This tangy Classic Lemon Meringue Pie comes from my 1965 “Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook.”
I took this vintage recipe and baked it modern by adding more lemon flavor, using ClearJel, and used a stabilized never-fail meringue topping.
Bakers tips for Classic Lemon Meringue Pie:
steps for making single pre-baked crust:
For cream pies, your pie shell needs to be pre-baked. You can make the pie dough a day ahead.
Dice the butter into small cubes and put into the freezer prior to making the pie dough. Chill water with some ice cubes before using. After you roll out the crust, put in fridge for 15 minutes so it’s cold going into a hot oven. This step will help keep the crust from shrinking.
Dust your raw pie crust dough with a thickening agent (this can be cornstarch, tapioca starch or ClearJel) and then brush with egg wash (1 egg white + 1 T. water) prior to pouring in the filling. This step prevents a soggy pie crust.
After you dust the raw pie crust dough, prick the bottom and sides with a fork. This will help steam escape and keep the bottom of the pie flat. Another way to keep the bottom flat is to cover the crust with parchment paper and place ceramic pie weights or raw, whole beans over the parchment paper.
tips for making the filling:
Be sure to put lemons on the counter the day you plan to make the pie. Room temp lemons will yield more lemon juice than lemons straight out of the fridge. The best tool for zesting lemons is a microplane. The best tool for juicing the lemons is a citrus juicer with a dish or a handheld citrus squeezer.
You can choose your favorite thickening agent (cornstarch or ClearJel). Vintage recipes typically call for flour or cornstarch. I really like to use ClearJel in pie filling as it works as 1:1 substitution for cornstarch and doesn’t make the filling cloudy like flour tends to do. Use regular ClearJel since you will be cooking the filling. Instant ClearJel is used for fillings that are not cooked.
tips for making never-fail meringue:
Be sure to set out and separate your eggs as part of your prep. Room temp egg whites are best to achieve a light meringue. I add cornstarch to my meringue keep it stabilized. It is best to top lemon filling with the meringue while the filling is still hot. This will help prevent weaping, otherwise known as when liquid forms between the layer of filling and meringue. When you are spreading out the meringue over the lemon filling, start from the outer edge towards the center and cover the filling right up to the edge of the crust to prevent the meringue from shrinking.
When serving, dip knife into hot water before slicing pie to prevent meringue from sticking and deflating from being cut. Be sure to eat a cream pie the same day it is made as the meringue will shrink and separate from the filling.
Looking for more pie recipes? Try Apple Cranberry Pie OR Apple Pie
Classic Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1 c. unbleached flour
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 T. unsalted butter ice cold
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 2 T. ice cold water
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1 1/3 c. superfine sugar
- 1/3 c. ClearJel or cornstarch
- 1/3 c. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 T. lemon zest
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 2 T. meringue (add after prepared)
- 1/2 c. superfine sugar
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 T. cornstarch
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Zest and juice 2 lemons.
- Separate out egg yolks and whites into 2 bowls.
- Put dry ingredients in stand mixer, add cold butter and pulse until crumbly. Remove bowl from mixer and add lemon juice and water. Mix by hand with pastry blender until just combined.
- Pour out onto a piece of saran wrap and shape into (1) 8" round disk. Refrigerate 10 minutes or overnight.
- Place pie disk between 2 pieces of parchment paper and roll out into round disk 2" larger than your pie plate.
- Place dough in pie plate and crimp edges.
- Pierce pie shell with fork, lightly dust with thickening agent, and brush with egg white wash. Place a round circle of parchment over the pie and fill bottom with pie weights. Bake pie shell at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Place water, sugar, clear jel and salt in heavy pan. Cook 5 minutes.
- Remove from burner and add in egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and unsalted butter and stir constantly until incorporated. Place back on burner and return mixture to a boil (about 1-2 minutes). Set aside.
- In heavy duty pan, cook together sugar, cornstarch, and water until all ingredients are dissolved (about 3-4 minutes). Set aside mixture.
- In the bowl of stand mixer, place egg whites, cream of tarter, salt, and vanilla.
- Mix for 5-7 minutes until egg whites are glossy and stiff.
- Pour warm lemon filling into cooled pie crust.
- Top the lemon filling layer immediately with the meringue, covering all the lemon filling and up to the edge of the pie crust to prevent shrinkage.
- Bake pie at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes until meringue is golden brown.
- Allow to cool on counter for at least 1 hour. Serve either at room temperature or place in refrigerator and serve cold. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.
- When serving, dip knife into hot water before slicing pie to prevent sticking.