Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

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Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

star rating (21) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

This pie is one of America’s top three flavors (right after apple, and before chocolate). Why do we like THIS version? Its filling is perfect: not too tart, not too sweet, bursting with lemon flavor. And the crust is made with vegetable oil rather than butter or shortening; use a very mild olive oil, and you’ll be treating yourself to a heart-healthy "good fat."

1 1/3 cups (5 3/4 ounces) King Arthur   Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) vegetable oil
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cold milk (nonfat is fine)

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
6 tablespoons (1 7/8 ounces) cornstarch
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 large eggs yolks (reserve the whites)
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
Grated peel of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) lemon juice (juice of about 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large egg whites (reserved from egg yolks above)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons (2 3/8 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

To make the crust: Whisk together the flour and salt. Whisk together the oil and milk, and add to the dry ingredients, stirring till cohesive. Roll the crust on a silicone rolling mat with a piece of plastic wrap on top (between crust and rolling pin); or between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Roll it about 12" wide, and drape it carefully into a 9" pie pan. Don’t worry if it tears a bit as you work with it; this is a very easy crust to patch, and no one will ever see your mistakes! Press the edges gently with the tines of a fork, to flatten. Prick the bottom of the crust 6 to 8 times with the fork, to keep it from puffing as it bakes.

Bake the crust (no need for pie weights) for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s beginning to brown. Remove it from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to 400°F. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

To make the filling: Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, then constantly as it gets hotter, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute.

Put the egg yolks in a small bowl. Stir about 1 cup of the boiling sugar mixture into the yolks. Return the hot yolk mixture to the saucepan, and boil gently, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and add the butter, grated peel, juice, and vanilla, stirring till the butter melts. Spoon the filling into the crust.

To make the meringue: Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl, and beat till foamy. With the beater going, gradually add the sugar, beating until the mixture holds a stiff peak; when you lift the beater out of the meringue, the meringue will stand straight up, with just its top curling over. Add the vanilla at the end.

Spoon the meringue atop the hot pie filling, bringing it all the way to the edge of the pan (and covering the crust). Bake the pie for 8 to 10 minutes, until the meringue is as golden brown as you like it. Remove it from the oven, and allow the pie to cool for several hours before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


