Classic Lemon Meringue Pie
This Classic Lemon Meringue Pie is a delicious combination of tart and sweet!
So my birthday was last week, and I had a real situation on my hands. It had absolutely nothing to do with turning a year older. Nope, instead it had everything to do with the age-old cake vs. pie debate. You see, I love birthday cake. Actually, love doesn’t quite describe my feelings about a classic yellow cake with white frosting. Lust is probably a better word. But as strong as those feelings are about cake, they might be even stronger for Lemon Meringue Pie. There’s something about the combination of the sweet meringue topping with the tart lemon filling. Add in the fact that chilled desserts always taste so good on a hot summer day, and you can see how this debate began!
Is anyone else out there afraid of making meringue? I mean actual meringue. Not a whipped cream topping. Well, I used to be afraid of meringue, too. I’d heard so many stories about how difficult it is to make meringue. And then one day I just got into the kitchen and started playing around. I wasn’t making a pie or meringue cookies. I just wanted to figure out how to make meringue. Well, guess what? It’s not as scary as you might think! I did use a bit of cream of tartar to help stabilize the egg whites, but aside from that, meringue is actually pretty easy to make.
The key to meringue is making sure you whip it long enough. (It always takes longer than I think it will…and that’s using an electric mixer. If you’re whipping it by hand, well at least you’ll get a good workout in!) As the picture above shows, you should be able to turn the whisk upside down and still have the meringue hold a peak. If it flops over, keep beating those egg whites some more…it’ll get there, trust me! (I’ve found The Kitchn’s visual guide to beating egg whites particularly helpful. I keep it bookmarked and then take a quick peek whenever I need to whip egg whites to a specific stage.)
Summer is the perfect time for bright, lemon-y desserts, and this Classic Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favorites! Oh, and in case you were wondering, I chose both the pie and cake. It was my birthday, and you just can’t tell someone no on their birthday. Go ahead…I dare you.
Classic Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1 batch of pie dough homemade or store-bought
For the Lemon Filling
- 4 egg yolks
- 1½ cups sugar
- 6 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1⅓ cups water
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
For the Meringue Topping
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- powdered sugar
For the Pie Crust
- Preheat oven to 425°F (Note: If using store-bought dough, use the temperature recommended on the package for baking unfilled crust.)
- Roll the pie dough into a 9” pie pan. Dock the pie crust (i.e. use a fork to pierce the crust in multiple places) and bake for 17-20 minutes or until shell is light golden brown in color.
- Remove pie crust from oven and let cool.
For the Lemon Filling
- In a medium bowl, slightly beat the egg yolks. Set aside.
- Using a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once mixture begins to boil, gradually stir about ½ cup into the bowl with the egg yolks.
- Transfer egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining lemon juice mixture. Whisk until well combined. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once mixture begins to boil, cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in butter. Transfer filling into the cooled pie crust.
For the Meringue Topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Using a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla. Whip until foamy. (Tip: The egg whites will be easier to whip if you let them come to room temperature first.)
- Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping until meringue is stiff and glossy.
- Spread the meringue on top of the lemon filling. (Tip: Make sure the meringue is touching the crust all the way around the pie.) Dust top of pie lightly with powdered sugar before baking.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until meringue turns light golden brown. Allow pie to cool to room temperature and then cover lightly and place it in the refrigerator.
- Serve chilled.
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If life gives you lemons, make a lemon meringue pie. That’s my saying! 🙂
Seriously though, this pie looks spectacular. Congrats man!
Heck, when life gives you any kind of fruit, my answer is always to make a pie. I’m always looking for excuses to make desserts around here! Thanks, Mike! #WolfpackEats
That right there is some gorgeous lookin’ meringue, my friend! Mind if I throw my face into the pan? 😉
You absolutely may shove your face straight into the pan…just make sure to leave me some! 🙂
Haha – I share your lust for birthday cake with vanilla frosting David! BTW, Happy belated birthday – hope your day was stellar – just like this pie!
