Pavlova Recipe

Pavlova is little-known here in the States, but it’s the apple pie of Australia and New Zealand. Here’s my version which hews pretty close to the standard (there’s not much room to move where meringue is concerned). Toppings can be all over the board, though fruit is traditional. You’ll need:

8 egg whites, room temperature
pinch salt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 ounces (2 cups) sugar
1 ounce (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
double to triple recipe Chantilly cream. Use half the sugar and stabilize it with two envelopes of gelatin if you’ll be holding the pavlova more than an hour

Preheat your oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and trace a 9-10″ circle on it using a pot lid. Grease it lightly and sprinkle it with cornstarch (corn flour).

Put the egg whites, salt and vinegar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip. Stir together the cornstarch and the sugar. Whip on medium to (very) soft peaks, then turn the machine up to medium high and whip in the vanilla and the sugar mixture in a small, steady stream. Whip to stiff peaks.

Scrape the mixture onto the parchment, into the circle you drew, gently shaping it into a cylinder about 3 inches high. If possible try to make the outside of the circle slightly higher than the center.

Put the meringue into the oven and immediately turn it down to 300. Bake for 45 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 and bake for another 35 minutes. At that point turn off the oven and let the meringue cool completely with the door closed. It can stay there overnight of you wish.

When ready to serve, place the meringue disk on a serving platter. Prepare the Chantilly cream and pile it on top, spreading it out until it begins to drip over the sides. Add any fruit you like for a finishing touch. Passion fruit puree is traditional as are strawberries in berry weather.

39 thoughts on “Pavlova Recipe”

  1. Dang! I just used my left over egg whites for Angel Food Cake (which is amazing!). I see myself separating eggs again in the near future. This may be an infinite loop of baking! Mmmm… I could have worse problems. 😀
    Tell me Joe, what is the true texture of the inside of a pavlova? The ones I have tried were small and dry all the way through, but I read they are supposed to be chewy in the center like marshmallow with a crisp exterior.

    P.S. I’m so glad you are back! 😀

    1. Hi Eva!

      And thanks! I’m not an expert, but as far as I know the inside is not supposed to be hard. More like the inside of a good meringue cookie: soft and melty. I’ll let you know more when I finally make this beast! 😉

      – Joe

      1. Hi Eva, Joe,

        Won’t dare to profess myself being a Pavlova expert but had baked dozens of them for the past 2 years.
        Yes, it should be marshmallowy inside while crispy on the outer side.

        Successfully bake the meringue cases with rose syrup which turned out to be quite good too. It’s pink in color (because the syrup comes with red coloring).


    2. Definitely not chewy. As you cut into it with your spoon there should be no resistance once you get through the shell. I’m trying to think of something with a similar texture and failing. Closest thing I can think of is a mousse. A very airy mousse.

  2. You’re back! I missed your posts, but am glad you got a break.

    I love pavlova, and I have a question. A lot of the recipes I looked through (long ago) emphasized ways to prevent the meringue base from sticking, including crumpling then straightening the parchment paper to create a lot of wrinkles. I only tried it with all of the precautions. So my question is: is stuck meringue really a big problem?

    1. Hi Mari!

      I can’t speak for Pavlova since this is my first time making it, however I do make large meringue layers from time to time and I’ve never had a serious problem with sticking provided there’s some parchment paper underneath. The crumpled paper solution seems like overkill to me. But as I say, I’m not really a pavlova expert. Let you know in a few days! 😉

      – Joe

    2. Never heard of crumpling the paper. I use siliconised baking paper and have no problems. Before that was invented my Mum used to grease the tray then wet it.

  3. Hey Joe,

    This is very exciting to introduce your readers to a little bit of antipodean culture. Its true Pavlova is like a national icon down here and I have to say there is some rivalry between New Zealand and Australia as to who has the bragging rights as its creator. Frankly I find this spat quite boring and am happy to concede to my cousins across the Tasman! There are some interesting legends here as to how the dish was created and named, however, which you might like to search in your usual quest for culinary truth.

    Never the less it seems like every Anglo-Celtic family in this neck of the woods has its own version of this much loved classic. My great aunt, for example, insisted that the egg whites should be beaten exactly two minutes before the addition of the sugar, that the sugar should be warmed first and then mixed with the cornflour BEFORE adding it to the beaten egg whites. I dont know if this actually makes any difference, but today I still dutifully follow her instructions.

    Looking forward to seeing your pictures


    1. Hi Rick – I’m tired of that debate too – if that’s the biggest issue we’ve got to worry about life is still pretty good down here .
      Cheers from Auckland

    2. What a great tip on the cornstarch! And so obviously superior to adding it as a last step. I’m going to incorporate that, Rick, thanks so much. And I’m looking forward to finding out more about the Down Under pavlova spat!


      – Joe

  4. It is important (and not terribly easy) to get your Pavlova texture correct. It’s not a big meringue.
    The outer 1/4 inch or so should be crisp but not hard, the inside should be soft and marshmallowy. Not chewy marshmallow, but a sort of firm fluff. The inside should also not shrink away from the crispy shell, which should in turn not break.
    I have never managed to make one that fulfilled all the criteria for perfection, although you can hide a multitude of sins with whipped cream.
    Kiwifruit slices are another traditional fruit topping.

