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

436 Comments

  1. This recipe has never failed to be a hit. It is simply delicious and the instructions are perfect (as all your recipes usually are).

    I have one question – how can I prevent the little drops from forming on top of the meringue as it chills? I let it cool on the counter for the hour as noted, but maybe I need to let it sit longer? Or is it something I am doing when I make the meringue?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Todd, We are so happy you enjoy this recipe! The little amber color drops on the top of a meringue can be caused by condensation. It’s likely nothing you are doing wrong with the meringue, it may still be a little too warm when you move it to the refrigerator. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen it simply might need to sit at room temperature a little longer next time.

  2. Lisa Moeller says:

    This recipe is amazing. I have never made such a beautiful lemon meringue pie until today! This is now my go to recipe.
    Thanks for all the extra tips it was perfect!

    1. Am I not finding when to put in the two tablespoons of butter?

      1. Under 6. TEMPER THE EGG YOLKS, halfway down – “Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter.”

  3. I’m a writer who sometimes dives into recipes for help in writing a cooking scene—since I’m a disaster in the kitchen and English is not my first language—, so I just wanted to thank you for being this thorough. I’d never seen such a detailed and helpful recipe, I’ll certainly be coming back to check on your other recipes—and, who knows, maybe disastrous me can one day attempt one of them?

  4. Joanna Tequida says:

    Great recipe! Didn’t have time to go with homemade crust but the rest was perfect. Thank you!

  5. Tom Rachal says:

    I am going to make this with fresh duck eggs, will it last a day or should I make it the day of?

  6. Elizabeth DePue says:

    I made this exactly as directed and the result was spectacular! It was my first lemon meringue pie – made it for boyfriend’s birthday cause it’s his favorite. He said it was the best he’d ever had!

  7. I use a ton of your recipes and this is the best and only no-fail lemon meringue pie recipe I have found. Thank you! Do you think I could adapt this using mangoes (and a little lime for tartness)? Will the filling set up properly?
    Thanks again. Appreciate you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Renee, we’re so glad to hear you enjoy this lemon meringue pie recipe! We haven’t tried this recipe with mangoes, so we can’t give you a confident answer on whether it would set up properly. Let us know if you give anything a try!

  8. Maria Verrier says:

    I used Graham crackers crumbs to make pie shell instead of traditional pie crust. I have been doing this with my lemon meringue pie so many years and my family loves it.

  9. This is a fantastic recipe – a hit in our house. The only issue I had was with the pre-baking of the crust. When I’ve done this previously for quiche, I bake it much hotter, at 425 F or so. This time I tried it at 375 F and it never set up right. The pie is delicious, but next time I’m going hotter on the pre-bake of the crust.

  10. Hello! Longtime fan of your recipes! This is my first time making this pie and the meringue was really stiff and clumpy, making it difficult to spread. Any ideas what could’ve caused this? Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephanie, it sounds like the meringue was over-whipped. Did it reach stiff and glossy peaks quite quickly?

  11. Sally thank you for posting this recipe. I have tried it and it was delicious. I made 2 pies and just double the recipes. I will be using your recipe as it was easy and very straight forward directions. With 10 egg whites total, I had plentiful to make a good size dome meringue on top of the pie. I took pictures of them as souvenir that I make that pie. It is my husband that is a fan of lemon meringue pie and he loved it.

  12. Cate WallaceC says:

    The pie is nice, however I now. Price you use half the sugar of other meringues & I found the meringue was soft & a bit eggy. I prefer a crisp meringue, so a bit disappointed.

  13. VALERIE ROYCROFT says:

    Absolute perfection. It became a favourite after one attempt!

  14. Absolutely delicious and the instructions are fail-safe if followed to a tee – especially the ‘tips’.
    My pie crust sides did shrink more than I had hoped, but I think I should not have blind baked it on the bottom shelf, or perhaps should have used 2 bags of baking weights instead of the 1. Will try to bake it on a middle shelf with more weights next time and see if that helps.
    Nevertheless, was a total success at our dinner party yesterday!

  15. Absolutely delicious!

  16. Never failed a recipe on this site. I love Sally’s recipes. But this was bad (for me not the recipe I would assume). The meringue cried out so much water after being baked. So it’s dancing on top of the filling in a pool of water. I followed the recipe exactly. And the curd was warm!! For sure not boiling cause I made the meringue while it was in the pot (so I didn’t even risk it by potting the curd in the crust while whisking meringue). The meringue was beautifully thick and shiny. The ONLY thing I can think of is that I could feel the sugar. But to get them out completely you need to heat the meringue up or whisk for at least 15 minutes. So plz tell me what I could do next time?
    I’m serving this meringue soup anyway for guest tonight

    1. The funny smilies didn’t show at the end of the comment!!
      Served it and everyone was so happy anyway <3
      Gonna try it next time with even hotter lemon curd. Thanks for great recipes here at Sally’s.

    2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maia, Did you happen to bake this pie on a humid day? A humid day will almost always result in a weepy meringue. Thank you so much for giving this recipe a try!

