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How To Make Lemon Meringue Pie

How to make lemon meringue pie with sweetened condensed milk features a creamy lemon filling topped with sweet meringue. The recipe calls for a few simple ingredients and is one of our favorite desserts.

The Best Lemon Meringue Pie

A slice of lemon meringue pie on a plate.

I’ve been eating the classic lemon meringue pie recipe all of my life, and it really is the best lemon meringue pie. It’s super duper easy to make and tastes amazing.

The pie recipe is made with just a few ingredients, including lemons and sweetened condensed milk, for a rich and creamy dessert.

And who doesn’t love pie? Feeling down? Eat pie. Is it a holiday? Eat pie. Want to share some food with a neighbor in need? Make pie. Oh, and make one for yourself and eat it.

Lemon meringue pie in a pie shell. The pie has Nilla Wafers for the pie crust. There's a slice taken out.

Traditional Lemon Meringue Pie – An Old Fashioned Recipe

Making pie is a good, old Southern tradition–one that needs to be passed on for generations. It’s an art form. Honestly, I always thought this recipe was some hidden family secret until I learned that it’s an old-fashioned lemon meringue pie with condensed milk that people have been making for generations.

Lemon meringue pie slice on a plate.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make the Pie?

Full printable recipe with measurements and instructions listed at the bottom of the post in the recipe card.

How To Make Lemon Meringue Pie

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Prepare the Nilla Wafer crust in the pie pan.
  3. Add the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lemon juice to a medium bowl and combine. Gently pour into the pie pan.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the egg whites. Mix until stiff peaks form, add sugar, and cream of tarter. 
  5. Top pie and bake for approximately ten minutes or until meringue is golden brown.

The Love of Pie

I have passed my love of pie down to my kids. They will ask, on a regular basis, for pie. Lemon meringue pie, chocolate pie, caramel pie, or pretty much any kind of cream pie. We’ve been known to take trips down to Sarasota, Florida, just to eat pie. Yoder’s Amish Restaurant is famous for its pies. They are so famous, in fact, they sell thousands at Thanksgiving and Christmastime. Talk about a feel-good, comfort-filled kind of place.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Lemon meringue pie crust made with Nilla Wafers. The wafers are in a metal pie shell.

Start by lining the vanilla wafers in the bottom of the pie pan. Set aside.

I try to get little pieces of cookie in between the little cookie spaces so there’s plenty of crust.

For this recipe, you can use a pie crust or a graham cracker crust. If you choose to use a pie crust, you will need to bake it first.

If you want a graham cracker crust, you will need to crush the graham crackers, add some melted butter, and press it into a pan.

I have always made my crust with Nilla Wafers, and they are so much easier to line up and prepare.

Pouring sweetened condensed milk into a large mixing bowl.

Secondly, add the sweetened condensed milk to a medium bowl.

I selfishly made this pie while my kids weren’t around so I could lick the can lid of sweetened condensed milk. You have my permission. It’s a mom perk! 

pouring lemon juice into a large mixing bowl with sweetened condensed milk.

Thirdly, add the lemon juice to the sweetened condensed milk.

You can either squeeze some lemons and use fresh lemon juice or buy the store-bought jar. Either one will work well.

To add a little more zing to your flavor, grate about a teaspoon of lemon rind and add it to the mixing bowl. Just a little bit will get those taste buds going.

Two eggs in a large mixing bowl with lemon and sweetened condensed milk.

Fourthly, add two egg yolks to the lemon juice to the sweetened condensed milk mixture.

Mix everything together with a whisk or a fork. 

Pouring the easy lemon pie recipe into the crust.

Gently pour the lemon pie filling into the crust. Be careful to pour slowly, or you’ll knock cookies out of place. I speak from experience. Once you pour the sweetened condensed milk lemon pie mixture onto the crust, set it aside while you get the meringue ready.

How to Make Meringue

Egg whites in a large clear glass mixing bowl.

I’ve learned a few things, the hard way, about meringue over the years. I’ve ended up with styrofoam, runny, or just plain flat meringue.

A small 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar over the bowl of beaten egg whites.

Start by beating the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks. It will take a couple of minutes. Next, add the cream of tartar to the stiff egg whites and beat for a minute more. You can also add the cream of tartar before you start beating the eggs. I have done it both ways.

A small amount of sugar in a measuring cup over the bowl of beaten egg whites.

Add the sugar and beat until the sugar is mixed in and soft peaks form.

Uncooked meringue on top of lemon meringue pie.

Finally, spread it over the lemon pie mixture. Once the meringue is on the pie, I take my spatula or the back of a spoon and sort of give it a few taps to get some peaks.

A full lemon meringue pie on a cutting board.

Bake it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. Let it cool, or the pie will be runny. It will still taste amazing, but it will be runny. We impatiently wait for it to cool and then dig in to eat the delicious pie.

If you make one, let me know what you think in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you.

