Question – What can you make in half an hour using only 6 ingredients? Answer – A perfect lemon meringue pie. Smooth tangy lemon filling, in a buttery, crunchy, cookie crumb crust, topped with a creamy pillow-soft meringue. What are you waiting for? Let’s get baking!!!
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Easy lemon meringue pie
Some recipes just stand the test of time, and this easy lemon meringue pie is one of them. This recipe was given to me by one of my friends from South Africa, who’s been making it for years. Believe me, this is a delicious recipe that is so easy to make and it never fails.
This recipe uses crushed cookies mixed with butter to form the perfect crust for the tangy creamy lemon filling. If you prefer, you can make a lemon meringue pie with shortcrust pastry, and I’ve included the instructions on how to do this further down the post.
The filling is made with a tin of condensed milk, flavoured with juice and zest of fresh lemons, which cuts through the sweetness of the milk, and gives a fresh tangy lemony taste. The lemons also help to thicken the filling. When you mix the lemon juice into the filling, something magical happens. The filling turns from a thin runny mixture into a thick, creamy filling, right before your eyes.
And finally, the topping. What can I say about the cloud-soft meringue, slightly sweet, and beautifully browned from the oven. This dessert really is heaven-on-a-plate.
How to make a lemon meringue pie
You can get the complete recipe and full instructions for making this easy lemon meringue pie on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
To make the lemon meringue pie you will need an 8″ or 9″ round pie dish. If you use an 8″ dish, the pie will be a little deeper. I used a 9″ dish because that was all I had.
Make the pie crust
If you prefer to make a pastry crust, follow these instructions for how to make a pastry crust below.
You will need 1 x 200g packet of Nice biscuits. South African readers may prefer to use Tennis biscuits, and US readers will probably want to use Graham crackers. It doesn’t really matter. If you can get hold of a packet of Biscoff biscuits, you could use those too. They would give the crust a lovely caramel flavour.
Start off by crushing the cookies into fine breadcrumbs (image1 above). I used my food processor, but if you don’t have one you can just put the cookies into a plastic bag and bang them with a rolling pin. Try to get them as fine as possible, but don’t worry if you still have a few largish crumbs – they will soften once you mix them with the butter. Tip the crumbs into a mixing bowl.
Now melt the butter in the microwave (or in a pan on low heat on the stove) and pour the melted butter into the cookie crumbs. Use a flat-bladed knife to mix the crumbs and the butter together (image 2 above). Make sure all the crumbs get coated with the butter.
If you prefer a sweeter crust you can mix 1 tablespoon of sugar into the crumb and butter mixture before pressing into the pie dish. I personally don’t think it needs any extra sugar. The biscuits are sweet enough.
Press the crumb mixture evenly over the base and around the sides of an 8″ or 9″ pie dish (image 3 above). You don’t need to grease the pie dish as there is enough butter in the crumb mixture to prevent the crust from sticking to the dish. Make sure the crumbs are evenly spread and well pressed down, both on the base and the sides.
Make the lemon filling
Now that you have the perfect base for your lemon meringue pie, you can turn your attention to the filling. The filling is simply made by whisking egg yolks into a can of condensed milk and then thickening with lemon juice.
Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a mixing bowl. Put the whites in another large bowl. Be very careful not to break the yolk and let any get into the egg white. If you get even the tiniest bit of egg yolk in the egg white the whites will not thicken, no matter how long you beat them.
Pour the condensed milk into the bowl with the egg yolks and beat until combined (image 1 above).
Grate the yellow zest from the lemon. Then squeeze the juice from the lemon and add the juice and the zest into the mixture. If you want a sharper lemon flavour you can use the juice and zest of 2 lemons.
Mix to combine the lemon. You will find that the mixture will thicken immediately (image 2 above).
Pour the thickened lemon mixture into the prepared pie crust (image 3 above) and set aside.
Make the meringue topping and bake
For the final step you need to make the meringue to smooth over the pie.
Take the egg whites and whisk them until the become frothy. Add the icing sugar / confectioner’s sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick enough to remain in the bowl if you turn the bowl upside down (image 1 above). If you have an electric hand mixer this will be an easy job. If you don’t have an electric hand mixer you can use a balloon whisk, but it will take quite a while longer to get the meringue to the right consistency.
Spread the thickened meringue over the lemon filling in the pie case. Make sure you cover the filling entirely. Fluff the top of the meringue with a fork to form peaks on top (image 2 above).
Bake in a pre-heated oven 180C / 350F until the meringue is golden brown (image 3 above). This should not take longer than 15 minutes. But keep your eye on it. You don’t want the meringue to burn.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then place the lemon meringue pie in the refrigerator to chill, and serve cold.
Can I make this in advance?
You can make the lemon meringue pie and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Any longer than 3 days and the crust will become soggy and the lemon filling will start to leak.
Can I make this with a pastry crust?
If you would prefer to make this lemon meringue pie with a pastry crust instead of a cookie crumb crust, just use the pastry recipe from my coconut meringue jam tarts. This link will take you directly to the recipe for the pastry.
Instead of making a crumb crust, just make up a batch of pastry and use it to line your pie dish.
Because this recipe does not have a lot of time in the oven, you will have to blind-bake the pastry before filling with the lemon mixture. This is how you blind bake a pastry case:
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F. Note this is higher than the temperature used for baking the actual pie, so do remember to turn the oven down and let it come back to temperature before baking the assembled lemon meringue pie.
- Make the pastry and use it to line your pie dish.
- Prick the bottom of the pastry case all over with a fork – this is to allow any air trapped under the pastry case to escape and prevent the case from lifting as it bakes.
- Cover the base of the pastry case with a layer of baking parchment and then fill the pastry case with baking beans. You can use normal dried beans or even dried peas or rice if you don’t have baking beans. You just need. You just need something heavy to ensure the base of the pastry case stays flat as it is blind-baked.
- Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes until the edges of the pastry case are starting to get a little colour.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before using.
- Continue with the rest of the recipe steps from how to make the lemon filling (and don’t forget to turn the oven down to 18C/350F 🙂 )
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Recipe – Easy Lemon Meringue Pie
Easy lemon meringue pie
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 7 ounce (200g) Nice biscuits or Graham crackers, Biscoff biscuits, Tennis biscuits
- 4 ounce (100g) Butter melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar optional
- 4 ounce (397g) can condensed milk
- 1 -2 medium lemons use one or two to taste
- 2 large eggs separated
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar / confectioner's sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F
Cookie crumb crust
- Crush the biscuits/cookies into fine crumbs
- Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove top
- Mix the butter with the biscuits/cookies and optionally mix in the sugar
- Press the mixture into an 8" or 9" pie dish, making sure to press down firmly, and coat both the base and sides. Set aside while you make the filling.
Lemon meringue filling
- Separate the egg yolks and place the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.
- Pour the condensed milk into the egg yolks and mix through.
- Zest the lemon(s) and squeeze out the juice.
- Add the juice and zest of the lemons and mix. The mixture will thicken.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared crumb case.
- Whisk the egg whites until frothy then add the icing sugar / confectioner's sugar.
- Continue whisking until the egg whites remain in the bowl when the bowl is turned upside down.
- Spread the meringue mixture over the lemon filling, taking care to cover the lemon completely. Fluff the top of the meringue with a fork to form peaks.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, only until the meringue had turned golden brown. Be careful not to allow the meringue to burn.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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