Use these tips and our revised recipe to make delicious gluten-free lemon meringue pie.
Recently, as we were updating content on Gluten Free & More’s website, the editorial staff was asked to bake some of our popular pie recipes and to take step-by-step photos of them for our website.
Always (well, maybe not always) up for a challenge, I volunteered to make Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie. It certainly would be a challenge, especially since I’ve never made lemon meringue pie in my life, whether gluten-free or gluten-full.
Honestly, I haven’t even eaten lemon meringue pie all that much in the past. Lemon meringue pie sounds delicious in a throwback, classic, late-night pie diner kind of way. But a) I usually go for fruit pies over cream pies, b) I usually go for cake over pie and c) while I do love lemon, I’d choose chocolate any day.
(Speaking of pie diner, have you seen the musical Waitress? I loved it, as well as the 2007 movie. Jenna, the main character, gives her pies fanciful names that reflect her current emotional state. I think I’ll call my pie the “I Love Lemon But Am Scared of Meringue Pie.”)
So here I was, tasked with making a lemon meringue pie. I took a shortcut by starting with a frozen premade gluten-free pie crust. I used Wholly Wholesome’s Wholly Gluten-Free Pie Shell, which works well and is also dairy-free and kosher-pareve. So thankfully that took a whole level of stress out of the equation!
The pie recipe breaks down into two main parts: making the lemon filling and making the meringue. To make the lemon filling, first you make what’s basically a pudding base, mixing together sugar, cornstarch, rice flour and cold water. The trick here is to boil the mixture, while stirring often so it doesn’t burn, it until it’s thick and bubbly.
Then add the egg yolks. But you don’t want the hot mixture to cook the egg yolks (because then you’d end up with scrambled eggs- ew), so you have to do this in two parts. First, slowly add half of the hot mixture to the egg yolks, while whisking constantly, to gradually bring the yolks to a warmer temperature without cooking them (pour the hot liquid down the side of the bowl, rather than directly on the eggs). This is called “tempering” the eggs. Then you add all the egg mixture back to the pan with the rest of the hot liquid. Then stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and butter to the mixture in the pan.
The trick at this point is to bring the mixture to a boil again, boil for a couple of minutes and then let it cool, since puddings thicken as they cool.
The next part is to make the meringue topping. This was less stressful than I’d thought it would be. To make the meringue, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy and then beat in the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. (If you don’t have cream of tartar, try adding a pinch of salt instead.) You’ll know you have stiff peaks when you lift the beaters and peaks stick up from the egg whites without collapsing.
I must admit that my first attempt at lemon meringue pie failed (before I knew all those helpful tips above). I ended up with lemon meringue soup. I thought the filling would gel when the pie was refrigerated, but it didn’t. Also, the meringue topping kind of pulled away from the sides and drooped a little, so it wasn’t so pretty.
I sent an SOS email to Gluten Free & More Food Editor and kitchen goddess Beth Hillson. Even though it was the weekend, Beth called me, and we brainstormed some tips. I needed to successfully make the pie, because I had promised I would bring it to my in-laws’ house that weekend.
Beth said to add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch and reduce the water (taking it to the amounts now listed in the recipe). She also said to cook the filling longer. Also, I let the filling cool for 10 minutes, as I know that puddings thicken as they cool. We ended up revising our Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie recipe to what you see on the site today (the earlier version of the recipe was from Argo Cornstarch).
The second time I made it — now using the revised recipe on our site — I had success! The pie looked beautiful, with a bright lemon filling that held together well and a high meringue topping. It tasted great, too, with a powerful lemon taste that was balanced by the light meringue.
When you’re looking for a classic dessert or a throwback pie that’s going to wow the crowd, consider making this Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie and let us know how it worked out for you!Originally posted October 2018