Lemon Meringue Pie

Classic, no fuss Lemon Meringue Pie - TheMessyBaker.com

19 Apr Lemon Meringue Pie

Classic Lemon Meringue Pie - TheMessyBaker.com

There were no party hats. No streamers. No banner saying “Greaty at Eighty!” There wasn’t so much as a candle. There was, however, pie. Simple, classic, 100%-from-scratch lemon meringue pie.

Yesterday, my father turned 80. He marked the day by going about his business as usual. This is typical. He doesn’t need recognition. He doesn’t want us to make a fuss. He was perfectly happy with the family dinner earlier in the month. But that was all balled up with a belated Easter and two other birthdays. Hardly the laser-sharp focus 80 years’ of life deserve.

But he doesn’t want that.

So I baked his favourite dessert. Andrew and I delivered it with what might possibly be the worst rendition of Happy Birthday on record. Looking back, our gift should have been pie and silence.

Waves of meringue top a classic lemon pie - TheMessyBaker.com

We arrived, pie still warm, minutes before he was heading out. He wasn’t expecting us or the pie. “We already celebrated,” he said.

Yeah. With an Easter Egg Hunt and two other people.

Just take the damn pie!

He did. And he promised not to share.

Lemon Meringe Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep / inactive time: 
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This classic lemon meringue pie is easy to make but tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen. Be sure to use fresh lemon juice, not bottled, to avoid a metallic taste.
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
  • 1 300-mL can sweetened condensed milk (low fat is fine)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (do not used bottled, it will taste metallic)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  1. Shell
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9-inch pie plate with your favourite pastry dough. Prick the bottom of the pie dough all over with a fork, being careful not to pierce all the way through. Line the pie with foil or parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges of the pie are just golden. Remove the beans or weights and bake until the pie is golden all over, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool the shell on a rack and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F while you make the filling and meringue topping.
  4. Filling
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, lemon juice, zest and yolks until smooth. Pour filling into the baked pie shell.
  6. Meringue
  7. In a squeaky clean medium bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time and beat until stiff peaks form.
  8. Gently, spoon the meringue on top of the pie, pressing it to the sides so that all the filling is covered.
  9. Bake the pie for 15 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. Allow to cool completly before serving -- if you can wait that long.
  10. Allow to cool before serving.
Variations: For a Key Lime Pie, use lime juice and lime zest instead of lemon. Use a graham crust instead of pastry.

Related Post

  • Jill Silverman Hough
    Posted at 16:43h, 19 April Reply

    GORGEOUS photos, Charmian!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:49h, 19 April Reply

      Aw, shucks. Thanks, Jill. A real compliment coming from you!

  • Robin
    Posted at 17:52h, 19 April Reply

    Hey, you beat my food offering. I sent two bran muffins with a candle.
    I know this pie recipe is the best!! Once people try it, they will never look back.

  • Charmian Christie
    Posted at 18:56h, 19 April Reply

    Isn’t giving bran muffins to a senior a bit cliché? Or is it only a stereotype if they come with a pruce juice chaser? :-)

    You’re right about this recipe. I can’t count how often I’ve been asked for the recipe. As Mom would say, “It’s a keeper!” — just like Dad.

  • Rizak the Really Horrible
    Posted at 22:33h, 20 April Reply

    It’s the zest that really makes it, I’ve found. You have to use real lemons and add the zest for the extra oomph given by the oils. The tartness will come through regardless because of the lemon, but the oils add a delicious depth.

    I see you make your own crust. Good job. I just hate going to a recipe site where they say ‘just use a store-bought pie shell’. Convenient, yes. Does it really make a difference? Well, yes. My favourite pie crust recipe is right inside the lard box. Easy as pie. Crust. Yes, I love lard. THAT makes a difference, too. I’ve even gone so far as to render my own leaf lard (from the fat around the pig’s kidneys). I was happier with the store lard. Still, that might be a fun experiment. Email me for more details.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:34h, 22 April Reply

      Yes, real lemons and freshly grated zest are the key!

      As for the crust, my mother always made hers from scratch with lard. It was delicious. She switched to shortening when lard got a bad reputation, but now the thinking is coming around to lard once again. I use butter because lard doesn’t always agree with me. Regardless, homemade crust is far better than store bought.

      I have never rendered my own lard. Kudos to you for going that extra mile. Interesting that you liked the store brand better — I guess some things are worth the extra effort (homemade pie crust) and some aren’t! Thanks so much for sharing this interesting culinary adventure!

      Anyone else rendered their own lard?

  • Lisa the Gourmet Wog
    Posted at 05:21h, 21 April Reply

    WOW that really is easy to make! I’m gong to give this one a go, thanks for the recipe :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:37h, 22 April Reply

      It’s embarrassingly easy. Far easier than the standard baked custard version. And, if I may be bold, it’s tastier.

      Hope you like the results!

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 19:06h, 21 April Reply

    Love the pics and the story. I’ll try this recipe and let you know how it turns out for me :)

    Glad to meet you at FBC2013 BTW,


    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:46h, 22 April Reply

      I can’t wait to hear how you like it. It’s got an amazingly creamy texture.

      Since your blog is named for your grandmothers, you might enjoy the back story to this pie. This was my grandfather’s favourite. He asked for it ofen and my grandmother was more than happy to oblige. He always asked what made her recipe so good, but my grandmother would never tell. Why all the secrecy? Fresh milk was rationed during WWII. Being stationed overseas, the only milk available for his tea and coffee was sweetend condensed milk. My grandfather grew to loathe it and refused to touch it once he returned home. Knowing this hated ingredient was the key to his favourite pie would have ruined it for him. So my wise grandmother just side stepped the issue.

      Great meeting you at FBC2013. Hope our paths cross again soon.

  • Monica
    Posted at 02:15h, 22 April Reply

    Looks simple and delicious! I’ll have to try this!

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen
    Posted at 15:13h, 22 April Reply

    Your pie looks absolutely gorgeous! It sounds so delicious too, thank you for the recipe!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:37h, 23 April Reply

      Hope you like it. It’s my father’s all time favourite. That it’s super simple doesn’t hurt its cause either.

  • Jeff
    Posted at 16:46h, 02 May Reply

    Lemon Meringue pie is one of my favourites. My grandmother also used to make this one and I have found memories of it. My grandfather sounds similar to yours, silence is sometimes best. Thanks for sharing this, I’ll have to relive some memories and make it myself. Thank you.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:59h, 04 May Reply

      Thanks for sharing your story. I think a whole generation of people were turned off condensed milk because of the war.

      “Silence is sometimes best” is a motto many cooks should use — and not just for pie!

      Happy memories and pie eating!

Post A Comment

Subscribe to my newsletter.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s informative.


Receive weekly tips, recipes and advanced notice of upcoming events.

Yes, please!