Lemon meringue pie is a luscious showstopping dessert. Creamy lemon filling topped with Swiss meringue in a cookie crust. What more could you ask for?
Lemon meringue pie has been one of my all-time favorite desserts for as long as I can remember. However, few things are as disappointing as a badly made lemon meringue pie. For me, the crust isn’t as important and I am happy with either a cookie or pastry crust. But the filling and meringue have to be spot on. The filling should be creamy, bright and filled with lemon flavor. The meringue should be marshmallowy with a thin, crisp outer shell adding some chewiness to the pie.
I used an easy filling made with sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and lemon juice because the process of lemon meringue can be quite long. The cookie crust also cuts down on time but if you want a more stable crust (one that will last better at room temperature) feel free to go for a blind-baked pastry crust.
How to make lemon meringue pie
- Cookie crust: Make the cookie crust by blending Graham crackers/digestive biscuits and melted butter in a food processor. Press into a pie dish/tart case and bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool.
- Make the filling: Mix together sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest then pour into the baked pie crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the outside is set but the center of the pie jiggles a little. Remove from the oven, allow to cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours. I always make it the night before so that the filling as sufficient time to chill and set.
- Finish with meringue: Use your favorite meringue recipe to top the filling. I prefer using Swiss meringue which cooks the raw egg whites and sugar over a double boiler before whipping until stiff and glossy. Swiss meringue is more stable (which means less weeping will occur) and adds to that marshmallow-texture I like. Top the chilled pie with Swiss meringue then bake for another 20 minutes at a low temperature or caramelize the meringue with a blow torch before serving.
What is the best meringue for lemon meringue pie?
Swiss Meringue is in my opinion the most stable meringue to work with. It’s a little more work than classic French meringue but it behaves much better. It’s also safe to eat (without baking) as the process of melting the sugar into the egg whites cooks the egg whites.
How do I stop meringue from weeping?
There are a few things that cause meringue to weep. Firstly, if sugar isn’t dissolved into meringue properly, the granules can cause weeping. Over baking meringue can also cause weeping and baking on humid days will definitely have an impact on the meringue. I’ve also found that meringue that is refrigerated has a tendency to weep.
Can I make a lemon meringue pie in advance?
If you want to make this pie in advance I would suggest baking the crust and filling and then keeping refrigerated until you are ready to serve. Simply top with Swiss meringue, torch and serve.
Can I refrigerate this pie?
You can, but there is a high chance the meringue will weep. If it’s very hot, this might be your only choice. There’s nothing wrong with meringue that is weeping and the pie will still be delicious. If refrigerating, keep the pie loosely covered with foil.
Lemon dessert recipes
- Mini lemon curd cheesecakes
- Easy lemon drizzle cake
- Lemon cupcakes
- Lemon yoghurt cake with white chocolate frosting
- Luscious lemon tart
Lemon meringue pie
For the crust
- 300 g (approx 3 cups) Graham crackers/Digestive biscuits
- ½ cup butter melted
For the filling
- 2x 400g cans sweetened condensed milk
- ½-¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (start with ½ cup and add more to taste)
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 6 extra-large egg yolks
For the Swiss Meringue
- 6 extra-large egg whites
- 1½ cups sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
- Combine the cookies and butter in the bowl of a food processor and blend until fine.
- Transfer to a 23cm/9in pie dish/tart case and press into an even, thin layer, up the sides of the dish.
- Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
- Once the crust is baked, pour in the filling and return to the oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edge of the filling has set and the middle is still jiggly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before transferring to the fridge and chilling for at least 3 hours, ideally overnight.
- When the pie is chilled and the filling set, make the Swiss meringue.
- Combine the egg whites and sugar in a large glass/metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk/stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. To test, rub a little of the mixture between your fingers. If you feel sugar granules, continue stirring, if it's smooth remove it from the heat.
- Transfer the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), and with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Dollop the egg whites onto the chilled pie and decorate to your preference.
- At this point you can caramelize the egg whites with a kitchen blow torch and serve immediately. Alternatively, bake the meringue for a further 15-20 minutes at 160ºC/320ºF until it is a pale golden color and the meringue feels set and firm when touched. Remove from the oven and allow to chill before serving.