Lemon Meringue Pie

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.




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!

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Lemon Meringue Pie

Learn how to make fresh lemon meringue pie with this classic recipe.


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:


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 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0936184744/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 by Cooks Illustrated.

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

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

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86 comments on “Lemon Meringue Pie”

  1. 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!

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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 :)

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

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

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

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

  13. this is perfect, absolutely perfect!

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

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

  16. 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!

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

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

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

  20. 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

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

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

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

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

  26. Totally craving a slice right now!

  27. 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!

  28. This looks amazing!!

  29. 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!

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

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

  32. Pingback: Wonderful DIY Lemon Meringue Pie | WonderfulDIY.com

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

  34. I made lemon meringue pies and after I let them cool, they sweated so bad and the crust went so soggy I had to throw them out. I used store bought crust and lemon pie filling you cook on the stove. Does anyone know why this happens. Thanks Chris.

  35. What would happen if I didn’t use unsalted butter?

  36. I made this pie! It was a hit at home and at work! It’s also on the Thanksgiving Menu 2014. I wish I could post a pic! It was just a beautiful as yours!!! :))))))))

    Thank you! 

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  39. I made this for Thanksgiving. I made several pies and this one was the only one that completely disappeared. I will never make another lemon meringue pie recipe after using this one. It is fantastic. I think it is the cornstarch step in both the filling and topping that make this so successful. Thank you!!!!

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  41. This pie turned out GREAT! However, it was an absolute and complete struggle getting there. I decided to try a new way to make favorite pie dough and it just didn’t turn out so I scrapped it and went with my old stand by recipe. BUT I somehow managed to seriously burn it to a crisp while pre-baking it. And I totally panicked because the filling was hot and ready to go and we were having a snow storm so I couldn’t just drive to the grocery store and got a store made crust. So I made the crust for A THIRD TIME. The filling stayed warm and I reheated it per your instructions. Although it was a long process, it was absolutely worth it. Thanks for the great recipe :) I uploaded a picture to instagram with your hashtag!

  42. Great recipe! I just made it today! It’s a lot of work but totally worth it!

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  44. Every time I make lemon meringue pie the filling never sets and the meringue cracks right down the center. Do you have any tips or suggestions to avoid this? I boil the filling until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon and the meringue looks great coming out of the over but after a couple of hours the meringue weeps and splits. Please help!

    • Hey, Danielle! So sorry about your bad luck with meringue! It can be frustrating, for sure. One of the things we’ve found is, the meringue is more likely to split or crack if you over-beat it. Also, you could try spreading the meringue on top of the lemon filling (while it’s still hot), and spread out until the meringue is touching the crust. This will completely seal in the heat, and should also help prevent the meringue from cracking. We hope this helps!

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  46. the cornstarch slurry also helps to keep the meringue from weeping

  47. How do u keep the pie crust from getting soggy the second day?

    • It shouldn’t really be soggy the second day, but one thing that helps prevent that, is if you mix a beaten egg with a splash of milk or water, and brush the pie crust with it, before adding the filling. (It just adds a layer of protection, while the pie bakes, making the piecrust sturdier, so that it holds up to the filling.) We hope that helps!

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  49. Just got done making one, it looks delicious and wasn’t too hard to make. It’s 11pm and the baby is sleeping so I had to whip up the meringue by hand :/ It is for my mother in law’s friend…I hope she shares! Look for the picture of my lemon meringue pie on my FB page Sarah’s Sweets! 

    • Thanks Sarah, we’re so glad you liked it (and are totally impressed by the fact that you hand-whipped the meringue)!