Lemon Meringue Pie

This quite possibly could be the #1 quintessential American diner dessert.

The tart lemon filling meets the sweet billowy meringue with a delicious flaky crust that brings it all together. The dough can be made well in advance, and then the pie comes together quickly. Another classic American pie is our Southern Chess Pie, Apple Pie, and of course Blueberry Buttermilk Pie! Hooray for pie!

A slice of a homemade lemon meringue pie on a white dessert plate with the whole pie in the background.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE LEMON MERINGUE PIE

As mentioned, a key component to a classic Lemon Meringue Pie is the homemade crust.

Of course, you can purchase store-bought, but trust us, pie dough made from scratch is just incredible.

EXPERT TIP: Be sure to have all the ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start making the filling. Timing is important in getting the perfect filling, so you won’t have time to be running to the pantry to grab an ingredient once the cooking begins.

MAKING PIE CRUST FROM SCRATCH

Although it’s not 100% necessary, we like making two batches of my perfect pie dough.

Roll the dough out to 12-inches in diameter and then carefully transfer to your pie dish.

EXPERT TIP: We like to roll out the 2nd pie dough and take small scraps to bulk up the top portion of the crust. This helps to prevent shrinkage. Blind baking is necessary for this pie. Simply fill the pie with weights (such a parchment paper topped with dried beans) and then bake for 17 minutes. Remove the weights and puncture the base of the crust all over with a fork (this is called ‘docking’). Bake for another 10 minutes until lightly browned.

An overhead view of a baked pie shell in a white pie dish with fork holes throughout the base of the shell.

MAKING THE FILLING FOR LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Use a medium-sized saucepan and whisk to dissolve the corn starch into the water and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for exactly 1 minute. The mixture will become very thick. Ladle of few dollops (one at a time) into a bowl with the egg yolks.

Now, add the tempered eggs back into the saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer for exactly 1 more minute. You should see big crater-like bubbles on the surface of the filling.

3 stacked photos with the 1st of a metal pan with a whisk into stirring a corn starch slurry, and the 2nd a ladle adding the hot slurry to a bowl of egg yolks, and the 3rd of the pan with the tempered eggs in it with a hand whisking the mixture.

Stirring 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and the zest from one lemon rounds out the amazing lemon curd filling.

Be sure to do this while the filling is still warm.

A hand dumping cubed butter from a small white bowl into a metal saucepan filled with lemon curd and lemon zest with a whisk in it.

Now, it’s time to transfer the filling into the warm pie crust.

The filling will be thick, but still able to pour.

Once the pie is allowed to chill, the filling will set.

Lemon curd being poured from a metal bowl into a baked pie shell in a white pie dish next to a striped napkin.

HOW TO MAKE PERFECT MERINGUE

Meringue is not hard to make at all. For a pie with a tall meringue topping, we go with 7 egg whites, but 4 will absolutely work, too.

Use a hand mixer, or your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a hand mixer, and mix the whites with the cream of tartar until foamy.

Add in the sugar and mix on high until stiff peaks form, usually 2 to 3 minutes (with an electric mixer, it will take much longer with a non-electric hand mixer).

EXPERT TIP: Adding the meringue to the warm filling helps the meringue form a seal against the crust and limits the possibility of it pulling away from the sides. Use a small spatula or knife to press the meringue onto the sides of the crust.

A hand using a white spatula to transfer fluffy meringue onto of lemon curd in a pie shell in a white pie dish.

To make pretty mountain top snowy peaks, simply take the back of a spoon, and press down gently on various places on the meringue, and then pull straight up.

To get that beautifully slightly browned top, we like to place the pie in a 375°F oven and bake for 10 minutes.

You could also place under the broiler for a short moment, but be very careful to not let the meringue burn! A kitchen torch does the trick, too.

An overhead view of a lemon meringue pie with the topping lightly browned and sitting next to a striped napkin and dessert plates with forks.

STORING HOMEMADE LEMON MERINGUE PIE

You’ll need to allow the pie to chill, preferably in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

If the meringue pulls away at any time, you could easily whip up a little more meringue and fill in the gaps.

This pie is one that is comforting and always puts a smile on family and friends’ faces when you serve it to them.

A close up view of a lemon meringue pie in a white pie dish with a slice missing.

Ready to make a pie that will rival any diner across America? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it to Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and hashtag #howtofeedaloon.

A single slice of a lemon meringue pie on a white plate with the whole pie in the background.

