Lemon Meringue Pie – this recipe is a family favorite! It’s an easy pie recipe with homemade lemon filling and sweet meringue. This is a family recipe – my Aunt Tootsie made it for years – and now the recipe is mine to share.
Don’t be scared of making Lemon Meringue Pie. It can be daunting but I’m going to detail every single step for you and show you it’s as easy as it looks!
When I was a kid (and even still), whenever pie is mentioned around my dad, he brings up my Great Aunt Tootsie’s Lemon Meringue Pie. He talks about how the crust was amazing and the filling was so smooth and perfect.
His Aunt Tootsie was his mom’s sister, and I honestly don’t remember ever meeting her. I think, between my Nana and Tootsie, that the latter was the baker in the family. My Nana could bake, sure, but meals were her specialty (and her cookies were actually Pillsbury…which I didn’t know until I was an adult).
By the time I was in my early 20’s, both my grandmothers had passed, and with them, their recipes. My mom’s mom didn’t write anything down, but my Nana had a recipe book that my aunt took when she died. A few years ago, she sent me an envelope full of hand written recipes and newspaper clippings that had been shoved in my Nana’s recipe book. One of them was for my Aunt Tootsie’s Lemon Meringue Pie!
I absolutely love old family recipes. I think the ones that are handed down between generations are some of the best, don’t you agree? Food and memory are intertwined so much; just a bite of a meal your grandma used to make can bring back vivid memories; even sights and smells and sounds from the time you used to eat it. That’s what I was hoping to create with this pie recipe, because I’m going to make it for my dad someday.
Making Lemon Meringue Pie seems like an involved process, and it can be, but it’s worth it.
I would give it a medium on the scale of easy to hard, but this recipe is easy to follow and while it has some moving parts, it’s totally attainable if you follow my recipe and tips below. In this post we’re going to cover every possible roadblock you might have between you and this gorgeous pie.
Table of Contents
Traditionally, lemon meringue pie has a pastry crust (as opposed to a no-bake cookie variety). I have a few thoughts on crust:
- Make a perfect crust: One of the ways to make this pie much easier is to use a pre-made crust. I love my all butter crust recipe but in a pinch or when I’m making an already involved recipe, I’ll start with a pre-made crust.
- Cook it properly: Make sure to partially pre-bake the crust. You’re going to bake the pie, but at a low temperature just to set the meringue, so the pie crust must be almost fully cooked. (Learn how to pre-bake a pie crust.)
To blind bake your crust, you’re going to put it in the 9-inch pie plate, poke some holes in the bottom, and line it with parchment paper. Then fill the pie with beans or pie weights and bake it at 425°F. The time it takes to bake your crust depends on the recipe you’re using.
If you are using my pie crust recipe, then you’ll blind bake it through the first baking step in my blind bake tutorial. If you’re using a Pillsbury crust, it will only take about 10 minutes total.
The lemon filling for the lemon meringue pie is an easy lemon curd-like recipe. It’s cooked on the stove, thickened with cornstarch and egg yolks, then strained into the baked pie shell.
First, make sure you have all your ingredients assembled and ready. Whisk your egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
Then, whisk the filling ingredients together in your saucepan, cooking over medium heat, stirring often (like you’re making pudding), until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Now it’s time to deal with the eggs.
A scary part about making a lemon curd like this is tempering the egg yolks.
Tempering eggs is just a fancy way of saying that you’re getting them ready to put in the hot custard mixture. If you just pour them into the hot lemon mixture, they’ll scramble (ew) so we have to do it slowly.
First, pour a bit of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly. That’s it!
Keep cooking for 2 minutes, remove from heat and stir in some butter and then your mixture will be ready. I always strain my filling just in case little pieces of egg have cooked.
Strain your filling to ensure a silky pie fillingPRO TIP
Place the filling in the pie crust and immediately make the meringue. You don’t want the pie to cool too much before adding the meringue and baking the pie. The heat from the filling will make the meringue “cook” to the top of the pie.
Classic Lemon Meringue Pie has a fluffy sweet meringue on top of the lemon filling. This kind of meringue is made by beating egg whites with sugar and then baking on top of the pie and it’s like eating sweet clouds.
The meringue whips up easy with a hand or a stand mixer. A few tips about making the meringue:
- Make sure there are NO egg yolks in your whites. When separating your eggs, err on the side of white-in-yolk but not yolk-in-white if that makes sense. Egg whites don’t whip right if they have the fat from the yolk in them.
- Cream of tartar is a crucial ingredient in getting the stiff and stable peaks for the egg whites.
- You’ll beat the egg whites until soft peaks form before adding the sugar. Soft peaks means that the egg whites are fluffy, but the peaks will just start to hold if you turn the whisk upside down.
- Once you add the sugar and beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, you’ll see they are glossy and the peaks hold their shape.
Add the meringue on top of the still-hot filling of the pie and swirl the tops into pretty peaks.
Make sure to completely seal the meringue to the pie crust edges. Leave NO gaps to avoid weeping. Bake the pie, then completely cool before slicing.
- Make sure to make the meringue immediately after making the filling and top the pie while the filling is still hot.
- Make sure to seal the edges of the meringue to the pie crust – no gaps.
- Don’t over bake the meringue.
- Make sure that, when you’re mixing your egg whites, you mix on low while you’re adding the sugar, which will ensure the sugar gets dissolved properly.
- Don’t make meringue pies on dry or low-humidity days.
If you don’t like this kind of meringue topping, you can use my marshmallow meringue frosting instead. In that case, completely blind bake the pie crust, add the filling, let it cool, then top it with that frosting and torch the tops.
Lemon Meringue Pie isn’t really that hard to make, there are just a lot of steps. With a little practice and patience (and a humid day), you can enjoy my Aunt Tootsie’s pie just like we do!
If you’ve made this recipe, consider leaving me a comment and rating below, I’d love to hear from you!
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For the filling:
- 1 All Butter Pie Crust pre-baked and cooled (or a pre-made crust from a pack of two or frozen)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs yolks
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the meringue:
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated 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 (dried rice and lentils work too). If you're using my pie crust recipe, bake about 20 minutes, checking that the crust is browned (but the bottom won't be completely done yet, that's ok). If you're using a Pillsbury crust, it'll only take about 10 minutes to partially bake. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights.
- 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 soft peaks form (if you remove the beaters the tips curl slightly) and then continue mixing while gradually adding the granulated sugar. Continue mixing until stiff peaks form (they’ll be glossy and stand straight).
- 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 browned. Cool at room temperature for one hour, then chill at least 5 hours before slicing.
- The pie will last a day or two in the refrigerator but tastes better day one.
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Items used making this pie:
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This simple Lemon Meringue Pie is the best! One of our family favorites – made the old fashioned way with a creamy lemon filling and meringue on top! I’ll show you step by step with photos and video just how easy it is to make this homemade pie!
All text and images © DOROTHY KERN for Crazy for Crust. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate.
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Published on: March 12, 2020