach meringue perfection.
How to stabilize aquafaba meringue
The biggest reason for weeping meringue is unproperly stabilized aquafaba. Here are some ingredients that are usefull in stabilizing aquafaba meringue:
- Cream of tartar
- Xanthan gum
If you’ve ever asked yourself why there was so much sugar in meringue, well it's not because of the taste. Yes, sugar makes meringue delicious but it also stabilizes meringue, since sugar is hygroscopic which means that it absorbs moisture. So if you wanted to make your meringue more healthy and it fell flat, its probably because of the reduced sugar.
Sugar also needs to be incorporated in a specific way. You can’t just add it all at the beginning or you risk a vegan meringue collapse. For a french meringue, you need to wait until your meringue reaches soft peaks before adding the sugar in your recipe one tablespoon at a time and waiting between each addition.
Cream of tartar and alternatives
Cream of tartar is an ingredient that is used in egg-based and vegan meringue to stabilize it. It is an acid that you can find in powdered form in the spice section of your grocery store. The acid in cream of tartar basically denatures the protein in aquafaba to make a protein that is stronger and creates a foam that retains more moisture and better trap air bubbles.
Other types of acid like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, and lemon juice can be used if you can’t find cream of tartar in your cabinets (even though you swear you had some in there). But, cream of tartar still gives a better result since it has less moisture in it.
Xanthan gum and agar-agar
Unfortunately, vegan meringue is not as strong as egg-based meringue, this is why it needs a small boost, especially to stay whipped for a longer amount of time. This is why, if you are making vegan meringue in advance for a cake or pie that will only be eaten later, adding xanthan gum is a great idea.
Xanthan gum is a thickener and stabilizer that is often used in storebought dressing and found in gluten-free cuisines. The only downside to xanthan gum is that it can have an unpleasant mouthfeel if you add too much so don’t add more than 1-2 teaspoon per 3-4 cup of aquafaba. With xanthan, I was able to keep a vegan meringue whipped for 3 days.
When making Italian meringue which needs a hot sugar syrup, adding agar-agar is a great idea. Agar-agar is a seaweed-based gelling agent, but it needs cooking to be activated. Here is the Plantified vegan lemon meringue which uses a similar technique.
My vegan meringue collapsed and is liquid now, can I re-whip it?
If you have already added sugar to your recipe, unfortunately, you can’t re-whip it. If you only had creme of tartar or xanthan gum and your meringue deflated before you reached soft peaks, your aquafaba was probably not thick enough to start with.
Here are some instructions and tips and tricks to ace your next aquafaba meringue.
Making aquafaba meringue is all about using the right tools. I highly recommend using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment to make the meringue.
If you don’t have one, a handheld mixer will do the trick, but get ready for a sore arm because making meringue can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. You might also not get a meringue that is as whipped, so there is a risk that your meringue will deflate.
Don’t even try it by hand. I’ve done it and didn’t even reach the soft peaks stage after 30 minutes of constant beating. I ended up with a sore arm and a slightly opaque soupy mess.
How to whip vegan meringue properly
- Aquafaba texture
Before you can start whipping your aquafaba, you need to make sure it is thick enough. This is because not all aquafaba has the same thickness and concentration, it really depends on the brand of chickpea you use. Some brands will give you an aquafaba that is almost a gelly while others will give you something closer to water.
If your bean liquid is closer to water, you will need to reduce it to concentrate the amount of protein. This is done by boiling the bean water in a saucepan. You will want to reduce the aquafaba until, when warm, it feels like slimy when rubbed between 2 fingers. You can also dip a spoon in the reduced aquafaba and see if it coats the spoon. You will need to cool down the aquafaba before using it unless you are making a swiss meringue.
You can also add some powdered aquafaba to your aquafaba from a can to make a more concentrated aquafaba.
- Trace stage
In a large bowl, add the aquafaba, cream of tartar, and xanthan gum and mix on medium-high until the mixture becomes opaque and your mixer’s whisk is starting to leave traces in the aquafaba. You will see small bubbles in your aquafaba. You should be able to scoop out bits of the meringue with your finger.
- Adding the sugar
You can slowly start adding the sugar to the meringue one spoonful at a time. Waiting between 10 and 20 seconds in between each addition. The meringue will start to become thicker and glossier.
