World’s Best Lemon Pie Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 45 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min. + cooling
Our lemon meringue pie has a balanced, sweet-tart filling and a fluffy toasted meringue topping.

Updated: Mar. 06, 2024

It’s impossible to resist a well-made lemon meringue pie. It consistently tops the list of our best pie recipes. The mile-high, pillowy meringue topping looks so impressive after it toasts in the oven. If looks could kill, those peaks would get me! But this gorgeous pie isn’t just about looks. A single bite reveals flaky pie crust, a smooth lemony filling and a sugary topping with the lightest, airiest texture. It’s the perfect balance of rich, sweet and tart flavors.

Making lemon meringue pie starts with choosing the right ingredients—a quality pie dough, freshly squeezed lemon juice and room-temperature egg whites. From there, technique will get you the rest of the way. We’ll walk you through every step of how to make lemon meringue pie, from tempering the egg yolks in the lemon filling to beating the egg whites into just-right soft peaks.

How to Make Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie is tackled in a few simple steps. First, blind bake the pie crust. Baking an empty pie shell ensures the crust won’t become soggy when you add the filling.

Next, simmer the lemon filling until thick and bubbly. Cornstarch and all-purpose flour thicken this creamy concoction so the pie won’t turn out watery.

Finally, whip up a soft meringue, and add the pillowy topping to the pie. Make sure to spread the meringue all the way to the edge of the crust (any gaps can cause a weeping meringue). Bake the pie, and let it cool before enjoying.

Lemon Meringue Pie Ingredients

  • Pie dough: Try our recipe for homemade pie crust to get the ideal flaky texture. Or, if you’re running short on time, use one of our Test Kitchen’s picks for the best premade pie crust.
  • Egg whites: The secret to a perfect meringue is all in the egg whites. Did you know that older eggs make a better meringue? Ideally, they should be three to four days old. You see, the whites thin as the egg ages. Thinner whites create a fluffier, more voluminous meringue. From there, it’s all about temperature. It’s easiest to separate the eggs when they’re cold. However, egg whites will whip up better if they’re at room temperature. Once separated, let the egg whites stand on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes while you blind bake the pie crust.
  • Lemon filling: We make the lemon filling with sugar, cornstarch, all-purpose flour, salt, water, egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. For a pie with pure lemon flavor, avoid bottled lemon juice. Freshly squeezed juice tastes so much brighter!

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the pie crust

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to an 1/8-inch-thick circle. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the dough to 1/2 inch beyond the rim of the plate. Flute the edge. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: To flute the edge, position your index finger’s knuckle on the edge of the pie facing inward. Then place your other thumb and index finger on the inside edge. Press the crust towards the knuckle, and pinch to form a V. Continue all the way around the pie crust.

Step 2: Blind bake the pie crust

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line the crust with a double thickness of foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake on a lower oven rack until the edge is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Bake until the bottom is golden brown, three to six minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce the oven setting to 350°.

Step 3: Prepare the lemon filling

Sugar, cornstarch flour cooked in a sauce pan TMB Studio

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, all-purpose flour and salt. Gradually stir in the water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce the heat. Cook and stir for two minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Mixture being poured in beaten egg yolks in a small bowlTMB Studio

Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks.

Beaten egg yolks mixture cooked in a sauce panTMB Studio

Return the tempered egg yolks to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and grated lemon zest. Whisk until smooth. Pour the hot lemon filling into the pie crust.

Editor’s Tip: No one wants scrambled eggs in their lemon meringue pie! Create a smooth texture by tempering the eggs first. That process adds a small portion of the hot mixture to the yolks to raise their temperature slowly. Then, they’ll blend into the lemon filling without scrambling.

Step 4: Prepare the meringue

In a bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar until soft peaks form.

Editor’s Tip: When making meringue, be sure there are no yolks—not even a drop!—in your egg whites. Even a little fat can compromise the whites’ ability to stiffen, and the meringue won’t become fluffy and light. Wipe the mixing bowl clean, too, so it contains no residual oils.

Step 5: Bake the lemon meringue pie

A person Spreading the meringue over the pieTMB Studio

Spread the meringue over the pie, sealing edge to crust. Bake at 350° until the meringue is golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Editor’s Tip: If you’re worried about burning the pie crust edges, make a homemade pie crust shield.

