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

447 Comments

  1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

    Hi Rachel, We haven’t tested it, so we can’t say for sure. Let us know if you try it!

  2. This is the second time I’ve made this recipe. Absolutely amazing. I halved the sugar in the lemon and it worked out but kept to the recipe for the meringue. I only had cooking butter so when I made the pie I just used that. Superb. I froze the dough for about 45 min as it was a last minute decision to make for my birthday dinner on Saturday night. Everyone loved it. This is now my new go to recipe for lemon meringue pie. Took me about 2 hours to make.

  3. This recipe tasted AMAZING! The lemon was perfectly silky, not too tart, and a perfect combination with the meringue. You don’t even have to worry about this pie keeping for a few days because it will be eaten within minutes! I did have issues with the meringue weeping after putting it in the fridge, but hey, it’s all about how it tastes anyway! Next time I am going to try caster sugar in the meringue and letting it cool longer at room temperature, meringue is always a bit fickle 🙂

  4. Thank you for this perfect recipe, made it twice, not too sweet not too sharp

  5. Clinton BINGHAM says:

    Hello Sally , im a very amateur cook and haven’t baked since the 70s in high school. Until i found your Lemon Meringue Pie . My first attempt was a disaster the lowest shelf in my old electric oven was too hot and the pastry burnt. Next attempt the Meringue touched the top of the aluminium foil hat and pulled it off. Third attempt i got it right and i loved it so much i baked two more pies ,one for my elderly folks and another for a friend . I have just now finished baking your Salted Caramel Apple Pie , and its amazing . Thanks for your terrific recipes , i cant believe at 59 y/o im baking .

  6. Delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your tried and true recipe!

  7. I cannot make cookies, pancakes… but this recipe has all the hidden tricks that are ESSENTIAL to making it, and its perfect every time!

  8. Mine clearly didn’t turn out as beautiful as Sally’s but it tasted delicious. I can’t wait to make it again.

  9. I need to make 2 pies for Sunday, one for brunch and one for dinner, which means I’ll need to be up at the crack of dawn so the first pie can sit in the fridge for 4 hours. Is it okay to partial (or even closer to full) bake the crusts the night before to save myself some time?

    Also this recipe is wonderful – the best I’ve had!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kirsten, you can blind bake the crust ahead of time, see recipe notes for details!

  10. Just made this this past weekend, and it was surprisingly lovely. Never made a meringue pie before. I was also pleasantly surprised that it was still fantastic days later. Question: how do I know when it’s done baking? What am I looking for?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Roz, You’re looking for a lightly toasted meringue like in the photos in the blog post. We’re so glad you loved this pie!

  11. Well Sally, this seemed to come together beautifully. It’s in the oven. I forgot the butter in the filling, so I’m freaking out a little and hoping it’ll be ok. Love following your recipes, they’re always spot on and easy to follow! 🙂

    1. Thank you Sally for this amazing recipe!!
      It tastes extremely delightful. However, the lemon curd didnt set for mine, it was all runny when I cut a slice. Not too sure what went wrong

      1. Parveen, it’s likely because of the cornstarch and eggs (assuming your measurements were correct, that is). Egg yolks have an enzyme in them that essentially thins out cornstarch, thus creating a runnier consistency. However, when enough heat is applied the enzyme is essentially ‘switched off’ allowing the filling to set correctly. Next time you make this heat/boil the mixture for a little longer to mitigate the enzyme and it should set well.

  12. Loved making this and it looks gorgeous! The meringue was put right to the edges, but as it cooled the meringue has pulled away from the crust and seems watery underneath. What did I do wrong here?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wendy! Did you happen to bake the pie on a humid day? Lemon meringue pie can be very picky when it comes to weather. We’re so glad you enjoyed this pie.

      1. Thanks for your reply. No, we are in Canada, it is spring here but our humidity is still low. It appears that as the day progressed the meringue shrunk, and having made this pie before (with a packaged mix – my bad!) I do know that the meringue can shrink. I was careful to make sure it was spread to the edge all around the pie crust. In any event, even though it was quite moist around the edge, the pie was unbelievably good! Husband said he could definitely taste the difference! Will surely do this one again!

