I get this question just about everyday. There is no right answer here. To some people, it will take 7 minutes to whip the meringue, to others it can take even 20 minutes.
That’s right, even 20 minutes! If talking about vegan macarons (when whipping aquafaba instead of egg whites) it takes even longer.
So how do you know how long to whip the meringue when making macarons?
Focus on finding what the perfect meringue consistency is for you, and whip until you reach that consistency. Also find out what is the best speed for you to use.
I used to whip my meringue on higher speed for less time, however I find that it adds too much air to the batter and creates a less stable meringue, more prone to creating hollow shells.
Currently, I like to whip my meringue at a slower speed. I start on speed 2 of the KitchenAid (low speed) for about 30 seconds, then I increase to speed 4 (medium-low) and whip for another 2 minutes or so, and I finish whipping the meringue on speed 6 (medium) until done, which can take another 10 minutes or so.
So I whip the meringue for a total of 13 minutes, sometimes longer if I leave on speed 4 for over 2 minutes.
Also take into consideration the method you are using. I use the Swiss method. If you use French or Italian, this can be completely different. I can’t advise on Italian too much, since I haven’t made macarons with that method in many years. But when it comes to French, it’s my understanding that it’s better to whip at a lower speed, specially since French meringue tends to be less stable than Swiss, and easier to over whip.
Instead of focusing on “how long should I whip the meringue”, focus on “to what consistency should I whip the meringue”. Keep your eyes in the bowl and don’t get distracted, to avoid over whipping. It’s always best to under whip, and keep checking, than to whip too long, which is irreversible.
One last thing to take into account is the mixer you are using, if using a hand mixer instead of a KitchenAid, the whipping time can be longer, because often times hand mixers aren’t as potent as stand mixers.
Read on to identify what the meringue should look like when whipped to the perfect stage.
So to recap, when asking ourselves how long to whip the meringue when making macarons, we should have in mind:
- The speed you are whipping
- How powerful your mixer is – even the same brand of mixers can have different levels of strength depending on how old they are, how well it is working, etc.
- The humidity- on humid days it might take longer to whip because of the fact that the sugar in the meringue might be absorbing water from the air)
- The quality of the eggs– some eggs might have a higher amount of amino acids depending on the nutrition of the hens, this is a deep topic, that is taking me a lot of research to actually understand this, check out at the end of the article a few sources that can help us see this. So in theory, eggs with higher level of amino acids may whip faster and may offer a more stable structure to the meringue because of the added protein.
- Altitude– meringue might whip faster at higher altitude because the air is drier, and liquids tend to evaporate faster.
- Stabilizers– if you add any stabilizers such as egg white powder or cream of tartar, that will definitely influence whipping time as well as the meringue consistency. For example, cream of tartar helps speed up the denaturation process, which can make the meringue achieve stiff peaks faster.
What should the meringue look like when whipped?
To check if the meringue is done whipping, grab the whisk and swirl on the bottom of the bowl.
You should feel some resistance against the whisk. If there is no resistance at all, chances are the meringue isn’t done whipping. But let’s check the other signs.
Grab some meringue with the whisk and point it up to see what the peak is like.
The peak should be measuring about 2 to 3 inches, and should be shooting straight up, with a possible slight bend at the top, but it shouldn’t be bending down forming a curve.
Below is the picture of a perfectly whipped meringue in my opinion.
Another sign should be the bottom of the whisk. Turn the whisk around and examine the bottom of the meringue that was collected on the whisk. It should have soft but distinct formed waves on the bottom.
If the meringue is chunky, the waves are chunky, or there are too many little hard peaks all over the meringue, that means you’ve over whipped.
Let’s take a look at what an over whipped meringue looks like.
And if the meringue is under whipped, it will look soft and elastic, the peak will be long and bending down to the side, you won’t be able to see any defined waves in the meringue, and you won’t feel any resistance against the whisk when you swirl it on the bottom of the bowl.
Check below what an under whipped meringue looks like.
About egg quality
I mentioned above that egg quality can affect how long to whip the meringue when making macarons.
I actually started thinking about this when my friend Lina mentioned that her meringue whips way faster than mine (7 minutes whereas mine takes 13+ minutes), and how egg white powder didn’t work on her macarons, making them too dry. She lives in Asia, and she talked about this to the owner of the local store and he gave some insight to why that might be, not only egg-laying hens there have a way different feed than hens in the United States, but also they don’t go through the same treatment (in the US the eggs get washed before being packaged and sold, and they don’t get this washing treatment in Asia, Europe, and frankly most parts of the world).
So I went to dig deeper and try to find out about this a little more. It’s very hard to find information on this, but I did find some articles, and one thing is certain: the nutrition that the hens receive will affect the level of amino acids in the eggs substantially.
Here are some studies about this:
- Analyses of free amino acid and taste sensor traits in egg albumen and yolk revealed potential of value-added eggs in chickens
- Breed and feed affect amino acid contents of egg yolk and eggshell color in chickens
- Protein and Amino Acid Content in Four Brands of Commercial Table Eggs in Retail Markets in Relation to Human Requirements
Ultimately what does that mean? It means that you should definitely take this into account when someone says it takes them 15 minutes to whip the meringue, and it takes you 8 minutes, this could be a factor. This is just another bit of information to keep in mind. The best way to perfect your macarons is to stay informed and continue to learn, the more you understand the science behind it, and why things happen they way they do, the easier macarons get.
To sum up, always remember that when making macarons, there are too many factors to be taken into consideration. And never go by how long you should be whipping, but by to what consistency you should be whipping the meringue instead.
If you want to learn more about macarons, check out Macaron School, a place where I share everything I know about how to make macarons, recipes, tips, tricks, the science behind making macarons, and many more articles like this one.