A British classic, this Strawberry Eton Mess recipe makes a perfect summer dessert. Crisp, sweet layers of meringue combined with lightly whipped cream and juicy strawberries make for an irresistible British treat.
This dessert is as quintessentially English as Pimms at Wimbledon and a cucumber sandwich watching a cricket match. I love classic English sweets such as Traditional Scones, Classic Shortbread and these awesome Victoria Sponge Cupcakes. Being English, it’s ingrained in us to love and enjoy all of these!
I want to share this delightful dessert recipe with you. We make the meringue which does take some time but the process itself is super simple. However, store-bought meringue cookies are a fab alternative if you want a quicker option.
The meringue is layered with luscious sweetened whipped cream and juicy, sweet strawberries. The result is the most incredible dessert. It's light, fresh and has the perfect mix of fruity and sweet.
❓ What's Eton Mess?
Eton Mess is a traditional Eton Mess thought to originate from Eton College, a high-brow private school outside of London. It's a classic British dessert.
It's a combination of meringue, whipped cream and fresh berries, usually strawberries. The ingredients are either layered in a glass or folded together in a bowl giving it a 'messy' appearance, hence the name.
Eton Mess is a staple dessert in the summertime at picnics, garden parties, afternoon treats or after-dinner desserts. It heroes the best of seasonal fruits, in particular strawberries.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples. Wait to make this when strawberries are at their freshest for the ultimate flavour.
- Each component can be made ahead of time. Make the meringue and prepare the strawberries and cream and store them separately. It takes just minutes to layer up and serve.
- Simple to make. Whether you make the meringue or not, the process of making this dessert is simple.
- Crowd favourite. Everyone, both adults and kids will love this Strawberry Eton Mess.
- Perfect for Spring and Summer. Don't fancy a heavy dessert. This dessert is the ultimate light dessert that uses the best of in-season berries.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Only 8 ingredients are needed to make this incredible dessert from scratch and that includes those needed for the meringue too! That's it!
Note: If you don't want to make the meringue, then make a cheat's Eton Mess by using store-bought meringues. Depending on the size of your store-bought meringue cookies, you'll need a couple per serving.
- Egg Whites - I've used large eggs for the whites. A little tip - it's easier to separate the egg whites from the yolks when the eggs are cold. However, the egg whites must be at room temperature when making the meringue.
- Sugar - Superfine or caster sugar is best to use as it dissolves into egg whites quicker than regular sugar. Make your own by blitzing granulated sugar in a food processor. Just don't take it too far and turn it into icing sugar!
- Lemon Juice or White White Vinegar - You can use either when making a meringue. The egg whites just need an acidic component to help stabilise the meringue whilst baking.
- Cornstarch - The cornstarch (cornflour) also helps to bind and stabilise the liquid in the egg whites and helps prevent the liquid from seeping out.
- Strawberries - Find the juiciest of strawberries that you can. This will help when you crush some of them to form a puree. Plus the riper they are, the sweeter and juicier the strawberries will be.
- Cream - I've opted for double / heavy cream, with a high-fat percentage. When whipped to firm peaks it holds its shape well and has the smooth, thick, luscious texture that we want alongside the juicy strawberries and light, crunchy meringue. Make sure it's cold when you whip!
- Change up the fruit: Any ripe berries or stone fruit are going to be incredible in an Eton Mess. my favourite alternatives would be blackberries, peaches and mango.
- Roast the fruit: If you find the fruit is quite ripe enough then toss it in a couple of tablespoons of sugar and roast it for 20-25 minutes. This draws out the natural juices, softens the fruit and intensifies the flavour.
- Make it dairy free: Swap out the cream for coconut cream. You can whip it in the same way.
- Make it vegan: Yes, I know right - doesn't sound possible, but you can swap out the egg whites for aqua faba (chickpea water) and make vegan meringue in the same way. Use coconut cream instead of regular cream and you have the perfect vegan dessert.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the Meringue
Obviously skip this part if using store bought meringues.
STEP 1: Prep the oven and tray. Preheat the oven to 140C (280F). This is a higher temperature than what we'll end up baking the meringue at. The temp will get turned down low when the meringue is placed into the oven. The long bake time on low heat allows the exterior to set whilst still maintaining its white colour. Low and slow is definitely best!
Prep a baking tray. Line the tray with parchment paper
TIP: Ensure your equipment is clean and dry
Before starting, your stand mixer bowl and whisk must be clean, grease-free and totally dry before whipping the egg whites. Any moisture or grease will inhibit the egg white's ability to aerate to the required volume.
STEP 2: Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. This is the first step in making the meringue. Add the whites into a stand mixer bowl and whisk on medium-low speed until soft peaks form (Image 1).
You'll know when this happens because the egg whites will gradually turn white and start to look foamy and aerated.
STEP 3. Add the sugar gradually. Turn the mixer to low and then add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time into the mixing bowl whipping well for approximately ten seconds before the next addition (Image 2).
Take your time over this part; it can take a good couple of minutes until all the sugar is added. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically, as the sugar granules can stick around the sides. Once all the sugar is added, turn the beaters to high and whip for a further 5 minutes.
STEP 4. Add in lemon juice and cornflour and whip until glossy.
Add the lemon juice (or white vinegar) and the cornflour, then continue to whip for a further 5 minutes. The meringue should not be grainy and should be thick and shiny and hold its shape in stiff peaks (Image 4).