  17. This recipe is FANTASTIC, however having a reputation for rich food, I modified the recipe slightly to include a Shortcrust Pastry as follows;
    250g flour
    130g butter
    3 tablespoons Castor Sugar
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1 teaspoon water
    I rested it in the dish overnight, and blind baked for 10 minutes before filling.

    I also replaced the water with 350ml of a 50:50 mix of cream and milk, and reduced the butter to one tablespoon. I also increased the lemon juice to 150ml, the cornstarch to 1/2 cup, and I baked it at 160 degrees C for 30 minutes

  18. Great recipe last time i made lemon meringue pie was for my o grade cookery at school in the 80’s ha ha. Only problem i had was the meringue didn’t crispen up, any tips ?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jackie, We are glad you enjoyed this recipe. The meringue is soft but it should crisp up after it’s baked and cooled. Did your meringue ever reach the glossy stiff peaks in step 7? If not, be sure to read the section in the above post called “Let’s avoid a weeping meringue” for our best tips.

  19. I so not see where the 2 tbs of butter belongs.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rob! See step 6 – you whisk in the butter just before the filling is ready to add to the pie crust. Enjoy!

  20. This lemon meringue pie recipe is 10 out of 10 – it is restaurant quality!
    Thank you so much for the handy tips and great recipe. It is delicious!!

  21. I made it and it was sooooo good! My family loved it! I used Graham Cracker crust as an alternative and it perfectly balanced the tangy taste of the Lemon! Though, I had a problem the next day, the tart became a bit watery. What’s the best solution to avoid that? And, lastly, can I use torch instead of baking the pie? Will it help the egg whites to cook through? I just wanted to make sure to kill all possible bacterias from raw eggs. Curious if I can make the Meringue same as the procedure for Swiss Meringue? Or do you think I can use Swiss Meringue instead? Thank youu!:)

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi N, 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. You can use a torch. The filing itself doesn’t need to be baked. The egg yolks are cooked on the stove.

  22. I have tried making a lemon meringue pie before and it didn’t turn out great.

    I decided to have another go and used your recipe- I followed it to a T, including the blind baking and side strengthening tips, and I’m so proud of myself- it came out absolutely perfect- technically, visually and it was absolutely delicious!

    Thank you so much!

    I usually don’t like recipes with loads of text on them but everything on this, and associated pages, was really useful.

    This is now my go-to recipe and I’m going to try some of your others soon!

    Thank you again, really appreciated!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for your kind feedback, Mica! We’re thrilled this lemon meringue pie was a success for you.

  23. Debra a Morse says:

    I am a home baker. I love all of your recipes. This lemon meringue pie was exceptional! You are my go to for recipes I haven’t done or perfected yet. I make up a lot of my own recipes. I love all the tips you give. They make all the difference. Teaching an old dog new tips. Your pie crust recipes are amazing! Thank you so much!

  24. I have a request for 5 lemon meringue pies at 1pm. Am I going to have to pull an all-nighter to have them cooked and cooled by showtime? Suggestions? Alternatives?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stacy, Unfortunately this pie is best if enjoyed right away. You would want your pies to come out of the oven by 8am to allow them to cool at room temperature for one hour, and then chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours to be ready to slice at 1pm. You can blind bake your crusts the day before and have all of your ingredients prepped (see recipe notes for details) – so it can be an early morning but not an all-nighter 🙂

  25. Hi there! I’ve made this pie before and it was a total hit. I want to make a cherry pie with meringue topping and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions re: cooking times, as the meringue has a much shorter cooking time than the cherry pie recipe.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Masha, We’ve never tried making a cherry meringue pie before! If you would like to experiment you can start with our cherry pie, leave off the top crust and bake until mostly finished. Then add the meringue and move the pie to the bottom rack of the oven to finish baking. Let us know if you try it!

  26. Hi sally! I’ve made many of your recipes before and they’ve always come out perfect!
    I had a question about this. If I were to make this without the meringue on top, would I have to bake the lemon curd in the crust or would letting it set in the fridge be enough to result in a firm, non drip curd?
    Thanks for the awesome recipes!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly, You can skip the meringue and make this a plain lemon pie. The filling won’t be very thick. We would extend the bake time to about 35-40 minutes or until the filling appears set. Or, you might enjoy our Creamy Lemon Pie instead!

  27. What do you mean when you say blind bake pie crust?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joyce, Par-baking (also known as blind baking) is simply the process of baking the crust without the filling. Here is an entire process on the how and why this step is necessary: How to Par-Bake Pie Crust. I hope this helps!

  28. Wonderful, informative video and recipe.
    Following you on Pinterest.
    Have the lemon meringue pie in the oven.
    Thanks!

  29. How do you know if you need to bake 20 or 25 minutes? What would be the characteristic that you’re done at 20 mins?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Beverley, You will want to bake the pie until the top of your meringue is lightly browned and toasted. You can see the second photo in the post above for a good visual of what to look for!

  30. I cannot find the filling part ofthe recipe. Please advise.

    Thank you

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