This lemon meringue pie recipe is made from scratch; no box mixes in this recipe, but it is just as simple to make. The tart and creamy lemon filling is topped with a pillowy meringue.
This pie is a lemon lover’s dream and was one of my dads’ favorites if you ever asked him what kind of pie, he wanted this was always his first choice for good reason it has a crisp buttery crust or you can use a graham cracker or nut crust with a soft tangy filling topped with meringue which is the signature look.
Tips for Making a Great Lemon Meringue Pie
- I like to use a food processor or stand-up mixer to make my pie crust the less you can handle the better and the more flakey the pastry will be.
- Try not to overwork the dough.
- Blind-bake the pie crust in the oven before you add the lemon filling.
- Gradually temper egg yolks with the cornstarch and sugar mixture and whisk continually to prevent getting lumps.
- Make sure when ready to make the meringue that there is zero traces of egg yolks or oil residue or they won’t whip up properly. I like to put a little bit of lemon juice on a paper cloth and white the inside of the bowl.
- Make sure the sugar is completely incorporated before you place it on top of the lemon filling.
- When placing the meringue on top of the filling, you want to make sure the meringue is touching the edges of the pastry. This helps to prevent a watery layer from separating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who invented lemon meringue pie?
Mrs. Elizebeth Goodfellow from Philadelphia invented this wonderfully delicious dessert. She had leftover egg whites from making a lemon pudding and topped it with meringue.
Can you make this pie ahead of time?
This pie is best the day that it is made, but you can make the crust ahead of time. It’s best to do the filling and the meringue at the same time.
Why did my lemon meringue pie weep?
When you look at a cooked meringue and you notice droplets forming, this is called weeping. The number one culprit is that the sugar was not completely dissolved into the egg mixture.
I was always taught by my grandmother to slowly add the sugar and beat it for 2-4 minutes. If you’re unsure if it’s completely combined, rub the mixture between your fingers and if you don’t feel a lot of granules, it’s well combined.
Ingredients for a lemon meringue pie
This recipe uses basic ingredients that can be easily found in your pantry.
- Flour- using all-purpose flour for this recipe is best.
- Salt- when I add salt, I use sea salt or a very finely ground salt.
- Butter- I like to use unsalted butter and then add salt as needed. You want the butter as cold as possible.
- Lemon- I use a bottled lemon juice
- Eggs- We use farm-fresh eggs for this recipe because the yolks are very yellow, but if you don’t have access to them, you can use store-bought eggs and add a little bit of yellow food coloring.
- Sugar- Granulated sugar works in this recipe, I prefer to pulse my sugar until it is a fine powder, or you can buy fine ground sugar.
How to make a lemon pie filling
- The lemon pie filling for this recipe is an easy lemon curd. You cook it on the stove and thicken it with corn starch and egg yolks and then put it into a baked pie shell.
- I like to make sure all my ingredients are assembled and ready to be used, especially since there are very few ingredients. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and set them aside for when you need them.
- Lemon curd is like making homemade pudding. You want to mix all the ingredients together in your saucepan and cook until thick and bubbly. Then comes the part where you need to add the egg yolks. I have created instructions below, especially for this step, because sometimes it can be a little intimidating.
Tempering the Eggs
This can be a little bit tricky, and for some people, the whole idea scares them. Tempering eggs is just a complicated or fancy way of saying that you are going to mix yolks with hot custard together. The scary part is that if you just put the yolks in with the hot liquid, you will have scrambled eggs and this is what we want to avoid
I like to pour some of the hot custard into a separate bowl and then slowly add the egg yolks, constantly whisking. This will make sure that the custard and yolk are at the same temperature, and then add it back in with all the other hot custard and whisk until combined. That’s it!
I like to strain my pudding, custard, or curd just in case there are any lumps so that you have a silky filling.
Making the meringue for the pie
The classic lemon meringue pie always has meringue on top of the lemon filling. This is made by whipping up egg whites with cream of tartar and sugar until they reach stiff peaks.
Here are a few tips on making the meringue:
- The most important tip is to make sure there is no egg yolk in your egg whites or they will not whip up to stiff peaks. I like to have 2 small bowls to separate the egg whites and egg yolks into so that you know you are not getting any yolk into the white.
- Cream of tater is an important ingredient in getting stiff peaks it will help you to have stable peaks.
- I like to add pure vanilla extract to the meringue for some additional flavor
- Once you start beating the egg white you first get soft peaks this is when you add the sugar slowly until it is combined I like to add a small amount at a time until it no longer crystalized and you have stiff peaks
- Once you have stiff peaks you will glossy and pillowy wonderful meringue that will hold its shape.
The Best Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1 Stand Up Mixer optional
- 1 food processor optional
The lemon filling
- 1 butter crust
- 1-1/2 cup water
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 egg whites
- ½ tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Place crust in 9-inch pie plate.
- partially blind bake the crust: poke holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Depending if your using my pie crust recipe or if your using a store bought pie crust the amount of time it needs to bake with vary between 10-20 minutes
- Lower oven temperature to 300°F.
- Whisk water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, until it’s thick and bubbly.
- Place egg yolks into a medium sized bowl. Whisk them gently. Once the lemon mixture is thick and bubbly, carefully pour about half the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then place the egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining lemon mixture, continuing to whisk. You want to avoid scrambling the eggs. Bring to a gentle boil, then cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted.
- Strain the mixture to remove any bits of egg. Pour mixture into the prepared pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap while you prepare the meringue and keep it hot (the meringue needs to go onto hot filling).
- Place egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or you can use a large bowl with a hand mixer). Beat on high speed until stiff peaks are reached.
- Spread the meringue on the top of the lemon mixture in decorative peaks, being sure that the meringue touches the crust and no lemon shows through. Bake about 30 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown on top. Cool at room temperature for one hour, then chill at least 5 hours before slicing.
- Cool at room temperature for one hour, then chill at least 5 hours before slicing.