Pavlova

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Another fresh and exciting recipe for you this year! 2018: the year we step out of our baking comfort zone.

What is pavlova? Pavlova is a dessert popular in New Zealand and Australia. It’s not as common here in the states, but I hope to help change that! A texture freak’s dream come true, pavlova is made from egg whites that are slowly baked in a relatively cool oven. The egg whites take on a chewy-crisp texture on top, a soft marshmallow texture inside, and a crunchy crisp texture around the edges. That’s three completely different textures in one single bite. The crunchy edges are just like meringue cookies.

Pavlova loves to be dressed up with assorted toppings, mainly fresh whipped cream and piles of fresh fruit. Naturally gluten free, pavlova is light, sweet, and screams warm weather favorite. Happy spring, my friends, we’re making PAVLOVA!!

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I first experienced pavlova back in 2015 on a trip to Wenatchee, a city full of rolling hills and farmlands in Washington state. We visited the Stemilt orchards, home to some of the largest, juiciest cherries. There I tasted it with chunks of fresh mango and plenty of soaked cherries. After the trip, a reader emailed me her family favorite pavlova recipe. And 2 and 1/2 years later, I finally tried it myself.

To obtain the unique pavlova texture, you must adhere to an exact recipe. While it’s fun to play around with ingredients, pavlova is not the time to stray from what’s listed. It’s picky, but picky doesn’t mean difficult. In fact, you only need 5 ingredients to make pavlova and I bet you have each in your kitchen right now:

  • egg whites
  • sugar
  • an acid such as cream of tartar or vinegar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla extract

Let me explain why these ingredients are used.

THE PURPOSE OF EACH

  1. Egg whites – beaten into stiff peaks, egg whites are the base and volume of pavlova.
  2. Sugar – in addition to sweetening the dessert, sugar stabilizes the egg whites by holding them together both in the oven and as the whole pavlova cools. Without sugar, the protein molecules (science!) in egg whites will collapse. Additionally, sugar helps achieve the delightfully crisp texture. (Sugar is so much more than a sweetener in our baked goods. I find this article interesting and you will too!) Speaking of sugar, make sure that you use superfine or castor sugar. Just pulse sugar a few times in a food processor to reduce the size of the crystals.
  3. Acid – you can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon white, apple cider vinegar, or even lemon juice. The pavlova will NOT taste like vinegar, I promise. The acid helps the egg whites hold onto air and, like the sugar, helps prevent the egg whites from collapsing. I tested with both and I actually prefer cream of tartar. I found that my pavlova spread a bit more when I used liquid acid.
  4. Cornstarch – I tested pav with and without cornstarch. I found that the center was fluffier and more marshmallow-y with cornstarch. Then I tested with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. I found it was a little chalky tasting with 2 teaspoons. I’m sticking to 1 teaspoon.
  5. Vanilla extract – purely for flavor!

(Not sponsored by any of these companies, but here’s exactly what I use.)

Ingredients for pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredients are simple and method is effortless. There’s plenty of downtime when making pavlova. All you really have to do is watch it beat in your stand mixer then check on it in your oven. Kick your feet up!

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Just like the meringue on top of our lemon meringue pie, whip the egg whites into super stiff peaks. Stiff enough that you can hold the whisk over your head and feel confident that the whipped egg whites won’t drop. 😉 Then you’ll spread the pavlova mixture onto your lined baking pan. You can use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Do not grease the baking pan– use a nonstick surface instead. Spread it into a circle, about 8-9 inches in diameter. You can eyeball it or trace one with a pencil. I just eyeball it. Like I did in the lemon meringue pie video, use the back of a spoon to create decorative peaks. Make sure the edges are tall and you have a nice dip in the center. That’s were we’ll pile our whipped cream and fruit!

Alternatively, you can make mini pavlovas. Here I piped the mixture into 6 mini pavlovas using Ateco 849. A piping tip isn’t necessary– you can just spoon it on. Again, make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings.

How to make mini pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

A relatively cooler oven is imperative for properly cooking your pavlova, but let’s start the pavlova at 350°F (177°C) then reduce it down to 200°F (93°C). I do this to help “set” the outer crust quickly. This trick helps reduce spread.

A properly cooked pav is pale in color. Cracks and bumps are par for the course, but the pavlova shouldn’t completely deflate. Especially if you follow the precise measurements and instructions in the recipe. You can help avoid too many cracks by cooling the pavlova in the oven. The sudden change of temperature (inside the oven to outside the oven) shocks the pavlova, so it’s best to cool inside the cooling oven.

Make sense?