I hate to admit it, but I have never had a lemon pie – key lime yes, but never lemon – clearly am deprived…
Shashi…quit reading this and go make a Lemon Meringue Pie! I can’t believe you’ve never had one. 🙂 They are delicious! Almost as delicious as birthday cake with vanilla frosting. Haha!
Good call on having both pie and cake. Especially this pie, as it looks divine!
You got that one right, Jennifer! Why pick between pie and cake? Seems silly to me when you can just have both! 🙂
OMG, this is just the perfect dessert for my family! Love that vibrant color and I can only imagine how tasty it must be!!
Thank you so much, Ami! This pie is one of my favorites!
Happy Birthday! Lemon Meringue pie is my all time most favorite pie. I could eat a whole pie by myself. Haha Maybe I should ask for this for my birthday! Love your recipe. This looks mouthwatering and delicious.
Thank you so much, Cindy! I think you can totally request a lemon meringue pie for your birthday…heck, you can request one in mid-July ever year to help celebrate my birthday! 🙂
I used to be afraid of egg whites too until I started making macarons. probably not the best place to start but it has made everything to do with meringue easy. I tried angel food cake for the first time and was not even scared. Love love this pie!! I must make since I keep buying it by the slice anyway at my favorite local bakery lol! PS: Happy belated birthday 🙂
Thanks, Zainab! Yes, you would totally rock this pie…I know it! Your macarons are to-die-for, so a meringue pie would be a piece of cake for you. or maybe a piece of pie…you know what I mean!
I love that you had both pie and cake for your birthday! That is how I would want to celebrate! This meringue pie looks fabulous! It has been on my list for quite some time! I need to just bite the bullet! Gorgeous photos!
Thanks so much, Lindsey! I mean, your birthday only comes around once a year…if that’s not an excuse to have pie and cake, then I don’t know what is! 🙂
David! This looks so so delicious and the most perfect dessert for summer.
My dad loves lemon meringue pie and can throw down a whole one if he’s really craving one. I’ve actually never made on myself (I’m more of a cream pie boy myself), but I’m definitely going to have to make this one especially for him.
Hope you’ve been doing well!
I have been doing well, Graham! I just checked out your world travel post, and it’s awesome! You totally do need to give a meringue pie a chance…it’s way easier than you might think. But you better make sure your Dad isn’t around…at least until you get some pictures! 🙂
lovely classic pie!
Thank you so much, Dina!!
i just took this out of the oven and it looks amazing. Can’t wait to taste it.
Awesome!! I’m so glad it looks great, Sharnette. Now comes the hardest part…waiting for the pie to chill so you can cut into it. 🙂 I have another chilled pie hanging out in my fridge right now, and the hardest part is just waiting patiently. I hope you enjoy this Lemon Meringue Pie as much as we do! Thank you so much for your nice comment!! 🙂
Wow, this was delicious! I wanted to post a picture but I couldn’t figure out how to. I will definitely masks this again.
Thanks for the recipe!
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed this pie, Sharnette…and thank you so much for coming back and letting me know. I don’t currently have an option for posting photos here, but maybe I’ll have to look into that for the future. Either way, glad you’ll be making this one again! Your comment totally made my morning, btw! 🙂
I made this tonight and it was delicious! I did accidentally miss read and used powdered sugar in the meringue. Lol it was really good though. One question. What can cause liquid residue?
Hey there, Gabrielle! I’m so glad you enjoyed this pie, and I appreciate you stopping back to comment, too. And it’s good to know that powdered sugar works in the meringue! As far as the excess liquid goes, you’ve touched on a very popular (maybe big is a better term) when making meringue pies. A couple of tips are: (1) Make sure the lemon filling is as hot as possible when you put the meringue on top…i.e. don’t let the filling cool. (2) Another possible solution is to beat in a bit of cornstarch with the egg whites. I haven’t tried this myself but 2-3 teaspoons is generally acceptable there. (3) Finally a meringue can also bead up with water if it is overbaked. In short, it’s a common problem…so don’t feel bad at all that yours had extra liquid. In fact, I kinda wonder if the powdered sugar somehow contributed to the liquid there as it has different baking properties than granulated sugar? Not sure about that…just a thought! Either way, thanks for letting me know, and I’m glad you enjoyed this pie! Now you’re making me want to go bake one this afternoon. 🙂
Why sprinkle powered sugar on top of meringue before baking ? I have heard of doing that.
