Lemon Meringue Pie

August 20, 2014 by Ali

Learn how to make fresh lemon meringue pie with this classic recipe. It's a winner!

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

Last week, there was a birthday in da house at #neighbornights — my friend, Liam!

Talk about neighbors turned into good friends. I can’t really imagine life in our loft without this guy. Liam is a born-and-raised New Yorker who followed a job to Kansas City and ended up living across the hall from me. And during the past two years that I’ve lived in this building, he has been my #1 neighbor.

He has a reputation for being our building’s “dog whisperer”, and Henry literally sprints to his door every time we head out for a walk to give a bark and see if Liam’s home. (And Liam returns the love and has graciously watched him during most of these blog trips that you see me taking.) He is also my #1 taste-tester for the blog, always happy to “take care of” leftovers whenever I’m testing and trying out new recipes for the blog. In return for food, he has helped me with many a household project. And always volunteers to be my honorary “roommate” whenever I sell crap on Craigslist, so that I’m not meeting people alone, which seems to happen fairly often with my ever-growing love for Craigslist. But more than anything, he’s just a really swell neighbor and an even better friend.

So when a little birdie (a.k.a. Facebook) told us that his birthday was coming up, all of our neighbors knew that this was a celebration we couldn’t miss. So one pair of neighbors brought him his favorite brats to grill. One neighbor brought him his favorite beer. And Yours Truly was in charge of my favorite birthday duty – the cake.

When I texted Liam to ask about his favorite dessert, his reply was “lemon anything”. And I remembered he had a fondness for meringue. So I decided to tackle a classic lemon meringue pie.

As they say, the (ahem) second time’s a charm. :)

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

Take 1: Crust FAIL.

Yes, unfortunately the first time was kind of an epic fail.

Well, epic due to the fact that the crust, filling, and meringue topping turned out absolutely perfect. But when I pulled out the pie and saw a soggy and raw crust, it suddenly dawned on me that I had left out one crucial step — pre-baking the pie crust.

Gahhhhhhhhhh.

Arghhhhhhhhh.

Boooooooooooo.

I was beyond annoyed with myself. BUT. I still had about 4 hours until the birthday celebration. So I scrapped my plans for the rest of the afternoon and decided to (literally) start from scratch and see if I could bake another entire pie before our neighbor night.

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

After dashing around the kitchen like a mad woman — making a pie crust and speed-chilling it in the freezer, making a second batch of lemon filling, borrowing eggs from another neighbor to make a second batch of meringue, and then pre-baking the pie crust before assembling the pie — somehow it magically came together in time.

Here’s how I made it:

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

The key to a good lemon meringue pie is delicious lemon filling. Fresh lemon juice is a non-negotiable here. It’s the star of the show and will make the filling absolutely “pop”. So grab some lemons and eggs and whisk this deliciousness up on the stove. And then keep stirring it fairly often or cover the top with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t form a crust while you wait to add it to the pre-baked pie crust.

(And yes, it really is that bright yellow in real life, with thanks to the egg yolks.)

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

Of course, the other star of the show is the meringue. I took a tip from Cooks Illustrated and added a cornstarch slurry to the meringue to help keep it thick. And sure enough, it worked like a charm.

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

The other key component is — yes — a pre-baked pie crust. (Maybe if I remind myself of this enough I will not make this mistake again the next go-around.)

I used my favorite homemade pie crust recipe, although if you’re really short on time, you can use a store-bought crust. Once it has pre-baked in the oven, fill it with the hot lemon filling (be sure that it is still hot from cooking, as this will help cook the bottom of the meringue). Then immediately add the meringue in small globs on top of the lemon filling, beginning around the perimeter and then filling in the center, and then using a spoon to “decorate” it however you’d like. This technique helps the meringue stick much better to the filling and not shrink or separate while it bakes.

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

 Then pop it in the oven and let the meringue cook low and slow for about 20 minutes until it is lightly browned on top. You can either remove it at this point. Or if you want an extra browned top, turn on the broiler to high and let the pie cook for an extra minute or two until the top is extra browned and crispy. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for a few hours to let the filling set.

