Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

It’s impressive with all its layers and homemade components, but lemon meringue pie is surprisingly simple. The ingredients list looks long but there’s a lot of overlap. I bet you have everything you need at home already.

One caveat: don’t try to make meringue without a hand mixer or stand mixer. It takes forever by hand.

Like most lemon recipes, it is perfect for spring when you want something bright and fresh but nothing is in season yet ❤️.

Side view of a slice of lemon meringue pie on a plate, showing the defined layers and texture, with lemon slices and a blue-patterned cloth in the background.

Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

The classic you know and love: tart lemon filling, fluffy meringue, and a homemade crust.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Serving Size 8

Ingredients 

Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter chilled and diced
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice water

Lemon Filling

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cups water
  • 2 lemons juiced and zested
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 egg yolks beaten (save whites for the meringue)

Meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

Make the Crust

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). While preheating, you can start preparing the crust.
  • Mix dry ingredients. Combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix these ingredients.
  • Blend in butter. Use a pastry blender to cut in the chilled, diced butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
    A large mixing bowl with flour, diced butter, and a pastry cutter, alongside lemons and a measuring cup with a white powder.
  • Add ice water. Gradually add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water, just enough to form a dough.
    Dough forming on a marble surface, with flour scattered around and a lemon in the background.
  • Chill dough for 30 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Roll and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll the dough on a floured surface and place it in the pie plate.
    The dough is pressed into a round pie dish, with a kitchen towel to the side.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Once done, let it cool.

Make the Lemon Filling

  • Combine dry ingredients. In a saucepan, mix sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt.
    A saucepan with sugar, a small bowl of flour, and whole lemons on a checked kitchen towel.
  • Stir in water, lemon juice, and zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil.
    A bowl with beaten eggs, ready to be mixed into the lemon mixture for the pie filling.
  • Add butter and egg yolks. Slowly mix in beaten egg yolks and butter, and bring to a boil. Keep stirring constantly.
    A bowl with beaten eggs, ready to be mixed into the lemon mixture for the pie filling.
  • Cook until thick. Once thickened, remove from heat. Let it cool slightly before pouring into the baked crust.
    The completed lemon filling being poured into the pie crust.

Prepare the Meringue

  • Beat egg whites with sugar and vanilla. In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.
    Beating egg whites in a mixing bowl, showing the progression from foamy to stiff peaks for the meringue.
  • Spread over pie. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.
    Meringue being layered on top of lemon filling in a pie crust, with a checkered cloth underneath.

Bake and Cool.

  • Bake. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until the meringue is golden brown. Allow the pie to cool gradually in the oven with the door ajar to prevent the meringue from collapsing.
    Lemon meringue pie with toasted meringue topping in a glass dish, with a blue and white floral cloth on the side and lemon slices in the background.
  • Cool. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge at least 4 hours, until very cold.
    Close-up of a slice of lemon meringue pie on a plate, highlighting the layers of meringue, lemon filling, and crust.

Notes

Be gentle while folding the meringue to keep it light and airy.
If you refrigerate your pie overnight, you might have problems with “weeping” meringue.   This is unattractive but doesn’t affect the finished taste.  You can add 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar when first making the meringue to prevent this. 
I use this crust recipe for this pie because it’s a simple way to make one crust.  But my favorite is this recipe.  If you’re making a lot of crusts at once to freeze for later, use that one instead! 
Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 578IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

This pie promises to bring a burst of sunshine to your table, even on a dreary day.

Close-up of a slice of lemon meringue pie on a plate, highlighting the layers of meringue, lemon filling, and crust.

🥣 important tools and ingredients

  • Lemons. You can find fresh lemons in the produce section. They are essential for this recipe’s distinct tart flavor. In a pinch, you can use bottled lemon juice, but fresh juice offers a superior taste and aroma.
  • Cornstarch. The baking aisle contains cornstarch. It is a key thickening agent for the lemon filling. It ensures the filling sets without affecting the flavor.
  • Egg Whites. Egg whites are available in the dairy section. They are crucial for the meringue, creating its iconic light, airy texture. Powdered egg whites can be a substitute, but fresh ones yield the best results.
  • Unsalted Butter. You can find unsalted butter in the dairy aisle. It allows for precise control of the salt level in the crust, contributing to a perfect, flaky texture.