Good question, Marilyn! Now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure why the powdered sugar gets dusted on top. I do know that my Mom always made meringue pies that way, though. However, now that I think about it…I think it accomplishes two things: (1) It sweetens the meringue a bit and more importantly (2) I’m guessing the dusting of powdered sugar helps absorb a bit of the liquid residue that Gabrielle referred to in her comment above. Either way, it’s an old trick that I’ve always used…and it’s worked for me. I hope you enjoy this pie as much as we do! 🙂
I always make Lemon Meringue pie for pie contests at church. It’s ALLWAYS the first to be eaten, but never wins….
I really like a Swiss Meringue on top.
Your pie looks delish. I will try your filling soon!
Lemon Meringue Pies are one of my favorites for sure! It’s nice to meet another pie fan. 🙂 The thing about pie contests is the winners are usually the ones that are crazy over the top…or chocolate. Chocolate always wins! I have another fun lemon pie in the works, so stay tuned for that one coming soon. Thank you so much for commenting, too!
Do you make your meringue first or your lemon filling? Just wondering because it looks like you do the filling & then the meringue according to the recipe, but I was reading the comments about the liquid & you said to make sure the filling is hot and I remember reading another recipe that said to make the meringue first & set aside, then make filling. As you can see I have been researching quite a bit as my son has once again requested this for his birthday & I have yet to have one turn out perfect, either the meringue flops or the filing is not the type we prefer, I like the bright shiny yellow not the kind that looks like pudding. Lately I’ve resorted to just buying lemon meringue pies 😕 but ready to give it another try, yours looks beautiful so gonna try your recipe.
Hey there, Chris! So when I make this pie, I kinda do both the filling and meringue at the same time. I usually get the meringue going since it takes a bit of time, and then I focus on making the filling. It’s kinda hard to write that in a step-by-step since it would mean a lot of back and forth…and that would certainly get confusing. Sometimes the filling is ready before the meringue has finished whipping, and that is totally ok…as long as the filling is as warm as possible, then you’re good. (We’re only talking a couple minutes at most here!) Meringues are such a tough one, but this one has always worked for me. Now to be fair, the meringue does get a bit liquid-y (is that a word?) if you leave it for leftovers. It’s best eaten the same day. (Although leftover pie is rarely a problem around here…haha!) Best of luck with this one…I hope it turns out well for you! And wish your son an early happy birthday for me, too. Thanks!
Pie turned out great! My son was very happy, thank you this will be my go to lemon meringue recipe 😊
Awesome! Your comment totally just made my day, Chris. 🙂 Thank you so much for coming back and letting me know…and hopefully there will be many more lemon meringue pies in your future this summer. Happy Tuesday!
This is so good! I forgot the butter in the filling and it was fine. I also had no cream of tartar for the meringue so I substituted lemon juice. It too was fine.
Hey Barb! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one…it’s one of our favorites, too. (And it’s especially one of our favorites this time of the year when the weather is finally starting to warm up!) I appreciate you sharing these tips, too. Cheers!
Is it okay to use salted butter or would this not work out?
Hey Ashley! You absolutely can use salted butter here. However, I always recommend unsalted butter when baking. Different brands of salted butter include different amounts of salt. Since there’s only 3 Tbsp of butter in this recipe, I think you’ll be totally ok using salted butter. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do! 🙂 Happy Holidays!
I made this pie and all I can say is wow!! I only wish I could post a picture of it.
Hey Mary Lou! Thank you so much for stopping back by to comment. I really appreciate that! And I’m really happy you enjoyed this recipe, too. It’s a good one for sure! 🙂
Looks scrumpy will be giving your recipe a try
Thanks so much, Carol! It’s hard to beat a good lemon meringue pie…it’s one of our favorites! I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do. Happy baking!
Made two! Perfect level of tart and sweet, thank you for sharing!
Awesome! I’m so glad you like this one, Melonie. It’s one of our favorites, too! 🙂 And I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Have a great weekend!