Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

This is the perfect lemon meringue pie! With a delicious homemade pie crust, tart and smooth lemon filling, and a fluffy toasted meringue topping, it’s impossible to resist.

Lemon meringue pie slice on a silver plate

I write this as snow falls outside and winds whip around my house at 50 mph. Despite the current weather conditions, the calendar says spring and Easter are on the horizon. And as someone who lives and breathes her daily planner, that means it’s time to prepare for the change of seasons. Close up that fireplace, place some tulips in a vase, open those windows… whoa that wind! Let’s keep them closed!

Let’s welcome a fresh new season with a fresh new pie– the pie I’ve been taunting you with for weeks!! The beautiful, the timeless, the Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

overhead image of lemon meringue pie

My lemon meringue pie recipe has a billowy and toasty meringue topping, a balanced sweet/tart lemon filling, and an extra thick and flaky pie crust. I worked on this recipe for a long time, making at least a dozen meringue pies in the past few months. Both my kitchen and head were exploding lemons. Whenever we had friends or family stop by, I’d force lemon meringue pie on them. “PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS” I begged while barely blinking.

lemon meringue pie in a glass pie dish

How to Make Lemon Meringue Pie

Over the years and especially the past few months, I learned that lemon meringue pie can be a daunting process but it doesn’t have to be. Let me make this recipe easy for you by giving you a tested (and praised!!!) recipe, lots of helpful recipe notes, and a video so you can watch it come to life.

  1. Blind bake pie crust
  2. Prepare lemon meringue pie filling
  3. Whip meringue topping
  4. Spread meringue on top of filling
  5. Bake pie until toasty brown on top

Now that you have a general idea of the process, let’s learn why this lemon meringue pie recipe works and what mistakes to avoid.

Lemon meringue pie in a glass pie dish

Here’s Why This Recipe Works

There are 3 main roadblocks when making lemon meringue pie: a soggy pie crust, a watery lemon filling, and/or a weeping meringue. Let’s work through each.

  1. Let’s avoid a soggy pie crust: Start by properly blind baking the pie crust. You want to partially blind bake the crust because it will continue to bake when you bake the assembled lemon meringue pie. Watch me blind bake the crust I use for this lemon meringue pie in my separate blind baking blog post. Lots of tips and tricks there.
  2. Let’s avoid a watery lemon filling: This is where I always had the most trouble. Lemon meringue pie filling is basically a thinner version of lemon curd. You’ll temper egg yolks. And before you run away screaming, watch me do this in the video below. Promise it’s not scary. While lemon meringue pie filling should be blissfully creamy, we also want it to be stable enough to slice somewhat neatly. (Think: a slightly firmer version of pudding, but not as firm as jello.) There was a lot of back and forth with the water vs lemon juice vs cornstarch vs sugar amounts. Follow my lemon meringue pie filling below. It’s not too tart, not too sweet, and has the silkiest, yet not-too-watery texture.
  3. Let’s avoid a weeping meringue: There are many different types of meringue topping, but let’s use a French meringue. Beat egg whites into soft peaks, add sugar, then beat into stiff peaks. Unless you want to waste a bunch of egg whites in failed meringue attempts, read these tips: Make sure you begin with just egg whites. Not even a drip of egg yolks. Make sure the bowl you’re using is completely wiped clean. No oil or water residue. Make sure you add cream of tartar. This will stabilize your meringue. Make sure you add the sugar *after* soft peaks are formed. If added before that, the egg whites could stretch too much which prevents a stiff peak altogether. (These tips apply for my chocolate swirled meringue cookies, too.) Make sure you spread the meringue topping so it touches the pie crust. This seals the lemon filling underneath and allows the crust to grip onto the meringue so the two do not separate. And, finally, don’t make lemon meringue pie on a humid day.

meringue topping for lemon meringue pie in a glass stand mixer bowl

How to Make Lemon Meringue Pie Topping

The meringue toasts in the oven. A lot of recipes call for putting the whole pie under the broiler, but I prefer to bake it so that the egg whites have a chance to cook through. Also, see the end of step 6 in the recipe below. Make sure you spread the meringue topping on while the filling is still warm. The warm filling helps seal the two layers together, preventing separation.

  • Did you know? (1) Room temperature egg whites whip faster than cold egg whites. And (2) room temperature egg whites whip into a greater volume than cold egg whites. So make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before starting the meringue.
  • Time saving tip: You need 5 egg yolks for the lemon filling and 5 egg whites for the meringue topping. Separate the 5 eggs while they are cold. (Cold eggs separate easier! Remember NO egg yolks in the meringue, not even a smidge.) Leave the egg whites out on the counter. Blind bake the pie crust and prepare the lemon filling. By the time you’re ready to start the meringue, the egg whites will be room temperature.

