An egg is a magical food—one of those perfectly calibrated, complete foods that make you want to thank nature for doin’ it right. An egg is greater than the sum of its parts, sure, but the parts aren’t too shabby themselves. However, they do require some extra care during cooking—especially the whites. We checked in with the Test Kitchen for tips on cooking with them the right way.
Temperature Matters: Before whipping egg whites, always bring the eggs to room temperature. Cold whites don’t incorporate air nearly as well as room temperature whites do, and will make your angel food cake dense instead of light, lifted, and, well, angelic.
Start Slow: When beating egg whites, start out slowly at first, and increase speed as you go. The slow agitation breaks up the proteins in the egg whites, allowing them to become more elastic. Once they’re “loosened up,” gradually begin beating more quickly to incorporate more air.
Salt! Assistant food editor Claire Saffitz always adds a pinch of salt when whipping egg whites.
Know Your Meringue: For every meringue there is a season, and a method, and the best dessert to go with it. Here’s a tour of the different meringues you might be making at home.
- French, or, the “classic” way: Whisk sugar into egg whites, like in these puffy Peppermint Meringues.
- Swiss: Whip egg whites and sugar over a bain-marie to warm the whites, then continue whipping until cool, for a silky Swiss meringue buttercream.
- Italian: Softly beaten egg whites are whipped with a hot sugar syrup until stiff. This creates a more stable meringue that won’t deflate too quickly, and is often used in Baked Alaska or pies.
Don’t Throw Out Spare Whites: You just made a custard, and you’ve got eight extra egg whites. Don’t just toss ‘em! Store for up to two days in the fridge in a plastic bag or container—just don’t forget to label with the date and how many eggs. You can freeze egg whites, but only for use in egg white omelets or scrambles; thawed whites tend to separate, and won’t stand up to whipping. If you must make an egg white omelet, be sure to keep the heat low and slow. Without the added heft of a yolk, your whites will cook up quickly. How else to use those extra whites? Short of whipping up a full-blown meringue, here are some of our favorite ways to use up leftovers.
1. Lighten up a whole-egg scramble with a few spare whites.
2. An egg white is a key component all sorts of jazzed-up nuts.
3. Make an egg-white-fueled fizz.
4. Consider extra whites an excuse to bake a batch of financiers, or an angel food cake. Heck, you can even make your own mallows!
Now that you’ve gotten carried away and used 10 egg whites, go make some of these recipes using just yolks!