  13. Hi Sally!!

    I’m so excited to try this! I made the classic bakers error and didn’t read the recipe before making it. It’s currently in the oven and I fear I won’t have time to let it chill for 4 hours before I need to bring it for our Mother’s Day picnic. Can I blast it in the chiller after it cools? What’s the quickest way I can get the best results? *sigh* will have to make sure I read recipes ahead of time next time!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shazeen, so sorry we’re just getting to your comment now. There’s really not a perfect alternative to chilling the pie in the refrigerator. We hope the pie was a hit at the Mother’s Day picnic!

      1. Hi Sally!

        That’s okay, I knew it was a long shot! I chilled it outside in the cool breeze for about 2 hours and then placed it in a freezer bag on top of a bag of ice for ~1 hour and it set beautifully! It was a huge hit – I barely got an extra small slice to take home 🙂 can’t wait to make it again! Thanks for this amazing recipe (as always!)

  14. Followed the excellent instructions to the tee. Pulled the final product out of the oven and it was beautiful – toasted meringue and gorgeous crust. I set it on a rack to cool for the first hour on the counter. The meringue deflated to about half its size. Then, in the fridge for the four hours it was cooling, the meringue continued to deflate to about a quarter of its out-of-the oven size. Did I do something wrong with the meringue that would cause it to lose so much volume?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi June! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try. I wonder if the meringue wasn’t beaten long enough. This is an easy fix for next time. Also, see #3 above “Let’s avoid a weeping meringue” — there may be some advice in there that will be helpful as well. Was it particularly humid where you live? That could also be the culprit.

  15. Julaiha Parveen says:

    Hi Sally. I tried this recipe last year and it turned out amazing. However recently my oven broke down so I was hoping to tweak this recipe slightly by using a no bake Graham Cracker base. Do you think that will work? I have an airfryer so I was also wondering if I could brown the meringue using the air fryer? Pls advise. Thanks.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julaiha, you can absolutely use a graham cracker crust instead of the traditional pie crust. We haven’t tested baking it in an air fryer, so we can’t guarantee results.

  16. Is there anyway for me to make these into little mini pies? Like the size of a cupcake dish?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kareena, absolutely. You can use this recipe for mini pies but we’re unsure of the exact bake time. Let us know if you give it a try!

      1. I made this recipe into about 15 little pies in a cupcake tin. I prebaked the crust for about 15 mins (half with the beans and parchment and half without) and then made the lemon filling and meringue as instructed. I filled the mini crusts and baked again for about 15 mins. Turned out perfectly 🙂

  17. This is an excellent recipe!! So much so that I would love to make some mini lemon meringue pies for neighbors using 5 inch tins. Any tips for how to adjust the process to account for baking “mini” meringue pies?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Olivia, you can use this recipe for mini pies but 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!

  18. Lemon meringue pies are tricky. I really appreciated the recipe’s clear instructions and tips. The pie turned out beautifully even though I used vegan butter as my daughter doesn’t use milk products. This is a recipe I’ll keep. BTW I hardly ever give a 5-star rating

  19. Very disappointing baking instructions. I followed the recipe to a T. My meringue was so fluffy and beautiful before putting it in the oven. Baking for 25-30 minutes is WAY way too long. After I pulled out my shriveled sad meringue pie out I went looking for answers. All the professional recipes call for baking the meringue only 10 minutes at a higher temperature to “brown it”. Not bake it into a flat mess. Please don’t follow these baking instructions and waste time and ingredients.

  20. Hi, can I make this without the meringue and if so, do I need to bake or set it? I just want to make a lemon tart

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mayuri, for a plain lemon pie, you might like our creamy lemon pie instead. Let us know if you give it a try!

