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pavlova with fresh fruit topping on a marble and wood cake stand

Another fresh and exciting recipe for you!

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 lover’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 on a marble and wood cake stand

Video Tutorial: How to Make Pavlova

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 including containers of cornstarch, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract

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!

pavlova mixture on a whisk attachment
pavlova spread onto a baking sheet before baking

Just like our chocolate swirled meringue cookies and the meringue on 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.

mini pavlovas on a baking sheet

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?

pavlova spread onto a baking sheet after baking
overhead image of spreading whipped cream onto baked pavlova on a marble cake stand
pavlova toppings including fresh berries and lemon curd in bowls

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

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

pavlova on a marble and wood cake stand

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. ♥ ♥ ♥

slice of pavlova with fresh fruit topping on a green plate

Have fun!

Print
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pavlova on a marble and wood cake stand

Pavlova

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 810 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: New Zealand

Description

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!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Toppings


Instructions

  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 on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 30 seconds between. Once all of the sugar has been added, turn the mixer up to high speed and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form, about 2 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. Once cool, top the pavlova with whipped cream and assorted toppings. Slice and serve.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: See step 5 for making the pavlova in advance. Pavlova is best enjoyed right after it’s garnished. It doesn’t freeze well.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Baking Sheet | Marble Cake Stand
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Acid: You can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
  6. 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.
  7. Pavlova base from reader Laurel. Thanks Laurel!

Keywords: pavlova

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hello! I am wondering if we bake the mini version how long to bake for? Thanks!

  2. The recipe for lemon curd was not enclosed. Could you please send it to me? Thank you.

  3. Hello! I have had so many successes and failures through the years with pavlovas. So far this recipe has been nothing but success each time. Thank you so much. I have one question. If I wanted to make a larger pavlova, do you have the ingredients that It would take. I’m having 12 people on Christmas. I know how important It is to follow the recipe exactly, so I wouldn’t know how to make a larger one . Unless I just double everything? Please let me know!

    1. Hi Patricia! For best taste and texture (and best success!) we highly recommend making two batters/two batches instead of doubling all at once and making a larger pavlova.

    1. Hi Jean! As long as you assemble the pavlova with toppings just before serving you shouldn’t have any issues with weeping. Enjoy!

  4. Is there any reason I couldn’t just use American powdered/confectioners sugar instead of caster sugar + corn starch? I mean, if we’re adding cornstarch anyway.

    1. Hi Jonathan, the egg whites will not reach glossy peaks if you use confectioners’ sugar. You still need the granules from superfine sugar.

  5. Thank you for the pavlova recipe. Is it possible to use liquid egg white from a carton. I always have so many egg yolks left over and do not always want to make more dessert.
    How can I sibstitute egg whites from a carton. Please advise of correct proportions if possible.
    Thank you, Helga

    1. Hi Helga! We’ve never tried it, but from what I’ve read it’s completely fine. But, again, we never tested it. Let us know if you do! There should be instructions for amounts on the carton.

    1. Hi Lola! Yes, superfine is a smaller version of granulated sugar. Powdered sugar is a different texture entirely. Hope this helps!

  6. Great recipe that made the best meringue I have ever had! Thank you.

  7. The best pavlova I’ve ever had. I actually doubled the recipe for a couple of parties & came out perfect!

    I will try a single batch now & see if there’s a difference. Again, thank you! So many people have asked for this recipe ❤️

  8. Could this be made into a chocolate pavlova by adding cocoa powder and/or melted chocolate?

    1. Hi Erin, we haven’t experimented with a chocolate variation – let us know if you give it a try!

      1. I did give it a try 🙂 It turned out a little different from the normal pavlova; the texture was less marshmallow-y, and more brownie-batter-like on the inside. It falls apart more easily than the regular pavlova, too, but I’m thinking that might be due to the addition of cocoa or brown sugar. I essentially melded this recipe with Martha Stewart’s chocolate pavlova recipe; if anyone wants to make it, I sifted in 2 tablespoons of Dutch-process cocoa powder and folded it in with the cream of tartar and cornstarch, and used 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 3/4 granulated sugar. I topped it with chocolate pastry cream and whipped cream; it tasted good, though I probably prefer the regular version with fresh fruit. But all in all, it was a success!

  9. Oh no, my mini versions are still soft after 1 hour in the oven. Do you put on hot air or ordinary oven? I will not give up. Thanks.

    1. Hi Dagmar! We use conventional settings (not convection) for our recipes!

  10. This recipe is great! Turned out perfectly. However, it is so sweet that we couldn’t eat it!! Do you think I could cut the sugar in half and it would still turn out?

    1. Hi Jen! Without the full amount of sugar the egg whites would deflate and you wouldn’t get the crisp exterior. Maybe try a topping that isn’t as sweet for him to help offset the sweetness in the pavlova.