With these key ingredients, you’re well on your way to creating a lemon meringue pie.

Ingredients for lemon meringue pie laid out on a marble surface, including flour, lemons, butter, sugar, and a cup of liquid.

9-inch Pie Plate. This size is essential for shaping and baking the pie. It is perfect for distributing the crust and filling.

Pastry Blender. A pastry blender makes it easier to cut the butter into the flour for the crust. It ensures a crumbly, well-integrated mixture.

Mixing Bowls. You need mixing bowls of different sizes for the crust, lemon filling, and meringue. This keeps the ingredients organized and manageable.

Whisk. A whisk is crucial for combining the lemon filling ingredients. It is also crucial for beating the egg whites to the right consistency for the meringue.

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Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s move on to some helpful tips and tricks. They’ll make your baking experience even smoother and more enjoyable.

✨ Tips for the best pies

Manage the temperature: Ensure your butter is cold when making the crust. This helps achieve a flakier texture.

To prevent the meringue from becoming watery, spread it on the lemon filling while it’s still hot. The heat helps cook the bottom of the meringue . This seals it and prevents moisture seepage.

Prevent a Soggy Crust: Before adding the lemon filling, brush the pre-baked crust with egg white. Then, bake for a few more minutes. This creates a barrier that helps keep the crust crisp.

Zesting Lemons: When zesting lemons, avoid the white pith beneath the yellow skin, as it’s very bitter. Only the outermost, colored part of the peel (the zest) is needed for flavor.

Stabilizing the Meringue: For a more stable meringue that holds its shape better, add a pinch of cream of tartar when beating the egg whites.

Slicing the Pie: Dip your knife in hot water and wipe it dry before slicing the pie. This helps in getting clean cuts through the meringue without it sticking to the knife.

Storage: If you have leftovers, store the pie in the refrigerator. To prevent the meringue from becoming rubbery, cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil, not plastic wrap.

🥫 Storage and make ahead instructions

Refrigeration

  • Short-Term Storage: Lemon meringue pie should be stored in the refrigerator if you plan to consume it within a few days.
  • How to Store: Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil or a dome-shaped pie cover. Avoid using plastic wrap directly on the meringue, as it can cause condensation and make the top soggy.
  • Duration: Properly stored, the pie can last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Beyond this, the crust may start to soften, and the meringue might begin to weep.

Freezing

  • Freezing is Not Ideal: It’s generally not recommended to freeze lemon meringue pie. Freezing can alter the texture of the meringue, often leading it to separate or become watery upon thawing.
  • Alternative Approach: If you must freeze, do so before adding the meringue topping. You can freeze the lemon filling and crust together. Wrap the pie securely in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. It can be stored in the freezer for up to one month.
  • Thawing: Thaw the pie in the refrigerator overnight. Prepare and add the meringue topping on the day you plan to serve it.

Can I make the lemon filling a day ahead?

Absolutely! Preparing the lemon filling a day in advance can be beneficial. It allows the filling to set and develop its flavors. Just store it in the refrigerator, covered, and then reheat it slightly before pouring it into the crust.

My meringue always seems to shrink away from the crust. How can I prevent this?

To prevent meringue from shrinking, make sure to spread it all the way to the edges of the crust, creating a seal. Also, spreading the meringue on the hot lemon filling helps as the heat cooks the bottom of the meringue slightly, helping it adhere better.

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemons?

While fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor, you can use bottled lemon juice in a pinch. The fresh juice provides a brighter, more authentic lemon taste, which bottled juice might not fully replicate.

How do I know when the meringue is done baking?

The meringue is done when it’s golden brown on top. This usually takes about 15 minutes in the oven, but keep an eye on it as oven temperatures can vary. The meringue should be crisp on the outside and soft inside.

Is there a dairy-free alternative to butter in the crust?

Yes, you can use a dairy-free margarine or solid coconut oil as a substitute for butter in the crust. Keep in mind that the texture and flavor might vary slightly from the original recipe.

❤️ More lemon desserts you’ll love

I love lemon more than anything else, so I’ve got lots to share!

Crafting the perfect Lemon Meringue Pie is achievable and rewarding. It is a baking victory! This dessert has a nice combination of a flaky crust, tangy lemon filling, and light, airy meringue. It is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

and add a horizontal hero. GOOD JOB!!!!

antique fork taking bite of pie

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