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Toppings for pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You can top your pavlova or mini pavlovas any which way, but here are some of my topping suggestions:

  • Whipped cream is essential. You can get a little creative and flavor your whipped cream. Here are some fun flavored whipped creams.
  • Homemade lemon curd. You’ll have exactly 4 egg yolks leftover anyway.
  • Fresh berries
  • Edible florals and herbs
  • Strawberry compote
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Seasonal fruits like mango, kiwi, passionfruit, blood oranges

No need to get artistic, just pile it all on top into a massive pavlova mountain.

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Things are bound to get a little messy when slicing, but if you cooked the pavlova long enough so that the bottom is crisp and the edges are set, it will hold a pie slice shape. This big thing serves about 8-10 people!

If you’re still on the fence about trying pavlova, might I remind you that the center tastes like marshmallows. ♥ ♥ ♥

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Have fun!

Pavlova

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites (use the yolks for lemon curd!)*
  • 1 cup (200g) superfine sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Whipped Cream + Toppings

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fresh fruit, lemon curd, or any desired topping (see post for suggestions)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Preliminary note: you will quickly reduce the oven to 200°F (93°C) in step 4.)
  2. With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 30 seconds between, then continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form, about 2 more minutes. The peaks should be stiff enough that you can hold the whisk upright and the peaks won't move. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 1 more minute. The peaks should still be very stiff. If not, keep on mixing on high speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cream of tartar and cornstarch.
  3. Spread the pavlova mixture into an 8-9-inch circle (see note for mini size). You can make decorative peaks with the back of a large spoon if desired. Make sure the edges are relatively tall and there is a nice dip in the center.
  4. Place pavlova in the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce heat to 200°F (93°C). The pavlova will stay in the oven as it cools down to 200°F (93°C). Bake until the pavlova is firm and dry, about 90 minutes total. Rotate the baking sheet if you notice some spots browning. Try to limit how many times you open the oven as the cool air will interrupt the baking.
  5. Turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool inside the oven. Once the pavlova is cool, you can store it covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or serve right away.
  6. Make the whipped cream: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. You can use right away or cover and store in the refrigerator for a few days.
  7. Once cool, top the pavlova with whipped cream and assorted toppings. Slice and serve.

Make ahead tip: See step 5 for making the pavlova in advance. Pavlova is best enjoyed right after it's garnished. It doesn't freeze well.

Recipe Notes:

Egg whites: (1) Room temperature egg whites whip faster than cold egg whites. And (2) room temperature egg whites whip into a greater volume than cold egg whites. So make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before beginning.

Sugar: Superfine sugar dissolves easier into egg whites. To avoid tasting sugar granules, pulse 1 cup granulated sugar a few times in a food processor. You now have superfine sugar to use in the recipe.

Acid: You can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.

Mini pavlovas: Divide pavlova mixture up into individual portions instead of spreading into one large 8-9-inch circle. In the photos, I piped the mixture into 6 mini pavlovas using Ateco 849. A piping tip isn't necessary-- you can just spoon it on. Make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings. Bake time depends on size, see step 4 for what to look for. If making 6 mini pavlovas like I did, bake for 35-40 minutes at 200°F (93°C). Start them in a 350°F (177°C) oven, like I do in this written recipe.

Pavlova base from reader Laurel. Thanks Laurel!

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Baking Sheet | Marble Cake Stand

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

104 Comments

Comments

  1. AngelaB on March 22, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    I made this yesterday and it turned out beautifully!! I topped it with almond whipped cream, raspberries and blackberries(cuz thats what i had on hand) my family was very impressed. I’ll definitely try it again!

    • Sally on March 22, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      So glad to read this, thanks for taking the time to report back!

  2. Geneva on March 22, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    I love pavlova! But I don’t care for whipped cream so I usually top it with vanilla custard and fresh berries instead. Delicious! Thanks for sharing and reminding me of a yummy recipe I haven’t made in years. I’ll have to remedy that and make it this weekend.

    • Sally on March 22, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      Enjoy!!

  3. Amina on March 22, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Wow, it looks really good! I have never tried this dessert before.
    Would love if you could check out my blog that I have recently launched. Thanks!!

  4. Willa on March 23, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Ahhh Pavlova… never experienced this impressive dessert, but you made a babka lover out of me .I’m sure this Pavlova will be a favorite til your next fantastic culinary delight! Your blog has literally changed my life, I’m a baking fool,…. retirement and crossing things off my bucket list is such fun. Thank you, Sally!

  5. Laurel Butler on March 23, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Thanks for the fantastic post Sally. I’m I need Australia and this certainly is a staple a any Christmas and celebration.
    Your recipe is exactly the same as my Mum’s that i use all the time (it’s even in my profile pic on my website lol).
    Thank you for including the reason each ingredient is used. I always follow Mum’s recipe to a tee, but never knew why I had to add vinegar!
    Thanks again, Laurel

  6. Molly on March 23, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I’m so excited to try this! If I wanted to cut the recipe in half, how would that effect my baking time?

