Lemon meringue cookies are light, crisp little morsels packed with fresh lemon flavor. They taste like the most delicate puffs of sweet lemon air. And it’s impossible to have just one (especially since this recipe makes over 80)!
I pack in the zest of 2 full lemons and a splash of fresh squeezed lemon zest to give these meringue cookies the freshest, most authentic lemon flavor. I try to avoid extracts whenever possible-- and this recipe is the perfect canvas for the real stuff. Read on for tips and tricks to make the best lemon meringue cookies!
what you need for lemon meringue cookies:
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice
- Cream of tartar
- Vanilla extract
- Fine salt
how to make meringue cookies:
- Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, lemon juice and salt to soft peaks
- Slowly add granulated sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff and glossy
- Fold in lemon zest and vanilla extract
- Gently fold in powdered sugar
- Pipe or dollop onto sheet pans and bake until firm and no longer sticky
- Turn off the oven and let meringue cookies dry out for at least another 1 ½ hours
how to make the best lemon meringue cookies:
- Use finely grated lemon zest (from two full lemons) in these meringue cookies.
- If you only have a coarse microplane, just use a chef’s knife to chop it up after grating to it's as fine as possible. You can also blend the zest with the powdered sugar in a food processor-- it doesn’t break down the zest as well as it does with granulated sugar, but it will get rid of any bigger chunks that you don’t want in a tiny, delicate meringue cookie!
- IMPORTANT! It’s tempting to want to process the lemon zest with the granulated sugar, before making the meringue-- don’t do it. The oils from the zest will prevent the egg whites from whipping up into a foam. Fold the zest in after you have a stable egg white foam.
The key to a good meringue boils down to the egg whites. Here are the main rules:
- Use a super clean mixer bowl and whisk. Fat inhibits the egg whites from reaching a stiff foam, so be extra diligent and re-wash your mixer equipment with soapy water.
- Acid helps loosen the whites so they can be whipped to their maximum volume. That’s why we use the cream of tartar and lemon juice in the beginning.
- Temperature: It’s easiest to cleanly separate cold eggs, but room temperature eggs whip up the best. So pull out your eggs, separate the whites (discard any that get popped and contact the yolk), and let them come to room temperature before whipping.
- Use the freshest egg whites you have! Old whites whip up well, but they don’t hold the air as long.
- Liquid egg whites: I tend to avoid these pre-packaged cartons of egg whites. Each brand processes them differently (pasteurizing, chemical stabilizers), and they are just not as reliable as good old fashioned whole eggs.
- Beat the whites first to soft, fluffy peaks, then add sugar a spoonful at a time on medium-high speed. We add the sugar slowly so the egg whites can build up air and strength without getting deflated by a big dump of sugar.
- Don’t go crazy with high speed-- you’re more likely to get big air bubbles that will deflate as you pipe the meringue cookies, giving you fallen meringues. Keep it at a steady medium-high speed to build up volume, structure, and even air bubbles.
- Once the meringue cookies are firm to the touch and no longer sticky, turn off the oven and let them sit in there (don’t flap the oven door a bunch!) for at least 1 ½ hours to dry out and get ultra crisp.
- Don’t worry if you live in a humid area! You can easily re-crisp these lemon meringue cookies. Put them in the oven at 200°F for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour or so to dry out.
here are of my favorite lemon desserts to try:Print
lemon meringue cookies
Delicate, crisp lemon meringue cookies are packed with fresh lemon zest and juice for the most authentic flavor. Sweet, airy and bright!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 ½ hours
- Total Time: 0 hours
- Yield: 80 small meringue cookies
- Category: Cookie
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp fine salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 2 lemons (about 1 tbsp, packed), finely grated
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 225°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Prep piping bag with a large star or circle tip, if using.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, lemon juice and salt. Alternatively, use a clean metal bowl and a hand mixer. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2- 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until egg whites are stiff and glossy.
- Fold in vanilla extract and zest. Sift powdered sugar over top and gently fold in until mostly mixed.
- Transfer meringue to the prepared pastry bag. Pipe meringue cookies onto prepared sheet pans, keeping them about 1 ½ inches apart. Alternatively, drop cookies on the sheet by the tablespoon.
- Bake for about 1 ½ hours, until firm and not sticky, then turn off oven and let cookies cool in the unopened oven for another 1 ½- 2 hours.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 8.5
- Sugar: 1.9g
- Sodium: 6.3mg
- Fat: 0g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 2g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 0.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg