When you want to make something impressive and tasty, this lemon meringue pie is the dessert to make. The tart and creamy lemon custard filling is topped with mile-high meringue. Light, airy and scrumptious. This pie just melts in your mouth.
My Grand Mother’s Pie Recipe
My grand mother was a fantastic pie maker. Every Holiday we enjoyed at least four or five different kinds of pies. All had the signature flaky crust and delicious flavored filling. We all had our favorites and would clamor to get at least one piece of our favorite pie.
However, often, we had more than one we enjoyed, so we would do small slices so we could get a delicious taste of a few of them.
Show Stopping Lemon Meringue Pie
One of her best desserts was the show stopping lemon meringue pie. She had never entered a pie baking contest. I bet if she did, she would win the blue ribbon. The custard has just the right amount of creamy tang and the meringue was perfectly cooked and piled on high.
Her pies really were a masterpiece.
I never had the luxury of making pies with my grandmother, just cookies, cakes, and candies. However, my mom did, and she knows the tricks of the trade.
There are Three Main Elements to This Delicious Dessert
Each part to this dessert adds to the success of this recipe. It does not have to be hard and can seem intimidating. However, when you look at each part on its own, you will see that it can be a delicious and simple recipe that you can and should learn to make often.
First, the crust, which should be tender and flaky. Here is our no-fail all-butter pie crust recipe that is perfect for this pie. However, if you are short on time, a store-bought crust will work simply fine.
Second, the filling, which should be creamy, smooth, tangy, and slightly sweet.
Third, the meringue topping, which should be light, fluffy, piled high, and a light golden brown.
Tips for Getting This Recipe Right
Best lemons for Lemon Meringue Pie. If you can find them, useMeyer lemons, if they are not available by use, then regular supermarket lemons will work fine.
Wash the fruit before zesting. Whenever I purchase lemons, limes, or oranges and I plan on zesting them, I make sure to wash and dry the fruit thoroughly before zesting.
Do Not over boil the lemon filling. Once the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, take it off the heat and let it cool. If you boil it too long, it will break down and become soupy.
For picture perfect pie slices use a sharp knife that has been dipped in water, then dried off. When cutting into the pie, the knife will glide right through. Every few slices you may have to dip the knife and wipe it off again, but it is worth the beautiful slices you get.
Tips for The Perfect Meringue Topping
Use older eggs. I use eggs that have been in my refrigerator a few weeks. I am not sure why, but older eggs make better meringue. Further, room temperature egg whites beat faster and higher too.
Make your pie on a day with low humidity for best results. The humidity in the air can make the meringue weep.
Do not overbake the meringue. This can also cause it to weep. Make sure to check the pie at the recommended time.
Notice the humidity droplets on the meringue topping?
That is because the heat was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit today. Thank goodness the pie was eaten up right away. No leftovers to take home at this picnic. But, you can see how the weather will affect the meringue.
How to keep the meringue from shrinking.
- Often, people try and cool the lemon custard first and then add the topping. Try this instead. Prepare the meringue before the lemon custard filling. Add the meringue on top of the custard while it is still warm. Surprisingly, the heat from the filling helps seal the meringue, which makes it less likely to shrink.
- Spread the meringue to the edges of the pie crust, so it touches the crust itself. This helps hold it in place and prevents it from shrinking.
Does Lemon Meringue Pie Freeze Well?
No. This pie is one of those that is best enjoyed the day it is made. While you can store leftover pie in the refrigerator covered for up to 3-5 days, it is best to use it the day of. Also, do not leave the pie out for more than a few hours for food safety.
Lemon Meringue Pie
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- 1 9-inch pie crust purchased or homemade. See the homemade pie crust recipe on this blog.
- 1 1/2 Cups sugar
- 1/3 Cup corn starch
- 1/4 Tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 Cups Hot Water
- 5 Egg Yolks slightly beaten. some recipes call for 4 egg yolks, but I like 5 egg whites for the meringue and don’t like to waste. slightly beat egg yolks
- 4 TBL Lemon Juice
- 1 1/2 TBL Lemon Zest Zest of 2 lemons zested and chopped finely.
- 3 Tbl. butter Must be butter-no substitutions or this may not turn out the same
Mile-High Meringue Topping
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 5 Egg Whites
- 1 Cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 Tsp. Cream of Tartar
- 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract optional
- Can use purchased or homemade. There is a link to my recipe above for homemade pie pastry. Roll out dough for 1 pie pan. Dock and blind bake in a pre-heated oven to 350 degrees F. Pre-bake the pie 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool while making the filling.
Lemon Curd Filling
- In a saucepan add the sugar, corn starch, and salt. Gradually stir in the hot water. Cook over moderate heat, stirring consistently until the mixture boils and thickens. Boil approximately 1 minute. (make sure that you scrape the bottom, so the mixture does not burn).
- Add 1 or 2 ladles of the hot mixture into the slightly beaten egg yolks. Whisking constantly until incorporated. Then take this mixture and add it to the hot mixture, whisking constantly.
- Return to the stove and boil 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat. Continue stirring and add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Also add in the butter one Tbl. at a time.
- Pour into the baked and cooled pie shell. Let sit to cool while you are making the meringue.
Mile High Meringue Topping
- Begin by preparing the corn starch mixture for the meringue. In a small saucepan, on medium heat, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water until the cornstarch dissolves. Continue heating until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy.
- Gradually beat in the sugar a little bit at a time. Continue to beating until there are stiff and glossy peaks. Add the corn starch mixture a little at a time and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
- Gently spoon the meringue onto the pie filling. Make sure to spread the filling out to the edge of the pie shell to prevent shrinking. Also, if the filling is exposed to the heat from the baking process, it may weep.
- Swirl and pull up points of the meringue to create a decorative top. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake approximately 10-15 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown.
- Cool the pie gradually in a slightly warm place. (A chill may make the meringue fall).