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Meringue cookies without cream of tartar

Meringue cookies without cream of tartar

Yes, you can make meringue cookies without cream of tartar. 

This is our meringue cookies recipe and it only has 5 ingredients and no cream of tartar.

Classic meringue cookies do use cream of tartar in the recipe but not everyone has that sitting around in their kitchen. Our last jar was used once in ten years! That is why our meringue recipe uses lemon juice instead. 

Now, I know that using fresh lemon juice is ideal but if you don’t have it, just use some from a bottle. That’s what I generally do. 

Meringue cookies are beautiful little white cookies that look like puffballs. If you use a piping bag you can make them look like white puffy stars.

But if you don’t have a piping bag or just don’t want to mess around with one, you can also spoon them onto the baking sheet.

Spooned-out meringue cookies may not look quite as beautiful as the piped ones but they will still be just as tasty. 

Also, spooning them out is a lot easier, and that way you will have less of a mess to clean up.

How to make meringue cookies without cream of tartar

To make meringue cookies without cream of tartar, we substitute lemon juice. 

Cream of tartar is often used with egg whites and sugar because it helps stabilize the eggs and keep the sugar from crystalizing. 

Fortunately, lemon juice is an ideal substitute for cream of tartar in meringue cookies. If you don’t have any lemon juice, you can also use white vinegar as a substitute.

  • Use equal amounts of lemon juice as a substitute for cream of tartar.
  • Use equal amounts of white vinegar as a substitute for cream of tartar.

How to know when meringue cookies are done

It can be a bit challenging to know when meringue cookies are done, especially if this is your first time making them.

They are done if you can easily lift them off of the parchment paper and the bottom remains intact. So if the bottom doesn’t stick, they are likely done. You can use a cookie lifter to peek.

They shouldn’t be gummy or sticky. It is ok if they have a texture similar to a firm marshmallow. If they feel more like a sticky marshmallow they need to cook longer.

How to keep meringue cookies from turning brown

If you find that your meringue cookies are turning brown, then you likely need to lower your oven temperature and cook the cookies longer. Unlike many cookies that get golden, you want meringue cookies to crisp and firm up without turning brown. Turning brown means they are overbaked.

My best suggestion is to lower the oven temp by 20 to 25 degrees and increase baking time by 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and check them every five minutes or so.

How to store meringue cookies

The best way to store meringue cookies is in an airtight container at room temperature and keep them in a dry environment. If stored this way, they will last up to 4 days. Meringue cookies are best eaten same day, for best flavor and texture.

You can also freeze meringue cookies. If you are going to freeze them, I recommend placing them in a low-profile airtight container and fill it as full as possible. 

The less extra air space the better. They can last up to 2 months in the freezer.

What are foamy egg whites?

Foamy egg whites look like sea foam or bubble bath bubbles on the surface of the water: whitish, but loose, and they still pour and run easily. When beating egg whites, this is the first stage you’ll notice that the whites are changing consistency. 

The next stage after foamy egg whites is “soft peaks” then “stiff peaks.” Soft peaks stay on the whisk but slowly drop off. Stiff peaks look similar but are more glossy and hold its shape on the whisk. 

This meringue recipe uses egg whites beaten past the foamy stage into stiff peaks.

Tips and tricks

  • In my experience, use fresh eggs for the best results. 
  • Be sure that you truly have room-temperature egg whites. I suggest leaving them on the counter for 45 minutes for the best meringue. 
  • Put a dollop of the meringue mixture on each corner of the cookie sheet right under the parchment paper. Then press down. This will help hold the paper in place.
  • If it is a humid day, you may want to skip this recipe. This style of meringue cookies doesn’t fair well in humidity. 
  • If you would like to add color to your cookies just add small amounts of food coloring to the meringue and fold it in to combine.
Meringue cookies without cream of tartar

Meringue cookies without cream of tartar

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This is our simple recipe for meringue cookies. In this recipe, we use lemon juice in place of cream of tartar.


  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t lemon juice
  • Dash of salt
  • 2/3 c sugar


  1. Separate eggs and place egg whites in a mixing bowl. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature. This should take about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 200F.
  5. Add vanilla extract, salt and lemon juice to bowl with egg whites.
  6. Beat with a mixer on medium until the mixture starts to foam. 
  7. Once it is foamy, gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
  8. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
  9. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag. (Skip this step if you are spooning them on.)
  10. Pipe out cookies on the baking sheet that are about 1" in diameter and about 2" apart.
  11. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. _Baking times will vary by oven. _
  12. Turn off the oven and open the oven door but leave the cookies in the oven for an hour. 
  13. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
  14. Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 16Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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The bottom line

Meringue cookies come out crisp-tender, with a light sweetness. They are pretty and delicate, but need to be eaten in the first couple of days after baking for optimum texture and flavor.


Friday 12th of November 2021

These turned out pretty good, I had to bake them for more than twice as long though, so the bake times do really vary. Good way to use up a ton of egg whites lying around the house!

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