Meringue can be tricky, but you’re a baker and you can absolutely handle this.

Lemon meringue pie slice on a silver plate

Want to watch me make the lemon meringue pie filling, topping, and assemble the pie? Here you go!

Craving something smaller? Here is my lemon bars recipe.

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Lemon meringue pie slice on a silver plate

Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 6 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: one 9-inch pie
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is the perfect lemon meringue pie! With a delicious homemade pie crust, tart and smooth lemon filling, and a fluffy toasted meringue topping, it’s impossible to resist.


Ingredients

  • Homemade Pie Crust*
  • 5 large egg yolks (use the whites in the meringue below)
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) water
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (38g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Meringue

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Pie crust: I like to make sure my pie dough is prepared before I begin making lemon meringue pie. I always make pie dough the night before because it needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before rolling out and blind baking (next step).
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and adjust your oven rack to the lowest position. Partially blind bake your pie crust in a 9-inch pie dish. (Follow blind baking instructions through step 9.) Tip: You can get started on the lemon meringue pie filling steps while your crust is blind baking. But making the filling is time sensitive because you will temper the egg yolks, so if multi-tasking isn’t your thing, just wait until your crust is done blind baking before beginning the filling.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (177°C).
  4. Watch the video above to see how I work through each of the following steps.
  5. Make the filling: Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside. Whisk the water, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. The mixture will be thin and cloudy, then eventually begin thickening and bubbling after about 6 minutes. Once thickened, give it a whisk and reduce heat to low.
  6. Temper the egg yolks: Very slowly stream a few large spoonfuls of warm lemon mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Then, also in a very slow stream, whisk the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Turn heat back up to medium. Cook until the mixture is thick and big bubbles begin bursting at the surface. See my video above as an example. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter. Spread filling into the warm partially baked crust. Set aside as you prepare the meringue. (Don’t let the filling cool down too much as you want a warm filling when you top with the meringue in step 7. The warm filling helps seal the two layers together, preventing separation.)
  7. Make the meringue: With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium speed for 1 minute, then increase to high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 more minutes. Add the sugar and salt, then continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form, about 2 more minutes. Spread meringue on top of filling. (I like to make decorative peaks with the back of a large spoon. See video above.) Make sure you spread the meringue all the way to the edges so that it touches the crust. This helps prevent the meringue from weeping.
  8. Bake pie on the lowest oven rack for 20-25 minutes. (If the meringue is browning too quickly, tent a piece of foil over it as best you can without the foil touching the meringue.) When pie is done, remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour before placing in the refrigerator to chill. Chill for 4 hours before slicing and serving.
  9. Cover any leftovers and store in the refrigerator. Lemon meringue pie tastes best on day 1 because it doesn’t keep very well. No matter how hard you try to prevent it, the meringue will wilt and separate over time. Best to enjoy right away.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The pie dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can also blind bake the crust ahead of time, see how to blind bake pie crust for details. Lemon meringue pie is not the best pie to freeze. The filling and meringue’s texture are never quite the same.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Glass Pie Dish | Pie Weights | Glass Mixing Bowls | ZesterSaucepan | Whisk | Cooling Rack
  3. Pie Crust: My homemade pie crust recipe makes 2 pie crusts. If you use my “dough strip” method explained in the blind baking tutorial, you will need 1 and 1/2 pie crusts. Or you can skip that little trick and just use 1 pie crust.
  4. Prepare Ahead of Time: Prep all of your ingredients before you begin, including grating the lemon zest and separating the eggs. Don’t multitask unless you’re confident! The filling is time sensitive and you want to make sure everything is ready when you need to add it. Prep all of the meringue ingredients as well. You want them on hand, especially the sugar and salt, the very moment you need them. Don’t walk away from the bowl of egg whites as they whip. Meringue can beat into stiff peaks quite quickly.
Learn how to make classic lemon meringue pie with a creamy and sweet lemon filling, delicious meringue, and homemade flaky pie crust! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

506 Comments

  1. Your recipe and fabulous tips were great! I had never baked a pie in my life until Thanksgiving when I baked an apple pie (different recipe provider). That turned out ok, so for Christmas I decided to try my hand at a Lemon Meringue, which was my favorite as a child. That’s when I found your recipe. I made a trial pie 2 weeks before Christmas and got rave reviews from my wife, and so decided to go ahead and make a pie for Christmas. Having already made one earlier really helped with the actual Christmas pie as it came together much quicker, and the crust turned out even better than the first. I did make one variation on the crust that I got from the Apple pie recipe . Instead of quartering the butter I froze a stick and then grated it, which I think helped distribute it much better in the dough. Also, rather than use weights when pre-cooking the crust I simply used a large fork to make holes in the middle and that seemed to work great.

