Go Back
+ servings
featured lemon meringue pie

Make Ahead Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 295kcal
Wonderfully fresh and full of vibrant flavors, this classic lemon meringue pie is a show stopping dessert. Make it ahead of time to wow your friends and family!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 1 9 inch pie shell homemade or store-bought, prebaked & cooled

For the Lemon Filling:

  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice from 6 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 8 large egg yolks reserve 4 whites for meringue
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into smaller pieces, softened

For the Meringue (an Italian Meringue):

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites reserved from filling
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Pie Crust:

  • The crust needs to be blind-baked (prebaked) before adding the filling. If using store-bought pie crust, prepare the crust per package directions and cool completely before filling.
  • If using homemade, follow the directions to your favorite pie crust.

For the Filling:

  • In a large saucepan set over medium heat, whisk sugar, lemon juice water, cornstarch and salt until cornstarch dissolves. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes, or until mixture becomes translucent and just begins to thicken. Vigorously whisk while adding the yolks. Add the zest and butter and stir until combined. Once again, bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly. Cook another 2 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without it sliding off the spoon.
  • Strain the filling through a fine-mesh strainer into the prepared pie shell. Remember to scrape the excess filling from the underside of the strainer into the shell. Place plastic-wrap directly on the surface of the filling, and place in the fridge to cool until set (at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours).

For the Meringue:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F and adjust oven rack to middle position.
  • Have all meringue ingredients and tools ready to achieve the best meringue. Tools needed are: a small saucepan, 2 heat-resistant rubber spatulas, a timer and a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk. (I also use a 2-cup, heat-proof measuring cup to pour the hot sugar syrup into before adding it to the egg whites. (It’s not necessary, just makes it easier to control.)
  • In the small saucepan set over medium-high heat, add water and sugar. Bring to a vigorous boil. Once the syrup is boiling vigorously, cook exactly 4 minutes (set a timer). The mixture should be syrupy and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat after 4 minutes and set aside while the egg whites are beaten. (At this time, it isn’t necessary, but I found it helpful, pour the sugar syrup into a 2-cup, heatproof, measuring cup.)
  • With the large bowl of the electric mixer (fitted with the balloon whisk attachment) beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt & cream of tartar, and gradually increase the speed to medium-high, about 2 minutes, or until whites hold soft peaks.
  • With the mixer running, slowly pour the hot syrup down the inside of the bowl and into the whites (avoid the whisk so the syrup won’t splash).
  • Add vanilla and continue beating until the meringue has cooled and is very thick and still shiny, 7-10 minutes.
  • One lemon filling is cooled and set (see above), mound the meringue over the filling and then work your way around the edge being sure the meringue butts up against the crust. Once the meringue is all around the edge of the crust, mound more meringue toward the middle, pressing down slightly to assure there are no air pockets and the meringue completely covers the filling.
  • Add as much meringue as you like, then use a tablespoon or rubber spatula to create peaks all over the meringue.
  • Place the pie on a baking sheet (for easier handling) and bake until peaks turn golden brown with white meringue showing through.
  • Remove the pie to a cooling rack.
  • At this point, the pie is beautiful and can be left alone to cool, but…if you'd like a more dramatic presentation, use a cook’s torch to toast the meringue where wanted. Be very careful to be ready to blow out any meringue that catches fire and to go slowly. Practice makes perfect.

Video

Notes

  • Original recipe Cooks Illustrated Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie
  • This pie, like all Lemon Meringue Pies, is best the day it is assembled. Unlike most lemon meringue pies, the lemon filling can be made one day ahead and stored refrigerated in an airtight container.
  • The pie crust can be cooked and stored (in the pie tin) in an airtight container (or zipper-style bag) up to two days before.
  • The assembled Lemon Meringue Pie will keep a few days in the fridge, but the meringue and/or the lemon filling will begin to weep. It is best eaten the day it is assembled. If perfection isn’t necessary (ie: if not making to share) the pie will still be delicious – just not ideal.

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 262IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg