Start to Finish: 3 hours
Servings: 6
Difficulty: Intermediate

With a combination of tangy lemon custard and a sweet meringue topping, lemon meringue pie is one of America’s classic desserts, popular since the mid 1800s, says John F. Mariani, author of Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, quoted in Food Timeline. Use real ingredients in your pie and pay attention to long-standing techniques to achieve results that rival those of your grandma’s.

This recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.


Your grandmother probably didn’t use artificial lemon juice, and neither should you. The best lemon meringue pies use real lemon juice plus lemon zest to give the pie intense, fresh lemon flavor.

Follow practices that your grandmother probably did to make the best-tasting and the best-looking pie:

  • After cooking the meringue on top of the pie, let the pie cool on a rack to room temperature before refrigerating it. This helps keep the top from shrinking back from the filling.
  • Slicing the pie is easiest if you refrigerate it for at least three hours to completely set the filling. Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water between cutting each piece. Cut with a slight up-and-down sawing motion instead of simply pressing down on the filling.