Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie: Tips and Recipe

Lemon Meringue Pie. The name fits the dessert: a sweet-tart confection with a cooked lemon pudding and a light and airy topping. Not only is the treat served chilled making it a perfect ending to a summer barbeque, but you don't have to worry about leftovers - there often aren't any. This makes a great make-ahead dessert for the next day, too.

We like our lemon meringue pie with an extra zip, and this recipe is a little more tart than sweet. You can make the pie with as little or as much meringue as you like. If you use all of it, mound it high and evenly without too many deep peaks that may burn before the meringue is completely cooked. You can also pipe it on, too. Just be sure the meringue touches the crust to prevent it shrinking as it bakes and exposing the filling.

For this recipe, use your favorite pie crust. Here are some quick tips for making a lemon meringue pie.

  1. Begin making the meringue topping as soon as the hot filling is made and poured into the shell. Don't wait until the filling is cooled before beginning to whip the meringue.
  2. Spread the meringue all the way to the edge of the filling to meet the crust. By joining the meringue to the crust, there will be little chance for it to shrink as it bakes.
  3. Once the pie is topped with meringue and baked, let it cool at room temperature then place in the refrigerator overnight. This gives the filling a chance to thoroughly cool and set up completely. If you try to cut it too soon, the filling will not have a chance to set up and will be very soft and runny.

Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie
  • 1 9-inch pie shell
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (yellow part only)

Pre-bake the pie shell in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Let the pie shell cool as you prepare the filling.

Heat the water, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Beat the yolks with 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk until it is blended and smooth. When the water begins to boil, temper in about half the liquid into the yolks and whisk until blended. Add this back to the saucepan and bring to a boil whisking the whole time. When bubbles break the surface, reduce heat slightly and cook for about a minute.

Remove from heat and add in the lemon juice, softened butter, and grated lemon zest. Stir to blend and melt the butter. Pour this into the cooked pie shell. Begin making the merinuge and spread it over the top of the pie while the filling is still warm (don't let the pie filling cool down first).

Place the meringue-topped pie into the preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the top is browned and the meringue springs back when touched lightly.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack until room temperature, then chill overnight before serving.

Serve chilled.

Mile High Meringue:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Begin beating the egg whites as soon as the filling is spread in the pie shell. When the whites are frothy and whitened, add in the cream of tartar. After soft peaks form, spoon in the sugar about a tablespoon at a time until all the sugar is used up and peaks form. You want stiff peaks but you don't the meringue to be overwhipped and dry. Use in the recipe above as called for.


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