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

And when you’re ready, dish it up!

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

I had forgotten just how beautiful these pies are.

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

Although ours disappeared in about 3 minutes flat once the neighbors descended upon it. :)

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

Liam + our neighbor, Jillian

We did manage to get a tiny candle lit in the evening breeze and sing happy birthday to this guy beforehand, though. And then everyone dove in, including him. And through mouthfuls of pie, gave it rave reviews. I snagged a few bites and happily agreed.

Happy birthday, Liam!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

    Lemon Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 2-3 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Meringue Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large fresh* egg whites, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pie Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 prebaked pie crust

Method

To Make The Filling:

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in a large (nonreactive) saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens and reaches a simmer, stirring fairly often. When the mixture starts to simmer and turns translucent, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Then whisk in the zest, then the lemon juice, and then the butter. Bring the mixture to a good simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling to keep it hot and prevent a skin from forming.

To Make The Meringue:

In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and water until combined. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally at the beginning and more frequently as the mixture thickens. Once the mixture starts to simmer and turns translucent, remove from heat and set aside.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk the cream of tartar and sugar together. In the bowl of a large stand mixer, beat the egg whites and vanilla for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed until frothy. Beat in the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sugar is completely incorporated. Continue beating on medium speed until the mixture forms soft peaks. (*Look ahead to multitask the next step with the lemon filling at this point.) Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, while the mixture is still beating. Continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes.

*When you are about a minute away from finishing the meringue, remove the plastic from the lemon filling and return the saucepan to medium heat. Let it heat for at least 1 minute so that it is nice and hot when you add it to the pie shell.

Once your meringue is ready and the filling is hot, pour the filling into the prebaked pie shell and use a rubber spatula to even out the top. Use a spoon to immediately add small spoonfuls of the meringue all around the edge of the filling, and then add spoonfuls to the center until the entire surface of the filling is covered. Make sure the meringue attaches to the piecrust to prevent shrinking. Use the back of a spoon to create little decorative peaks all over the meringue, or whatever design you would like.

Bake the pie until the meringue is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve the same day.

*Be sure that the eggs you use to make the meringue are fresh. Otherwise, they may not whip up properly.

Recipe slightly adapted from The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated.

(c) 2013 Gimme Some Oven. All rights reserved.

Lemon Meringue Pie | gimmesomeoven.com #dessert #pie #recipe

filed in Desserts, Vegetarian

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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35 thoughts on “Lemon Meringue Pie

  1. So cool that you have such a great neighbor. I bet he really appreciated this pie. It looks amazing.

    - Laura Dembowski

  2. Hi Ali. ..im from south Africa. ..n I just made ur pie….turned out perfect n divine….thank you for an awesome recipe. ..

    - Sumayya

  3. YUM! I completely forgot that lemon meringue pie existed. Silly me!! This looks absolutely fantastic!

    - Rebecca @ it's a nourishing thing

  4. Just made this last night, and it was delicious! The meringue was very tasty, but I think I want to try using coconut extract instead of vanilla next time just to see how it does. I love me some coconut! :)

    I do have to admit I “cheated”, used a store bought crust and lemon juice from a bottle, just didn’t have the patience to make home made and squeeze lemons!

    - Stephanie

  5. This looks amazing!!

    - Amanda

  6. It sounds like you have some pretty awesome neighbors! And girl, I’d love to volunteer to housesit your leftovers lol, this pie looks delicious!

    - Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

  7. Totally craving a slice right now!

    - Lori

  8. What a great pie!a perfect Happy Birthday dish – simply lovely!
    Mary

    - Mary

  9. Delicious! One of my all-time favourite recipes! Your pie looks absolutely divine!

    - Jessica @ Sweet Menu

  10. How wonderful to have such good friends that are your neighbors! The pie looks amazingly delicious!

    - Meredith

  11. This is my husband’s absolute favorite dessert ever! The first time I tried to make him one, it was an epic fail. Between this post and the bowl of lemons I have on the kitchen table, I’m thinking it’s time to try again. Thanks!

    - Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

  12. This is so bizarre…Liam helped me at Bed Bath & Beyond a couple of months ago when I was buying some things for my new place. He was just working at that store briefly (it wasn’t his main store) but was so helpful and so nice! When I saw his picture I totally remember him and how he went out of his way to help me. Such a small world!

    - Jesse

  13. This looked so amazing that I had to make it today – it was delicious, but didn’t look as glorious as yours! I’ve posted about my rendition on my blog, linking back to you of course. Thanks for the recipe! x

    - Ziva

  14. This pie is a piece of art work, Ali! So beautiful! You must have the happiest neighbors in the world!

    - Liz @ Floating Kitchen

  15. amazing birthday pie! liam deserves a great dessert. cool story…cool neighbor!

    - sassygirl

  16. You can never go wrong with a classic recipe such as this. I’m coming to see you for my birthday ;-)

    - Jen @ Baked by an Introvert

  17. This is beyond beautiful. I really have no idea how you do it Ali. Love the recipe and the fun story about Liam. Happy birthday to him!

    - Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

  18. Lemon meringue pie is one of my absolute total favourites – I wish I had a slice of this right now!

    - Kathryn

  19. Lemon meringue is a staple around here (as I have a strange mother who doesn’t like cooked fruit!), and this version looks beautiful!

    - Sarah (@ People, Places & Plates)

  20. this is perfect, absolutely perfect!

    - Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts

  21. I’m glad I am not the only one who has kitchen mishaps like that!

    - Jenny @ The Peachy Pair

  22. How very very blessed you are to have a friend and neighbor like Liam. He sounds like a Hero to me. Loves Dogs, fixes things, is protective, loves lemon, eats leftovers—-OMG what a guy. The photos for this pie are most excellent by the way. You are very sweet to make this pie for him. To engender his kindness must mean you too are equally a Heroine!

    - Carol at Wild Goose Tea

  23. This is simply stunning!

    - Annie @ Annie's Noms

  24. Looks absolutely delicious! And that meringue is perfect! Lemon Meringue is one of my absolute favorite pies, something about the sweet and tart together is just heavenly. Have you ever tried the Lemon Meringue at Rye?? Literally the best thing I’ve ever had in my whole life!

    - Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps

  25. Oh how I would love a slice of this pie today! Beautiful!!

    - Jenny Flake

  26. You have the best neighbors! When I visit KC, I want to hang with y’all. And this pie, forget about it!

    - Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain

  27. Your animated gifs are the best! I find myself distracted from the post, watching again and again… Lemon meringue pie is so classic and yours looks amazing!

    - Heather @ Shards of Lavender

  28. Happy happy birthday Liam! What a blessing to have such a great friend and neighbor. Also, this pie is GORGEOUS. Totally worth the second attempt. PS. Come teach me to crimp pie crust please. This is perfection!

    - Erin | The Law Student's Wife

  29. What a gorgeous pie!! I love how friendly you are with all your neighbors… Most of my neighbors totally keep to themselves and it makes me kind of sad, but then, it’s probably a New England thing :)

    - Sues

  30. Lemon Meringue Pie is my all time favorite!! This one is absolute perfection. The other day I couldn’t figure out why the cookies I was making for Jon David to eat after school were flat…then I realized that I left out half the FLOUR! Ugh — had to totally start over. I feel your pain.

    - Cookbook Queen

  31. I’ll be your neighbor if you make me pie. I hate when everything turns out perfect except one component. Pinned this!!

    - Lauren @ Hall Nesting

  32. This pie looks so much better than most of the pies I see in the bakeries!

    - Medeja

  33. Oh that pre-baking mistake is totally something I would do and be so proud of myself for being ahead of schedule until realizing I was actually way behind! This pie looks amazing and you make it seem so easy. Thanks for sharing Ali!

    - Bri | Bites of Bri