Best Lemon Meringue Pie

Make the meringue first - then prepare the filling. Place meringue on the piping-hot filling to begin cooking the bottom of the meringue. The residual heat carried by the filling cooks the base of the meringue ever so slightly, making it less prone to leaking or shrinking.

Meringues will become more done if you bake them at a lower temperature for a longer time. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meringue Pies should be stored under an inverted bowl at room temperature. Remember, meringue pies only last a day or two, and then the meringue starts breaking down. If you place any cooked meringue in the refrigerator, no matter how long you baked it, it will bead and weep.

Flaky Pie Crust

Makes 2 double or 4 single
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup shortening 1 egg, well beaten

1 TBSP vinegar

4 TBSP water

Sift flour and salt into bowl, add shortening and mix with pastry blender. In other bowl combine egg, vinegar, water and drizzle over flour. Mix lightly until moist and holds together. Divide into 4 pieces. For single shells bake at 425 degrees for 12 min. Can freeze after baking.


1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 TBSP all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups water

3 egg yolks, beaten (reserve whites for meringue)

2 TBSP butter

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon peel

1 tsp lemon extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in saucepan over low heat. Gradually stir in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 2 min. Reduce heat and cook 2 min. longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add a little (1 cup) of the hot filling to the egg yolks and stir. Then add egg yolk mixture to filling and stir. Return to stove and gradually bring to a boil. Cook, stirring for approximately 2 min. Reheating the filling after the eggs are added kills alpha amylase, the enzyme in yolks that can thin starch custard. Eggs will not curdle during this reheating because of the presence of the starch. Remove from heat and add butter, lemon juice and extract. Thickening the starch mixture before adding the lemon juice prevents acids from interfering with starch’s swelling and thickening. Stir until blended and butter is melted. Set aside with a cover on the pot to keep it warm.


Meringue recipes work better with eggs that are at least 3 or 4 days old. Cold eggs separate more easily than those at room temperature because the whites hold together better.

1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1/3 cup water, heat until cornstarch thickens, set aside to cool
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 large egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

Heat oven to 325 °F. Make cornstarch mixture, set aside to cool. Add cream of tartar to egg whites.Whip egg whites until frothy. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Add cornstarch mixture 1 TBSP at a time and continue to whip.

Pour filling into pie shell. (The meringue will set best if the filling is still warm, so try to work quickly.) Using a rubber spatula, spread meringue evenly on top of pie and seal to edge of crust. Bake until meringue is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. You could also brown the filling quickly under the broiler. Do not overbake or your meringue will shrink.

Cool on rake for at least one hour. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. After chilled remove and serve. Best served same day baked. Store at room temperature with cover. The longer a meringue pie sits, the more likely the meringue will sweat, bead and shrink.


(If you're worried about the safety of the meringue, try this recipe)

Safe Meringue

6 large egg whites
2 TBSPwater
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/3 cup cool water
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Stir the whites, water, cream of tartar and sugar together well to break up the whites (try not to create foam since it cooks at a lower temperature) in a medium-size stainless steel bowl. Heat one inch of water to a simmer in a medium skillet and turn the heat off. Run a cup of hot tap water, place an instant read thermometer in it and place it near the skillet. Place the metal bowl of egg whites mixture in the skillet of hot water and scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl constantly with a rubber spatula to prevent the whites from over heating. After one minute of constant scrapping and stirring, remove the bowl of egg whites from the hot water and place the thermometer in the whites, tilting the bowl so that you have about 2 inches of white covering the thermometer. If the temperature is up to 160°F, beat until peaks forms when the beater is lifted. If necessary place the bowl of whites back in the hot water and scrape constantly in 15 second increment until the temperature reaches 160°F. Rinse the thermometer in the hot water in the skillet (to kill salmonella) and replace it in the cup of hot water after each use.

Sprinkle the cornstarch into a small saucepan, add the cool water, and let stand 1 minute. Then stir well. Bring the water and cornstarch to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will be thick and slightly cloudy. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then whisk 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch mixture into the meringue and continue adding and beating in until all is incorporated. Whisk in the salt, vanilla and any other desired flavouring such as lemon zest. Set aside while preparing the pie filling.


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