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  • star rating 12/20/2014
  • jillcolegrove from KAF Community
  • I have not made this recipe but have a question, Can I use Clearjel and if so how much can I us for the lemon filling? Thanks I found the Mile High Lemon Pie recipe on our website that uses the same amount of ClearJel as cornstarch. Go for it! Laurie@KAF
  • star rating 11/28/2013
  • Linda from Jamul, CA
  • This was a great recipe. I had trouble with the Meringue when I used another recipe, but the Meringue came out perfect using this recipe! Beautiful pie! So excited to bring it to our in-laws house today! I highly recommend this recipe if you want everything to come out right!
  • star rating 07/05/2013
  • Charity from Boston, MA
  • I'm an experienced pie baker and generally have good results, but I have yet to find a satisfactory recipe for lemon meringue pie. Unfortunately, this one also gave me trouble. I thought the lemon filling had a good balance of sweetness to tartness, but like several other reviewers I found that it came out a bit softer than I would have liked, and by the following morning it had separated and turned to liquid. I followed the instructions carefully and used a timer, to no avail.
    Lemon meringue pies can be quite tricky! Please call out Baker's Hotline and we would be more than happy to help troubleshoot the recipe.-Jon 855 371 2253
  • star rating 05/14/2013
  • Amanda from Fairfax, VT
  • This was my first-ever attempt at any kind of meringue pie. It was requested by my sister and mother for Mother's Day, so the pressure was really on. I did have to start over once because I used the egg whites where I was supposed to use yolks, but that wasn't a big deal and certainly not the recipe's fault. I was worried about the meringue part since it didn't sit as high as the slice in the photo, but I think that's because after I plopped it on the lemon part, I smushed it a bit and then had to fool around with it to get the peaks looking right. I also had to refrigerate it overnight. By the time it was time to eat it the next day, it was fabulous. I took it out of the fridge, perhaps for too long, because there was just a little bit of water or liquid in the pie plate and the meringue part didn't really stick to the lemon part. But honestly, I'm still giving it five stars because it was delicious and my mother and sister, whose favorite pie is lemon meringue, couldn't stop raving over it. There was even a war over the last big slice. It's now been requested that I make this pie for every holiday gathering. Thanks, KAF, for the great recipe--makes me look good. :)
  • star rating 03/30/2013
  • from Austin, TX
  • I'd never made a meringue pie before, but was pleasantly surprised that I needn't have been so intimidated! The recipe is easy to follow and produced good results. The texture of the pie filling is just right - it didn't ooze and wasn't runny. After being cut the filling didn't relax into the bottom of the pie plate, either - it held its shape just perfectly. Taste-wise, the filling was a bit sweeter than we would have liked and lacked a lemon bite (despite adding a bit of oil and multiplying the amount of zest by three times). The meringue was perfect in every regard - texturally light and fluffy, with a great vanilla flavor (I used vanilla bean paste).
  • star rating 01/24/2012
  • Akagriff from KAF Community
  • Excellent. My husband made this tonight. He has problems reading any type of directions. The first meringue top had no sugar or vanilla. After scrapping that off, the second top was a success!
  • star rating 12/25/2011
  • sjbaker01 from KAF Community
  • I followed this recipe to the letter, and the results were disappointing. The pie had the consistency of lemon soup. Baking the pie at 400 degrees is too high; since the meringue was brown after 3-4 minutes. Does the recipe need some revisions?
    I'm sorry to hear this didn't work out for you. Are you baking at high altitude? Please give us a call on the Baker's Hotline and we'll be happy to help! ~Mel
  • star rating 06/20/2011
  • jbincolorado from KAF Community
  • The taste was delicious - after reading other comments I was very careful to measure, bring to a boil, time it, take off the fire and add the other ingredients. The pie filling was nice and thick and looked beautiful when I poured it in the shell. I took the meringue out to the edges and the pie was lovely. The next morning, the pie was pure liquid. We spooned it into bowls and enjoyed the flavor. I will not make this again as it is an expensive pudding recipe. The crust was wonderful - I used the KAF recipe with buttermilk and vinegar - best I ever made and it stayed flaky on the bottom, even with the liquid pie.
  • star rating 06/12/2011
  • marjiewatson from KAF Community
  • In the past week I have made four lemon meringue pies, all from different recipes. I am so glad I found this one, but mainly for the crust. I was delighted to find I can make a pretty darn tasty crust that's easy to handle, does not slump in the pan while baking, and is so much healthier than my usual crusts. The biggest lesson, though, is that if your filling is not nice and thick before you pour it into the shell IT WILL NEVER THICKEN! So, the filling of my first pie was very runny even though I thought I was doing a pretty good job of following the directions. When I saw that it was hopeless, I actually removed the meringue and poured the filling back into the saucepan and heated until it thickened properly. Luckily I had made an extra crust "just in case". So don't despair; a watery filling can be rescued! You'll need to make a new meringue, though. My fourth, and best, pie was from Joy of Cooking. All the filling ingredients are added to the saucepan right from the start. I did take it upon myself to beat the yolks very well before adding them. The recipe from 'Joy' does not use milk, so I didn't have to worry about the lemon juice causing the milk to curdle. I cooked it very slowly, stirring constantly and voila: it jelled up perfectly! Finally, I made the meringue from 'Joy' that calls for 4 egg whites and a simple cornstarch paste. It makes a super luxurious meringue ... so worth that extra step!
  • star rating 06/07/2011
  • ArianaS from KAF Community
  • I made this pie yesterday and it's really delicious. I especially like the idea of the crust - no pie weights needed. I despise having to run to the market to buy dry beans every time I want to make a pie. I had just one problem - after letting the pie rest overnight I realized it released some kind of liquid. Did I maybe do something wrong? Is there a way to avoid it? It didn't affect the overall taste of the pie, it's just an appearance issue.
    There are a few things you could try to help with the excess moisture. You may reduce the amount of sugar used in the meringue or use a super-fine sugar that can dissolve quickly. Undissolved sugar will release liquid. If the lemon filling is not brought to a high enough temperature, then often the eggs will have an enzymatic reaction that will cause the filling to release liquid or "weep". ~Amy
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