As you might know, my husband is in the horticulture business.
A couple of weeks ago, he brought home some lemons.
Not ordinary lemons. These lemons were bigger than my fist.
Celebrating Thanksgiving a weekend early, I decided to attempt my first Lemon Meringue Pie.
I searched several recipe books, most of which only used a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Having these enormous lemons, I needed a recipe requiring a significant amount of juice.
Cook’s County to the rescue.
Beautiful Lemon Meringue Pie
Their recipe for Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie requires an entire cup of freshly squeezed juice, plus some lemon zest.
After some research, I discovered Lemon Meringue Pie is best prepared the day you serve it.
Because I was preparing other dishes for this special meal, I decided to take a short-cut and used a refrigerated pie crust.
Pillsbury seems to be the most recommended brand. All I had to do was unroll it….form it to my pie pan (which I used a disposable for easy clean up)…pinch the rim for a decorative crust….and par-bake it.
Ingredients for Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie
I removed one of the refrigerated pie crust from the packaging and allowed it to come to room temperature, about half an hour.
This made it much easier to work with. After shaping it into the pie pan, I pinched the edge making a decorative design.
I par-baked the 9-inch pie crust according to package directions.
Make sure the crust is slightly brown before removing from the oven or it will be doughy upon serving.
While the pie crust cooled…I prepared the filling.
Custard for Pie
WHISK – the sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt together in a large saucepan until the cornstarch is dissolved.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture becomes translucent and has thickened, about 5 minutes.
WHISK in the egg yolks (at room temperature) until combined.
STIR in the lemon zest and butter.
Bring to a simmer and stir constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
STRAIN through a fine-mesh strainer, into the pie shell and scrape the filling off the underside of the strainer.
Place plastic wrap directly over the surface of the filling.
Refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours.
How NOT to make a lemon meringue pie…
This is where I tell you WHAT NOT TO DO.
Be aware if you are repeatedly opening the fridge, as it will not chill enough, therefore, the filling will not be set.
If your kitchen is warm – as in – cooking a Thanksgiving meal – LEAVE THE PIE IN THE FRIDGE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. The colder the pie, the better the filling will set.
Once you know the pie is set…begin prepping the meringue. Do not make the meringue ahead of time.
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400º.
COMBINE the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil over medium-high heat.
Once the syrup comes to a rolling boil, cook for 4 minutes (the mixture will become thickened & syrupy).
Remove from the heat and set aside while heating the egg whites.
Using an electric mixture on medium-low speed, beat the whites in a large bowl until frothy, about 1 minute.
Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing the speed to medium-high, until the whites have soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
With the mixture running, pour the hot syrup into the whites (avoid pouring the syrup onto the beaters, or it will splash).
Add the vanilla and beat until the meringue has cooled and becomes thick and shiny, 5-9 minutes.
Using a spatula to mound the meringue over the filling, making sure the meringue touches the edge of the crust.
I used a small butter knife to create peaks on top of the meringue, per my granddaughter’s instructions.
Bake until the peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes.
Allow the pie cool on a wire rack until the filling has set – AT LEAST 2 HOURS.
WHAT NOT TO DO – cut into the pie in less than 2 hours. The filling will pour out like lava, which is exactly what happened to me.
This pie is delicious. The lemon flavor is perfect. The meringue is light and compliments the pie exquisitely. However, the recommended times for chilling, baking, and allowing it to set after browning the meringue, are CRUCIAL. Do not bypass any of these steps.
This recipe is courtesy of
Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1 9" frozen pie crust prepared according to package directions
For the custard filling
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 8 large egg yolks at room temperature reserve 4 egg whites for the pie meringue
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but not melted
For the meringue
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature reserved from the yolks used in the custard
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Par-bake the 9" pie crust according to package directions and allow it to cool completely.
For the custard filling
- Whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens about 5 minutes.
- Make sure your egg yolks are at room temperature.
- Off heat, whisk one egg yolk at a time into the mixture. Stir in the lemon zest and butter.
- Place back on medium heat and stir constantly until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
- Using a fine-mesh strainer, pour the mixture into another bowl, then pour the mixture into your cooled pie crust and scrape the filling off the underneath side of the strainer.
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the custard, making sure it makes contact with the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until the custard has completely set, at least 2-3 hours.
For the meringue
- Heat your oven to 400ºF and place a rack in the upper-middle position.
- In a small saucepan, stir the water and sugar together. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a vigorous boil.
- Once the syrup comes to a rolling boil, cook for an additional 4 minutes. The syrup will thicken.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Using an electric mixture on low speed, beat the egg whites until frothy, about one minute.
- Add the salt and cream of tartar, beat at slow speed but gradually increase the speed to medium-high until the whites have formed soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
- With the mixture running, pour the hot syrup into the whites, avoiding the moving beaters.
- Add the vanilla and beat until the meringue has cooled and becomes thick and shiny about 10 minutes.
- Use a spatula to mound the meringue over the filling, making sure the meringue touches the edge of the pie crust.
- Bake until the meringue begins to brown on the peaks - about 6 minutes.
- Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack, at room temperature, until the filling has set - at least 2 hours.