This irresistible and refreshing Lemon Pie is made with a golden buttery graham cracker crust, smooth and creamy lemon filling and a tall cloud of billowy lightly-toasted meringue.
My Grandma’s Lemon Pie
Silky, tart and rich lemon filling meets light and fluffy toasted meringue topping! This recipe for Lemon Pie has the perfect balance of textures and flavors, making this scrumptious pie the ultimate citrus dessert.
Growing up my favorite dessert was Lemon Meringue Pie. My grandmother’s recipe was exactly like this one with a creamy custard pie filling made with rich sweetened condensed milk. Instead of homemade whipped cream, my grandma always topped her lemon cream pie with the fluffiest, most delicious French meringue. A simple buttery crumb crust held the amazing filling and topping. The flavors were almost magical.
Lemon Pie Ingredients
There are 3 parts to this creamy pie and only 8 ingredients total. Since this recipe is made with only a few ingredients, I will list here everything you need in one list! For exact amounts, check the printable recipe card below.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: You can buy the crumbs or the whole crackers. You will need about 10 full sheets for the crust recipe.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter for baking.
- Sugar: I use granulated sugar for this dessert.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: Use full-fat regular condensed milk. I usually buy this brand because it is thick and rich. Stay away from light and fat-free sweetened condensed milk or any brand with a lighter/thinner consistency as the pie will take longer to set (bake).
- Lemons: You will use the juice and the zest of fresh lemons.
- Eggs: I use large egg.
- Cream of Tartar and Salt: Cream of tartar is responsible for stabilizing the egg whites. Cream of tartar’s acidity help the egg whites reach their full volume potential and reach their peaks. A pinch of salt is all that is needed to balance the sweet flavor of the meringue.
How Do You Make Lemon Pie
- First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the Crust: You don’t need any special equipment to make the graham cracker crust or the lemon pie filling! Simply combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press the “sandy” mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a pie dish.
- Pre-Bake the Crust: The crust only needs to bake for 8 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the Pie Filling: Whisk together the condensed milk, lemon juice, egg yolks and lemon zest. Pour the mixture into the warm crust and bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile make the meringue.
- Whip the Meringue: With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and pinch of salt and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form.
- Finish Assembling and Bake: Remove the pie from the oven and spread the meringue all the way to the edges so it touches the crust. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meringue browns slightly.
- Chill: This is the hardest part of the entire process. Waiting for the pie to chill without scooping out a tiny piece to taste! Chill for 2 hours before serving.
Is This A No-Bake Lemon Pie?
This pie recipe used to be a No Bake Lemon Pie recipe (except for the meringue part) just like an icebox pie. Unfortunately, some of my friends told me that sometimes the creamy lemon filling would not set for them, especially if they made the recipe with store brand condensed milk.
To solve this problem, I bake the filling for 10 minutes before topping the pie with the meringue. The meringue is then spread all over the lemon pie and baked again until the meringue is lightly browned.
Why Does This Pie Recipe Works?
- No Soggy Crust: Pre-baking the crust eliminates the possibility of sogginess. Feel confident about pouring the creamy lemon filling over. It’s safe!
- No Runny or Wet Lemon Filling: Although the luscious filling is creamy and silky smooth, we need to be able to slice it without having it run all over the plate. Because of the inconsistency of different brands of sweetened condensed milk, I pre-bake the filling (in the crust) for 10 minutes. Both the crust and filling will continue to bake when you bake the assembled creamy lemon meringue pie.
- No Weeping Meringue: Are you wondering how how do you keep lemon pie from weeping? To prevent weeping meringue, make sure the meringue is spread all the way to the edges of the pie so it touches the pie crust. None of the lemon pie filling should be visible at this point. It’s also important to top the pie with the meringue when the lemon pie filling is hot/warm (right off the oven). This help prevent meringue from weeping as well.
How To Make Lemon Meringue Pie Topping
- Use room temperature egg whites. Room temperature egg whites whip faster and to greater volume than cold egg whites.
- Wipe clean the mixing bowl you will be using before adding the egg whites. Make sure the bowl is completely free of any water or oil residue.
- To make the perfect meringue, make sure only egg whites are in the mixing bowl. No egg yolks allowed! Not even a tiny drop.
- Use cream of tartar. Beat both the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Only then add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form. The eggs should be glossy but not dry.
Can I Use Store Bought Pre-Made Pie Crust?
The graham cracker crust in this recipe is very simple and easy to make but if you prefer, you can opt for the convenience of store bought crust.
Can I Top This Pie With Whipped Cream Instead Of Meringue?
Yes, you can spread or pipe whipped cream over the lemon pie filling. It’s best to use stabilized whipped cream which holds its shape for up to three days. Homemade stabilized whipped cream is quick and easy to make and tastes better than store bought.
Can I Make This Pie Ahead Of Time?
It’s best to eat this creamy lemon pie made with condensed milk the day it is assembled. Although lemon meringue pie will last a couple of days in the refrigerator, the meringue will start to weep with the humidity and the change in temperature.
The good news is that parts of this lemon pie can be made ahead of time. The graham cracker crust can be made and kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 days. The crust can also be pre-baked ahead of time. This type of crust also freezes well. Freeze the prepared crust (not baked) in the pan for 2-3 months. Allow it to thaw completely before using it.
The smooth and creamy melt-in-your-mouth lemon filling will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.
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Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie
FOR THE CRUST
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet crackers)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
FOR THE FILLING
- 1 14-ounces cans full-fat sweetened condensed milk (I use eagle brand)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 large egg yolks whites reserved for meringue
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest optional
FOR THE MERINGUE
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
MAKE THE CRUST
- In a medium bowl, mix the graham crackers, melted butter and sugar. The mixture will be sandy and thick.
- Using your fingers and the bottom of a measuring cup, press the mixture tightly into the bottom and up the sides of an 9-inch pie dish. Pre-bake the crust for 8 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
MAKE THE FILLING
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, lemon juice, egg yolks and zest (if using) until smooth. You can use an electric mixer, if preferred.
- Pour the mixture into the warm crust.
- Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile make the meringue.
MAKE THE MERINGUE
- With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and pinch of salt and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form.
- Remove the pie from the oven and spread the meringue all the way to the edges so it touches the crust. Make decorative peaks and swirls with the back of a spoon.
- Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meringue browns slightly. Chill for 2 hours before serving.
- Make sure you don’t have any egg yolk in the whites. Not even a little drip of yolk.
- Wipe the mixing bowl clean. The bowl should be completely dry and free of any grease residue.
- Separate the yolks from the whites while the eggs are cold. Cold eggs are easier to separate; however, room temperature egg whites whip faster and reach a higher volume than cold egg whites. Leave the whites in a bowl on the kitchen counter while you make and bake the crust and mix the filling. By the time you have to make the meringue, your egg whites will be at room temperature.
- It’s best to eat this lemon pie the day is assembled. Although lemon meringue pie will last a couple of days in the refrigerator, the meringue will start to weep with the humidity and the change in temperature.
- The graham cracker crust can be made and kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 days. It can also be pre-baked ahead of time. Graham cracker crust freezes well.
- The creamy lemon pie filling can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for 2 days.