  21. Hello
    Is it possible to make the meringue mixture the day before, store in the fridge and then assemble and bake the next day?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz, You can get started on the crust– see Make Ahead Instructions. The filling must be warm when you pour it into the warm crust so if you make it ahead of time, warm and stir it on the stove for a couple minutes before using. We do however recommend making the meringue fresh right before you assemble and finish baking the pie.

    2. Hi Adrienne J!

      I’ve just spent 20 minutes reading through months of feedback from dozens of readers who tried this recipe, and yours is the single negative comment in the whole bunch.

      Let me guess: Did you “Skip to Recipe”?

      If so, then you certainly missed the best part – er, not to mention the point – the “main idea” of Sally’s page.
      Other comments surrounding your own celebrate Sally’s devotion to a thorough explanation of each step in her process.
      Honey, when you chose “Skip to Recipe”, you likely missed your chance to save your meringue, instead of ruin it.

      Sally explains – VERY clearly – ” 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. ”
      Thank you Adrienne for your comment!

  22. Susie Boggs says:

    Turned out perfect.. thank you.

  23. I made this last night. I brought it to my office for my amazing coworkers. The pie turned out perfectly. The recipe was easy to follow and the pie tastes wonderful. Thank you for the recipe

  24. Marvelous!

  25. Sally, I am having a problem with my meringue. I have had the issue frequently in the past with other recipes and it annoys me to the point I decided to reach out to you. I made the recipe exactly as written….even watched the video.
    The problem is that when I remove the pie from the oven, the meringue is gorgeous….very tall and nicely browned. Within a few minutes of placing it on the cooling rack, it deflates a bit and a few spots look a bit wrinkled where it has deflated. It still is pretty tall and looks beautiful when it is sliced, but I know I am doing something wrong. Any suggestions……btw I was careful to seal the filling alongside the crust since i thought that could be the issue.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, 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.

  26. When I made this, the meringue was soft? I have never seen a soft foamy meringue before and assumed it should be hard on top? Is it meant to be like this or do you know what I might have done wrong?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much for trying 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.

  27. Lilian Kyle says:

    Hi Sally,
    I made your recipe for lemon meringue pie yesterday, I have had many failures in the past particularly on the lemon filling which has been either too runny or tasteless.
    Your lemon filling was perfect, it set and I was able to cut it without it oozing everywhere – a great success and so tasty.
    My meringue separated a bit from the filling but that was because I didn’t get the meringue on soon enough I think, the lemon filling was too cool and had formed a skin, so it sat on top.
    My question is – how do I get the top of the meringue to be crunchy, mine was soft and rubbery. What if I sprinkle some caster sugar on top of the meringue, would that work? I have seen that in other recipes. Or should I bring it to the top of the oven for a while?
    I love your step by step comments, they are so helpful. I intend to try other recipes from your website.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lilian, We are so happy to hear that you tried this recipe and that the filling was a success! Yes, if you spread the meringue on top while the pie is still warm it will definitely help with the separation. The meringue is soft but should crisp up after it has baked and cooled. Did it reach glossy stiff peaks in step 7? If not, be sure to check out the section in the post above called “Let’s avoid a weeping meringue” for our best tips. We haven’t tried using extra sugar on top but another few minutes in the oven until it browns nicely will also help!

      1. Lilian Kyle says:

        Thanks, Sally, very helpful.
        I have another question, I have been given some beautiful limes, do you think if I replace the lemon in the pie with limes it would work, or will the limes be too strong a taste?
        I have put my sister on to your website as well, she loves it, particularly your notes and hints.

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Lilian! We suggest following this key lime pie recipe instead! It’s *almost* the exact same recipe – with macadamia nuts in the crust instead of almonds. Feel free to use either crust!

  28. I had never made any meringue pie before. Instructions were very clear, Thank you! This was delicious! Will definitely make this again!

  29. Maria Grimaldi says:

    Superb recipe . Followed exactly. Perfect outcome.

  30. FOR ALL OF YOU GUYS WHO THINK THIS IS TOO DIFFICULT:
    It’s not. I’m twelve and it was a breeze for me.
    Thanks sally!

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