Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

by Ali | updated November 22, 2020

This is the best vegan lemon meringue pie.

A buttery, flaky crust filled with creamy, tangy lemon curd and topped with a toasted, sweet and fluffy meringue. Who knew it could be so simple to make this classic dessert without eggs?

How to Make Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

This vegan lemon meringue pie is such a dreamy dessert. The tart and tangy lemon curd is perfectly balanced by a light and creamy meringue. It always reminds me of eating clouds. Lovely lemony clouds.

But lemon meringue pie is something that I never thought you could make vegan. The lemon curd is typically thickened by egg yolks, and meringue is basically just egg whites and sugar. And about ten years ago, no one knew how to make a vegan meringue with simple ingredients!

Luckily, us vegan bakers are an industrious bunch. We’ve figured out how to whip up a fluffy, white vegan meringue without carefully scaled chemicals you can’t pronounce or find at a grocery store.

The secret is out, and it’s made of beans. That’s right, beans. This vegan lemon meringue pie uses an aquafaba meringue, which is made out of the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Aquafaba easily whips up into a wonderful cloud of fluff.

And trust me, it doesn’t taste at all like beans!

Vegan lemon meringue pie made with fresh lemon curd.

However, even with simple ingredients, vegan lemon meringue pie isn’t the easiest dessert to make. I’ve had a few pie failures trying out different variations, fine-tuning the ratios to make sure it all holds together beautifully. Delicious failures, but not the prettiest.

Now I’m here to share everything I’ve learned with you, so you can have the best lemon meringue pie recipe.

Okay, so let’s break it down, from the top down. Since the meringue is the most important part of this vegan lemon meringue pie, we’re starting there.

The fluffiest vegan meringue

How in the world can you make a vegan version of meringue? A dessert made entirely out of egg whites and sugar?

Egg whites are mostly just protein suspended in liquid. And luckily for us, some experimental vegan discovered that you can use the liquid from a can of chickpeas as a fantastic replacement for egg whites.

This chickpea brine is called aquafaba when people use it for cooking. And it’s absolutely magical.

However, even with this magical ingredient, aquafaba meringues can still be a little temperamental. Here are some tips for a successful vegan aquafaba meringue:

  • Put a can of chickpeas in the fridge the night before. Then just shake it up, and pour it through a strainer. Aquafaba works best when it’s cold! So either toss a can in the fridge, or save the liquid in an airtight container the night before you want to bake with it.
  • Wipe out your mixing bowl with a slice of lemon. If there is any grease, at all, in your mixing bowl, then your meringue might fall flat. So thoroughly clean everything (bowl, beaters, spatulas, etc), and then wipe it off with lemon to help stabilize the meringue.
  • Use an electric mixer. I love mixing all sorts of batters by hand. But whipping steadily for 10-15 minutes is a Herculean effort. Use the electric mixer if you have one.
  • Add the sugar gradually, after you have soft peaks. If you dump all the sugar in early, you’ll stretch out the proteins and won’t get those stiff peaks that make a meringue stand up on its own.
  • Spread the meringue all the way to the crust. This forms a seal and prevents the lemon curd from weeping or the meringue from separating from the crust.

Creamy and tangy lemon curd

The fluffiest vegan lemon meringue pie.

Vegan lemon meringue pie is best with lemon curd made from scratch. The taste just doesn’t compare to anything store-bought( if you can even find a vegan version!).

Vegan lemon curd is super easy to make, just takes five or ten minutes on the stove, and a fair bit of stirring.

  • Use fresh lemons. Most of the flavor of this pie comes from the lemon curd, so use fresh lemon juice instead of any bottles of lemon juice that have been sitting in your fridge. Plus, then you get to add some fresh lemon zest!
  • Stir and whisk and stir. Lemon curd should have a smooth, velvety consistency. If you let it sit for long over heat it can quickly form clumps. I like to alternate between using a whisk to dissolve any almost-clumps, and a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides and ensure nothing sticks.
  • Coconut cream and vegan butter. Doesn’t that sound rich and creamy? You can use any plant-based milk especially if you want to cut out some fat. I’ve made it with almond and oat milk, and it still tastes fantastic. But it’s heavenly made with coconut cream.
  • Add 1-2 Tbsp extra cornstarch. Cornstarch is what thickens vegan lemon curd. To use it for a pie filling, you want it to be extra thick so it is sliceable and holds its shape.

Check out my vegan lemon curd recipe for the full directions (including how to rescue a clumped up lemon curd).

Flaky pie crust

The best vegan lemon meringue pie with toasted aquafaba meringue.

Vegan lemon meringue pie is a very sweet dessert and needs a big, flaky pie crust to help dish it out.

There’s nothing worse than a greasy, hard, or crunchy crust. Especially with such a soft pie, you need something you can easily cut through with a spoon or fork.