    • Sally on March 25, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Molly! You can halve the recipe. I’m unsure of the exact bake time. It’s done when it feels firm and dry.

    • Gloria on April 8, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Hi! I want to cut the recipe in half to! How did the baking time change? Thanks for your answers…

  7. Laura | Tutti Dolci on March 23, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    So picture perfect, love the pretty fruit topping!

  8. Nicola on March 24, 2018 at 4:31 am

    The best way to make Pavlova, according to Delia Smith – a much respected cookery writer int he UK – is to make it in the evening, then leave the Pavlova in the switched-off oven overnight to cool.  Just her little tip.

    I make Pavlova quite often, and if you use golden caster sugar, which is less refined, or even light muscovado sugar, it gives the meringue a slight caramel flavour, which is no bad thing.  However, in our house it only ever gets topped with whipped cream, with a raspberry sauce (and sometimes fresh fruit) served on the side, because I have fussy non-soft-fruit eaters to cater for…sigh…

  9. Irja on March 25, 2018 at 9:29 am

    When you say in let the “pavlova cools inside,” do you mean inside the oven?

    • Sally on March 25, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Yep! Let me add that clarification. Thank you!

  10. Martha on March 26, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Today’s my birthday, and Pavlova is my favorite dessert of all time. I believe it originated in Australia (it was developed in honor of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova when she visited there in the 1920’s) and my Aussie mum-in-law made it for me when we lived in Australia, not long after my husband and I got married. I had it one time and I was hooked! Dee-licious! We moved back to the States in 1994, though, and I haven’t had it since. I’ll definitely be making this one. It’s virtually identical to her recipe, as far as I can recall. Thank you so much for posting it!

  11. Lili on March 28, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Hi Sally, this looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! I want to make it for a Passover Seder this weekend, but cornstarch isn’t kosher for Passover- could I use potato starch instead or would that change the flavor/texture of the bake?

    • Sally on March 28, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Lili! You can try it, but I’m sorry– I haven’t. So I’m unsure of the results.

  12. Josie Grandine on March 28, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Hi there, Pavlova is as Aussie as football (Australian Rules footy) and meatpies! My parents migrated to Australia in the late 1950s and we were introduced to the “Pav” by our Australian neighbours, God bless them.  It’s present at many gatherings and is part of the gastronomic memories of most of us, along with trifle. There is a variation of this dessert, which is the Pavlova Roll. It is made using the same principles for a Sponge Roll. Yummy. Long live the Pav! Thanks  for your great recipes and all the wonderful tips and explanations. 

  13. Lauren on March 31, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Sally, 
    I will be baking this tonight to serve for Easter tomorrow. I have read several comments and reviews elsewhere and am wondering if it should be room temperature or in a fridge? I am planning to leave it in the oven overnight then wrap it in the morning before it is served in the evening… 
    can’t wait to try! 

    • Sally on April 2, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Hi Lauren! I didn’t work on Easter, so I’m just seeing your question now. You can serve this at room temperature, which is what I usually do.

  14. Brenda on April 2, 2018 at 6:23 am

    I made this yesterday for Easter dessert and it was a hit. I topped it with homemade vanilla pudding and whipped cream, then with fresh berries. I had never heard of it before you posted the recipe, so thanks for giving me something new to try.

    • Sally on April 2, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      Brenda, I’m so happy that you tried something new!!!

  15. Steffi on April 2, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Hi Sally
    I tried this beautiful recipe today. Unfortunately, the Pavlova stuck to the baking sheet so that when I tried to remove it, it was mostly destroyed. The centre was still moist – do I have to bake it fully through and how do I know when this is the case? I used more time than stated in the recipe, but probably that depends on the oven (we have an electric oven).

    • Sally on April 3, 2018 at 6:59 am

      Hi Steffi! Did you use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat? The center will be a little moist and marshmallow-y. The outer edges will be set and won’t stick to your fingers.

      • Steffi on April 3, 2018 at 10:30 am

        Hi Sally 
        I used parchment paper. Funny enough, the pavlova was dry on the (thicker) edges and moist/chewy in the centre (which was the thinnest part, though)



  16. Chelsea on April 7, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Made this today for my mom’s birthday! It’s a favorite in our family, and I was so happy you posted a recipe for it! We like things a little darker, so I topped it with your red wine chocolate ganache and blackberries. So amazing! I probably could have halved the ganache recipe because I have lots leftover, but I’m using it to top some healthy zucchini brownies. Balance, right? https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/01/15/red-wine-chocolate-ganache/

    • Sally on April 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      That combination sounds absolutely divine!!! And the leftovers will be fantastic on any brownies 🙂

  17. ElzaJ on April 11, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Hey, Sally! Where did you get your cute cake stand? You’re recipes are amazing! Thanks 🙂

    • Sally on April 12, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      I left a link for the stand in the “shop the recipe” section above!

