One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • A water bath helps dissolve the sugar and partially coagulate the eggs, helping them gain more volume when whipped.
  • Cornstarch helps absorb moisture from the batter, reducing spread.
  • A dusting of powdered sugar will significantly improve the rise.

Ladyfingers are one of the simplest recipes in a pastry chef's toolkit. The piped sponge cakes are used as the scaffolding for creamy, layered desserts—most famouslytiramisuand charlotte russe, but ladyfingers are killer in summer trifles and banana pudding, too.

Ostensibly these slender biscuits were first served up in the court of Amadeus VI, Duke of Savoy—hence their Italian name,savoiardi. Their exact texture can range from slightly chewy to dry and crisp, depending on exactly how long they're in the oven and whether they're baked free-form or in special molds. Since I'm all about cutting back on specialty equipment, I favor the free-form style, and prefer a drier texture so the biscuits are more absorbent. If you prefer to enjoy them plain, or as the basis for a sandwich cookie, it's nice to bake them a little less so they can retain a bit of moisture and chew.

The recipe is super straightforward: beat up some egg whites and sugar, followed by some yolks and sugar in a second bowl, then fold those eggy foams together with some flour and perhaps a bit of lemon zest. Transfer to a pastry bag, pipe, bake, and you're done.

One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (1)

The One-Bowl Approach: Don't Separate the Eggs

It's hard to imagine simplifying things even further, but that's kind of my job. I'm obsessive enough to want homemade ladyfingers for my baking projects, but lazy enough to feel annoyed at the thought of whipping the yolks and whites separately as if I were trapped in the 18th century. See, that whole "separate the whites and yolks" strategy is standard operating procedure from the days before mechanized mixers, as it made the eggs easier to whip by hand. A meringue's no big deal with a bit of time and a whisk, while foaming yolks simply requires a little more elbow grease.

But when whipping whole eggs, those fatty yolks can inhibit the whites from fluffing up as light as they should, making it difficult to achieve a high volume foam. By hand, anyway. Throw enough horsepower at a problem, and you can do whatever you want.

The one-bowl approach is faster, easier, and less messy, though technically not quite as voluminous as a two-bowl approach. That is, until you consider that the act of re-integrating the two foams itself will lead to volume loss—especially for beginners who've yet to master the delicate art of folding. All things considered, the benefits of whipping the yolks and whites separately are marginal at best, and vastly outweighed by the convenience of the whole-egg method. And it's not like this idea is unprecedented; commercial bakeries have been making this simplified style of ladyfingers for well over a century.

When whipping whole eggs, the trick is to warm them up to about 160°F (70°C) over a water bath to dissolve the sugar and semi-coagulate the whites, helping them achieve better volume compared to whole eggs whipped cold. (This is also true ofSwiss meringue, which uses a similar method.) From there, whip the warmed eggs on high until foamy and more than quadrupled in volume, and they are able to hold soft peaks like a meringue.

One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (2)

The exact timing will vary depending on the horsepower of your mixer, but it's only five minutes on my Kitchen Aid Pro 6. Once the eggs are foamy and thick, add a bit of lemon zest, all-purpose flour, and a touch of cornstarch, then gently fold to combine. Adding the cornstarch, a trick I picked up from a commercial ladyfingers recipe published in 1912, helps with moisture absorption, keeping the batter thick for better piping.

The Importance of Powdered Sugar

Transfer the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. On two parchment-lined half sheet pans, pipe the batter into approximately thirty 3- by 1-inch fingers, or whatever size and shape will suit your needs (just remember, the specific yield will depend on those dimensions).

Immediately before baking, generously dust the ladyfingers with powdered sugar. This is a vital step dating back to the oldest known recipes, one that helps the sponge cakes spread less and rise more.

One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (3)

Presumably this has to do with sugar absorbing excess moisture from the batter, but to my knowledge it isn't a well-studied phenomenon, and I've yet to see it addressed or explained. Regardless, the benefits are both obvious and dramatic, so don't leave those fingers bare!

Baking and Storing Ladyfingers

Bake the sponge cakes until puffed and firm, about 12 minutes at 350°F (175°C). If your oven doesn't have perfectly even heat, it's best to bake the trays one at a time; don't worry, the wait won't cause any harm to the second tray. A little patience is far better than accidentally scorching half the ladyfingers, which will cause them to spread erratically. (Just don't dust the second tray with powdered sugar until it's ready to bake.)

