Nan’s Mile High Meringue

A beautiful lemon meringue pie fresh from the oven.

If basic meringue is nothing more than a mixture of beaten egg whites and sugar, why does it seem so daunting? Well, have no fear – Nan’s Mile High Meringue recipe is here.  Follow her simple steps and you’ll be a master meringue maker in minutes and your pies will be heavenly.

Nan’s Mile High Meringue Recipe 

chocolate meringue

**This recipe came from my friend, Nan Lisher, who owns and operates Elsie Grace’s Gift Shoppe and Gourmet Mixes, in Frankfort, Ks., also the home of Elsie Grace’s No Roll Pie Crust Mix – one of my all-time favorite Kansas products. 

Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’….Shall We?? 🙂

My friend, Nan, makes homemade cream pies like no other. Every single day in her shop in Frankfurt, KS she makes and bakes homemade pies that sell out before mid day.

I knew her meringue recipe would be spot-on and was so thrilled when she happily shared it with me. From that day forward, I’ve never looked back.  This is absolutely the easiest and best meringue recipe in the land. It works wonderfully, every single time, making the most beautiful mile-high meringue pies.

What to love about this meringue recipe – 

  1. It’s just 3 ingredients – egg whites, sugar, and water.
  2. You need just one tool – a good mixer.
  3. This recipe works every. single. time!

How to make light and fluffy meringue in 5 easy steps – 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer set to high speed, beat the egg whites, sugar, and water until the meringue forms stiff peaks when you lift the beaters.
  3. Spread the prepared meringue over the cream pie filling in the crust making sure it touches the edges of the pie plate all the way around. Use skinny spatula or spreader to tease peaks and swirls in the top of the meringue in a pretty way. (You know, make it look fluffy and “cloud-like” 🙂 )
  4. Bake the meringue pie on the center rack of the oven, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is a deep golden brown on top.
  5. Carefully remove the pie from the oven and let it cool completely, then move the pie to refrigeration, letting it chill for several hours.  Slice and serve.

Common Questions Asked About Making Meringue – 

I’ve had trouble in the past with my meringue shrinking as it bakes and sometimes it even falls once I remove the pie from the oven.  Why does this happen and what can I do to prevent it? 

These are two very common problems when it comes to meringue and I’ve experienced both of them! Since using this recipe, I’ve had much better luck.

Baking the meringue at a lower temperature like this recipe instructs is very important. First of all, a lower and slower baking temperature helps ensure that the meringue cooks all the way through from top to bottom.

When meringue is fully cooked, it has much less tendency to shrink and much less tendency to fall!

Some meringue recipes instruct to use a very high oven temperature (400-425 degrees F.) for a shorter amount of baking time, which is originally how I did it too.

Once I switched to baking my meringue at the lower temperature of 350 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes I had much greater meringue success.  No more shrinking and no more falling – hurrah!

Why does this recipe instruct to spread the meringue clear to the edges of the pie plate, past the pie crust edge? That seems odd.

Both of my Grandmothers shared this tip with me so I’ve always done it. They said that spreading the meringue past the edges of the pie crust to the actually pie plate edge helps give the meringue an additional area to adhere to (instead of just the pie crust edge) which helps to keep meringue from shrinking back.

Who am I to argue with my grandmothers??

Sometimes I find excess liquid between my meringue and the pie filling.  What causes this and how can I eliminate this?

This is called meringue weep.  Other cooks may disagree, but I think this goes back to meringue that is cooked to quickly at a higher temperature.

Once I began following the lower-and-slower baking instructions of this particular meringue recipe, I noticed that I no longer had meringue weep to deal with.

Lemon Meringue Pie - before and after.

Should meringue only be placed onto pie filling that is hot? 

Many cooks adhere to this rule of thumb, saying the heat from the hot pie filling helps to cook the meringue from the underside.

