This simple and easy Italian meringue recipe is sweetened with honey and perfect for topping pies, cakes, and cookies! It's a delicious frosting that's SCD and Paleo friendly.
Italian meringue is one of those frostings that used to strike fear in my heart!
There's A LOT that can go wrong when trying to make Italian meringue, but if you follow the directions and take my tips into consideration, you'll have success!
What is Italian meringue?
Italian meringue is the most stable of all the meringues (Swiss and French are the other types).
Traditional Italian meringue is made by beating egg whites to firm peaks and then slowly whisking in hot sugar syrup.
Meringue can be used to top desserts or baked until crisp!
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What is a honey Italian meringue?
Since I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to help manage my autoimmune symptoms, honey is the only sweetener I can use.
So, the only difference between this recipe and a traditional Italian meringue is that hot honey is poured into the egg whites as opposed to hot sugar syrup.
Ingredients for honey Italian meringue
- egg whites
- lemon juice
When it comes to the honey, I highly suggest using one that's light in color and sweet.
How to make the Meringue recipe
Pour the honey into a medium saucepan and set over medium heat (photo 1).
Stir the honey occasionally until a candy thermometer reaches a temperature of 240F (photo 2). Keep an eye on the honey while on the stove as it will be frothy and bubbly...you don't want it to boil over.
While the honey is on the stove, place the egg whites of two large room temperature eggs in the bowl of a clean and dry stand mixer (photo 3).
Whisk on high speed. Once the egg whites begin to form soft peaks, add the lemon juice while continuing to whisk (photo 4).
When the egg whites have formed soft peaks and the honey has reached 240F, slowly pour the honey down the side of the bowl into the egg whites with the mixer still running on high speed (photo 5 & 6).
Continue mixing until the meringue has doubled in volume and is glossy. If you stop whisking too soon, the meringue will weep (that's when the honey separates from the egg whites).
Only stop whisking once the meringue is shiny/glossy. In my stand mixer it takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to reach that stage.
8 Tips for making a perfect honey Italian meringue!
- It's easier to separate the yolks from the whites when the eggs are cold, however, allow the egg whites to reach room temperature before attempting to make the meringue.
- Make sure the egg whites are free from any little bits of egg yolk.
- Egg whites from eggs tend to make consistently better meringue than liquid egg whites from a carton.
- Your mixing bowl and whisk must be completely clean and dry without any oil or food left from previous baking.
- Don't stop mixing the egg whites! If the egg whites are ready but the honey is not, reduce the mixer speed to low until you're ready to add the hot honey.
- Cooking the honey to the correct temperature is crucial when making the meringue. If it's not hot enough it won't cook the egg whites, if it's too hot it will turn the meringue into scrambled eggs. Use a candy thermometer to measure the temp of the honey!
- Mix until the meringue is glossy. If stopped too soon, the meringue will deflate and the honey will separate from the egg whites.
- If you don't have a stand mixer, a handheld mixer can be used.
What to do with the meringue
- Top Coconut Cupcakes with it!
- Use it in a Blueberry Lemon Trifle.
- Decorate a Lemon Tart with the meringue.
- Spread it on a Vanilla Almond Flour Cake.
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Honey Italian Meringue
- stand mixer with whisk attachment
- medium saucepan
- candy thermometer
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature should equal about ¼ cup
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup honey choose a sweet light colored honey
- Add the room temperature egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the egg whites become frothy. Add the lemon juice and continue whisking until soft peaks have formed.
- While the egg whites are being whisked, place the honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The honey will begin to boil and become bubbly. Keep over the heat until a candy thermometer reads 240F.
- Remove from the heat and SLOWLY pour the honey down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites. The mixer should still be running on high speed while adding the honey!
- Continue whisking on high speed until the meringue has thickened, doubled in volume, is at room temperature, AND is shiny/glossy. In my mixer this generally takes 15 to 20 minutes.
- This Italian meringue is best used immediately after making.
- Many things can go wrong when making Italian meringue. The post above has an entire section filled with tips and notes on how to make a perfect meringue. Please make sure to reference it!
Can I bake this as a pavlova? If so, for how long?
I love this merengue! I use it top lemon bars or strawberries. I cut the amount of honey in half as I found it too sweet.
I'm glad you like it Ava!
Saved as a favorite, I love your blog!
Thanks so much!
I just made the Italian Meringue and I really appreciated your detailed instructions, pictures and very helpful tips! It’s delicious- just waiting for Vanilla Cake to cool (your recipe) and I will attempt to put a picture in the comments of the cake. Thanks again. I am so happy to have found your website!!
Happy to hear you found the directions helpful and that it turned out well!