  18. Jamey on April 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. What is your opinion on using egg whites from a carton in recipes like this? Just curious.

    • Sally on April 14, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      I’ve never tried it, but from what I’ve read it’s completely fine. But, again, I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you do!

  19. Amber on April 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    I made this for Easter dessert, and everyone loved it! My daughter wants pavlova at her birthday party so if I want to quadruple this recipe, could I bake all 4 pavlovas at once or how would you bake 4 pavlovas if you wanted them all to taste fresh?

    • Sally on April 25, 2018 at 10:17 am

      Hi Amber! I would try to bake them all at once if you can. They’ll take a little longer in the crowded oven though. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  20. Patti on April 30, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Do you think it would turn out if I used Swerve Granular sugar replacement to make it keto friendly?
    Thanks!!

    • Sally on May 1, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Hi Patti! While I have no experience with this sugar substitute, the results will be different as regular sugar behaves much differently.

  21. Anita on May 22, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I see that you initially set the oven temperature pretty high. Will that not cause the pavlova to “close” the crust layer and stay relativley unbaked from inside?

    Many thanks for your reply. Hope you and your young family are all well!
    Greetings from Amsterdam
    Anita

    • Sally on May 22, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      You are actually trying to achieve different textures inside and out with this dessert!! The inside isn’t undercooked (it stays in the lower temperature for a long time) but it’s softer on inside for sure!

  22. Mickie Hedrick on June 24, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I’d like to make a rolled pavlova. Any suggestions?

    • Sally on June 25, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Hi Mickie! I wish I could help, but I’ve only made the pavlova as pictured/written.

  23. Patti Cakes McElroy on June 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    My Aunt is from New Zealand and has always made Pavlova for every family gathering. My siblings and I are addicted, and I am moreso than the others. YOU WILL LOVE IT ALSO AND YOU SHOULD TRY THIS RECIPE.

  24. Kristine on July 2, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Hi, I tried a pavlova recipe very similar to this one but my pavlova burned up almost immediately in the stove. I had it at 300 deg F. Any ideas on what could have gone wrong? I think I will try making it again tonight following your recipe to a T. Thanks!

    • Sally on July 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      I’m unsure of other recipes but I have never burned this one!

  25. Daniela on July 4, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Hi Sally!

    I have used your recipe but I modified a little bit by adding in the meringue some CO2-dried fruits (strawberries). The effect was fantastic! Your recipes works and for any party you can get an “Wow effect”. The color and the taste give by the CO2-dried fruits is fantastic and I found it a good combination with the fresh fruit topping.
    Regards,
    Daniela

  26. Kimberly on July 10, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I make a similar Pavlova but add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 ounces chopped chocolate 60%. Fold in prior to forming the Pavlova on the baking pan.

    • Sally on July 10, 2018 at 9:39 am

      Sounds delicious!

  27. Erin on July 14, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Hi Sally, I made the mini-version of your recipe for a dinner party of six last week, and it was a smashing success! I topped them with coconut whipped cream and fresh berries as one of our guests is dairy-free. I’m so excited to now have Pavlova in my repertoire! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Sally on July 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      This is so fun for a dinner party and coconut whipped cream sounds delish!

Reviews

  1. Patti Cakes McElroy on June 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    My Aunt is from New Zealand and has always made Pavlova for every family gathering. My siblings and I are addicted, and I am moreso than the others. YOU WILL LOVE IT ALSO AND YOU SHOULD TRY THIS RECIPE.

Questions

  1. Patti on April 30, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Do you think it would turn out if I used Swerve Granular sugar replacement to make it keto friendly?
    Thanks!!

    • Sally on May 1, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Hi Patti! While I have no experience with this sugar substitute, the results will be different as regular sugar behaves much differently.

  2. Anita on May 22, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I see that you initially set the oven temperature pretty high. Will that not cause the pavlova to “close” the crust layer and stay relativley unbaked from inside?

    Many thanks for your reply. Hope you and your young family are all well!
    Greetings from Amsterdam
    Anita

    • Sally on May 22, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      You are actually trying to achieve different textures inside and out with this dessert!! The inside isn’t undercooked (it stays in the lower temperature for a long time) but it’s softer on inside for sure!

  3. Mickie Hedrick on June 24, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I’d like to make a rolled pavlova. Any suggestions?

    • Sally on June 25, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Hi Mickie! I wish I could help, but I’ve only made the pavlova as pictured/written.

  4. Kristine on July 2, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Hi, I tried a pavlova recipe very similar to this one but my pavlova burned up almost immediately in the stove. I had it at 300 deg F. Any ideas on what could have gone wrong? I think I will try making it again tonight following your recipe to a T. Thanks!

    • Sally on July 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      I’m unsure of other recipes but I have never burned this one!

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