Is there anything prettier than a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie? A flaky pie crust filled with zesty filling and topped with billowy, toasty meringue is a thing of beauty. There’s a reason this is a classic recipe.
Some recipes simply never go out of style. Lemon Meringue Pie is one of those perennially popular recipes and I, for one, am glad.
How to make the best Lemon Meringue Pie:
The three elements of a great Lemon Meringue Pie marry together to create dessert perfection.
- Flaky crust.
- For me, only a flaky crust will do for this pie. I love how the not-too-sweet crust balances out the tangy, rich filling and the sweet and airy meringue topping.
- Lemon filling.
- The filling in this pie has lemon zest for flavor, lots of fresh juice for zing and uses both corn starch and egg yolks for thickening. Corn starch alone will thicken the filling, but cornstarch does have a tendency to break down over time. Yolks add great flavor and color, and they trap water. We get more thickening power with a combination of starch and yolks. No runny pie filling for us!
- Meringue topping.
- A great Lemon Meringue pie should be finished with a stable meringue that does not “weep”. A little cornstarch is added to the meringue to help absorb moisture.
- Many, if not most, Lemon Meringue Pie recipes have a simple French Meringue topping. That is, the whites are whipped with granulated sugar to stiff peak. This recipe has an Italian Meringue topping. Italian meringue is made by adding hot sugar syrup to the whipped whites. Whereas French meringue is fluffy and foamy, Italian Meringue is silky and dense (in the best way).
- As a bonus, Italian Meringue is more stable and less likely to weep.
Scroll through the process photos to see how to make the best Lemon Meringue Pie:
FAQs about Lemon Meringue Pie:
Undissolved sugar in the whipped egg whites will cause the meringue to “weep” (release water droplets).
Making an Italian Meringue with cooked sugar syrup will ensure that the sugar is fully dissolved. Also, adding a little corn starch to the meringue helps prevent weeping.
As soon as the crust comes out of the oven, brush it with raw egg white. The egg white will set on the warm crust and create a water proof barrier.
The corn starch must be cooked with the liquid until it comes to a boil to ensure it has the full thickening power. If you add too much liquid or not enough corn starch the filling might not set properly.
If you put the meringue onto a cold pie the bottom of the meringue may not adhere to the filling. Place the freshly made meringue onto the pie while the filling is still warm.
Lemon Meringue Pie is best the day it is baked, but it will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Lemon Meringue pie should be refrigerated until serving.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Classic Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1/2 recipe Perfect Pie Crust
- 1 each egg whites
- 2 1/4 oz corn starch (7 tablespoons)
- 12 oz granulated sugar (1 1/2 cups)
- 14 oz water (1 3/4 cups)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (finely grated)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 8 each egg yolks
- 6 oz lemon juice (3/4 cup (about 5-6 lemons))
- 1 1/2 oz unsalted butter (3 tablespoons)
- 1/3 oz cornstarch (1 tablespoon)
- 5.3 oz water (2/3 cup, divided)
- 5 each egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 oz granulated sugar (3/4 cup, divided)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- Roll the dough to fit a 9” pie plate, crimp the edges and use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust all over. Chill at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.1/2 recipe Perfect Pie Crust
- Line the chilled dough with foil, coming up over the edges to prevent the crust from burning. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or granulated sugar (see note).
- Set on a baking sheet and bake on the lowest rack until the dough is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Remove the foil and weights. Immediately brush the entire inside of the crust with egg white, set aside. Reduce the oven to 325°F.1 each egg whites
Make the filling
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, water, zest and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency and becomes translucent. Remove from the heat.2 1/4 oz corn starch, 12 oz granulated sugar, 14 oz water, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- Whisk in the yolks, lemon juice and butter. Return to the heat and bring the mixture back to a simmer, stirring constantly. Pour the hot filling into the crust. Immediately make the meringue.8 each egg yolks, 6 oz lemon juice, 1 1/2 oz unsalted butter
Make the Meringue
- In a small saucepan bring the cornstarch and half the water to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding and becomes translucent. Remove from the heat and set aside.1/3 oz cornstarch, 5.3 oz water
- Combine the rest of water with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Cook the sugar syrup on medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is melted. Once the syrup begins to boil do not stir. Allow it to cook to 235°-240°F (soft ball stage).5.3 oz water
- While the syrup is boiling, whip the egg whites with cream of tartar on medium high speed. When the whites are at soft peak reduce the mixer to medium low and slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the salt. Increase the speed to medium high and whip to full peak.5 each egg whites, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- As soon as the syrup is at the correct temperature, remove the pan from the heat. With the mixer running on medium low, pour the hot syrup in a steady stream between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Add the cornstarch mixture and whip to full peak.
- Dollop the meringue onto the filling, working gently so the meringue doesn’t sink into the filling. Mound the meringue so it’s higher in the middle than on the sides. Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to make attractive swirls and peaks in the meringue.
- Set the pie, still on the baking sheet, into the oven and bake until the meringue is golden brown, about 15 minutes. You can finish the meringue under the broiler or with a blow torch if you want deeper browning. Cool to room temperature then chill for 3-4 hours before serving.
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