Lemon Meringue Pie

A good lemon meringue pie is the stuff dreams are made of. Just one look at this swoon-worthy dessert, with its tall, glossy peaks and tart lemon custard and you’ll want— no, need— an extra large slice. Maybe you should make two…

This recipe shows you how to make a pie that rivals any diner in America, with a made-from-scratch crust and a perfect lemon filling that melts in your mouth.

You can swirl the meringue into tiny peaks or gentle moguls; it’s completely up to you. Just make sure to take a picture to send to all your friends; they’ll be so impressed!

A good lemon meringue pie is the stuff dreams are made of. Just one look at this swoon-worthy dessert, with its tall, glossy peaks and tart lemon custard and you’ll want— no, need— an extra large slice. Maybe you should make two...

Who invented the Lemon Meringue Pie?

Philadelphia cooking school instructor Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow is the famous lady who first dreamt of putting the lemon custard and the meringue together in a pie shell.

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What is the filling in Lemon Meringue Pie?

The filling in this recipe is a custard, a slight variation of lemon curd, with some additional cornstarch added in to give the filling some body.

What can you do with extra egg whites?

You could make an egg white omelet or a frittata, but you don’t have to use them up right away. In fact, whites can be frozen for several months. Use a plastic ice cube tray if you want to store them in individual, easy-to-measure portions.

Or, make Schaum Tortes, a regional dessert favored by Milwaukee-based German immigrants.

Virtually unknown outside of Wisconsin, Schaum Torte is the German equivalent of Pavlova. It's perfect topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream!

What can you use for pie weights?

If you make a lot of pies, these reusable pie weights are wonderful. If you don’t have them, you can use dried beans, uncooked popcorn, or even rice to weigh a pie crust down. Line the inside of your crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with dried beans. Then, bake your crust according to the instructions in the recipe.

What can be used instead of a pastry blender?

In case you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can find them affordably here, or you can use two knives to cut the shortening into the flour.

What are the best lemons for Lemon Meringue Pie?

For lemons, Meyer lemons or regular supermarket lemons will do just fine. Whatever variety of fruit you use, wash the fruit thoroughly before zesting.

What is a good substitute for cream of tartar?

In case you’ve searched your pantry high and low for cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon of white wine vinegar in lieu of cream of tartar should do the trick.

How do you prevent the filling in a Lemon Meringue Pie from getting runny?

If you over boil the lemon filling, the starch will break down and the whole mixture gets soupy. Once the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, so that you can draw a line through it with your finger, take it off the heat and let it cool. If you take it too far it will split and give off liquid.

A good lemon meringue pie is the stuff dreams are made of. Just one look at this swoon-worthy dessert, with its tall, glossy peaks and tart lemon custard and you’ll want— no, need— an extra large slice. Maybe you should make two...

Why does Lemon Meringue Pie weep?

Those little droplets of moisture can be prevented, if you take some precautions.

First of all, if possible, make meringue pie on dry, low-humidity days.

Also, don’t over bake your meringue! Over baking causes the egg whites in the meringue to shrink and squeeze out small droplets of moisture. Always make sure to check on your pie at the minimum baking time.

Finally, the undissolved sugar in the egg whites can also cause weeping. To make sure this sugar dissolves, mix the egg whites and sugar at a low speed until the mixture feels perfectly smooth with no graininess when you rub a little between your thumb and fingers.

Or you can also try using superfine sugar; it dissolves much more quickly than regular white sugar.

How do you keep the meringue from shrinking?

Be sure to prepare the meringue before preparing the pie filling so it’s ready to spread while the filling is still hot. The heat from the filling will seal the meringue onto the surface and make it much less likely to leak or shrink.

Also, make sure to spread the meringue completely to the edge of the pie so it touches the crust.

Can Lemon Meringue Pie be made in advance?

While the pie should be assembled on the day you’re planning to serve it, both the crust and the meringue can be made the day before. Prepare according to the instructions, and then store the meringue in the refrigerator for up to one day in advance. Give it a gentle stir before using it to top the pie, to make sure the consistency of the meringue is even.

Can Lemon Meringue Pie be left out?

Because bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature, lemon meringue pie should be discarded if left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Freshly baked lemon meringue pie will keep for about 2 to 3 days if refrigerated and covered loosely with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Can Lemon Meringue Pie be frozen?

Unfortunately, lemon meringue pie is best made the day you’re planning to serve it and doesn’t hold up well in the freezer.

Save this Lemon Meringue Pie to your “Desserts” Pinterest board!

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Lemon Meringue Pie

A good lemon meringue pie is the stuff dreams are made of. Just one look at this swoon-worthy dessert, with its tall, glossy peaks and tart lemon custard and you’ll want— no, need— an extra large slice. Maybe you should make two...

Servings 8
Calories 677 kcal

Ingredients

For the pie crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (7 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter cut int 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For the lemon filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice from 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 2 pieces

For the meringue:

  • 3/4 cup sugar (5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the pie crust:

  1. In a food processor (or see notes for the Hand-Mixing pie dough method), combine flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse until combined. 

  2. Scatter shortening pieces over the top and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl.

  3. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Using a stiff rubber spatula, stir and press dough together until it sticks together. Add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary until dough comes together.

  4. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before rolling out dough, let soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.

  5. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp the edge of the dough. Wrap the dough-lined plate and place in the freezer until dough is fully chilled and firm, about 30 minutes.

  6. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line the chilled pie shell with a double-layer of aluminum foil and fill with pie weights.

  7. Bake until the pie dough is lightly browned and dry, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

To make the filling:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, bring water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a simmer. When the mixture starts to turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, 2 at a time.

  2. Whisk in lemon zest, lemon juice, and butter. Return to simmer and immediately remove pan from heat.

  3. Pour filling into baked and cooled pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap (pressed down directly on surface of filling) and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. 

To make the meringue:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. 

  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to boil and cook until mixture is slightly thickened and syrupy, about 3 to 4 minutes (235 degrees on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

  3. In a standing mixer fit with the whisk, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt together on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.

  4. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and whip until whites are shiny and soft peaks form, about 1 to 3 minutes.

  5. Reduce mixer speed to medium and slowly drizzle warm syrup (avoid the whisk attachment and sides of bowl). Add vanilla, increase speed to medium-high, and whip until mixture has cooled slightly and is very thick and shiny, about 3 to 6 minutes.

  6. Dollop the meringue evenly over the top of the chilled lemon filling and spread, making sure it adheres to the crust. Use the back of a spoon to create attractive swirls and peaks. 

  7. Bake until meringue is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool until filling has set, about 2 hours. The pie can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for 1 day. 

  8. To serve, cut into wedges using a thin, sharp knife dipped into hot water between cuts. Or, hold at room temperature for up to 4 hours. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be stored at room temperature for 1 day.

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