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Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie – Oh Sweet Basil

My mom was famous for her Lemon Meringue Pie growing up. In fact, she still is!  It was often requested for parties or sick visits. (Really, I remember people asking my mom to bring this pie instead of chicken noodle soup when they were sick!)  I often forget how good it is until I make it-then I just can’t stop eating it!

This recipe starts with a flakey homemade pie crust that is filled with smooth and creamy lemon filling and topped with toasted meringue. It is totally irresistible!

Our kids especially love the meringue. No matter how many times I make it with them and they watch the entire process they are convinced it’s marshmallow. I guess it is in a way, but it’s definitely meringue. I love that they are so adamant. “Dad, mom made Grandma’s pie with the marshmallows!” We are starting to not correct them at all as they are pretty darn sure that they are right and nothing is going to convince them otherwise.

A picture of a slice of lemon meringue pie. The filling is bright yellow and the meringue on top is lightly toasted. There are lemon wedges and a sugar bowl in the background and a fork is on the plate next to the slice of pie.

Lemon was something I really struggled with as a kid. I just couldn’t stand that tart flavor at all unless it was a lemon head candy. Do those even still exist? Anyway, It’s interesting how our taste buds change as we grow up. A lot of the foods I didn’t like aren’t just ones that I enjoy now but actually are my absolute favorite.

 

A piece of lemon meringue pie. A fork is piercing the tip of the slice.

What Ingredients Do You Need for Lemon Meringue Pie?

I’m going to break up the ingredients list into two sections – filling and meringue. The ingredients are simple, but when combined…look out! Perfectly tart filling with the slightly sweet meringue, pie heaven!

For the Filling

  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Juice
  • Egg Yolks
  • Butter

For the Meringue

  • Egg Whites (room temperature)
  • Salt
  • Cream of Tarter
  • Sugar

The measurements for each ingredients can be found in the recipe card below.

a picture of measuring cups with ingredients for lemon meringue pie. there are containers of eggs, water, sugar, salt lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, etc.

Should Egg Whites Be Room Temperature For Meringue?

PRO TIP: Separate the eggs while the eggs are cold. They separate much easier when they come straight out of the fridge.

Bring egg whites to room temperature to ensure volume when beating.

Warmer eggs whip faster than cold eggs.

Egg whites right out of the refrigerator will not whip well.

How to Make Lemon Meringue Pie

Be sure you have a pre-baked pie crust (Mom’s Magic Pie Crust or My Favorite Pie Crust) ready to add the filling to. Now I’m going to walk you through each step of making the filling and meringue.

  • Bake the pie at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the top is golden brown down in the valleys of the meringue.
  • Serve either at room temperature or chilled.

How to Avoid a Soggy Pie Crust

The best ways to avoid a soggy pie crust are to blind bake with both a docking and weights method followed by an egg wash and further baking. 

  1. Use a glass pie plate which conducts heat the best out of all pie dishes. Next up? Ceramic is great as well. 
  2. Chill the dough in the pie plate after forming it and before baking. 
  3. Dock your crust by poking about 10 times on the crust bottom and sides with a fork.
  4. Place tinfoil or parchment in the crust and add weights equal to the lip of the pie or at least halfway up. 
  5. If you’re really struggling with a less than flaky crust, pop a cookie sheet in the oven to preheat and place the pie plate on that. The bottom heat will help to keep the crust flaky.
  6. Start at 425 but if it’s browning too quickly be prepared to reduce the temperature to 375 after 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Egg wash! After the initial bake of the crust, after pulling out the weights and before it goes back in the oven to finish, simply brush the base of the crust lightly with an egg wash (1 egg white and a little water or 1 egg yolk and about 2 teaspoons heavy cream whisked together. Yolks brown more fyi) and then return the pie to the oven just to set the egg, 1-2 minutes. 
A piece of lemon meringue pie on a dessert plate. A fork in next to the pie and there are lemon wedges and a sugar bowl and cream pitcher in the background.

Tips for Making Lemon Meringue Pie

  • Why is my lemon meringue pie watery? 
  1. You have most likely overworked your lemon filling. The cornstarch is essential for a good bind in the filling but overworking it actually weakens the filling and allows more separation and weeping to occur. To avoid this, cook the filling twice- cornstarch is cooked with the sugar and lemon juice until thickened slightly, then the eggs are added and the whole filling is cooked again until very thick.
  2. The second reason is that the filling is cooling so the steam is no longer present when you add the meringue. The filling should be piping hot, fresh from the saucepan, when you pour it into the shell and add the meringue. Hot filling brings steam which will travel up through the egg whites and cook the meringue from the bottom as well as in the oven. If the filling has cooled, the filling will heat up and the steam will get trapped between the filling and meringue, creating a watery layer that causes the top AND filling to separate. 

A slice of lemon meringue pie on a white dessert plate. A fork is next to the slice of pie. The filling is bright yellow and the meringue is lightly toasted.

What Makes Meringue Shrink?

