Pecan Meringue Cookies are crunchy on the outside, nutty and chewy on the inside and so delicious! The addition of cocoa brings a fabulous chocolate accent to these cloud cookies, which are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
Pecan Lovers: These Pecan Meringue Cookies are for you!
Featuring brown sugar meringue (OMG!), coarsely chopped pecans, vanilla and a hint of chocolate flavor from cocoa, these are addictive!
They're gluten-free, so there's no flour to make them heavy. They're crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Eating them is like munching on nutty, marshmallowy popcorn. (Speaking of that, you have to try this chocolate-drizzled popcorn!)
I based these meringue cloud cookies on a recipe for "pecan kisses," which was much sweeter and contained no chocolate. (The nerve!)
So of course, I had to make adjustments until these egg white cookies were just right. I've made these several times over the past decade, and they're always a hit!
They're a satisfying, nutty dessert or snack. I dare you to eat just one!
This is a dairy-free cookie recipe with a short list of ingredients.
Egg White: I always use an extra-large egg white here. Make sure there's no trace of yolk in it, or else it won't beat into a meringue.
Brown Sugar: You can use light or dark brown sugar.
Pecans: I always make these with pecans, but walnuts probably would work as a substitute. If you need to skip the nuts, it's probably best to make nut-free chocolate meringues.
Cocoa: You'll need unsweetened cocoa powder. I haven't tried these with dark, unsweetened cocoa, but use what you have.
Cream of Tartar: This white powder stabilizes egg whites, making them easier to whip into a glossy meringue, as the Food Network explains. If you don't have any, you can substitute ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar per egg white.
How to make pecan meringue cookies
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
Make the brown sugar meringue
- Place an egg white in a medium mixing bowl and add the cream of tartar and salt.
- Beat with a hand mixer just until frothy and combined, then add the brown sugar.
- Beat until combined, then add the vanilla and cocoa.
- Beat the egg white mixture until it thickens and stiff peaks form, which could take 5-7 minutes. (If the egg white is still slightly cold, it might end up with soft peaks, but will still work in this recipe.)
Mix the cloud cookie batter & bake
- Stir chopped pecans into the meringue.
- Scoop walnut-sized amounts of batter onto two greased cookie sheets and bake. When the cookie tops are set, turn off the heat and let them stay in the oven for two minutes.
- Dust with cocoa and transfer to a cooling rack.
- Separate the egg when it's cold out of the refrigerator, so it'll be easier to do.
- Let the egg white sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so it'll be easier to beat into stiff peaks.
- Use a hand mixer (affiliate link) instead of a stand mixer if making just one batch of these cookies. You'll be working with one egg white, and you'll want the beaters to reach it well.
- Place a dish towel under the mixing bowl when you beat the egg white, so the bowl doesn't slide.
Frequently asked questions
Meringue cookies don't need to be refrigerated. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Use wax paper to separate the layers of cookies.
Yes, you can freeze meringue cookies for up to three months in a sealed container. Place wax paper in between the layers.
For this recipe, I recommend freezing the cloud cookies without cocoa sprinkled on top so it doesn't smear.
To thaw, take the meringue cookies out of the container and place them on a platter at room temperature. Dust with cocoa before serving.
It's best to store pecans in the freezer so they won't get stale. You can keep them in the plastic bag they were sold in or transfer them to a zip-top bag.
You don't need to thaw the pecans before using them in recipes. Just grab some from the bag and reseal it with a bag clip (affiliate link) if needed.
More cookie recipes
And, if you love the chocolate-pecan combo, don't miss my Chocolate-Banana Smoothie!
If you try these Pecan Meringue Cookies, be sure to leave a comment and a rating!
Pecan Meringue Cookies
- 1 extra-large egg white
- 8 ounces pecan halves, coarsely chopped (two cups chopped)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa (divided use)
- Separate the egg while it's cold, placing the egg white in a medium bowl. (Reserve the yolk in a separate container, cover it and refrigerate it for another use.) If possible, let the egg white sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so it'll be easier to beat into a meringue.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two large baking sheets with cooking spray. (If you need this to be gluten-free, don't use baking spray, because it contains flour.)
- Coarsely chop the pecans and set them aside.
- Add the cream of tartar and salt to the egg white. Steady the bowl by placing a dish towel underneath it so it doesn't slide. Mix with an electric hand mixer, using a whisk attachment, if you have one. (A stand mixer doesn't work well for such a small amount.) Mix just until it is very frothy and starting to come together.
- Gradually add the brown sugar, mixing after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the vanilla and ½ teaspoon cocoa. Beat on low for about 30 seconds to mix, then on high speed, until the mixture is thick and stiff. It could take 5-7 minutes. It's okay if the meringue peaks slightly fall over when you lift the beater out of the bowl.
- Use a spoon to stir the chopped pecans into the meringue. Using a scoop or two teaspoons (one to scoop, one to scrape), place walnut-sized mounds of meringue onto your pans, at least 1 ½ inches apart. You should be able to fit a dozen on one large sheet pan.
- Bake the cookies for 13 minutes, or just until they are puffy and set. Turn off the heat and let the cookies stay in the oven for another two minutes to dry.
- Remove the cookies from the oven. Sprinkle the remaining cocoa on them by placing ½ teaspoon of cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and gently shaking it over the cookies. While the cookies are still warm, carefully transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
- Store the cooled-off cookies at room temperature, laying them flat in a single layer in a plastic container, then placing wax paper on top before starting the next layer. If the container is tightly sealed, the meringue cookies should stay good for up to two weeks. See notes about freezing them.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Great American Recipes, Pecan Kisses, 1988. Originally published on August 22, 2016 and updated now with additional photos and information. New photos by Kanyi Muraguri for Cooking with Mamma C.)