I love classic custard and meringue pies, especially lemon meringue and lime meringue pies. This recipe is perfect for summer, but let’s be honest, I make it year-round. The one in the picture is made in my vintage Pyrex fridge dish (approximately 8″ x 6.5″ x 2.5″), but I’ve also made it in a traditional pie pan. I think I prefer the fridge dish version because it makes a deeper pie.
Ingredients – Pie Crust
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1⅓ cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup ice water
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Ingredients – Lemon Filling
1½ cups sugar
6 tbsp + 1½ tsp cornstarch
1½ cups water (warm or hot, if possible)
3 egg yolks, beaten (save the whites for the meringue!)
3 tbsp butter
zest from 2 lemons
½ cup lemon juice
Ingredients – Meringue
4 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp vanilla
Make the pie crust by combining flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and optional lemon zest. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add water gradually (approx. 1 tbsp at a time.) You might not need all of the water. Continue to pulse until crumbs become wet and begin to stick together, but do not overprices. It should not form a dough ball.
Dump crumby pie crust mixture onto a floured work surface and form a ball. Shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Roll out pie crust and fit into greased pie dish. Poke holes in the bottom. Ideally, use pie weights when you bake it. Bake at 350° until crust is golden. Set aside.
Make the meringue. I do this at the same time as I’m making the filling, but you can make it before the filling if you don’t want to multi-task. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until they’re foamy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat. Continue to beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy, then beat in vanilla. I used the third speed on my KitchenAid stand mixer for beating the meringue.
Make the filling. Set aside egg yolks in a large heat-proof bowl. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until it boils (it should also be thickening.) Let it boil for about a minute, continuing to stir so the sugar doesn’t burn. Definitely don’t skimp on the boiling or think it’s “close enough” – this is how you end up with runny filling! Depending on our range, you may need to turn the heat up above medium. I usually use a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature continues to ride toward boiling point and doesn’t plateau.
Pour about half of the hot mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, stirring the yolks constantly. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan, continuing to stir. Bring to a boil (tip from above about candy thermometer still applies), and boil for about 2 minutes while stirring.
Remove the mixture from the heat. Add the butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir until the butter is melted.
At this point, the mixture should be a fairly thick consistency. Pour it into the baked pie crust. Top with meringue. Make sure the meringue has a tight seal to the crust and doesn’t have any gaps. Ideally, you want the meringue to cover the crust edges so they don’t burn, too.
Bake at 375° for about 10 minutes on a middle oven rack, but watch the meringue so it doesn’t burn!