  1. High humidity and over baking meringue will cause meringue to shrink. Weather actually matters with meringue. Avoid making meringue on humid days. The sugar in the egg-white mixture takes on moisture from the air, making it soft difficult to get thick, stiff peaks. This can also cause meringues to weep.
  2. Meringue should be sealed tightly against the pie crust to help keep the meringue from shrinking. To achieve this, place the meringue first in a donut around the pie crust, pushing it against the edges. Next, add more meringue to fill in the rest of the pie and then switch to a spoon which is smaller and will not pull at the meringue as much in order to make peaks.
  3. Make sure that you only have egg whites and not a drop of yolk. Even a little yolk will ruin your meringue.
  4. Make sure your bowl is completely clean, no oil, no water or condensation allowed. 

A slice of lemon meringue pie on a white dessert plate with a fork next to it. A sugar bowl is in the background.

Can Lemon Meringue Pie Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes and no- it can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge, but it will begin weeping. For this reason we practically demand that a lemon meringue pie always be made the day of consumption. 

How to Make a Lemon Meringue Pie Ahead of Time

  1. Prepare and bake your pie crust ahead of time, covering in plastic wrap on the counter. 
  2. If you MUST make the filling ahead, store it in the fridge and then reheat very gently and pour into the pie crust and immediately top with meringue. We greatly encourage you to just make it the day you bake the pie but understand sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. 

How to Store Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

A slice of lemon meringue pie on a white dessert plate. A fork is next to the pie, and one bite has been taken from the slice.

You’re about to be the person that everyone is calling for their lemon meringue pie cravings! This pie is as good as pies come, and I am a self-proclaimed pie expert! It is sweet, tart, tangy, rich, decadent, and everything you’ll ever want in a lemon meringue pie!

 

A picture of a lemon meringue pie. the meringue is fluffy and slightly browned. There are lemon wedges next to the pie.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 8

This recipe starts with a flakey homemade pie crust that is filled with smooth and creamy lemon filling and topped with toasted meringue. It is totally irresistible!

For the Filling

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water hot
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Lemon Zest about one and a half lemons zested
  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice about 2 lemons- see note
  • 4 Egg Yolks reserve egg whites for meringue
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

For the Meringue

  • 6 Egg Whites room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tarter
  • 1/2 cup Sugar

Pie Crust

  • Prepare the pie crust and then chill the dough in a glass or ceramic plate for about 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a cookie sheet if you’re extra worried about a soggy crust. I generally skip this.

  • Poke a few holes on the bottom and sides of the crust, about 8-10 and lay parchment on top. Fill 1/2-2/3 the way full of pie weights or dried beans.

  • Bake for 17-20 minutes then remove from the oven and take out the weights and parchment.

  • Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

  • Brush with an egg wash which has been whisked together (egg white and water or 1 egg yolk and 2-3 teaspoons heavy cream.) and bake 1-2 minutes more to seal the crust.

For the Filling

  • Combine corn starch, salt, and sugar in a large sauce or stock pan.

  • Blend in water until smooth.

  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and clear (5-8 min).

  • Remove from heat.

  • Stir in lemon juice and zest.

  • Cook 2 min.

  • Blend a small amount of hot liquid with egg yolks-whisking quickly- to bring the yolks up to temperature without cooking them too fast.

  • Return to pan and cook 2 min. stirring constantly.

  • Remove from heat, add butter.

  • Pour immediately into cooked pie shell (I like to use 1/2 a recipe of Kristin’s magic pie crust).

  • Take a large spatula full of meringue and spread it around the outer edge of the pie like a donut, pressing it against the crust to completely seal together crust and meringue. Pile all of the remaining meringue into the center like a large dome and switch to a small spoon. Using the back of the spoon, swirl and lift the spoon to create mountain peaks and valleys.

  • Bake at 375 10-12 min, or until meringue is golden brown in the valleys.

  • Serve room temp or chilled. Store leftovers in the fridge.

For the Meringue

  • Beat egg whites with salt and tarter on high until soft peaks form.

  • Add sugar gradually while beating.

  • Beat until stiff peaks form.

  • Spread meringue on top of cooled lemon filling.

  • Use the back of a spoon or spatula to create peaks.

  • Bake as directed above.

For more lemon flavor, increase the lemon juice or both zest and juice, but however much juice you increase you need to decrease in water. If you go 1/2 cup juice, take out a few tablespoons of water. 
See notes in post on avoid a weeping pie, separated and shrunk meringue and soggy crust.
store in the refrigerator

Nutrition Facts

Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie

Amount Per Serving (1 slice)

Calories 215
Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value*

Fat 5g8%

Saturated Fat 2g13%

Cholesterol 81mg27%

Sodium 232mg10%

Potassium 36mg1%

Carbohydrates 42g14%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 38g42%

Protein 2g4%

Vitamin A 185IU4%

Vitamin C 4mg5%

Calcium 9mg1%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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A slice of lemon meringue pie on a white dessert plate. A fork is next to the pie, and one bite has been taken from the slice.


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