Is it possible to use coconut sugar instead of honey? If so is it the same amount as honey? Do I need to add a bit of water to dissolve the coconut sugar?
Can I dry it in the oven to make it firm?
I'm sure you could. I live in a VERY humid climate so every time I've tried, the meringues come out chewier than I'd like but if you decide to give it a go I'd love to hear your results!
My crazy apartment oven can't seem to keep it's temperature below 300F (not sure why it even has temperature settings starting at 200F!!!), and since baked meringues take a while to cook at low heat (and honey has a very low burning point), my oven definitely did not work for these. That being said, I have a dehydrator at home and have had great success drying honey meringue kisses using it! The dehydrator is super basic- it doesn't even have temperature settings. I just line the tray with parchment and pipe on my meringue, plug it in and let it do it's thing for about 4 hours (check on it at 3, but it could go up to 5 or more depending on size of meringues & humidity). Small meringue kisses seem to work best as I found that the honey gets mighty sweet once the meringues are dry. At any rate, I hope this helps & happy baking!!
Texture wise, the meringue was great but taste wise, the honey was overpowering. Next time I'll probably use 2/3 cups (I doubled the recipe for a lemon meringue pie and so I used 1 cup of honey).
I'm looking for an SCD recipe for pavlova and there's none to be found, do you think this would work out adding tapioca starch and vinegar as is traditionally done with pavlova?
Would it work to toast this meringue in the oven to get those golden peaks?
Hi Alana! Yes, you can place in the oven to get golden peaks. Another good option is to use a small kitchen torch.
Really delicious ! ! And omg it turned out the first time! Just starting scd... so happy to find yummy desserts !
Thank you for sharing this great recipe !!!
Glad you liked it!
This recipe is delicious ! It reminds me of a healthy "cool whip" . I use it on top of strawberries, in fruit salad, on top of muffins or cupcakes. It is a new favorite ! Thanks for a great recipe! I did how you mentioned that you could go down to 1/3 cup honey and turns out wonderful ! My husband said he likes it better than cool whip !
Tapioca starch is not SCD permitted, as far as I know.
Super delicious and love this recipe on birthday cakes - I've made it twice now, following your instructions and tips to the T. Just had an issue with how it kind of droops/ goes bubbly over time. Does this happen to you or am I doing something wrong?
Thanks for your patience with the late response Lina, I took a little social media/internet hiatus! If it becomes deflated by the second or third day, that is unfortunately normal. However, if it's deflating/weeping the same day you make it then it could be the result of a number of things; the honey isn't hot enough, it needs to be whipped longer, it might be over whipped...humidity and high altitudes can also play a significant role. At high altitudes meringue tends to deflate and weep quickly, same with humid days. I live in Florida and during the summer months when we're at 100% humidity I'm lucky if the meringue is stable for 12 hours. You may need to play around with the whipping times and try to shoot for less humid days when making the meringue. I'm sorry I can't be of more help!
I have yet to make this but I was thinking of using this to accompany a honey and rosemary cake ive been developing!
To stabalise it a bit more for a few extra days would it help to add a small amount of butter? say 150g of butter to make it more of a buttercream?
Let me know if you have any experience with this! if not ill just give a go haha
Yes, you can absolutely add butter to make it an Italian buttercream. I've had luck using 170g (or 12 Tablespoons) of butter. I'll leave a link for my Pumpkin Italian Meringue Frosting for you to look over (of course you wouldn't want to add the pumpkin or spices to the frosting if it's for a rosemary cake!!)! Good luck and let me know how it works out!
Just made this icing. Turned out great. Would lowering the amount of honey still work? Thanks!
Glad it turned out well for you! You could lower the honey to 1/3 cup but I wouldn't go much lower than that because you need enough hot honey to cook the egg whites.
Turned out perfect ?
Because of the choice of honey I had on had, i decided to add a drop of lime Essential oil as well as a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste to balance the sweetness and the bitterness. wonderful combination. Thank you for this recipe!! My guests loved this on top of the raw black forest cake I prepared thanks to #pickuplimes.
Thanks for sharing Lana! The addition of lime and vanilla bean paste sounds lovely!
Love this recipe!! I use it for my grapefruit meringue tart, but it's been inspiring me for other flavors as well. I Iive in the northeast (USA) & the meringue stayed stable in the piping for a whole week in the fridge! My only adjustments to the recipe were using slightly less honey and adding a pinch or two of salt. There are many recipes online, and it's difficult to know what to trust. That being said, I highly recommend this for anyone interested on making italian meringue with a twist!
I made this vegan with 1/2 cup aquafaba with 1/4tsp cream of tartar and it turned out perfect!
Glad you liked it!!
What did you replace for honey to make it vegan? Thanks!