Lemon Meringue Pie

This is the most classic pie of them all. We like to make two crusts, using the second as scraps to help reinforce the top and prevent shrinkage, but that's not 100% necessary. Be sure to have everything measured out and ready to go before you start preparing the filling.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make meringue, Lemon meringue pie from scratch
Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Chilling time: 4 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 468kcal

Equipment

  • Electric hand mixer, or stand mixer with whisk, or hand mixer

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST (MAKE AHEAD)

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ¼ cup lemon juice fresh
  • 5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1⅓ cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks Save the whites for the meringue
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter softened

FOR THE MERINGUE

  • 4 eggs whites use up to 7 (with ½ tsp cream of tartar) for higher meringue
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • cup sugar

Instructions

BLIND BAKE THE CRUST

  • Roll out your pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. Roll it up with your rolling pin and carefully place in a 9-inch pie dish. Use your fingers to press the dough along the sides of the dish. Optional (but recommended): Roll out the 2nd dough and use a pizza cutter to cut strips to place along the top of the dish. Pinch the dough together, and use your index finger, and your thumb and index finger from your other hand to crimp the edges.
  • Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Remove from the fridge, and either add pie weights to the dough, or add parchment paper and fill with dried beans, rice, or even pennies. Bake for 17 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and carefully remove the pie weights or the parchment with the beans in it. Use a fork to puncture holes all over the bottom of the pie crust. Place back in the oven and bake until lightly browned, another 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

MAKE THE LEMON FILLING

  • Place the egg yolks into a small-medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized pan, add the water and lemon juice. Stir in the corn starch and whisk until fully dissolved. Stir in the sugar and whisk until dissolved.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high and whisk continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer for exactly 1 minutes, whisking constantly. The mixture will be thick.
  • Remove from the heat and ladle about ⅓ of the corn starch mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly (this is 'tempering' the eggs)
  • Add the tempered egg yolks back into the pan and place back on the stove over medium heat. Whisking often, bring to a simmer and cook for exactly 1 minute. You should see big crater-like bubbles appearing on the surface.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon zest. Pour into the pie crust.

MAKE THE MERINGUE AND FINISH OFF THE PIE

  • Turn your oven to 375°F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk (preferably with an electric hand mixer) the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar and keep mixing on high until stiff peaks form.
  • Transfer the meringue on top of the warm lemon filling and gently spread, covering the pie completely, using a small knife or spatula to press the meringue against the sides of the crust. Press the back of a spoon in various places across the meringue and gently lift up, creating little peaks.
  • Bake the pie for 10 minutes, just until the tops of the meringue are starting to brown. Keep an eye on it, and don't let it burn!
  • Chill the pie for 4 hours before serving.

Video

Notes

We recommend using the scraps of the 2nd pie dough to reinforce the top of the pie crust.  This is a technique we picked up from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com, and we find it works very well.  Freeze any leftover pie dough for your next pie!   This isn't 100% necessary but does help to reduce shrinkage when blind baking.   Do be careful, however, to not bulk up the top of the crust, too much, otherwise, it will be top-heavy when you slice it, and possibly break at the bottom of the piece when you serve it.
Be sure to have all of your ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start the filling. Timing is key here. 
If the meringue pulls away from the crust while it's chilling, don't be upset.  This is very common and happens frequently.  If serving to guests, you could always make another small batch of meringue and fill in the open gaps just before serving.  We do that often.
You will also likely see small beads of liquid that form on the top of the pie.  This is called 'weeping', and honestly, there's really not much you can do about it. That's a result of temperature, altitude, and is almost unpreventable. 
Finally, it's not uncommon for there to be some excess liquid when you cut the first slice out.  If that occurs, simply soak it up with a paper towel.  Again, this is not uncommon and will not be an issue with the taste and texture of the pie. 
Of course, the pie will be delicious the following days after you prepare, but we do find it's best when served the day you make it.   Keep leftovers chilled in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Nutrition

Calories: 468kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 218IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
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POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in March 2014, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipes, with new tips, photography and a fabulous new video in May 2020!

2 Comments

  • I haven’t tried this version, but I’ve been making Lemon Meringue Pies for yeas. These are my contribution to your recipe: I find if you mix the corn starch into the sugar before adding it works better and saves a step!
    If you make sure to seal the meringue all the way to the edge of the crust. It’s less likely to separate. Don’t wait to brown the meringue either so it won’t separate.
    If it’s humid the day you make the meringue it is more likely to get sugar beads on the top. I never refrigerate my Meringue after it is browned.

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