Peaks and swirls of meringue are the crowning glory to some of the most beloved pies -- banana cream, coconut cream, chocolate cream, and lemon meringue. To reach the peak of perfection for these lofty toppings, check out our step-by-step guide for light and airy but sensationally sweet meringue toppings for pie.
Get our meringue recipe here.
Step 1: Bake piecrust and filling.
Meringue is added to the pie after it has finished baking. Follow your recipe directions for making and baking the piecrust and filling, then follow our steps below for preparing the meringue.
Step 2: Separate egg whites.
Separate the eggs and place the whites in a large bowl. Let the egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before you start to make the meringue. (Egg whites that have been allowed to stand at room temperature beat to a greater volume than egg whites taken directly from the refrigerator.)
Step 3: Beat egg whites to soft peaks.Get our meringue recipe
Add cream of tartar and vanilla before you begin beating the egg whites (cream of tartar helps stabilize the meringue).
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. At this point, they will curl over when the beaters are lifted.
Step 4: Add sugar gradually.
Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on high speed. The sugar must be added gradually as the egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks (tips stand straight). Adding the sugar too quickly will knock air out of the egg whites and make them difficult to mix thoroughly.
Tip: If you're using a handheld mixer, move the mixer around the bowl to beat all of the mixture evenly.
Step 5: Beat egg whites and sugar to stiff, glossy peaks.
Continue beating on high speed until the sugar dissolves and stiff, glossy peaks form. When you lift the beaters, the tips will stand straight up. The mixture should also feel smooth when you rub it between your fingers; you shouldn't be able to feel any sugar granules.
Note: Beading is a common problem for pie meringues and is caused by undissolved sugar. To solve this problem, beat until the sugar dissolves.
Step 6: Spread meringue over filling.
Quickly spread the meringue over the hot pie filling. Spread the meringue to the edge of the pastry to seal it and prevent it from shrinking when it bakes. The hot filling helps to cook the meringue from underneath and prevents weeping.
Tip: If you find weeping to be a problem with meringue pies, try making the meringue before the filling so it sets slightly before being used.
Step 7: Curl peaks.
Curly peaks give a lovely texture to a meringue pie top. Use a spoon to swirl and twist the meringue.
Bake the pie as directed until the meringue is a golden brown. Let the pie cool for an hour on a wire rack, and then refrigerate for 5 to 6 hours before serving.
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How to Make Meringue: Our Top Tips
- Don't skip the standing time. Egg whites should stand at room temperature 30 minutes before beating. It adds volume.
- Use a large bowl made of copper, stainless steel, or glass. Make sure bowls, beaters, and other utensils are very clean and dry. Oil and other residue prevents egg whites from beating properly.
- Prevent beading -- small beads of moisture that can form on the surface of the baked meringue -- by not overbaking meringue.
- Mound it. Mound the meringue recipe onto the center of the hot filling. Using a spatula, quickly spread meringue over the filling, sealing it against the edge of the crust.