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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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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.

Keywords: Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. When I first took it out of the oven it was a beautifully high meringue and over the time it has completely flattened how do I avoid this in the future?

    1. Hi Kim, We are happy to help troubleshoot! The common culprit behind meringue deflating is beating the egg whites too quickly (or at too high of a speed). In this instance, the whites form unstable air bubbles which collapse when heated in the oven. What might help is starting the egg whites on a lower speed at first, then gradually increasing to a higher speed. Also, see the “Let’s avoid a weeping meringue” section in the blog post above.

      1. You can also make an Italian meringue with 240 degree syrup- it makes your meringue much glossier and more stable. Takes longer to whip as well

  2. Easy as pie as long as you assemble everything first! It did help that I was familiar with the process. Best one I’ve ever baked. Thanks

  3. Yum! This lemon meringue pie was the best one I’ve ever made. So easy and So delicious. Tasted so good! I can’t wait to make it again

      1. Hi Brooke, 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!

  4. Quedó riquísimo el pay de limón con merengue .Estaba un poco nerviosa . Y para mí sorpresa, quedó muy bien.
    Muchas gracias .
    No sé cómo enviarle la foto

  5. I baking it now but my short crust pastry kept melting and sides didn’t stay up. Added more crust to the side

  6. I’ve made this before and loved it! I’m wondering if you think it would be possible to make the lemon filling a few days in advance and then assemble the whole pie later on? Do you think it would taste the same?

    1. Hi Michelle, we don’t recommend making the pie filling ahead of time because you want the filling to still be warm when you add the meringue to properly seal together. See recipe notes for other make ahead options. So glad this is a favorite for you!

  7. I made this recipe and used both lime and lemon zest and juice, because that is what I had. I have made lemon meringue pies for decades, but I saw this recipe, and the steps were easier than the old way. Great taste; perfect doneness; excellent meringue. Thank you!

    1. Hi Paula, we haven’t tested it but don’t see why not. Pre-made graham cracker crusts are usually pre-baked, so you can skip the step where we partially blind bake the pie crust and continue from there. Let us know how it goes!

    1. Hi Aspen! You can cover it and store it in the refrigerator, but remember no matter how hard you try to prevent it, the meringue will wilt and separate over time. Best to enjoy right away.

  8. Hi sally! So when I made the lemon filling it was thick but pourable, the meringue came out nice and fluffy then it sat for an hour shrank and was water Under it. I made sure the filling was warm and the meringue was touching the sides of the crust. Chilled for 4 hours and still water. Any advice? I’m determined to get this right!!

    1. Hi Amanda, Thank you for trying this recipe! Did you happen to bake the pie on a humid day? Lemon meringue pie can be very picky when it comes to weather.

  9. Hi, Sally! As always, the recipe was amazing. I just wanted to follow up and ask about that two tablespoons of butter at the end of the filling ingredient list. I didn’t see it in the directions of where to include it, so I assumed to just plop it into the filling, is that correct? And I do want to express my gratitude, I’ve been following your recipes from the first chocolate cake I made! I’ve even gotten my mom hooked on your recipes as well and her first comments on anything I make are always “Is this a Sally?” And I’m always proud to respond with “Yes!” So thank you for being a part of my kitchen and I look forward to your reply. All my best!

    1. Hi Joshua, it’s in Step 6 in the instructions: “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.” Hope this helps! 🙂

  10. Followed your directions as best as I could. The crust was a bust so I had to use a cracker crust. The pie just came out and looks really good. We shall see…. Used every dish in my kitchen…lol…
    Will try again soon. thanks so much

  11. Great recipe. I did however use lemon juice instead of cream of tarter for meringue, as I was out. I wish I could post pictures because it was picture perfect.

  12. i’ve made this recipe a couple times before, but this time i decided to make a graham cracker crust instead, i didn’t end up baking the pie and it tasted just amazing, love the recipe!

    1. Hi Karen! We haven’t tested any corn starch substitutes in this recipe – perhaps arrowroot powder would work? Let us know if you try anything!

  13. This recipe always brings raves from anyone who tastes it. Does’nt last long maybe to day 2 but no worries about weeping merigue.

  14. Fantastic recipe! I made your pie crust also and I’ve never made either a lemon meringue pie or pie crust from scratch. It came out so delicious Your instructions and videos were spot on. Thank you!

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