Beat perfect egg whites every time with these simple tips.

egg whites on whisk

There are lots of reasons why you might need to beat egg whites. Beating egg whites isn't difficult, but they can fail to whip up into nice peaks for several reasons. 

Similar to whipping heavy cream, one misstep and you'll have ruined your recipe, but I'll show you how to achieve perfect soft or stiff egg white peaks every time with these few simple tips.

Beaten egg whites play an important role in so many recipes including:

  • meringues
  • lemon meringue pie
  • pavlovas
  • marshmallows
  • buttercream frosting
  • angel food cake 
  • ladyfingers
  • whiskey sours
  • cloud eggs
  • souffles

Chicken eggs are most often the egg of choice, but duck egg whites will also whip up into nice glossy peaks. Just remember that two duck eggs is equivalent to three chicken eggs, so measure out your eggs for your recipe carefully.

eggs in carton

How to Beat Egg Whites Perfectly Every Time 

Use Room Temperature, Fresh Eggs

To get started, it's important to use room temperature eggs. And the fresher the better. Fresh eggs have thicker whites which will lead to more voluminous, stable whites. 

Room temperature eggs will whip up much faster and better than cold (or old) eggs. 

But eggs are easier to separate when they're cold, so take your eggs out of the refrigerate and separate them, then let the white sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you begin.

(Of course if you have just collected eggs from your chicken coop or have some sitting at room temperature already, go ahead and separate those and you're ready to start!)

fresh eggs in carton

Separate each Egg Individually

The whites won't beat well if there's even a speck of yolk or shell in them, so if you're not a confident egg separator, it's a good idea to separate each egg into a small bowl first - then ensure there's no shell or yolk in it - before you pour it into your mixing bowl with the other whites.

Use the egg shell half to separate the yolk from the white, not your fingers, just in case there's any residue or oils on your hands.

woman separating egg whites

Use Clean, Grease-Free Utensils to Beat Egg Whites

While you're waiting for your egg whites to come up to room temperature, wipe down your bowl and whisk with a lemon wedge (or paper towel moistened with white vinegar). 

This will ensure that there's not a speck of grease or fat on your utensils. 

You can beat egg whites by hand (it's not that hard and doesn't take long at all) or in your stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk, or with a hand mixer. Just be sure that all surfaces that will be touching the egg whites are grease-free. 


Use a Metal Bowl to Beat Eggs Whites

The type of bowl you use to beat your egg whites matters. 

Metal Bowls for Beating Egg Whites

Metal bowls work best for beating egg whites. Copper bowls are best; the reaction of the white to the copper resulting in high, fluffy beaten whites with less chance of your meringue being grainy.

Stainless steel bowls will work well also, but my choice is definitely a copper bowl for beating egg whites, if you're beating them by hand. 

Don't Use an Aluminum Bowl to Beat Egg Whites

Aluminum bowls shouldn't be used because the metals can react and turn the egg whites gray.

Don't use a Glass Bowl to Beat Egg Whites

Glass bowls can be slippery, and therefore the whites can't "climb" the sides of the bowl and won't whip as high. 

Don't use a Plastic Bowl to Beat Egg Whites

And a plastic bowl should never be used to beat egg whites because the plastic can have a filmy residue left on it which will prevent the whites from beating correctly. It's almost impossible to get plastic completely grease-free.

Use a Large Enough Bowl to Beat Egg Whites

Remember that the egg whites will whip up to more than 8 times their original volume, so be sure to use a bowl that's large enough. A regular stand mixing bowl can accommodate 6 to 8 egg whites quite easily.

Add a Stabilizer

It's not absolutely necessary to add a stabilizer unless you're using pasteurized egg whites, but adding an acidic stabilizer to the egg whites can lead to egg whites that hold up better. 

Some common stabilizers include lemon juice (I hope you held onto that lemon wedge from earlier!), white vinegar, or cream of tartar.

For each egg white, add:

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

Cream of tartar is the best choice for a stabilizer because adding liquid to your egg whites can result in a more runny mixture. 

Since I already have the lemon wedge though, I usually just add a few drops of lemon juice to my egg whites after they've been whisked for about a minute. 

Although in my experience, farm fresh eggs will whip up just fine without any stabilizer at all.

beating egg whites
whisking egg whites in mixer
foamy egg whites

How to Beat Egg Whites

Add your egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer or beat them by hand). Beat the egg whites on medium-low speed for about a minute, until frothy, bubbly and no longer clear.  

This will give your egg whites a solid foundation and lead to more stable whites. 

stand mixer with egg whites
beating egg whites

Beat to Soft Peaks

Add your stabilizer at this point if you're using one. Then increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for about 3 minutes for soft peaks.

At this point the whites should be billowy and about four times greater in volume than when you started. When you lift the whisk out of the bowl, peaks will form but quickly droop. 

Adding Sugar and Flavorings to your Egg Whites

At this point, if you need to add sugar, vanilla or any other flavorings, you can start pouring them in slowly while continuing to beat.

After a few minutes, rub some of the egg white between your fingers. If it's still grainy, continue to beat until the sugar is all incorporated. Superfine sugar is a better choice for beating into egg whites than regular granulated sugar due to its smaller size granules.

If you don't have any superfine sugar, you can pulse some regular granulated sugar in your coffee grinder, or just use regular sugar, but realize you might have to beat the egg whites a bit longer.

beaten egg whites

Beating Egg Whites to Firm Peaks

After a few more minutes of beating on high speed, you'll reach the firm peak stage. At this stage, the egg whites should hold a peak, but will still curl slightly at the tip.

beaten egg whites
stiff peaks

Beating Egg Whites to Stiff Peaks

Continue beating on high speed (for an additional 5 or 6 minutes past the soft peak stage) to the stiff peak stage. 

At this point, your egg whites will be smooth and glossy and hold a peak when the whisk is removed from the bowl. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and nothing will slide out.

stiff peaks
stiff peaks

Stop at this point. Over-beaten egg whites will start to look dry, not glossy, and then eventually separate and become grainy and unusable like the ones below.

broken egg whites
broken egg whites

Use your beaten egg whites immediately or store, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.

How to Beat Egg Whites by Hand

It is also possible to whip egg whites by hand. After all, people have been beating egg far longer than electric mixers have been available.

Beat your egg whites by hand using a balloon whisk or large wire whisk. Everything covered above still holds true... use a metal bowl, be sure there's no grease, etc. 

Pro Tip: If you are going to beat your egg whites by hand, you'll find it a lot easier if you use a copper bowl.

When hand whisking, you'll want to aim for 2 beats per second until the eggs get foamy, then 4 beats per second until your desirable peaks form.  

You'll want to use a "looping" motion when you hand beat egg whites, instead of a side to side  or circular motion in the bowl. 

The looping motion just means beating the eggs in a clockwise motion with your wrist (counterclockwise if you're left-handed) and lifting the whisk out of the bowl before lowering it back into the egg whites. 

It should take about 4 minutes to achieve stiff peaks using the looping motion.

So to summarize my simple tips to beating egg whites perfectly every time:

  • Use fresh, room temperature eggs
  • Separate eggs carefully
  • Use a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk
  • Use the correct size metal bowl
  • Consider adding a stabilizer like lemon juice
  • Watch your egg whites and beat just until they reach the soft, firm or stiff peak stage

The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook

For recipes using beaten egg whites, plus dozens of other egg recipes, check out The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook. Available wherever books are sold.

©2021 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc. and updated in 2024 for Coop to Kitchen. All rights reserved