This may be absolutely true, but I’ve discovered that I can spread meringue over cream pie filling that is room temperature (but not chilled) as long as I bake the meringue at 350 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes.

Can I make meringue ahead of time? 

Many recipes say that meringue can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a week.  I’ve made meringue 1-2 days ahead of time with great success, storing it in a glass bowl with a secure lid until I’m ready to assemble my pies.

Can I freeze meringue? 

I tried this once and was unhappy with the outcome.  When the meringue defrosted, it became a soggy, moisture-logged mess, extremely difficult to work with.  I don’t recommend it.

Which tools are helpful for making light and fluffy meringue? 

An electric hand mixer or a stand mixer (I adore my Bosch mixer!!!), with wire whisks, for beating the egg whites.  I’ve heard of cooks doing this by hand, and I know it can absolutely be done, but I’ve never tried it myself.  If you opt to go the hand-beating route, you’ll definitely need a good balloon whisk.

Silicone spatulas and silicone spatula-spoons are superb for working with delicate meringue.  They ensure that every bit is transferred from the bowl to the pie in just one easy swoop.

I also like using a long spreader for swirling the top of my meringue and making pretty peaks.

A pretty deep-dish pie plate or two is a good kitchen staple for both pies and quiche. And everybody should have at least one pretty pie server in their utensil drawer. 🙂

How to Slice a Meringue Pie Neatly 

  1. Use a narrow, sharp knife
    A wide knife leaves you dealing with more surface area than you want or need for meringue and a dull knife always invokes a meringue train wreck.
  2. Coat the knife with a very thin coating of oil.
    An oil-coated knife glides through meringue like a charm.  You may need to do this a couple of times if you are slicing an entire pie at one time.
  3. Keep your knife clean!
    If meringue particles stick to the knife, remove them then re-apply the thin coating of oil.
  4. Score the top of the meringue with the tip of the knife first.  
    This step is important and serves as the pre-cut for the slice of pie.
  5. Using the scores as your guideline, slice down the the meringue with the tip first, following through to make sure you then cut through the crust as well. Make the cut in one smooth motion, then check your blade to see if any clean up or oiling is needed before proceeding with another slice.  You can do this!

A beautiful lemon meringue pie being removed from the oven.

More Favorite Dessert Recipes to Enjoy – 

Printable Nan’s Mile High Meringue Recipe – 

A beautiful lemon meringue pie fresh from the oven.

Nan's Mile High Meringue

If basic meringue is nothing more than a mixture of beaten egg whites and sugar, why does it seem so daunting? Well, have no fear - Nan's Mile High Meringue recipe is here.  Follow her simple steps and you'll be a master meringue maker in minutes! 
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 34kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 egg whites
  • 5 Tbs. ice water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer set to high speed, beat the egg whites, sugar, and water for 3-5 minutes until the meringue forms stiff peaks when you lift the beaters.
  • Using a spatula, gently spread the prepared meringue over the pie filling in the crust, making sure the meringue is spread past the edges of the pie crust, touching the pie plate all the way around. **This helps to keep the meringue from shrinking back away from the edges of the crust as it bakes.
    Use a skinny spatula or spreader to tease peaks and swirls on the top of the meringue in a pretty way. (You know, make it look fluffy and “cloud-like” 🙂
  • Place the pie onto the center rack of the preheated oven. Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is fully baked throughout and the top is nicely golden brown.
  • Let the pie cool, then place it into the fridge to chill. Once the pie is fully chilled, it will be much easier to slice and serve. **To make it easier to slice the pie, dip it into ice cold water when slice into the pie, wiping the knife afterwards each time.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fluffy meringue, how to make meringue, meringue recipe

Nutrition

Calories: 34kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 31mg | Sugar: 6g | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

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Chef Alli

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

Blog Comments

Nan is from my hometown and you can’t get a better piece of pie. Also try her lunches they are great. Cinnamon rolls and fudge can’t be beat!!!

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