Patti's Lemon-Meringue Pie

1 10-inch pie

Patti Dall'Armi is famous for her desserts, in particular her pies. She achieves her delicate, crisp piecrusts by using shortening.


For the piecrust:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • cup cold vegetable shortening

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:

  • 2 lemons, for zesting, plus ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 lemons total)

  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

  • ½ cup cornstarch

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the meringue:

  • 8 large egg whites

  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make piecrust: Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl. Blend in shortening with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in ice water a little at a time until dough comes together.

  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough with a floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round. Transfer to a 10-inch pie plate. Trim edge to create a 1/2-inch overhang; tuck edge under itself. Prick bottom all over with a fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  3. Place pie shell on a baking sheet; line with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake shell, rotating sheet about halfway through, until edges of crust are just browned, about 15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights; continue baking until bottom of crust is just browned, about 5 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.

  4. Make filling: Remove zest from 2 lemons with a vegetable peeler; finely chop zest (reserve lemons for juicing). Process zest with 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor until finely ground.

  5. Whisk together remaining 2 cups sugar and the cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in 2 cups water; add zest mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 minutes (mixture will boil and thicken).

  6. Lightly beat egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly whisk half of cornstarch mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return yolk mixture to cornstarch mixture in pan, and whisk together. Bring to a boil, and whisk constantly until very thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and butter, and whisk until well combined. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

  7. Pour filling into pie shell; set aside. Make meringue: Put egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until foamy. Beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in vanilla.

  8. Heap meringue on top of filling, making sure it touches crust (to prevent shrinking). Bake pie until meringue is pale brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack in a draft-free spot.

Cook's Notes

If you prefer a buttery flavor in your piecrust, reduce the amount of shortening by half, and add an equal amount of cold unsalted butter. Cut the butter into bits, and blend it into the dough with the shortening. If not using immediately, you can refrigerate the filling up to 3 days.

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