One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (4)

Once cooled, you can use the ladyfingers right away or stash them in an airtight container until needed. Because they're little more than edible sponges, it doesn't particularly matter if they're stale or fresh, and their high sugar/low moisture profile help ladyfingers last for weeks at cool room temperature.

So say goodbye to fussy recipes and store-bought sponge cakes, and hello to homemade ladyfingers that are fast, easy, and simple enough for beginners. And if you make a batch right now, who knows? Perhaps you'll be enjoyingtiramisuthis weekend.

June 2017

Recipe Details

One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe

Prep25 mins

Cook30 mins

Active30 mins

Total55 mins

Serves30 ladyfingers


  • 3 large eggs (about 5 1/2 ounces; 155g)

  • 4 3/4 ounces sugar (about 2/3 cup; 135g)

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 1/4 ounce freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 tablespoon; 7g) from 1 large lemon, optional

  • 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup, spooned; 125g)

  • 1/2 ounce cornstarch (about 2 tablespoons; 15g)

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Getting Ready: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Line two half sheet pans with parchment and fit a large piping bag with a 1/2-inch round tip. Roll bag open and stand upright in a tall drinking glass so it can be filled hands-free. Have ready a small, fine-mesh sieve of powdered sugar for dusting. Fill a 2- or 3-quart saucier with a few inches of water; bring to a boil, then lower heat and adjust to maintain a steady supply of steam.

  2. For the Ladyfingers: Combine eggs, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, using a flexible spatula to stir. Place over the steaming pot (if it touches the bottom, crumple a strip of foil into a ring to act as a booster seat) and cook, stirring and scraping constantly, until warmed to 160°F (70°C). This should not take significantly longer than 5 minutes; major delays simply indicate insufficient heat/lack of steam.

    One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (5)

  3. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until the eggs are foamy, more than quadrupled in size, and thick enough to briefly mound up like soft serve when dropped from the whisk, from 5 to 10 minutes depending on the horsepower of your mixer. This is a crucial stage; if the foam is unable to hold soft peaks, the lady fingers will spread flat in the oven.

    One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (6)

  4. When eggs are foamy and thick enough to briefly hold their shape when dropped from the whisk, add lemon zest, if using, then sift the flour and cornstarch on top. Fold gently with a flexible spatula to combine in a thick batter. Transfer to prepared piping bag, twist to close, and pipe approximately thirty 3- by 1-inch fingers, leaving an inch between each one. When piping, hold the bag at a 45° angle and apply steady pressure as you pipe, then stop squeezing before you reach the end of each one, and lift the bag straight up to break the "tail" of batter.

    One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (7)

  5. Generously dust one tray with powdered sugar, and bake until puffed and firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Set aside, then dust and bake the second tray as before. Cool ladyfingers to room temperature directly on the sheet pan, then transfer to an airtight container as soon as possible. If allowed to sit out after they have cooled, they will begin softening in the air. Use immediately, or store up to 3 weeks at room temperature.

Special Equipment

2 half sheet pans, large piping bag, 1/2-inch round tip, fine-mesh strainer, 3-quart stainless steel saucier, stand mixer, flexible spatula


Most ovens don't have perfectly even heat, so it's best to bake the ladyfingers one tray at a time. It may seem faster to try and bake both trays at once, but the benefits aren't worth the risk when it comes to these delicate sponge cakes.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Use immediately, or store up to 3 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.

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One-Bowl Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe (2024)


Should ladyfingers be soft or crunchy? ›

Homemade ladyfingers tend to be super soft like sponge cookies. Yet, they can be slightly crisp depending on how long you bake them. They will also further dry (become harder and crunchier few days after baking) However, they are never crunchy and hard like store-bought versions.

What are ladyfingers made of? ›

Ladyfingers are made from just a handful of ingredients — eggs, granulated and powdered sugar, vanilla, cream of tartar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. The egg-based sponge cakes don't have any chemical leaveners, but rather get their lift from whipped egg whites.

