Mom’s Citrus Meringue Pie

Legendary culinary historian, teacher, and author Jessica B. Harris has spent years documenting the foodways of the African diaspora. Harris contributed several articles to F&W in the 1980s and 1990s, including a piece on her Southern family’s traditions and heirloom recipes, inspired by her mother and two grandmothers. Of the three women, Harris said, “Each was representative of the major African-American culinary traditions that have marked America.” Her mother’s influence included a spectacular citrus meringue pie that uses fresh lemon and lime juices baked into a pastry shell made with fresh orange juice.


  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest plus 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 3 lemons), divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Prebaked Orange Pastry Shell
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • Step 1
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together cornstarch, lemon juice, and lime juice in a medium nonreactive saucepan until cornstarch dissolves. Stir in 3 cups water, 2 cups sugar, butter, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium-low, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes. (Mixture will thicken as it cooks.) Remove from heat.
  • Step 2
    Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot lemon-lime mixture. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface, and let cool 30 minutes. Pour mixture into pastry shell. Set aside.
  • Step 3
    Combine egg whites and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Gradually add cream of tartar and remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating on medium speed until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 4 minutes.
  • Step 4
    Gently dollop meringue over lemon-lime filling. Using the back of a spoon, spread meringue to edges. Swirl decoratively with spoon. Bake in preheated oven until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer to refrigerator until well chilled, about 3 hours.

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