A Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: The Recipe

Here’s the recipe for my Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie, star of my first Project Food Blog 2010 entry.


Lemon Meringue Pie

The custard is from David Lebovitz (the lemon version). I prefer to make a simple meringue instead of a cooked one (I find it fluffier and it’s quicker to make). I often buy pre-made pie dough but when I make my own, I go with this very delicious one. Don’t forget to pre-bake your crust! This important step (called blind baking) will keep your crust flaky instead of soggy. Check out this video to learn how to blind bake a pie crust.

Makes one 9-inch (22 cm) pie; 6-8 servings

For the lemon filling
8 tablespoons (115 g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
¾ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from 3-4 preferably organic lemons)
¾ cup (150 g) sugar (I like my pies on the tart side so I usually reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons)
Zest from one lemon (unsprayed or thoroughly washed)
Pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue)
3 large eggs

For the meringue
3 egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
7 tablespoons sugar

One pie crust, blind baked

Preheat oven to 375°F (180°C).

Make the lemon filling: In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, warm the butter, lime juice, sugar, zest and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the yolks.

When the butter has melted and the mixture is warm, gradually pour 3 to 4 spoonfuls of the warm lime juice mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. This will warm the eggs gently and prevent them from scrambling. Scrape the warmed eggs back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over low heat, using a whisk, until the filling thickens and begins to resemble soft jelly or pudding (6 to 8 minutes). Do not let it boil.

Remove from heat and pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Bake for 12 minutes. When the pie comes out of the oven, the filling will still be jiggly. It’ll firm up as it cools.

Make the meringue: Whisk the egg whites, vanilla extract and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. Keep on beating, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Your meringue is ready when it’s shiny, fluffy and firm peaks form when you pull your beaters out (Always stop your mixer before doing this! It may seem like a no-brainer, but one can easily get carried away in a kitchen and end up with a big mess).

Spread the meringue onto the pie custard. It’s ok if the pie is still warm. You can go all fancy and use a pastry bag to lay your meringue in a beautiful pattern, but I just dump it in. To make it pretty, when the meringue is well spread over the pie, I plunge a spoon and quickly pull it out of the meringue, doing this many times to make a simple peaky pattern all over the pie.

Put the pie in a 375°F (180°C) oven to brown the meringue. I have a gas oven so I wouldn’t dare to use the broil setting which would scorch the meringue in a matter of seconds. In my gas oven, on 375°F, it takes about 4-5 minutes to be beautifully browned and ready to be shown off. If you have an electric oven, the broiler tends to be more forgiving so you can try it, but leave your pie in the middle of the oven (not so close to the broiler) and watch over it to take it out the minute it’s ready.

Let the pie cool completely before slicing and serving it. It’s better (and more beautiful) the day it’s made, but you surely won’t say no to a leftover slice the day after.


9 Responses to A Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: The Recipe

  1. This seriously is the best lemon meringue pie ever!! I just made this for my mom (her favourite dessert) and my family all agreed it was the best one we’d ever tasted! We like our lemon meringue pies light on the sugar and heavy on the lemon and this was exactly the perfect ratio. Also it was my first time making a lemon meringue and your directions were so easy to follow, thanks so much for the recipe!

    For others who might make this: I made the meringue without cream of tartar (can’t get here) and it still worked, just make sure you beat the whites enough of course. I also increased the meringue from 3 to 5 egg whites to have a higher top on the pie which worked perfectly and looked great!

    • I’m very happy your family loved this lemon pie as much as I do! It’s a dessert that’s definitely on a heavy rotation at home and I like to alternate between the lime and lemon versions. Your idea to make the meringue even higher is great, maybe I’ll do that next time! There can never be too much meringue!

    • Cream of tartar helps produce a stiffer meringue (a little goes a long way!) I never tried it without but if you do, tell me about it afterwards!

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