Fool-Proof Lemon Meringue Pie is my go-to Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. It always turns out perfect, even when I do dumb things like forget the butter, which is what happened this afternoon. But even without the butter the filling was still delicious, and the meringue didn't weep or shrink.
The Fool-Proof Lemon Meringue Pie recipe is from a 1997 Sunset Magazine annual, and it's still available on-line with a helpful article on how to make Lemon Meringue Pie. The article answers questions on how to keep lemon meringue pie from being runny, why the filling needs to be hot when you top it with the meringue, and why meringue shrinks.
The recipe employs techniques mentioned in the article. For Fool-Proof Lemon Meringue Pie, you mix the filling ingredients first with cold water and then hot water which keeps the heat and acid from destroying the bonds in the starch and causing a runny pie. Putting the meringue on a very hot filling supposedly curbs weeping, and baking the meringue at a low heat like 325 keeps it from shrinking.
What this recipe does not include is a recipe for a baked pie shell. I usually make one ahead of time using this baked pie shell recipe. Alternatively, you could just buy a refrigerated pie crust and bake it ahead.
Fool-Proof Lemon Meringue Pie
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (250 grams)
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch (60 grams)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon butter room temperature (14 grams)
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- Baked 9-inch pie crust
- 4 large egg whites room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- Assemble all the ingredients – especially meringue ingredients. By this I mean have the egg whites in the mixing bowl and the cream of tartar, sugar and cornstarch measured.
- In a 2- to 3-quart sauce pan that is not yet set over heat, mix 1 ¼ cups sugar with 6 tablespoons cornstarch and salt. Whisk in ½ cup cold water, lemon zest, and lemon juice, blending thoroughly. Whisk in the egg yolks. Add the butter and whisk in 1 ½ cups boiling water.
- Set pan over medium or medium high heat and stir with a flexible heat-proof spatula scraper or wooden spoon until mixture boils, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir filling 1 minute more. Pour filling into pie crust and quickly make meringue.
- In bowl of a stand mixer using whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Continue to beat at high speed and gradually add the sugar and cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. Then beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Spoon meringue onto hot pie filling. With a spatula, swirl meringue to cover filling completely, touching the rim of the pie shell.
- Bake in a 325 degree oven until meringue is browned, about 25 minutes. Set pie on rack until cool, about 3 hours. Serve immediately or store in a cake cover in refrigerator.