There are so many delicious and healthy recipes that start with a can of chickpeas, including hummus, stews, soups, grain bowls, wraps and snacks. But did you know that you can use not just the chickpeas themselves but also the liquid in the can? Chickpea liquid, aka aquafaba, is a wonderful stand-in for egg whites in all sorts of recipes, including frothy cocktails and our crispy, three-ingredient vegan meringue cookies. Aside from the chickpea liquid, these cookies contain only sugar and either vanilla or almond extract, so they're not just vegan—they're also gluten-free. They're also quite low in calories—and delicious, of course!
Watch our IGTV series, Veganize It, to see how to make this recipe and more vegan versions of your favorite dishes.
The first step when making vegan meringue cookies is to drain the chickpeas and save the liquid. You can save the liquid for a few days in the fridge, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before using it. Then beat the chickpea liquid in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed (or in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form, 5 to 10 minutes. When whipped, the aquafaba looks exactly like whipped egg whites. The next step is to add a stabilizer—you can use cream of tartar or sugar. Our recipe calls for sugar since we also want to sweeten the cookies. Once you have stiff peaks, add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the mixture is very glossy, about 5 minutes. The final step is to add flavoring—vanilla extract or almond extract are both delicious—and then continue beating for another minute to incorporate the flavoring.
After you've whipped the meringue, it's time to pipe the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (which keeps them from sticking). You can use a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, or fashion your own bag out of a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag. Fold the top of the bag around your hand and spoon in the meringue, using your hand as an edge against the spatula to get the mixture into the bag. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small space to squeeze out any remaining air. Snip the tip and start by piping a dot of the meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to make sure your parchment doesn't fly away. Then squeeze the meringue into 1 1/2-inch cookies, about 1/2 inch apart.
After you've piped the cookies, bake them at 200°F on the upper rack of your oven until they're dry and crispy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in, with the door closed, for 1 hour more. Serve the cookies right away or save them for later—they'll keep in an airtight container for two weeks (if you can resist eating them).
Related: More Vegan Dessert Recipes
For a look at the price difference between traditional and vegan meringue cookies, we turned to Dustin Harder, aka the Vegan Roadie (@theveganroadie). Both the vegan version and traditional version clocked in at just 4 cents per serving (a serving is two cookies), which is a sweet deal, Harder notes. But, he adds, if you're buying premium eggs, which can cost $6 or $7 for a dozen, you would be spending more to make the traditional version.
In terms of the environmental impact, vegan meringue cookies are a great way to reduce food waste, since you're using something you'd normally pour down your drain. If you're opening a can to make the meringues, instead of throwing away the chickpeas (like you might with extra egg yolks), you can put them to use in salads, hummus or grain bowls. If you're worried about BPA, a lining used in some cans and also found in plastics, select chickpeas that come in BPA-free cans.
As for nutritional differences, meringues, whether vegan or not, are already a lightened-up cookie. Both versions are low in calories, but our vegan meringue has just 5 calories per cookie! You'll save 7 calories per 2-cookie serving compared to traditional meringues, and the vegan meringue cookies also have 2 grams less added sugar per serving.
Pictured recipe: Vegan Meringue Cookies
Vegan meringue cookies are a wonderful light treat on their own and also nice served with fresh fruit. If you haven't already used the chickpeas themselves to make something savory, why not use them to make another sweet treat, such as Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Chickpeas or Dark Chocolate Hummus to serve alongside the meringues?
Check back in with Veganize It soon—we'll be rolling out a new vegan version of a favorite dish every week on IGTV.
Culinary nutritionist and EatingWell Test Kitchen manager Breana Killeen is a Le Cordon Bleu–trained cook, dietitian and sommelier who loves dogs, classic cars and a cool glass of rosé.