    Your tip to make sure to put the meringue on HOT filling was perfect as there was NO separation, even on the 2nd day (we only ate half yesterday : ) .

  2. A perfect meringue! Thank you Sally for find the right ratio of egg whites to cream of tartar and sugar. I used tapioca instead of cornstarch(I don’t like the graininess of cornstarch). I let sit in the water and sugar mixture for 15 min to soften the tapioca before starting to cook it. My daughter has a problem digesting dairy so I made a oil crust. It was perfect! Not oily at all. It wasn’t as flaky as I like but a very good substitute.

  3. Sandra McClain says:

    Well I can’t believe I made this pie! Absolutely amazing! I was under pressure because my son watched an episode of “Master Chef’s “ where they made lemon meringue pies, so his expectations where high and he was quite sure I couldn’t pull it off! Well I exceeded his expectations with your recipes! Your tips were the key! Thank you Sally!

  4. Patricia Tilker says:

    I made this pie today ( New Year’s Day). It turned out perfect. Yum yum.

  5. Debbie Underwood says:

    Just took my beautiful pie out of the oven – looks amazing. Already “sampled” some of the filling and meringue- wow!! Thank you for the great recipe.

  6. Tracy Taylor says:

    Thank you for this recipe and the instructions/tips! I can’t believe it turned out so good. Everyone loved!

  7. Jessie Parkinson says:

    Can I use myer lemons in this recipe instead and would I have to decrease the sugar

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, We used regular lemons in this lemon meringue pie, but you could substitute with Meyer lemons with no other changes to the recipe. Enjoy!

  8. This recipe looks amazing, and I’ve always had very good success with record from this site.
    If I wanted to make this in the form of 3.5″ lemon meringue tartlets, how should I adjust the bake time? Is there a specific internal temperature I should look for from the lemon filling or the meringue?
    Would overcooking cause the lemon filling to split?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mike! We’re unsure of the exact bake time. You may need to make a few batches, depending on how many mini pies you’d like to make. Let us know if you give it a try!

  9. This is a really yummy pie! I’ve never made a meringue pie before and I always make a few boo boos my first attempt and this was no different. The video was very helpful but I goofed and added my sugar to my egg whites then beat them so I didn’t get the full fluff. But it tasted really good. My lemon “curd” for lack of better term, was a little thick but it was delicious! I know I just need to cook it for less time so it has a better consistency. I will make this again correcting for my mistakes. However, the lemon amount is perfect. I love any lemon dessert. The more pucker the better!

  10. This recipe is so good. I had some navel oranges that were on the verge, I scrolled Pinterest and found a recipe for an orange meringue pie. I read the recipe and it called for a bunch of stuff I didn’t have on hand. I figure why couldn’t I modify a lemon meringue pie. Your recipes have never let me down, so I dove in. Since I had a lot of OJ I used all OJ where this recipe called for water and lemon juice and followed the recipe as written. It turned out delish! I would make it again. I might cut back a bit on the sugar next time, when doing orange, it was a bit sweet, but not so sick-y sweet that we won’t eat it. I cant wait to try this recipe as written for lemon! Yum! Nice refreshing summertime treat on a cold winter day! Thanks for the great recipes!

    1. That sounds super yummy! I would love to try and make that. How much sugar would you recommend?

      1. My oranges were pretty sweet. I did the full 1 cup but 1/2 to 3/4c would be good. I would taste your juice mix and see if it sweet enough and adjust from there. Can always add more if you need to. If you don’t have quite enough fresh juice you could use store bought oj.

  11. Sabine MacWaters says:

    This was the best Lemon Meringue Pie recipe I’ve ever tried! Hit every spot Perfectly, and clearly explained, with tips and explanations. Thank you!!

  12. Just made your lemon meringue pie exactly as written. It came out so perfect. It did take me a good 90 minutes start to finish but worth it!
    For some reason, I could not print the recipe which made it more difficult using my IPad. How could I get a copy?
    Thank you so much for a delicious pie.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elaine, We are so happy you enjoyed this recipe! You can print just the recipe by scrolling down to the recipe itself (in the light gray box) and using the print button (below where it says total time and yield) instead of printing the whole page. Hope that helps.

  13. Jennifer Orkisz says:

    This is the second lemon pie I have made. My first was with ATK recipe but I could taste the egg yolks. I used Sally’s recipe but added 1/4 cup more sugar. PERFECTION!!!!! It has the lemon flavor you want without the after taste of the yolks. We don’t like meringue so we put whipped cream on top when it is served.

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