- Soft peak stage
Now that your sugar is all incorporated, you should have reached soft peaks. When you lift your mixer’s whisk from the meringue and flip it over, it should have a crown of meringue with a peak that is leaning slightly. This is what we call soft peak or “ bec d’oiseau” which means bird’s beak. At this stage, you might still be seeing a couple of bubbles in your meringue but not much.
- Reaching hard peak stage
Now its time to increase the speed of your mixer to the max. Continue whipping until the meringue becomes thicker, glossier and there are no more visible bubbles. The meringue will want to “climb up” your whisk while beating which means that there will be more meringue in the center of your bowl where your whisk is than on the sides.
If you lift the mixer’s whisk from the meringue and flip it over, you should have more meringue on your whisk and the peak should point straight to the ceiling. You can also do the ultimate test, by flipping the bowl of meringue over your head. At this stage, stop whipping. This is because it is possible to overwhip vegan meringue which could cause it to collapse and become liquid again.
Congratulation! You have made a stable vegan aquafaba meringue.
Flavoring and Coloring meringue
Here are great ways of flavoring and coloring meringue for a dessert that stands up!
- Matcha powder
- Espresso powder
- Cacao powder
- Turmeric for a nice yellow color
- Raspberry or strawberry powder
- Beets juice or powder
- Fruit purée swirled right before cooking
Vegan meringue alternative
This meringue troubleshooting article is based on aquafaba but if you are out of it, you can try these other vegan meringue alternatives.
Flax gell is also my favorite egg replacer in baked goods. I use it in 80% of my baking since it works well and doesn’t leave flecks of flax behind in my pastries.
Did I miss something?
Now that we have finished our deep dive into vegan aquafaba meringue, let me know if you have any additional questions that I might answer for you or information that I could make clearer.
I tried this for first time but I tried adding maple syrup and it deflated and stuck to the parchment. I can't use regular sugar -- do you think date sugar would work or honey? Or less maple syrup?
Thanks for your input!
Meringue with maple syrup is tricky because of the water content but you could use fine maple sugar instead. I haven't tried date sugar but it could work. However the taste will be strong and the meringue will bee deeply coloured.
Shakti Rebekah Kee Maya
Today was my first attempt to making vegan stiff egg whites. I have never made aquafaba. I have been using something quite different and unique since I am now oil free and sugar free. Plus everything is gluten free. As a vegan pastry chef I jumped in to create this today. After what seemed like endless experiments with the flax gel, I came up with a brilliant recipe. I had not found this page until I made my meringue and I can say it was pretty unique. I did use xanthum gum and cream of tarter. I did use tapioca flour in it. And I did use 2 cups flex gel and only 1/2 cup of aquafaba. It surprised me how long it took mixing it. It wasn’t until I added the aquafaba at the very end that it finally stiffened up. I also used a powdered sugar called swerve. This all came together pretty magical. I learned earlier in the day what breaks the flax gel. So I didn’t do that again. I made a gluten free angel food cake with stevia for sweetener and the merengue. I wasn’t sure when it would be cooked. It doubled in size and then when I opened the oven again it started falling a little. And the 3rd time I checked it fell a little more so I took it out and flipped it upside down to cool for a couple of hours. I am not sure what the cake will be like. I did bake some merengues by themselves just for fun. They were like marshmallows when they came out. And then they hardened when they cooled off. My kids thought they were the coolest thing. I plan on making French macarons. I read that the flax gel is hit or miss. I was really determined today to figure it out. Thanks for all your conversations here. I can see what I did right and what I can possibly change. I haven’t had this much purpose and mission in a kitchen for a while. Lol
I'm happy flax gel worked for you and happy experimenting! 🙂
I’ve had mixed success at making vegan meringue kisses- the aquafaba whips up nicely.
I bake them low and slow, like I’d do for traditional meringues, they seem hard and baked fully but soon after I take them out they turn into soft marshmallowy sticky goo.
Have you experienced this? Should I bake them even longer? I’m not sure if a stabilizer will help.
Yes you should bake them longer until they feel completely dry and feel light when you pick them up. Some larger meringues can even take up to 3 hours in the oven. If they start to colour too much on the edges, simply reduce the heat of your oven a bit.
My hard-peaked Aquafaba meringue deflates after flour is added to it Why is that?
The only thing that comes to mind is the when adding flour to meringue, you need to sift it carefully and fold the flour gently into the meringue. If the mixture is over mixed or mixed too roughly then it can deflate.
