Everything you need is already in your pantry.

A lot of recipes call for egg yolks: custards, pasta dough, ice cream, and hollandaise, to name a few. Which means you're going to end up with leftover egg whites.

What to do?

With high-protein diets being so popular now, lots of folks are using egg whites for omelets and scrambles or boiling them in a bag to make hard-boiled whites for egg white salad. All of which are completely valid ways to use up those whites.

Or you can do what I do and make meringue cookies.

The world's easiest meringue cookie

Meringue cookies are a simple pleasure. They are easy-to-make, crunchy little nuggets of sweetness that are light, not overly caloric, and fit into any eating program (they're also great treats for kids). And the best part is that you can make meringue cookies with a ratio recipe, so you can use any amount of leftover whites!

Regular and low-sugar meringues

I make two kinds of meringues: regular and low sugar. The first is a classic cookie, with a crisp and crunchy texture, which you can eat alone, but will stand up to use in other desserts like Eton Mess or as a garnish on cakes. The second is the one I make for just snacking at home when you just need that little pop of sweetness. Both are super easy to make.

Credit: Getty / Debby Lewis-Harrison

How to make regular meringue cookies

For regular meringues, here's what you'll need:

  • Egg whites
  • White sugar
  • Cream of tartar or vinegar (white or apple cider)
  • Optional vanilla, lemon, or almond extract
  • Optional mix-ins like chocolate chips or nuts

Now, to the ratios!

You need 2 parts sugar for 1 part egg white—so, half a cup of whites? Use one cup of sugar.

For every cup of whites, you will need a ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar or 2 teaspoons vinegar to stabilize (just adjust up or down as needed). That's it! (You can add a flavoring extract like vanilla or almond or lemon, or mix in chocolate chips or nuts, but mostly I keep it simple.)

Here's what you do:

1. Whip egg whites to foamy in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer.

2. Add the cream of tartar or vinegar and keep whipping until the mixture forms soft peaks.

3. Add sugar very slowly—just trickling it in while the mixer goes—and keep mixing until you have a shiny stiff peak.

4. Pipe into cookies on parchment- or silicone-lined sheet pans and bake in a 225° oven for 40 minutes to 1 ½ hours, depending on size. Turn the oven off and let stay in the oven until completely cooled, at least 3-4 hours, but I often make them at night and just let them hang out overnight.

How to make low-sugar meringue cookies

Low-sugar meringues are great for anyone trying to eat low-carb and for people with diabetes who still want some healthy treats. Here's all you do:

1. Flip the ratio on its head, using 2 parts egg white to 1 part sugar

2. Double the stabilizer

3. Add 1 tablespoon of inuline powder per cup of egg white. (Inulin powder is a tasteless fiber powder supplement that's usually stirred into drinks or sprinkled on foods. Here, it acts as a natural dehydrator, helping the cookies stay crisp and giving a little extra structure that the missing sugar would normally provide.)

Follow the same technique as above, but add the inulin powder along with the sugar—I usually just mix them together to add all at once. Baking process is the same. These have a more delicate texture, and after the initial crunch they melt on the tongue more like cotton candy than traditional meringues.