Lemon meringue pie was my grandmother’s favorite dessert, and every time I bake one, I think of her. I grew up across the street from my grandparents’ chicken farm and spent many summer afternoons at their house. And I inherited my grandmother’s love of lemons! Part of the beauty of this recipe is that you use both parts of the egg: the yolks are used in the filling, while the whites are used in the meringue topping.
Lemon Meringue Pie
For the Crust
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Grated peel of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
For the Meringue
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup superfine sugar
For the Lemon Filling
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
Make the Crust
- In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, lemon peel, and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse several times, until the mixture looks like sand.
- With the food processor running, pour in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Remove the dough from the processor, flatten into a disc, encase in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle. Drape the dough over a 9-inch pie dish and trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the edge of the dough under itself, crimp, then prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. Chill the dough for 10 minutes.
- Line the pie dough with 2 sheets of aluminum foil, weigh down with dried beans or pie weights, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and the aluminum foil and bake the crust for another 4 to 5 minutes until it is lightly browned. Remove the crust from the oven to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Make the Meringue
- Use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on medium speed 30 to 45 seconds, until frothy. Add the vanilla bean paste and cream of tartar, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat 2 to 3 minutes, until soft peaks form. While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the sugar into the bowl. Beat the mixture on high speed another 2 to 3 minutes, until firm peaks form and the tips flop over slightly. To test the meringue’s consistency, rub a little between your fingers. When the sugar has dissolved, the meringue will no longer feel gritty.
Make the Lemon Filling
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk the egg yolks.
- In a medium-sized saucepan or pot, heat the water on medium-high. In a small bowl whisk the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt, then add the mixture to the water. Bring the water to a boil, whisking as the mixture heats. Once the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat to low.
- Ladle 1 cup of the liquid into the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Then slowly pour the egg mixture into the saucepan, whisking vigorously to keep the eggs from curdling. Turn up the heat and bring the liquid back to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until thickened.
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and lemon peel, then slowly pour in the lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
Assemble the Pie
- Pour the warm filling into the pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, carefully spread the meringue over the top and right up to the piecrust to prevent the meringue from shrinking while it bakes. Use the spatula to make swoops and swirls in the meringue.
- Bake the pie at 350 degrees, about 10 to 12 minutes, until the tips of the peaks are golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate the pie for at least 3 hours before serving to let the filling set so it will make a cleaner slice.
- Store leftovers loosely covered in the refrigerator for a day or two.