Lemon Meringue Pie

10 Min Read

Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

If you’ve ever struggled with making lemon meringue pie–whether it’s a filling that’s too runny or a meringue that’s too watery–today’s recipe is for you!

Honestly, I avoided this recipe for for too long. Like my red velvet cake (took me years to approach that one!), I neglected to develop a lemon meringue pie recipe simply because it was a dish that I just didn’t love. In my experience, this pie was never pleasant to eat; I disliked the loose, watery lemon filling and the weepy layer that always puddled between the meringue and the filling. The texture just threw everything off for me!

But, as with that red velvet cake, my sister insisted I needed to share a version. So I got to work, and in the trenches (no, seriously, it felt like we were in the trenches), I discovered solutions for the common problems that pop up making lemon meringue pie.

I now understand why the meringue is so often weepy–I can recall a particularly sad slice with a deflated, wet meringue that puddled all over the plate. Even Luke, typically aggressive with his dessert fork, wouldn’t dare touch this pie. “Mom, this is disgusting” he said. And he was right.

It took a lot of pies gone wrong, tried-and-true pie recipes, and even my grandmother’s pie recipe carved on her pie plate (I was SO SAD that one didn’t work out–I even tried it several times just to be sure!) in order to arrive where we are today. But wow, was it worth it!

What to expect from my perfected recipe:

  • Flawless, tart, bright and easy filling with true, real lemon flavor (no box mixes). It’s firm enough to slice, but still soft enough to maintain that classic texture and melt in your mouth. Oh, and there’s no need to temper any eggs to make it!
  • Plenty of meringue that billows beautifully over the pie layer. I designed my recipe to have a generous amount of meringue for making those gorgeous peaks and whorls over the pie, because what’s a lemon meringue pie without them?
  • Absolutely no weepy meringue. This was so important to me with this recipe. Now you will have to roll up your sleeves and dirty an extra dish, but the payoff is worth it. It’s not ridiculous or complicated work, but it does require love. Good pies take some effort!
  • Crisp, buttery crust. We can’t forget the crust! Blind baking the pie crust beforehand means there will be no soggy bottoms here, thank goodness.

Let’s get baking!

What You Need

My lemon meringue recipe sticks with classic, basic ingredients. Here are the most important ones we’ll be using.

  • Lemons. Fresh lemons are a must here–bottled lemon juice simply won’t cut it. Make sure you zest your lemons before juicing them.
  • Eggs. We’ll be using 5 whole eggs in this lemon meringue pie recipe. The yolks will go in the lemon filling (it’s similar to lemon curd!) and the whites will go in the meringue topping (so no waste or leftovers!). Make sure when you separate them that you don’t let any yolk get into your whites, or you will have to start over. Also, using eggs that are at room temperature, as they tend to whip faster and higher than cold egg whites.
  • Cornstarch. This works to help stabilize and thicken the base of the pie, keeping it from being too loose or runny.
  • Cream of tartar. If you’ve made meringue cookies or macarons, you know how helpful cream of tartar can be for stabilizing egg whites. We’ll use it here for the exact same reason.
  • Vanilla. Many recipes skip the vanilla in the meringue, but I think it adds an extra special, almost marshmallow-like touch.
  • Pie dough. As always, I recommend making your own pie crust instead of using a store-bought crust. Even better, use my pie crust recipe! It’s not as easy as store-bought, but it’s so good and full of flavor. And it’s practically foolproof, since it comes together in the food processor.

Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the end of the post!

How to Make Lemon Meringue Pie

Blind-Bake the Crust

  1. Roll out your chilled pie dough, then transfer it to a 9″ pie plate. Crimp or flute the edges, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Place your pie plate on a baking sheet and line with parchment. Fill with pie weights, then place in your preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Egg wash: remove the crust from the oven, carefully lift out the parchment and pie weights, and set aside. Poke the bottom crust with a fork, then brush all over with egg wash (this helps keep the pie crust from becoming soggy).
  4. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the crust is beginning to turn golden brown, then let cool completely.

Make the Lemon Filling

Since I made the meringue a tad more complicated, I wanted to find other ways to simplify the pie, and I was able to do this in the filling. My version comes together with no need to temper eggs (this method is similar to what I use for my pastry cream, and it works like a dream!)

  1. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan, then drizzle in the lemon juice while whisking. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth and combined.
  2. Whisk in the egg yolks and lemon zest, then drizzle in the water.
  3. Cook just below medium heat while whisking constantly. Once the mixture thickens, remove it from the heat.
  4. Pour the curd through a fine mesh strainer and into a heatproof bowl. A fine mesh strainer is critical here, if any bits of egg cooked or any lumps formed while cooking, the strainer will catch them so your filling will be completely smooth.
  5. Add the butter and whisk until smooth and fully incorporated.
  6. Pour the filling into your cooled crust and set aside. I like to tent mine with foil so the filling stays warm–this helps the filling and meringue stick together and avoids that slippery, weepy layer that no one wants to find in their pie.

Make the Meringue

To prevent the meringue from weeping and to help it hold its shape, we’re technically using a Swiss meringue (whereas most lemon meringue pies use French meringue like you’d find in my macarons or meringues).

If you’ve made my marshmallow frosting or Swiss meringue buttercream, you’ve done this before; it’s not complicated and is a great way to stabilize the meringue so you don’t have to worry about undercooking it in the oven (a big weeping culprit). Swiss meringue also stands up better to humidity and other issues that trigger weeping!

  1. Whisk together the cream of tartar, sugar, and salt in a clean, dry, grease-free bowl. Add the egg whites and whisk until incorporated, then place over a double boiler that’s simmering on medium-low heat (the bottom of your bowl should not touch the water!).
  2. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves; test this by carefully rubbing a small drop of the mixture between your fingers (it’ll be hot, be careful and let it cool first!) — you shouldn’t feel any grit from the sugar granules!
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat, dry it off, then place in a stand mixer. Beat on medium high speed until the meringue reaches thick, stiff, and glossy peaks. Add the vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  4. Gently scoop the meringue over the pie filling and use the back of a spoon or spatula to create peaks. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the peaks are beginning to turn a nice brown color. Let the pie cool to room temperature for an hour, then place in the fridge to chill for about 4 hours before slicing and serving.
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