Hiya, so I attempted aquafaba meringue today, for the 2nd time and after 20 mins in the oven the meringue though beautiful stiff peaks, completely melted...Is it necessary to reduce aquafaba first? why do some recipes not mention it..any help will be appreciated.
You need to evaluate how thick and viscous your aquafaba is before starting. This will vary from brand to brand. So no it is not mandatory with all aquafaba but you’ll need to judge by yourself if it needs to be reduced. Now if you did get stiff peaks and your meringue melted in the oven, I will say its probably because your oven!/ temperature was too high. With vegan meringues, we almost want to dehydrate them, so you will want to bake them on a low temperature for a long time. Also any additional ingredients and flavourings, especially if they contains fat, will have an impact on how well your meringue holds.
Hi. I’ve tried twice now to make a pavlova and twice it has stuck to the baking paper. After the first attempt, I oiled the paper (light olive oil) before spreading out the mixture but it stuck worse. My daughter has a severe allergies (dairy, eggs & nuts) so although not strictly vegan, it’s the only way I can make a pavlova at home (it’s believed that whipping egg whites will vaporise them triggering anaphylaxis)
I’m sorry this happens to you. I’ve never had a problem with vegan meringues sticking to parchment paper before unless le meringue melted during the cooking process. The only think I can think about is was the meringue properly dehydrated at a low temperature ( around 200C) and/or was it cooked completely? Best of luck in you attempts
Ensure you are using baking paper/parchment, and not greaseproof paper. Better still, invest in a silpat mat instead. Hope it helps! X
Hi! Thanks for all of the useful information here. I've been trying to make meringue "kisses" and end up with disks every time. I finally got stiff peaks today after increasing the sugar and beating for (no joke!) 30 minutes with a small whisk attachment on my handheld. Then I added vanilla and peppermint extract and lost it!!! I did use 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, though it wasn't in the recipe. I was wondering - does the brand of powdered sugar make a difference? I know some brands have egg whites in them. In an effort to find a vegan one I got an organic brand that says it has corn and tapioca flour in it as well. hmmm.. And also, does the bowl and scraper make a difference? I know residual oils can have a negative effect. My favorite bowl is ceramic (i think?) and now I'm wondering if it retains some oils even after a wash. Once again, thanks for all the vegan baking know-how!!
Hey Reagan, so two things come to mind. Granulated sugar is actually better than powdered sugar when making meringue. The bowl and scraper do make a difference. Fat will make any meringue (vegan or not) deflate, so if your bowl has leftover fat residue, it could be a culprit. I know some people say to wipe down the bowl with a bit of lemon juice before whipping the meringue. I understand completely the hassle of making meringue with only a small mixer, and unfortunately, there is not much I can do about it. But if you can get your hands on some xanthan gum, it could help your meringue whipped a bit more quickly. Also, even though I've been making meringue for a long time and I always use the same recipe, I get a firmer and glossier result with my stand mixer than with my handheld mixer ( which has 2 beaters on it), so having the right material does have an impact on the final result. Finaly, maybe check if maybe your peppermint extract is oil-based? Because usually adding vanilla extract doesn't make meringue deflate because it is alcohol-based. It's one of the only things that come to mind that could have caused the whole thing to deflate, the other being overbeating which I don't think is the case here.
Thank you, thank you! I ultimately want to make macarons - but I feel like I need to master meringues first. I will try wiping the bowl down with lemon juice and also using granulated sugar. And I looked at my peppermint flavoring and you were 100% on the nose - it was made with peppermint oil! Do you ever "reduce" the aqua faba before using it? Some websites say to do that and some don't mention it.
So the brand of chickpeas I buy often comes with aquafaba that is already so thick it's almost a jelly. So personally I pretty much never need to reduce it. However, if you check out other recipes of mine with aquafaba, I often say ( if not always) to use pre-reduced aquafaba if needed. It really depends on how thick the aquafaba you have on hand is. And yes, French macarons can be very tricky so being able to make meringue first and able to cook them without melting is a good thing to be able to do before tackling macarons. Best of luck!
Awesome. Thanks so much for the tips!
Hello! This might sound like a silly question but can gelatin powder be used as an alternative to Xanthum Gum and Agar-agar if your not vegan?
I haven’t tried it with aquafaba so unfortunatly I’m not sure. I know that with real egg whites it makes a finished product that id’s way stiffer as it is basicaly how you make marshmallow.