Keto pavlova is entirely possible, and not just possible, but excellent! This crisp-on-the-outside, marshmallow-y-on-the-inside dessert is surprisingly simple to make and is beautiful topped with fresh berries and a keto-friendly whipped cream. It’s a sweet treat that lets in-season berries shine, and also works well with whatever you choose to top it with! Lately, we’ve enjoyed this keto pavlova plain (my daughter calls it “marshmallows”), with a bit of lemon curd, and even with a few partially-frozen berries on top.
what is pavlova? a history lesson
Have you ever made pavlova? It’s a type of meringue that’s basically dumped onto a sheet pan, shaped into a flat, volcano-ish pile, and baked into a pillowy, textural dream. Sounds simple enough, right? It seems the making of pavlova isn’t quite as complicated as tracing its roots. In fact, the history of pavlova is surprisingly controversial. Pavlova was long-thought to have originated in Australia, although some claims suggest those mates really just took credit from New Zealand, and yet somehow this cloud-like confection was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Go figure? But wait, there’s more! Apparently the latest deep dive into the history of “who whipped egg whites to perfection first,” resulted in some proof that it was actually the Germans and/or Americans. Still unresolved, I think.
Interesting, right? I love a good controversy. And there’s nothing like a cultural food debacle that really gets people going!
I will say this: none of them made a pavlova sans sugar. 😉
ingredients for keto pavlova
Which brings me back to this keto pavlova and how yes, it’s entirely possible to make a low-carb version of a classic pavlova that is still delicious.
Here are the ingredients you will need for this keto pavlova recipe:
- Egg whites: Can’t make a meringue without them! I like to use pasture-raised eggs that are fresh and at room temperature. Despite what some say about old egg whites whipping up best, I’m trusting Donna Hay’s stance on using fresh egg whites. Plus, she’s Australian so she MUST know a good pav. 😉
- Granulated monk fruit sweetener: This is your sugar replacer. And in order for pavlova to take shape, you must use a form of granulated sweetener. It helps to hold the egg whites together and stabilize the meringue the same way sugar does. I use Lakanto which is a blend of monk fruit and erythritol. You could probably get away with pure erythritol (I’m not a big fan of it) but I wouldn’t swap in a granulated stevia blend- it just doesn’t work 1:1.
- Apple cider vinegar: All pavlovas, keto or not, require a type of acid which again, stabilizes the egg whites and prevents the meringue from collapsing. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you could use lemon juice or cream of tartar.
- Arrowroot starch: I found that one teaspoon of arrowroot starch (sometimes called arrowroot powder) works as a great replacement for cornstarch. They’re both about the same when it comes to carb count, and you’re using such a tiny amount, so don’t stress over this one. If you only have cornstarch, go ahead and use it!
- Vanilla extract: For a light, vanilla flavor. But feel free to swap for another extract, if you wish. I recently came across a pavlova recipe with almond extract and cardamom that I want to give a try.
- Berries and coconut whipped cream: I keep this dairy-free by opting for a homemade coconut whipped cream (you can find directions on this post for keto cake trifle with olive oil lemon curd). Fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries make an excellent combination, especially if you toss the strawberries in a little monk fruit sweetener prior to serving.
how to make keto pavlova
Now for the process! It may come as a surprise to you, especially because there’s something about meringue that seems intimidating, but this low-carb pavlova is so easy to make! It only takes a few minutes to whip up the egg whites and a couple more minutes to shape it, but the bake time is where you really need to be diligent. I’ve over-baked pavlova, under-baked pavlova, and it has taken a few times making this keto pavlova to get the baking technique just right.
- Whip the egg whites. Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer, place the egg whites into the mixing bowl and beat for 1-2 minutes until frothy. Slowly sprinkle in the granulated monk fruit sweetener, about 1 tablespoon at a time (you don’t want to dump it all in at once), while continuing to beat the egg whites on low-medium speed. Add the vinegar, arrowroot starch, and vanilla, and continue to beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for about five minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when firm peaks start to form and the egg white doesn’t feel gritty from the monk fruit granules.
- Shape the keto pavlova. On a sheet of parchment paper on top of a baking sheet, trace an 8″ or 9″ cake pan or lid (or anything to help form a perfect circle). Turn out the pavlova onto that circle and use it as a guide as you shape the pavlova. This part is really forgiving– pavlovas can look fancy or really textural and rustic. I use a spatula to swoop the meringue from the base of the side, upward, but at an angle, so the lines form diagonally along the side. I then smooth out the top while leaving a minor indent (like volcano) for the toppings to sit in.