  5. My mother used make these in individual sizes, but I never had a lot of luck with them. My oven is ancient and heats weirdly, but I am used to its quirks and can usually bake all right. Meringues are too finicky though.

    Another sweet icon from Australia and New Zealand is Anzac biscuits (cookies) which my boss loves dearly. I promised her a batch when she gets back from vacation. My old oven can handle those.

    1. Hey Ellen!

      I’ve heard of those as well. Please send me the recipe when you get one you like!

      – Joe

  6. I’ve been waiting for your recipe. Growing up here in NZ , Pavlovas were just part of a family cooking repertoire , every Mum, Aunty, Grandma and woman on your street could make one. There are plenty of little traditions and “rules” that have been passed down through the generations for the no fail , perfect pavlova. Am happy to share a few tips if you wish -let me know – can’t wait for the pictures 🙂

  7. Gawd, I love this site!!!! I haven’t made pavlovas in years, but I will today. I used to make it with lemon curd instead of chantilly and covered it with a big blob of blueberries.

    Just a couple of adds, one which may seem self-evident.

    1) When making your circles on the parchment, it’s a good idea to flip it over afterwards. You’ll still see the circles and there won’t be any ink or pencil transfer onto your pavlovas. This may seem self-evident, but I would hate to have to admit how many times I’ve forgotten and made very tasty garbage.

    2) I find it easier to pipe the meringue onto the paper, laying one thick bead down, and another on top to make a rim. (sort of like a Paris-Brest base, but with meringue) Others prefer to just plop it down and shape with a spatula. Piping makes a clean shape, the spatula makes it more rustic, but both work nicely.


      1. Oh Bronwyn,

        That sounds so yummy, it should be outlawed. I think I’ll make a few of those too. (So much inspiration, so little time)

        I have 36X8″ shells ready to go. I’ve already used up all my excess egg whites, here’s where I use up all my fruit!!

        Mind if I call them “Pavlova a la Bronwyn” ?


        1. Better to call them “Pavlova a la Ombrello’s”, Ombrello’s being a local restaurant which serves individual pavlovas with lemon curd and cream 🙂

  8. Confused – two different pans? Parchment and wax paper? Only one circle is mentioned. Do you fill both circles? Thanks, Kathryn

    1. Something fishy… I thought the same thing. Are there two tiers here or something, and Fisherman Joe simply forgot a paragraph?

      1. Yeah I messed up. I was debating sizes and was writing too fast. Fixed now!

        – Joe

  9. I’ve always been “afraid” of trying a meringue. (contrary oven) I do wonder if they can be made ahead of time and how long ahead. After you make one, let us know what you think of the shelf life.

    Love your detailed forays into recipes!

    1. Not very far ahead I’m afraid. I bake in the evening, leave in the oven overnight (door closed) to finish cooking and cool down, then serve that day.
      They tend to get weepy if you leave them. They are quite moist inside.
      There is a company in New Zealand who has perfected a commercial pavlova that can be stored. I don’t know what they do to them, but they are super high, and don’t have a very crisp outside.

    2. Hey Martha!

      Some meringues work great ahead of time, other’s don’t. Thin, crispy meringue layers can be made ahead and will keep for days. Thick soft ones are best eaten the day they’re made. But really there’s nothing to fear…they’re not hard! Cheers,

      – Joe

  10. Thanks for this! Pavlovas are lovely with fruit piled up high on top of the whipped cream. I’ve had good outcomes with mixed berries, with peaches and halved grapes, and in winter with sliced or quartered oranges tossed in caramel. The wow factor is a nice plus…

  11. Properly baked Pavlova is indeed fabulous dessert, especially in summer! One more idea for topping – chantilly cream with basil leaves; they are pureed and mixed in cream while it gets light green and has a little bit of basil flavor.

  12. I think the definition of the ‘perfect’ pav depends entirely on how your mother/grandmother made it. The traditional pav for my family is more tapered at the edges and not super high. It has a good crisp shell that can be used to scoop up the cream while you wait for the maker of the pav to serve it. Ours isn’t soft the whole way through, the centre is ever so slightly sticky and chewy and much more satisfying to eat than a completely soft one. Alas I don’t have the knack and have to hope my aunt feels the need to make one.

  13. Just because no one has mentioned it yet (and maybe because pav very rarely makes it to the next day) but there is nothing in the world like day old pavlova. It is a birthday tradition in our family, so there are at least 6 pavlova’s a year, and I spit chips if hubby brings home a shop bought one. Lemon curd and blueberries look tasty and raspberries also go well. You definitely need those more tart tasting fruit to balance the sweetness. Passionfruit is beautiful and syrupy, poured over the top of the whole thing 😉

    1. I found that to be very true, Trudy. Thanks for mentioning it. I like the drier crispier texture of a pavlova that’s aged a bit!


      – Joe

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