Granny's Famous Lemon Meringue Pie

A lemon meringue pie

Welcome to the world of Granny's Famous Lemon Meringue Pie, a regal dessert fit for a queen or king. This centerpiece dessert is the perfect way to cap off a meal, and it's sure to be the highlight of your family potluck dinner or church social.

This perennial springtime favorite is more than just a pie. It's a delicious way to incorporate citrus fruit into your dessert, quickening the senses with its tart lemon custard, and topped in a glorious cloud of toasted meringue. If you're feeling adventurous, substituting lime or even grapefruit juice is a fun way to experiment with different flavor profiles. Or, if you prefer tried and true citrus pie recipes, check out the classic Key Lime Pie.


Lemon Filling
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 14 cup cornstarch
  • 18 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 cups cold water
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 12 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Meringue Topping
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 14 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 12 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 12 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Method

    • 1. Make one of Granny's oil-based pie crusts. Parbake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 425 F (215 C).

    • 2. For the filling: Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning of the process and more frequently as mixture begins to thicken. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice, and finally butter. Bring mixture to a brisk simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.

    • 3. For the meringue: Mix cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture thickens. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat. Let cool while beating egg whites.

    • 4. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. Remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot).

    • 5. Pour filling into pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around edge then center of pie to keep it from sinking into filling. Make sure meringue attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Use spoon to create peaks all over meringue. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

    The History and Art of Baking Lemon Meringue Pie

    Lemon Meringue Pie is a classic dessert that has stood the test of time. Its origins can be traced back to the 19th century, where it was popularized by a Philadelphia confectioner named Elizabeth Goodfellow. Over the years, this pie has become a staple in many households, loved for its perfect balance of tart lemon filling and sweet, fluffy meringue.

    Each component of the Lemon Meringue Pie plays a crucial role in its overall taste and texture. The crust, often made from a blend of flour, salt, and butter, provides a firm base for the pie. It's important to blind bake the crust to prevent it from becoming soggy when the lemon filling is added.

    The lemon filling is the heart of the pie. Made from a mixture of sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and fresh lemon juice and zest, it provides the tartness that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the meringue. A pro tip for a smoother texture is to use superfine sugar, which dissolves faster in the filling.

    The meringue, made from whipped egg whites and sugar, is the crowning glory of the pie. It's important to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks to achieve the light, fluffy texture that meringue is known for. A touch of cream of tartar can help stabilize the meringue and prevent it from weeping.

    Baking a Lemon Meringue Pie is a labor of love, but the result is well worth the effort. Whether you're making it for a special occasion or as a treat for yourself, the process of creating this pie from scratch is a rewarding experience.

    Remember, the best Lemon Meringue Pie is made not just with the right ingredients, but also with patience and care. So, roll up your sleeves, preheat your oven, and get ready to create a masterpiece!