  11. Great recipe that I have had complete success with from the first try. Just wanted to comment that it is not necessary to allow the egg whites to warm before beating. I have far better results with cold egg whites than with ones allowed to warm at room temp.

  12. I only have a handheld mixer. Is it still possible to make this recipe? Should I double the time for whipping the egg whites?

    1. Hi Sara, you can use your handheld mixer. It may take longer to whip the egg whites, but we’re unsure exactly how long.

    1. Hi Mary, the lower third – middle of the oven should be just about right.

  13. Directions do not tell me when to add the lemon curd to the pavlova. If I let it cool in the refrig then it will be hard to spread. Directions do not tell me when and how to apply the curd.

    1. Hi Linda! you can dollop chilled and set lemon curd on top of the pavlova after the pavlova cools.

  14. My family loves these. Great recipe, but if you are making the mini pavlovas, I’ve found that you still need to bake them for 90 minutes. Even though they are small, they are still kind of the same thickness as large ones.

  15. If you don’t grease the parchment paper how do you get the pavlova off in order to put it on a serving plate?

    1. Hi Liz! Once cooled, the pavlova shouldn’t stick to the parchment (parchment is non-stick).

      1. I’m taking it to someone’s house at 6:00-what time should I make it and should I cover it to take it in the car?
        Thank you,
        Liz

      2. Hi Liz, This recipe, including cooling, takes about 4 hours total!

  16. The first time I made this recipe, it was perfect. The 2nd and 3rd time, peaks started to form after about 3 min but then flattened out when I continued to beat them. Is the 5 min an estimate to start? Should I stop as soon as leaks form? Thank you!

    1. Hi Elena! Yes, the 5 minutes is an estimate as all mixers and conditions vary. You definitely don’t want to over-whip so, yes, you should stop when you reach stiff peaks.

  17. Thank you. Do I cover it when I take it to my friends house and do I wait to put the whipped cream and fruit on it until right before it’s served or should I put it together at my house before I leave.
    Thank you.
    Liz

    1. Hi Liz, Once garnished it’s best enjoyed right away, so if you’re able to garnish it at your friends house, that’s probably best!

  18. When you blend the 1 cup of sugar to make it finer, do you re-measure it? It makes more than 1 cup after it is blended.

  19. I’m stuck and can’t get the mixture to firm up and reach stiff peaks. I tried 3x, get the egg whites into soft peaks and then as soon as I am at the mixing in the sugar stage, it becomes glossy and just gets more and more liquidy as I mix. I’m new to using my kitchenaid so I’m wondering if I’m not using the right speeds or if you need to progress through speeds in a certain way? Any recommendations?

    1. Hi Becca, I’m just seeing your question now! Try turning up the speed on the mixer– you may just need a faster whip. Additionally, try wiping down your mixing bowl and the whisk attachment with a *little* lemon juice before starting. This will help rid any grease residue that could be preventing the mixture from reaching stiff peaks.

    1. Hi Heidi, We have not tested this recipe with potato starch but let us know if you do!

  20. How do you get the pavlova off the parchment paper. Mine cracks to pieces everytime?

    1. Hi Debbie, it can be a little tricky! Just be very careful and gentle. Make sure to use non-stick parchment paper (as opposed to wax paper or other). If it’s crumbling too much, it may be over-baked. We hope you loved this pavlova recipe!

  21. Hi Sally, I’m making Pavlova for my son’s birthday tomorrow. Currently Pavlova is in the oven. To get ahead of the big dinner I’m baking a day early. My question is how to store it until tomorrow’s celebration.
    Thanks Sherry

    1. Hi Sherry, store it covered tightly at room temperature. Hope it’s a hit!

  22. I had always wanted to make a Pavlova, and found this recipe easy to follow. My Pavlova was a success in that it looked exactly as I expected. I admit I was disappointed, however, in the way it tasted. The meringue was too sweet. My guests were in agreement, and many left the meringue on their plates, enjoying instead the fresh fruit, lemon curd, and whipped cream. I won’t be making this again.

  23. HI! I’m so used to weight everything when I cook, especially if is pastry stuff, could you please tell me how many grams actually 3 large eggs? It depends a lot on what I think is large ! Sorry and Tku! XOXO
    Nathalie, Dom.Rep.

    1. Hi Nathalie, a large egg white is usually about 30 grams, so you’ll need 120 grams of egg whites of this recipe. For reference, a large whole egg weighs about 57g (or 50g out of the shell). Hope this helps!

  24. Hello there, I was unsure what type of pan I should bake this on. would a basic flat tray or cookie pan work fine? hoping this turns out as great as the reviews!

    1. Hi Gianna, correct — a flat baking sheet / cookie sheet covered with parchment or a silicone baking mat is what you’ll need here. Hope you love the pavlova!

  25. Made this tonight and it was absolute perfection — I’ll never use another pavlova recipe again! I added whipped cream, lemon curd, and berries. Sooooo good!

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