- Bake the pavlova. While you’re shaping the low-carb pavlova, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 175°F. The initial blast of heat will help give the pavlova a crisp outer layer. The rest of the bake time is low and slow– the pavlova should still appear white when done baking. Bake for 75-90 minutes, then shut the oven off and allow the pavlova to sit inside the oven for at least another hour or longer.
- Top the keto pavlova. Low-carb, fresh berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are perfect on top of a layer of coconut whipped cream. Or lemon curd. Really, there are no wrong answers here.
tips for the perfect pavlova
- Make sure you beat the egg whites in a clean, oil-free bowl (that also means yolk-free so be careful when separating those eggs!).
- Mix at medium speed. Don’t turn the mixer up to high speed, as this can result in the egg whites turning foamy and the meringue more prone to cracking during the bake.
- Check the pavlova after 60 minutes of bake time. You’ll know it’s done when it can lift from the parchment paper without sticking. Another cue: if the top starts to look too toasty, it’s likely done.
- How do you store pavlova? Keep the keto pavlova at room temperature in a dry place until you’re ready to serve it. Also, don’t add the toppings until just before serving, otherwise the moisture from the berries and cream will affect the crisp pavlova shell.
a keto pavlova recipe for summer gatherings
Another fun fact about pavlova: despite the fancy name and appearance, it is associated with summertime barbecues and big get-togethers. What’s not to love? Plus, this low-carb pavlova is gluten-free and dairy-free, which means it’s a treat to please any crowd!
This dreamy dessert tastes as lovely as it looks! Enjoy, friends! Oh and let me know if they ever discover who to thank for giving the world pavlova… proper credit is due.
you might also love…
- This keto lemon pound cake, a luxurious lemon-y treat!
- Keto chocolate cake! It’s soooo good. Tender, chocolate-y, and topped with an easy (dairy-free!) keto chocolate frosting.
- Any day is a good day for a keto Cobb salad! This fresh and filling salad is one of my favorites.
- 6 egg whites at room temperature (pasture-raised when possible)
- 1/4 cup granulated monk fruit sweetener (like Lakanto)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons arrowroot starch (also called arrowroot flour)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fresh strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries for topping
- 1 cup coconut whipped cream (see recipes notes)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Place a 9-inch cake pan (or pot lid or anything round and about the same size) on the parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil to draw a perfect circle. Set the paper/baking sheet aside.
- Pour the egg whites into a clean, large, mixing bowl (or bowl of standup mixer). With the mixer (standup or hand-held) on low-medium, beat the egg whites for about 1-2 minutes, or until they become frothy. Slowly sprinkle in the granulated monk fruit sweetener, about 1 tablespoon at a time (you don't want to dump it all in at once), while continuing to beat the egg whites on medium speed. Add the vinegar, arrowroot starch, and vanilla, and increase the mixer speed to medium-high speed. Mix the egg whites another five minutes, or until firm peaks form.
- Pour the meringue onto the circle you traced (on the baking sheet) and use it as a guide to shape the pavlova. I use a spatula to swoop the meringue from the base of the side, upward, but at an angle, so the lines form diagonally along the side. Smooth out the top while leaving a minor dip in the center (like a volcano) for the toppings to sit in.
- Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 175°F. (The initial blast of heat will help give the pavlova a crisp outer layer). Bake at 175°F for 75-90 minutes, then shut the oven off and allow the pavlova to sit inside the oven for at least another hour.
- Allow the pavlova to come to room temperature. When ready to serve, top with the coconut whipped cream and fresh berries.
- Check the pavlova after 60 minutes of bake time. You'll know it's done when it can lift from the parchment paper without sticking. Another cue: if the top starts to look too toasty, it's likely done.
- To store the pavlova, keep it at room temperature in a dry place until you're ready to serve it. Also, don't add the toppings until just before serving, otherwise the moisture from the berries and cream will affect the crisp pavlova shell.
- Coconut whipped cream: To make the coconut whipped cream, whip 2-3 tablespoons of powdered monk fruit sweetener with 1 cup of coconut cream and vanilla extract. Whip for 3-5 minutes in a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer (or use a standup mixer).
- While most pavlovas call for at least 1 whole cup of sugar, I only use 1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener in this recipe. It seems to be enough and my tests with increased amounts of sweetener left the pavlova with more of a cooling aftertaste from the erythritol.
- Nutritional information is for the pavlova only, without coconut whipped cream or berries.