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Sllice of Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe on a white dessert plate

Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie

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This impressive Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe with lemon custard and a sweet, billowy meringue topping is nestled in a buttery pastry crust.

If you’re a fan of Lemon Desserts. this recipe is your dream come true! Just like a homemade pie from an old-fashioned diner!

Overhead view of the meringue topping on a mile high lemon meringue pie
 

Why You Should Make this Lemon Pie

If I were to guess what kind of dessert the hubby would rank second to chocolate, I’d have to say lemon. He swoons over lemon bars and tarts. Desserts like these luscious Lemon Bars are right up his alley!

When I realized I hadn’t baked up my best lemon meringue pie in years, I quickly put it on our weekend menu. With two very picky palates in our household, this was a rare dessert that all five of us enjoyed. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen very often!!

  • If you’re a lemon lover, this is THE dessert to make!
  • Lemons never go out of season, so this pie can be made all year long.
  • This pie has been around, and beloved, for over 150 years!!
  • Here is one reader’s review: I made this as a request for my husband for his birthday pie! It was amazing, the recipe is easy to follow and my pie turned out fantastic, he couldn’t believe how good the filling and how high the meringue was. Thank you for a great, reliable recipe!
Slice of Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie on a white plate

The BEST Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

I’ve been using this Southern Living recipe for eons. The whole pie is baked for nearly a half-hour so the meringue is perfectly cooked. Instead of just broiling it, as some recipes prefer, this method prevents you from eating under-cooked egg whites.

Although you can use just four egg whites, you have the option of making a “Mile High” lemon pie by increasing your whites to six. Follow my tips and your whites will whip to perfection and form a gorgeous cloud atop the sweet-tart lemon filling.

Overhead view of lemon meringue pie in a white ceramic pie plate

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Meringue Pie

So if you’re looking for the perfect lemon meringue pie recipe, I’ve got you covered! This is the perfect dessert any time of year. Go ahead and treat the lemon lovers in your life to one marvelous pie! If you’re going to make a lemon pie, go BIG with this Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie!

  • Always use fresh lemon juice and zest. You will be disappointed if you use bottled juice and/or dried lemon zest from a jar.
  • PRO-Tip: Separate your eggs while they are cold to minimize yolk breakage. And always separate the whites into an empty bowl because each has a chance of being contaminated with some yolk if the yolk breaks. If that egg white is without any yolk bits, then pour it into another bowl used to collect all the whites.
  • PRO-Tip: Egg whites whip best at room temperature. So after you separate your eggs, cover each bowl with plastic wrap and let them come to room temperature (mainly for the whites for the best meringue volume). If you’re in a hurry, you can set the bowl of whites into a larger bowl of warm (not boiling as that will cook the eggs) water.
  • PRO-Tip: Make sure your beaters and bowl are scrupulously clean. Any grease on either or egg yolk in your whites will prevent the whites from whipping into a fluffy meringue.
  • Add the sugar slowly (use superfine sugar for easier incorporation).
  • Cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites, so do not omit this ingredient.
  • For the filling, if you want to taste it, use a spoon. I haven’t found documentation, but when I made this pie when I was in high school, I was told that saliva can prevent the filling from thickening.
  • PRO-Tip on How to Cut a Lemon Meringue Pie: To cut cleanly through a meringue topping for perfect slices, my mom taught me to use a knife dipped in hot water. Shake off the excess water and slice. You’ll be amazed how slick this trick works! Give it a try.

How to Make this Lemon Pie:

8 process shots for making a lemon meringue pie

Step 1: Blind Bake your pie crust. Filling the unbaked pie with dried beans or pie weights will help keep the bottom crust flat.

Step 2: Mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan.

Step 3: Combine yolks, water, and juice and add to the saucepan.

Step 4: Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring regularly. Once it boils, let it boil for one full minute.

Step 5: Stir in butter and lemon zest.

Step 6: Pour into cooled pie crust.

Step 7: Make the meringue (I used 6 egg whites for a massive meringue topping), and top the pie.

Who Invented the Lemon Meringue Pie

Mrs. Elizabeth Goodfellow of Philadelphia, a 19th-century pastry chef who ran America’s first culinary cooking school, invented this dessert. She took the leftover egg whites from making a lemon pudding and topped it with meringue.

The recipe first appeared in an 1847 cookbook and by the 1860s, it was in numerous cookbooks.

Can You Make This Pie Ahead of Time?

It’s best on the day it’s made, but you can bake the crust ahead of time. The meringue bakes best when it’s placed on a warm filling from edge to edge, so it’s best to fill and bake the meringue on the day you plan to serve it.

How Do You Store a Meringue Pie?

Leftovers must be refrigerated. The meringue will start to deteriorate, but it will be safe to eat for at least 3 days if not left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Freezing a meringue pie is not recommended. Freezing and thawing the meringue topping will make it rubbery.

Is Lemon Meringue Pie Good for You?

Well, it is a dessert, so not exactly. The pie crust can be full of saturated fat and the filling and meringue are loaded with sugar. But there is some nutritional value from the lemon juice (Vitamin C) and eggs (protein).

Why did my Meringue Weep?

Water droplets forming on a cooked meringue is called weeping. A couple of errors could be the culprit. First, the sugar must be well dissolved into the egg white mixture. Using superfine sugar and room temperature egg whites will help the sugar incorporate.

My mom taught me to rub the meringue between my fingers after the mixing process. If you feel sugar granules between your fingers, your meringue is not mixed enough. But, to tell the truth, I almost always feel some sugar so I try to make sure I add the sugar slowly and beat for 2-4 minutes.

PRO-Tip: Purchase superfine sugar as the sugar granules are smaller than in regular granulated sugar. They will dissolve more easily.

Another reason for a weeping meringue is over or underbaking. With this billowy meringue, it takes some time in the oven for the meringue to fully bake, but you may want to pull it out at the 25-minute mark to play it safe. It should be light brown when it’s done.

Slice of Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie on a white dessert plate garnished with lemon slices and mint sprigs

More Lemon Recipes You’ll Love:

Plus check out these melt-in-your-mouth Simple Meringue Cookies for another tasty dessert plus all my tips for making perfect meringue.

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This recipe was originally shared in July 2015. Photos and text were updated in 2020, 2021.

Slice of Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie on a white plate

The Recipe: Lemon Meringue Pie

A classic lemon meringue pie  with a generous meringue topping!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 33 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 3 minutes
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 baked 9-inch pastry shell

For the lemon filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue!)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

For the meringue:

  • 4-6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (depending on the number of egg whites used)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, use superfine sugar if you have it
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. Combine first three ingredients in saucepan; set aside.
  3. Combine yolks, water and juice, and stir into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly till mixture boils and thickens. Boil one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and zest. Pour into pastry shell.
  4. Beat whites and cream of tartar on high speed with electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 2-4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat well.
  5. Spread meringue over hot filling, making sure meringue covers all filling. Bake for 25-28 minutes.

Notes

For a true mile-high lemon meringue pie, you'll want to use the two additional egg whites.

Adapted from Southern Living

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 366Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 151mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 1gSugar: 52gProtein: 6g

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