This lemon meringue pudding has all the flavours of lemon meringue pie, without the fuss of making a pie! A great make-ahead dessert for Easter, Mother’s Day or Summer entertaining.
Why you’ll love this Lemon Meringue Pudding
With this lemon meringue pudding, you’ll get all the flavours of lemon meringue pie, without the fuss of making a pie!
This easy lemon dessert is the perfect end to any meal and for special occasions, they can be easily dressed up by garnishing with berries, lemon slices and/or mint leaves for a pretty presentation.
Since these lemon meringue puddings are made ahead and refrigerated, they are perfect for special occasions, such as Easter or Mother’s Day or anytime you want a refreshing, easy dessert.
Lemon – you will need both lemon juice and lemon zest for this pudding, so you will need to start with real lemons. In a pinch, you could use bottled lemon juice and skip the zest, but real lemon juice will always give you the best results.
Cornstarch – aka corn flour. This is the thickening agent for the pudding. You may be able to substitute other starches, such as Arrowroot, though I haven’t tested this substitution.
Eggs – Eggs aren’t negotiable in this dessert, as you will use both the egg yolks for the pudding and the egg whites for the meringue. When it comes to separating eggs, eggs separate best when they are cold, but the egg whites whip up best when they are at room temperature.
Cream of Tartar – this is used in the meringue to stabilize the meringue. If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute an acid, either lemon juice or white vinegar. Add twice as much as specified for the cream of tartar.
Making Lemon Meringue Pudding: Step-by-Step
This is a quick walk-through of the steps to make this recipe. Always refer to the complete instructions in the Recipe Card below when making the recipe.
Step 1: Make the lemon pudding
- Start by running the sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest through a food processor to blend well. (If you don’t have a food processor, simply whisk the mixture together for about 1 minute in a bowl.)
- Add sugar mixture to a medium saucepan.
- Add the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
- Add eggs to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Using a ladle, add some of the hot milk mixture to the eggs, a drop at a time and stirring while adding, until you have added the entire ladle-full.
- Add the egg mixture to the milk mixture in the saucepan.
- Return the saucepan to the heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens.
- Add lemon juice and whisk to combine.
- Spoon pudding into baking/serving dishes.
Step 2: Make the meringue
- Add the egg whites and cream of tarter to a clean mixer bowl.
- Whip egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sugar.
- Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon meringue into a piping bag or a ziplock bag (which you will snip the corner off of to pipe once filled).
- Add a big swirl of meringue on top of the warm pudding.
- Pop pudding with meringue into the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the meringue is set and golden.
- I used a large star tip to pipe the meringue. You could also use a large plain hole tip. Alternately, just spoon the meringue into a ziplock bag and snip off the corner.
- The meringue will shrink slightly during the chilling time, so don’t be afraid to make a bit of an exaggerated swirl, as it will get a bit smaller.
- I didn’t cover my puddings entirely with meringue, so that you could see the pudding in the photos, but when making your puddings, you should cover the pudding completely with meringue. This will prevent the meringue from shrinking too much.
- Avoid weeping by ensuring the the puddings are completely cooled to room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator to chill.
- You can use any size ramekin or serving dish, but it must be oven-proof. The ramekins I used here are quite large, so I only filled with pudding just slightly less than half full. If using smaller ramekins, you can fill higher.
- The base recipe (1X), will make four large or 6 smaller puddings. You can double or triple the recipe, as needed.
Making ahead, storing and freezing
You will need to make these ahead in order, as the finished puddings are typically chilled before serving, so will require about 2 hours in the fridge.
Store left-overs in the refrigerator for about 2 days. The pudding keeps well, but the meringue will start to suffer after a couple of days in the fridge.
I don’t recommend freezing the puddings with the meringue on top, but the pudding itself should freeze just fine.
Get the Recipe: Lemon Meringue Pudding
For the lemon pudding:
- 1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cup milk, whole (3%) milk recommended
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed recommended
- 1 Tablespoon butter
For the meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 6 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Cream of tarter, or see Note 1 below for substitute suggestion
- Preheat oven to 350F (regular bake, not fan-assisted), with the rack in the centre of the oven.
- Assemble 4 large or 6 small ramekins, custard cups or oven-safe mugs or tea cups on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk well with a fork. Set aside. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (make sure it's super clean!), with the stand mixer fitted with the whipping attachment. Alternately, place egg whites in a medium bowl and use a hand mixer.
- Make the pudding: Add the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt to a food processor and process until the zest is finely ground. (Alternately, if you have no food processor, simply whisk the mixture in a small bowl for 30-45 seconds).
- Add the sugar/zest mixture to a medium saucepan. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Turn on the heat under the saucepan to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding thickens. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- Top Tip! In the next part, you will be adding hot pudding to eggs. In order to prevent the eggs from cooking and becoming chunky, you will want to add the hot pudding very gradually and whisk well while adding it. Start with just a drop, then two drops and so on, until you've added it all. This is called "tempering the eggs".
- Spoon out a ladle-full of the hot pudding. Very, very slowly start adding small drops of the hot pudding to the egg yolks, while constantly stirring. Start by adding just a drop, then a couple of drops and so on, until you have added the full ladle-full of the hot pudding to the egg yolks. Add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Add the lemon juice to the saucepan. Whisk to combine well. Return the saucepan to the heat, set as medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture boils. Boil 1 minute longer and remove from heat. Add the butter and whisk until the butter is melted.
- Spoon pudding into serving dishes and place a sheet of foil over-top to keep them warm while you make the meringue.
- Make the meringue: Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites in the bowl and whisk to combine. Beat at medium speed (4 or 5 on a Stand Mixer) until the whites are very foamy (like a bubble bath). Increase the speed on the mixer slightly and continue beating until the mixture whitens and starts to take shape. Gradually add the sugar until it is all added, then increase the speed of the mixer slightly and beat until the mixture is glossy, with stiff peaks.
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star or plain tip or a ziplock-type bag. For the ziplock bag, cut off a 1/2-inch tip from the corner of the bag. Pipe the meringue on top of each of the hot puddings to cover completely, piping the meringue about 2 - 2 1/2-inches high. *You will have plenty of meringue and probably won't use it all.
- Place puddings into the preheated oven and bake until the meringue is set and lightly browned, about 7-10 minutes (watch carefully so they don't brown too much).
- Remove from the oven and let stand until cooled to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator (uncovered) to chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Serve garnish with blueberry or other berries, a lemon slice quarter and/or mint leaves.
Adapted from a Women’s Day recipe