Everyone has a favorite pie. For me, a lemon meringue pie is right up there as one of my personal faves. It’s the perfect balance of flavors and textures. A crisp, homemade, buttery crust. Filled with a tangy, creamy lemon filling that is so wonderfully zesty and bright. Finished off with a fluffy, toasted French meringue topping. This is such a delicious, irresistible pie that’s full of citrusy flavor.
Lemon meringue pie is my mom’s favorite all-time dessert and I’m making one for her birthday. The only recipe I use these days is a variation of a classic lemon meringue pie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I love how it turns out every time: rich in flavor without being overly indulgent or decadent. It’s the perfect dessert for summer get-togethers.
WHY WE LOVE THIS RECIPE
- The perfect summer treat. After a day of barbecuing, chocolate can seem a little heavy. Instead, serve a slice of cool, creamy lemon meringue pie and wow your guests.
- No fancy ingredients are needed. You probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen: butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and lemons.
- Flavorful meringue. The topping on store-bought pies is often made with meringue powder, which can taste artificial. This meringue is made with real egg whites, giving it that authentic homemade taste.
- Refreshing lemony goodness. A lemon meringue pie makes me think of fun times in the warmer months of the year! It’s the perfect dessert choice for spring and summer baking.
Here are the ingredients you'll need for this lemon meringue pie:
- Raw cane sugar
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice
- Arrowroot flour
- Sea salt
- Cream of tartar
- Lemon juice: This is the key to the pie’s bright, citrusy flavor. Use fresh lemon juice over concentrate.
- Arrowroot flour: Helps to thicken the lemon filling.
- Cream of tartar: This helps to stabilize the meringue so that it doesn’t weep or start to break down.
- Butter: It needs to be chilled and cut into cubes.
- Lemon zest: Use a fine microplane grater to make sure you only get skin and no pith.
STEP 1: BAKE THE CRUST
Add the butter, flour, sugar, and sea salt to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until everything is combined. The dough should have a coarse, sandy texture.
Next, add iced water and blend again. The dough should stay together when pinched.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured piece of wax paper. Using your fingers, form it into a flat disc and completely cover it with wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours.
Place the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper lightly dusted with some flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a large, thin circle, about 1.5 inches larger than your pie plate.
Peel off one sheet of the parchment paper and carefully transfer the rolled-out dough into a lightly oiled pie plate. Press the dough onto the bottom and along the sides of the plate and peel off the other sheet of parchment paper. Use your fingers to crimp the edges.
Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pie dough and press it down to the edges. Next, fill the plate with dried beans or pie weights.
Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes in a 375°F oven. Baking a crust without a filling is known as blind baking. Remove the crust from the oven and lift out the parchment paper with the pie weights/dried beans.
Using a fork, prick holes all over the crust. Next, return the pie plate to the oven and let the pie crust bake for another 7 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Remove the pie crust from the oven and set it aside to cool to room temperature.
STEP 2: MAKE THE FILLING
Break the eggs, one at a time. Using an egg separator, separate each egg into two small bowls — one for the yolk and one for the white. Make sure the white contains no traces of yolk. Set aside the egg whites.
Whisk the egg yolks together and set them aside.
Add water, raw sugar, arrowroot flour, sea salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a medium-sized saucepan. Place over medium heat and whisk occasionally until it begins to thicken and bubble, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in small amounts of the egg yolks while whisking vigorously.
Once all the egg yolks have been incorporated into the mixture, increase the heat back to medium and let it cook until bubbles break the surface, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Add the butter and whisk until it melts and the filling becomes thick and glossy. Pour it into the pre-baked pie crust. Finally, place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the lemon filling to prevent skin from forming. Set aside.
STEP 3: MAKE THE MERINGUE
Transfer the egg whites to a glass bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cream of tartar.
Using either a hand mixer or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and cream of tartar on medium speed for about one minute, until the mixture becomes frothy.
Next, increase the speed to high and beat the mixture for another 4 minutes until soft peaks start to form.
Add the sea salt and raw sugar. Beat for another two minutes at high speed until the meringue is shiny and stiff peaks form.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE PIE
Remove the plastic wrap from the filling.
Using a spatula, spread the meringue over the filling. Make sure to spread it so that it goes all the way to the edges of the crust.
Create decorative swirls and peaks using the back of the spatula or spoon.
Put the pie on the lowest oven rack and bake in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes.
When the pie is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool at room temperature for 1 hour.
Place the pie in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours before serving.
- How to store the pie in the fridge. Create a little tent with aluminum foil over the lemon meringue pie to stop it from weeping and creating sugar beads.
- Make the meringue just before using it. Just whipped meringues are extremely fragile. They should be made right before they are to be used. If they sit too long, they’ll start to break down.
- Get egg whites to room temperature before whipping. Room temperature egg whites whip faster and produce more volume because they’re easier to whip air into.
- Separate the eggs while cold. Eggs are easiest to separate when they're cold because the yolk is firmer and less likely to break. Separate the whites from the yolks first and let them warm to room temperature in separate bowls.
- Use glass or metal mixing bowls for the meringue. Any trace of fat will prevent your whites from whipping properly, and plastic often has tiny amounts of residual fat on its surface.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why does my lemon meringue pie get watery?
When water accumulates between the lemon curd filling and the meringue topping, it can get watery (this is called weeping). There are a few reasons why this can happen. You might not have weighed out the ingredients correctly for the filling or not cooked the curd long enough over the stove. Maybe you didn’t cover the filling with meringue while the filling was still hot, or you might not have let it chill enough in the fridge. Following recipe instructions to the letter can help prevent weeping. Also, spreading the topping all the way to the edges of the pie crust really helps.
How do you keep lemon meringue pie from getting soggy?
Using an egg wash during the blind baking process creates a barrier for moisture, which will keep your pie crust nice and crisp.
Should you put lemon meringue pie in the fridge?
Yes. After assembling the pie, let it cool completely before placing it in the fridge to allow the lemon filling to properly set before serving. If you cut it too soon, the filling will ooze out. Leftovers should also be refrigerated for no more than 3 days.
Can you get sick from lemon meringue pie?
Uncooked meringue made with raw egg whites may contain salmonella bacteria, which causes salmonellosis. Eggs must be pasteurized or cooked to 160°F to kill salmonella bacteria. That’s why it’s better to toast the lemon meringue pie in the oven rather than use a crème brûlée torch. For this recipe, I bake the lemon meringue pie for 20-25 minutes in a 350°F oven.
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