Lemon Meringue Pie served in a plate on a wooden surfaceTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Swap in another pie crust: We love a classic lemon meringue pie’s flaky, buttery crust, but who says you have to follow tradition? Try graham cracker crust or shortbread crust (like the one used in our shortbread lemon tart recipe).
  • Boost the lemon flavor: Add extra lemon zest to the lemon filling to give it a bolder, more pronounced lemony flavor.
  • Don’t turn it into a pie: These flavors taste fantastic in non-pie form. Turn the lemon filling and meringue into other lemon meringue recipes, such as cookies, lemon meringue bars or gluten-free meringue shells with lemon curd.

Does lemon meringue pie need to be refrigerated?

Yes, lemon meringue pie should be refrigerated. It can sit at room temperature for up to two hours while it cools. After that, store it in the fridge.

Can you make lemon meringue pie ahead of time?

You can prep lemon meringue pie several days ahead, but we recommend baking it the same day you serve it. Prepare classic butter pie pastry up to four days ahead of time. Wrap it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator. Pie pastry can also be frozen for a month. Thaw frozen dough in the fridge overnight.

For the lemon filling and meringue topping, you can zest and juice the lemon in advance. You can also separate the eggs, and store the yolks and whites in separate airtight containers. However, we recommend making the filling and topping just before you’re ready to bake the pie.

How to Store Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie will soften and become soggy over time, so it’s best to enjoy it the same day it’s made. That said, it will last for two to three days in the refrigerator. If you plan to enjoy the pie the same day, pop the finished pie into the fridge. The pie will be just fine uncovered for a few hours.

For longer storage, it’s best to cover it up. Place toothpicks in the pie, and loosely cover it with storage wrap. If you have one, you can use a cake dome or cake cover instead. (Or use this genius hack for how to store cake, and place the cake on the lid of a storage container. The container itself becomes the dome!)

Can you freeze lemon meringue pie?

No, meringues are one of those baked goods you shouldn’t freeze. The whipped egg whites will become rubbery in the freezer, ruining the once-silken texture.

Lemon Meringue Pie Tips

A slice of Lemon Meringue in a plate with forkTMB Studio

How do you keep lemon meringue pie from getting soggy?

The best way to prevent a soggy pie crust is to blind bake the pie shell. Then, make sure your lemon filling is still hot when you spread the meringue on top. This will help prevent the meringue from “weeping” into the rest of your pie. No matter how well you prepare, the pie will become soggy when stored in the refrigerator. It’s inevitable, so the best lemon meringue pie is made the same day it’s served.

How do you keep lemon meringue pie from getting watery?

To prevent that dreaded watery filling, cook the lemon filling for the full time indicated in the recipe. This ensures the flour and cornstarch sufficiently thicken the filling. Lemon meringue pie can also become watery if the meringue weeps into the pie. Seal the pie properly by spreading the meringue to the pie crust’s edge, ensuring no filling is exposed. Finally, lemon meringue pies and humidity are not friends. If you’re serving this pie on a humid day, keep it covered and refrigerated until it’s time to serve.

Do you need to add cream of tartar to meringue?

For lemon meringue pie, we do not add cream of tartar to the meringue. Cream of tartar is an acid that stabilizes the egg white. It’s something of a safeguard or insurance policy to strengthen the meringue so it holds its shape. We include it in stiff meringues used to make meringue cookies. However, soft meringues—like the one used for lemon meringue pie—have a more delicate texture. Cream of tartar is not necessary.

Watch how to Make World’s Best Lemon Pie

World's Best Lemon Meringue Pie

Prep Time 45 min
Cook Time 15 min
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Dough for single-crust pie
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • MERINGUE:
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Directions

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle; transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. Trim to 1/2 in. beyond rim of plate; flute edge. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Line crust with a double thickness of foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake on a lower oven rack until edge is golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and weights; bake until bottom is golden brown, 3-6 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven setting to 350°.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Gradually stir in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
  4. Gradually stir 1 cup hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and zest until smooth. Pour into pie crust.
  5. In a bowl, beat egg whites and salt until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over pie, sealing edge to crust. Bake at 350° until meringue is golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 385 calories, 15g fat (9g saturated fat), 103mg cholesterol, 338mg sodium, 59g carbohydrate (38g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.

Mother's pies were always so memorable, with tender, flaky crusts. In summer the order of the day was lemon meringue! —Phyllis Kirsling, Junction City, Wisconsin
Recipe Creator