Lemon Meringue Pie is a classic that everyone should have in their recipe collection!
Lemon Meringue Pies are absolutely delicious, but they sometimes have a reputation for being difficult to make.
In reality though, it’s not at all difficult to make a Lemon Meringue Pie: You’ll pre-bake a pie crust, fill it with a lemon custard, then top it with an egg white meringue before baking.
The pie crust and lemon custard are quite easy to make – and our recipe below includes a delicious homemade pie crust recipe, and an easy to follow lemon custard recipe too. And there are just a few special steps you should take when whipping up the egg whites, to ensure that you make a perfect topping for your Lemon Meringue Pie.
First – A stand mixer with a whisk attachment and a large bowl is really going to give you the best results when whipping your egg whites into a meringue. Today’s recipe makes a BIG, gorgeous pie with a tall layer of that fluffy, sweet meringue on top – so you’ll need the power and volume of a stand mixer and bowl.*
*We found it challenging to get ten egg whites beaten to a very full volume and to the perfect ‘stiff peak stage’ by just using a decent quality hand mixer. But if you have a super powerful hand mixer, by all means give it a try. (If your egg whites aren’t at stiff peaks by the end of the whipping process, your baked meringue will deflate in the oven.)
Second – You’ll want to add the sugar to the egg whites about midway through whipping them or when the egg whites have reached the soft peak stage. Then you’ll turn the mixer back to high and whip them to stiff peaks. (If you add the sugar too soon, the meringue will also deflate.)
Finally – You’ll want to avoid overbaking your Lemon Meringue Pie. (If the pie is baked for too long, the meringue on top will weep droplets of moisture once it is out of the oven, and you could see the meringue pull away from the edge of the pie plate.)
Full disclosure here: Jack made this Lemon Meringue Pie three times before perfecting the recipe. And even then, Jack still thinks he should have whipped the egg whites another minute longer before baking the pie you see in the pictures here, and he also thinks he could have baked it a minute or two less.
All that said, once you get it right, Lemon Meringue Pie is a classic favorite! (And even if your first attempt isn’t perfect – the pie is still totally delicious! No one in our house was complaining about eating any of the less-than-perfect pies!) 🙂
Have fun mastering this classic and delicious pie recipe!
Note: You’ll want to make this Lemon Meringue Pie in a deep dish 10″ pie plate.
Crust: (Do not use a frozen or refrigerated store-bought pie dough. This is a deep dish pie.)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
2 ½ tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
¼ cup ice cold water, plus more as needed
Lemon Custard Filling:
1 ½ cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
7 tablespoons corn starch
1 ½ tablespoons freshly zested lemon
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon salt
8 egg yolks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 egg whites (this is two more whites than the 8 yolks in the filling)
½ teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
To make the crust, cut the butter into pats and place flat on a plate. Place the plate in the freezer while you work on the remaining ingredients.
In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, salt and sugar and pulse to combine. Add cold shortening and pulse a few times. Add frozen butter and pulse until the butter is pea size.
Pulse while adding cold water, stop and check by pinching some dough and if it is crumbly, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together.
Pour out onto a floured counter and press together into a disc. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Remove dough and on a floured surface, roll dough so that it is two inches larger than your standard 10” pie plate, not a 9” pie plate. Place the dough over the pie plate and gently press in and up and over the edges. With a knife or scissors, cut extra. Pinch the overhanging dough into a high ridge all around and then go back over and a make decorative edge, again, keeping it high. (We use thumb and index finger on one side and the knuckle of index finger on the opposite side and pressed together to make a scalloped edge.) Place the completed pie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes to set up so that the sides don’t collapse while baking.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and once the pie plate with the dough sits in the freezer for 30 minutes, remove, add parchment and either pie weights or dry beans. (To make the parchment fit, cut parchment into a circle larger than the pie plate and make four slits a few inches long around the edge half way to center so when you place it in the shell, the slits overlap and fit up the sides.) Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove pie weights or beans, and with a fork, puncture the bottom in a few places to release steam and place back in the oven without the weights and parchment and bake for ten more minutes. The shell is now ready to be filled.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place rack in center of oven with no top rack to make room for height of pie.
Lemon Custard Filling:
Make the filling by heating the water, sugar, corn starch, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a medium sauce pan until hot and the sugar has dissolved. Mixture will be thick.
Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and temper them by adding a little of the hot liquid at a time while whisking. After adding about a cup and a half, stir the tempered eggs back into the sauce pan.
Stir in the butter and cook this mixture on low for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Note: Use a stand mixer with the whip attachment for the meringue. (On one of our earlier attempts, we tried beating egg whites with hand mixer and it just couldn’t get ten whites to stiff peaks.)
Place egg whites with cream of tarter and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment and whip on medium high to high until soft peaks form. (When you pull the beater away, the peak of meringue flops back over but stays somewhat firm.)
With mixer running on low, add sugar then increase to high and whip to stiff peaks. When you lift the beater, the peak stands up straight and doesn’t flop over.
Pour the lemon filling into the prepared pie shell.
Spoon the meringue onto the lemon filling by starting on the edges and working your way to the center, mounding the pie high. Then take the back of a soup spoon and press and release all over the top of the meringue to make little decorative peaks.
Place in oven and bake 20 minutes, no longer. If you over bake, it will weep later and the meringue will pull away from the sides.
Let cool five hours. As it cools, whatever meringue was not quite set, will finish setting. Do not refrigerate while cooling.
Once cooled five hours, slice and enjoy or can be refrigerated at this point.
Note: Try not to touch the top of the pie after baking. Meringue is very sticky and a small finger poke will pull up a section of the browned and baked meringue.
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