We Tried Reese Witherspoon’s Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

In her book Whiskey in a Teacup, Reese Witherspoon shares her easy lemon meringue pie recipe. We gave it try to see if it's a cut above the rest.

From Pleasantville to Big Little Lies, Reese Witherspoon has been a fixture on our screens for over two decades. But Reese does so much more than act. This multitalented mogul has also launched her own media company Hello Sunshine, the clothing, accessories and home decor line Draper James, is an activist for global women’s rights and most recently, a best-selling author.

In September of 2018, Witherspoon released her book Whiskey in a Teacup, which is a mix of autobiography, Southern lifestyle guide, recipes and entertaining tips. Flipping through the book, I learned about Reese’s grandmother Dorothea, the magic of Southern sweet tea and was introduced to one of the most gorgeous desserts I’ve ever seen, the Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue is one of my favorite desserts, and the tower of toasted meringue on this pie made me think, “Oh, I’ve got to try that.” Plus, it’s a fixture of Reese’s Easter celebration, which meant it had to be good. So, I grabbed my hand mixer, some lemons, a ton eggs and got down to work.

Psst! These lemon desserts are amazing, too.
1 / 100

Reese’s Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients:

  • One 9-inch prebaked pie shell

For the filling

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 1 cup softened butter

For the meringue

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar

Initial Thoughts

The first thing that struck me about Reese’s pie was that there was no cornstarch to be found. Without cornstarch, gelatin or another thickening agent, I wasn’t sure how the filling would get its thick, custard-like consistency that usually accompanies a lemon pie.

I was also surprised that the recipe’s method called for the pie to be cooled in a turned-off oven, rather than on a wire rack. This reminded me of meringue cookies, which get their crisp and crunchy texture from drying in a warmed oven for an hour or two. Intrigued, it was time to bake.

Getting Started

Making Reese Witherspoon's lemon pie with lemons, eggs and a bowlCaroline Stanko/Taste of Home

Before I could start on the filling and meringue, I had to bake and cool a pie crust. Since she’s a busy lady, Reese appreciates a good shortcut which means turning to frozen pie crust. If the thought of store-bought pie crust sends a shiver down your spine, feel free to whip up your own basic pie crust. While you’re at it, be sure to check out our best-kept secrets for homemade pie crust.

Next up was the filling. To a saucepan over medium-low heat, I dropped in the eggs, egg yolks and sugar, and started whisking. Reese says to then whisk the mixture for 7-8 minutes until it thickens into a custard and reaches 165ºF (if you don’t have a cooking thermometer, we recommend this one from Thermoworks).

Though my filling came up to temperature, it remained about the same consistency after 10 minutes of cooking. Hoping it was just a matter of time before it tightened up, I kept whisking the filling over heat for an additional 10 minutes. The filling thickened a bit more over that time, but it was still only a smoothie-like texture, so I added in about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. This tightened the filling right up, so I pulled it from the heat and stirred in the lemon zest, lemon juice and butter.

While I was a little disappointed that my filling wasn’t able to turn into a custard on its own, I was really excited about how much lemon was going into this pie. It takes a little bit of elbow grease to zest and juice 4 lemons but it is so, so worth it. The sweet lemon smell that comes from the warm filling is heavenly. Seriously, Reese should bottle that smell and sell it with her next book.

Whipping the Meringue

Making Reese Witherspoon's lemon pie meringue with eggs and powdered sugarCaroline Stanko/Taste of Home

Setting the lemon filling aside to cool, I turned my attention to the meringue topping. Grabbing a hand-mixer, I beat the egg whites until they were light and frothy. Then, I added in the salt and cream of tartar (which acts as a stabilizer for the meringue) and continued to beat.

Once the egg whites started forming soft peaks, I sprinkled in the powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time. You’ll want to make sure that the powdered sugar completely dissolves before you add in the next tablespoon or else your meringue can turn out gritty. When all of the sugar had been added, I kept beating the meringue until it was nice and shiny and stiff peaks formed. If you’re new to meringue, take a look at our Test Kitchen’s top tips for making it.

Assembling and Baking

Making Reese Witherspoon's lemon pie, adding meringue to pieCaroline Stanko/Taste of Home

Now that the crust, filling and meringue were ready, it was time to put them all together. After pouring the lemon filling into the pie crust, I added the meringue to the top with a spatula, making sure to spread it to the edges of the crust. This keeps the meringue from shrinking and exposing the filling while it’s in the oven.

Eager for the final product, I popped the pie into a 300ºF oven for 15 minutes. Then, Reese says to turn the oven off and let the pie rest in the cooling oven for another 45 minutes. It was really tempting to open the oven door just a crack to sneak a peek, but in the end, I’m glad I didn’t. Pulling the pie out of the oven, I saw that the meringue’s peaks were perfectly browned and hadn’t separated from the crust at all. Though it took some self-control, I kept myself from digging in right away and followed Reese’s advice to let the pie cool completely on a wire rack.

The Finished Product

Reese Whiterspoon's Whiskey in a Teacup book with a lemon meringue pieCaroline Stanko/Taste of Home

With the pie cooled, it was finally time to cut myself a slice. At first bite, I knew the time and effort that went into this pie was totally worth it. The meringue reached an inch and a half above the filling, really living up to its Mile-High name. And though it didn’t completely dry out like a meringue cookie, the peaks of the topping did become slightly crispy and crunchy. This paired perfectly with the soft pillowy texture of the inside of the meringue, giving the overall effect of a toasted marshmallow.

Between the lemon juice and zest, the filling packed a major citrus punch but wasn’t overwhelming or bitter. I bet this pie would be even better if I’d made it with Meyer lemons, which are less tart than regular lemons and have a slightly floral flavor. The texture of the filling was smooth, creamy and a little thicker than custard.

Overall, Reese’s lemon meringue was well balanced and light enough to leave you wanting a second slice. Plus, it’s gorgeous toasted meringue is a show-stopper, making the pie a great option for holidays, birthdays and dinner parties. But, it’s so tasty, you definitely won’t want to wait for a special occasion to make it again!

Add some Southern to your life by picking up a copy of Reese’s Whiskey in a Teacup and try your hand at her recipes, like the comforting chicken pot pie casserole.

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Popular Videos

Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.