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Pie is a lost art no longer! There is a resurgence of pie and the best part is that people are beginning to see that pie does not have to be “too much work.” Instead, pie can be doable and flat-out easy.
The important thing to remember if you are new to making pie is that repetition is key. Never expect that your first pie crust or first attempt at making a pie will be perfect. Instead, remember that every time you make a pie, banking up your practice, the easier it will become. Eventually, you won’t even think about it!
What makes a good lemon meringue pie?
Lemon meringue pie has three components that make it a good pie:
- The crust should be well baked, golden brown, and flaky. Pie crust can take time to understand and understand the “feel for,” but my favorite crust is one that has always been my go-to.
- The filling is lemon curd and needs to have a balance of bright lemon flavor with a bit of richness. The key is to make sure the filling is cooked until thick. A big mistake easily made is cooking the curd until it only slightly thickens. Instead, keep cooking until it is noticeably harder to whisk.
- The meringue, which is traditionally a French meringue, is the conventional topping for a lemon pie. Raw egg whites and sugar are whisked until voluminous and stiff peaks form. But the texture and flavor of a French meringue can be boring. It’s also the least stable meringue, prone to weeping, excreting drops of liquid. Instead of going with the traditional method, this recipe uses a Swiss meringue. The Swiss meringue mixes the egg whites and sugar and cooks them in a bowl over simmering water. Once the sugar is dissolved, they’re whipped which creates a denser, creamier texture that’s stable. The result is an addicting marshmallow-like texture. The Swiss meringue will be softer than the French meringue but so much better. I find this to be the best topping and much more enjoyable to eat!
The ingredients in this lemon meringue pie
- Eggs and egg yolks are both used in this lemon curd filling. Part of the whites are reserved for the meringue and the remaining whites are used in the curd. This is different from many curd recipes that only use egg yolks. But with the correct ratio of thickening, the whites are perfectly fine to use within a curd.
- Lemon juice is essential and provides the tart, bright flavor needed in the lemon filling. Make sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the most flavor. No bottled stuff here!
- Sugar will balance out the tart lemon and provide more of a traditional dessert sweetness. The amount of sugar is important as it balances out the lemon without overpowering the tartness.
- Cornstarch is completely necessary to thicken the curd and make sure the pieces of pie cut easily. Clear gel can also be used.
- Cream of tartar is always in a meringue. But why? Cream of tartar is actually a byproduct of winemaking but a little bit helps stabilize egg whites and creates more volume.
- Vanilla extract will give the Swiss meringue a hint of flavor without competing with the lemon filling. Plus, the addition of the vanilla extract drives home the marshmallow-like texture of the meringue.
This is the iconic diner-staple and spring-themed pie. And take it from me: you do not need an occasion like Easter to make this. The flavor will pinch the sides of your tongue like a good tart one should, and the sweet creamy meringue will bring it all together!
Watch how to make this lemon meringue pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
For the lemon curd
- 1 9-inch pie crust baked
- 4 large egg yolks (whites reserved)
- 4 large whole eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
For the Swiss meringue
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the lemon curd filling
- In a 4 quart saucepan, combine the four whole eggs, four egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk to combine and place over medium-low heat. Continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken with a few bubbles forming around the edges, 5-6 minutes. Keep whisking and allow the curd to cook until it is noticeably very thick with large bubbles forming, 4-6 minutes.4 large egg yolks (whites reserved), 4 large whole eggs, 1 ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup cornstarch, ½ tsp salt
- Remove the curd from the heat and pour through a sieve into the prepared pie shell. Place plastic wrap directly on the lemon curd filling and place in the refrigerator until chilled, or for up to 24 hours. Once chilled, top with the meringue (recipe following).1 9-inch pie crust
For the Swiss meringue
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or a glass bowl, combine the reserved four egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine and place over barely simmering water. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens slightly and reaches 160°F. Remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer.4 large egg whites, 1 cup sugar, ⅛ tsp cream of tartar, ½ tsp salt
- Using the whisk attachment, whisk the meringue on medium speed, increasing to medium-high until the egg whites cool to room temperature, 3-4 minutes. Continue to whisk until the meringue becomes thick and holds a stiff peak, 4-6 minutes.
- Once at stiff peaks, whisk in the vanilla extract. Add the meringue to the prepared and chilled lemon pie.1 tsp vanilla extract
- Using a kitchen torch or broiler, brown the meringue and serve immediately.