This is an easy lemon meringue pie recipe that is delicious for any occasion including Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Tips For Making Meringue

  • When you separate the egg yolk from the whites, make sure the bowl is clean and dry before you add the whites. If there is even one drop of water in the bowl, it will keep the meringue from fluffing up. 
  • You will have the same issue if you accidentally get the egg yolks in the bowl with the whites. So be sure to scoop out the yolks if you accidentally get them in the bowl with the whites.
  • If you have a hard time separating the eggs, don’t let that stop you. You can always buy an egg separator on Amazon or at the store.
A slice of pie taken out of a full pie.

Add Some Variety to Your Pie

Looking to mix things up with your lemon meringue pie? It’s a fun way to try out new tastes and textures. Check out these cool twists you can add to the traditional recipe:

  1. Citrus Variations: Replace some or all of the lemon juice with other citrus juices like lime, orange, or grapefruit for various flavors.
  2. Berry Fusion: Add a layer of berry compote, such as raspberry or blueberry, between the lemon filling and the meringue. This adds a sweet and tart contrast to the pie.
  3. Herbal Notes: Incorporate herbs like basil, thyme, or mint into the lemon filling for a fresh, aromatic twist.
  4. Nutty Crust: Mix crushed nuts like almonds or pecans into the pie crust for added texture and flavor.
  5. Savory-Sweet: Add a pinch of sea salt to the lemon filling or on top of the meringue for a savory-sweet contrast.
  6. Swirls and Peaks: Lightly brown the meringue with a kitchen torch, creating an eye-catching texture and a slightly toasted flavor.
A slice of pie on a plate on top of a cutting board. There are some lemon wedges on the side.

Do You Need to Refrigerate Lemon Meringue Pie?

After you cook the lemon meringue pie, you need to let it cool and set it up at room temperature. After about two hours, you need to refrigerate the pie. Do not leave the pie out longer than two hours because bacteria will begin to grow. Be sure to put the pie in a container in the refrigerator to stay fresh longer. I’ve bought several Tupperware pie holders at the thrift store that are in great condition. They are a perfect size and work great to keep your pies. 

This is an easy lemon meringue pie recipe that is delicious for any occasion including Christmas and Thanksgiving.

How To Make Lemon Meringue Pie with Sweetened Condensed Milk

Yield: 8 pieces
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This is an easy lemon meringue pie recipe that you are going to love. The recipe is so easy and made with just a few ingredients including lemons and sweetened condensed milk for a rich and creamy dessert.



  • Vanilla Wafers


  • 1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar


Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

  1. Line the base and edges of the pie pan with vanilla wafers. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the egg yolks, lemon juice, and sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Pour mixture into the pie pan. Pour slowly and gently so you don't push the cookies out of their position.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
  5. Add the cream of tartar and beat.
  6. Add the sugar and continue to beat until blended.
  7. Pour on top of the pie.
  8. Bake it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
  9. Let it cool and eat.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 133mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 0gSugar: 50gProtein: 8g

Nutrition is approximate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Thursday 18th of April 2024

Great pie! I love lemon anything! I grew up in Arkansas calling this one a lemon ice box pie. I have always thought the lemon meringue pie was the one made with egg yolks and cornstarch, so what do you call that one? I love finding out what people call things in different regions.

Julie Pollitt

Thursday 18th of April 2024

My grandmother called it lemon ice box pie, too! I am not sure what the one with cornstarch is called, but I'll eat it!


Sunday 2nd of July 2023

I've been making this pie with Graham cracker crust for over 60 years. It was published in the original Betty Crocker Cookbook. Its a favorite of mine.

Julie Pollitt

Monday 3rd of July 2023

Definitely a favorite!

Laura Allen

Sunday 24th of July 2022

This sounds like the recipe I always made but I crush the nilla wafers, add melted butter and sugar and push it into the bottom of the pie plate. Than line the edges with whole wafers.

Julie Pollitt

Monday 25th of July 2022

That's a great way to do it. I will have to try it like that. Anytime we can add butter to a recipe, I am all over it!

Angela D

Sunday 26th of December 2021

I learned this recipe from my mother, and like you I thought we had something no one else new about, I tell everyone I meet about it when shopping during the holidays. Now my question is about the meringue, I've been reading over the years that meringue needs to be put on warm pie filling, I've noticed my meringue weeps and separates from the lemon filling. Please help.

Julie Pollitt

Monday 27th of December 2021

Hi Angela, I actually didn't know that. I just Googled and you are correct, you should spread it over warm pie to keep it from weeping. I would say with this pie, it really won't be warm, but room temperature. You could probably stick it in a warm oven for a few minutes, then spread the meringue on top and then cook the meringue. Maybe that will help keep it from weeping. I will have to try that next time. What a great question!


Sunday 29th of August 2021

Hi, your recipe sounds very tasty. I'm only scared to try it as written, for fear of undecoooked egg yolks and egg whites. I mean is 10 or 15 minutes in the oven really enough to bake this pie which includes raw eggs...or am I missing something?

Julie Pollitt

Sunday 29th of August 2021

Hi Lia, I am always super nervous about things like that, as well. In this case, the lemon juice will kill the bacteria in the eggs. But, if you wanted to, you could lower the temperature of the oven and cook the meringue a little longer and that will help, as well.

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