How do you keep ladyfingers from getting soggy? ›

Coat the ladyfingers quickly, but meticulously on both sides

She uses crisp ladyfingers and subsequently dips them in a mixture of rum and coffee. It is this dipping stage that makes or breaks a tiramisu. According to Garten, if you dip your ladyfingers for too long, they will turn soggy.

Should ladyfingers be stale for tiramisu? ›

Stale ladyfingers should be used instead of fresh ones. This is because the fresh ones tend to become soggy when they absorb the liquids in the tiramisu.

What's the difference between ladyfingers and madeleines? ›

Madeleines. Just slightly thicker lady fingers in a shell shape and super easy to find. Happy to report I made my tiramisu with madeleines and it was absolutely delicious. You can, of course, make this exact recipe and sub them for lady fingers.

What are ladyfingers called in USA? ›

Lady's fingers is an alternative English name for okra, the mucilaginous seed pods of a plant of the hollyhock family.

Can you substitute vanilla wafers for ladyfingers? ›

I found NILLA Wafers to be the perfect substitute for lady fingers in these easy Tiramisu Cups. I always have such a hard time finding lady fingers at the store…by using NILLA Wafers you get that extra vanilla flavor and you don't have to wonder where to find them!

What are ladyfingers called in Italy? ›

Ladyfingers, or in British English sponge fingers (sometimes known by the Italian name savoiardi, Italian: [savoˈjardi], or by the French name boudoirs, French: [budwaʁ]), are low-density, dry, egg-based, sweet sponge cake biscuits roughly shaped like large fingers.

What vegetable is known as ladyfingers? ›

Originally from Africa, okra is a vegetable widely used in cuisines such as Caribbean, Creole, Cajun and Indian. It's also known as bhindi or lady's fingers, in reference to the long, elegantly tapering shape.

Which alcohol is in tiramisu? ›

Tiramisu can have a variety of different types of alcohol inside, however the most common alcohol in tiramisu is dark rum. Other common types of alcohol used in tiramisu is marsala wine, amaretto, or coffee liquor.

What do you eat with ladyfingers? ›

Ladyfingers can be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into various sweet dishes for added flavor and texture.
  • Tiramisu Cheesecake. ...
  • Strawberry Tiramisu. ...
  • Lemon Tiramisu. ...
  • Tiramisu (eggless) ...
  • Tiramisu Cups. ...
  • Pumpkin Tiramisu. ...
  • No-Bake Tiramisu Loaf. ...
  • Saskatoon Berry Tiramisu Dessert Shooter.
Apr 3, 2024

What can I use instead of ladyfingers for tiramisu? ›

Substitute for lady fingers in tiramisu
  • 27 Best Ladyfinger Substitutes. Here is a guide to the best ladyfinger substitutes, such as Pavesini cookies, biscotti, graham crackers, sponge cake, panettone, madeleines. ...
  • 7 Best Ladyfinger Substitutes | Tastylicious!

Why is my tiramisu so soggy? ›

Don't soak! Quickly dip the cookies into your coffee or liquor. Try not to leave them in the liquid too long—a quick dip will do. Overly soggy cookies make for a wet texture and a messy dessert.

Should ladyfingers be hard or soft? ›

Ladyfingers are basically mini-sponge cakes in the shape of cookies. When they're made fresh they have a soft, cake-like texture. However, store-bought varieties are often much drier and crunchier instead.

What is the texture of Ladyfinger biscuits? ›

Savoiardi are known in English as ladyfingers. They are delicious egg-based biscuits, also known as “spoons”. They are very light, crumbly cookies with an oblong shape made with a special dough into which egg whites beaten separately are added to give the cookies an incredible airiness.

Is tiramisu supposed to be soggy? ›

You don't want them overly saturated and soggy, because as the tiramisu chills, they'll soften up underneath all the cream. Line dipped ladyfingers in bottom of pan. If needed, cut some ladyfingers to fill in any empty spaces. Beat mascarpone and rum together.

What is the texture of lady finger banana? ›

Lady Finger produces small bananas with a rich, sweet flavour and creamy texture and flesh that doesn't brown when cut making this variety great for fruit salad.

Can ladyfingers go bad? ›

You can tell if ladyfingers have gone bad by touch and sight. If they've become slimy or developed a strange color or smell, it's time to throw them out.

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