TIP: How to check if the sugar has fully dissolved
Rub a bit of the meringue between your index finger and thumb (Image 3). It should feel smooth. If it feels grainy, then continue to whip for another couple of minutes.
STEP 5: Spoon meringue onto the tray and bake. Stop the baking paper from slipping and dollop a bit of meringue under the four corners of the paper and stick it down (Image 5).
Spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper and smooth it out on the paper to approx 1 cm thick (Image 6).
Bake. Place the tray into the oven and turn down the temperature to 110C (230F) (Super important that you do this!) and bake the meringue for 1 ½ hours. Remove from the oven and let the meringue cool fully on the tray.
Break up the meringue into pieces of different sizes (Image 7). Have some crushed bits and some larger pieces.
Prepare the Cream and Strawberries
STEP 6: Whip the cream. Add cold heavy cream, half the icing sugar (sifted), and the vanilla extract into a bowl and whip to soft peaks (Image 8).
STEP 7: Prep strawberries. Add half the fresh strawberries into a bowl and mash well with a fork (Image 9). Add in the remaining powdered icing sugar and remaining strawberries (Image 10). Mix well together (Image 11).
Set out your three components, the broken-up meringue, whipped cream, and strawberries when you're ready to assemble.
Assemble the Strawberry Eton Mess
Step 8: Assemble your Strawberry Eton Mess. Grab your fav glasses, bowls, mason jars, jam jars ... whatever you like, and let's start layering. There's no right or wrong order to the layers - you do you!
I layered a spoonful or two of strawberries in the base, then added some whipped cream (Image 13). Next, I added some broken-up meringue on top of the cream (Image 14). Then I started layering the components again ending up with strawberries, pureed and fresh on the top
This quantity of ingredients makes for 6 smaller servings or 4 larger servings. If serving in small bowls, like the ones I used in my Chocolate Panna Cotta, then you'll have smaller servings and will get 6 out of the components.
🥣 How To Serve
You'll need to serve your Strawberries Eton Mess pretty much as soon as you've assembled them. The moisture from the strawberry puree and whipped cream will start to soften the meringue. They will still taste delicious, but you won't get that crunch from the meringue.
When it comes to serving, you'll most likely have some meringue left over. I like to add a large shard or two on the side of the plate that can be munched on like a cookie.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Clean and dry equipment. If making your own meringue then your equipment and utensils must be oil-free and dry to successfully whip the meringue.
- Get speedy. Buy store-bought meringue cookies and make this dessert in under 15 minutes.
- Buy ripe fruit. For maximum flavour buy fruit that is juicy and ripe.
- Can be made ahead of time. All three components can be made ahead of time. Assembling takes just minutes.
📋 Recipe FAQs
How they are assembled is the primary difference, plus where they originate from. They both contain the same components of meringue, cream and fruit. However, Pavlova stems from Australia and Eton Mess comes from England.
With Pavlova, the meringue is kept as a whole and topped with whipped cream, then fruit- checkout my Black Forest Pavlova to get the idea.
The meringue in Eton Mess is broken into pieces and layered in individual glasses with the cream and fruit.
The meringue, Whipped cream and pureed strawberries can all be made a up to 2 days before serving. Store in separate air-tight containers, the meringue at room temperature and the cream and strawberries in the refrigerator.
The cream may need re-whipping quickly before assembling.
Extra thick double cream is usually spooned onto desserts and doesn't whip in the same way that double or whipping cream does. You can definitely use it but it won't have the same light and airy texture.
👩🍳 More Small Batch Recipes
If you tried this Strawberry Eton Mess Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Strawberry Eton Mess Recipe
- 2 large eggs, whites
- 100 g caster sugar (superfine)
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cornflour (corn starch)
- 240 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 15 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners sugar), sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400 g fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, chopped
- 15 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), sifted
Make the Meringue
- Prepare. Preheat oven to 140°C (280°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Whisk egg whites. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add your eggs and whisk on medium-low speed until frothy and soft peaks form.
- Add sugar. Then, one tablespoon at a time, add the caster sugar whisking all the time. Ensure the sugar is incorporated before adding the next spoonful. Then whip for another five minutes until the meringue mixture is smooth, glossy, and stands in firm peaks.
- Add lemon and corn flour. Add the lemon juice (or white vinegar) and corn flour, then continue whipping for a further 5 minutes. The meringue should not be grainy (rub it between thumb and index finger to see), and should be thick, shiny and hold its shape when ready.
- Bake. Spoon meringue onto a lined baking tray and level with an offset spatula into a rectangle about 1cm (½ inch) thick. Bake for 1½ hours. Don’t open the door. Remove from the oven and allow the meringue to cool completely on the tray. Then break the meringue into different-sized pieces.
Prepare Strawberries and Cream
- Whip cream. Add the cream, powdered icing sugar, and vanilla extract and whip to soft peaks.
- Prep Strawberries. Add half the strawberries to a shallow bowl and using the back of a fork, crush the strawberries well, until pureed. Add the remaining strawberries and powdered icing sugar and mix together.
- To serve. In a glass, layer strawberries, cream, and then meringue, and repeat until the glass is full. Finish with the strawberries and add a couple of halved strawberries for decoration. Serve immediately.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
The original post was published in July 2020 and has been updated with new content and images, and a revised recipe.