So, to make a tender, flaky pie crust, there are two important things to keep in mind:

  • Use cold vegan butter and shortening. The little bits of fat don’t get fully incorporated into the dough. So when it’s baked they steam and form little air pockets that make a perfect flaky texture.
  • Don’t overmix. You want to incorporate the butter and flour quickly to prevent gluten formation, so your crust doesn’t get too chewy. You also don’t want the butter to melt while you’re mixing it up!

If you don’t have the time to make your own pie crust, you can find a surprising number of vegan pie crusts in the supermarket. Many of them use vegetable shortening, instead of dairy butter or lard, as the fat, though make sure to read through all the ingredients.

Final Thoughts

A slice taken out of the best vegan lemon meringue pie.

Thank you so much for reading! I’m honestly still so surprised at how well this vegan lemon meringue pie recipe turns out. Meringues are always a little bit tricky, but if you follow all these tips, I know you’ll make a wonderful pie.

If you try this recipe, and agree that it is the best vegan lemon meringue pie, please make sure to share! And let me know down below if you have any questions or comments about this recipe.

Q&A

What is aquafaba?

Aquafaba is simply the cooking liquid (sometimes called brine) from chickpeas. It’s the liquid that comes in a can of the beans.

The name aquafaba literally means “bean water,” but was given the fancy Latin name in 2015. Since then, the popularity of aquafaba has taken off, and it’s now a well-known ingredient in vegan cooking and baking.

It’s mostly made up of different starches and proteins, and can replace egg whites in all kinds of recipes. It foams easily when whipped, so works best for recipes that are light and fluffy, like macaroons, waffles, and….meringue!

Aquafaba works best from a can of chickpeas. The liquid from chickpeas that you cook yourself doesn’t work very well. But if you do want to experiment, you’ll have to boil down the water to reduce its volume.

Does vegan lemon meringue pie keep overnight?

Yep! I currently have a half-eaten pie in my fridge, and it is still yummy the next day. However, the meringue will deflate a bit after just a few hours, so it’s best to make it just before you want to serve it.

Why does liquid come out of my lemon meringue pie?

When liquid seeps out of a lemon meringue pie, it’s called weeping. It usually is because of water coming out of the lemon curd, or because the two layers of the pie separate. Here are a few tips to stop your pie from weeping:

  • Spread the vegan meringue on the lemon filling while it is still warm.
  • Spread the meringue all the way to the edges to seal it to the crust to seal it all together.

How can I make a gluten-free vegan lemon meringue pie?

All you need is a gluten-free pie crust! I haven’t tried making gluten-free vegan pie crusts yet, but I did a bit of research for you. King Arthur Flour sells a gluten-free pie crust mix, or you can find recipes online that use almond flour and 1-to-1 GF flour. There are a few vegan and gluten-free brands you can find in stores as well: look for crusts made by Wholly Wholesome or Kinnikinnick.

Depending on your sensitivity, make sure that your corn starch and other ingredients are certified gluten-free.

The best vegan lemon meringue pie pictured before tasting.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Aquafaba is the liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas and is the essential ingredient for vegan meringue. I highly recommend you use the liquid from a can (salted or unsalted, both work). Trying to make meringue from chickpeas you cook yourself is much more difficult. You have to boil it down for a while to make it thicker, and it still fails more easily.
  • Cream of tartar is an acid that is used to help stabilize the aquafaba foam before the sugar is added. You can sub 1 tsp lemon juice for the 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.
  • Caster sugar is a super fine granulated white sugar. It dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. If you don’t have it, you can grind up your granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until it becomes fine.
Yield: 8 servings

Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

The best vegan lemon meringue pie, made with aquafaba.

This is the best vegan lemon meringue pie. A buttery, flaky crust filled with creamy, tangy lemon curd and topped with a toasted, sweet and fluffy meringue. Who knew it could be so simple to make this classic dessert without eggs?

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • one vegan pie crust, see our recipe
  • 2 cups vegan lemon curd, see our recipe
  • 1/2 cup cold aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Prebake the vegan pie crust in a 9 inch pie pan according to the recipe or package directions.
  2. Spread the lemon curd on the baked pie crust, and set it aside.
  3. To prepare a large mixing bowl for the meringue, make sure it is clean and completely free of grease. Then, wipe it out with a slice of lemon.
  4. Pour the liquid from a cold can of chickpeas (aquafaba) through a fine mesh strainer and into the large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and, using an electric mixer, beat on high for 2-3 minutes until it gets foamy.
  5. Add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  6. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat the mixture until stiff, glossy peaks form. You should be able to hold the mixing bowl upside down without the meringue budging.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, spread the meringue onto the lemon filling, making sure it goes all the way to the edges. Use the spatula to create swirls and peaks in the meringue.
  8. Toast the meringue. Use either a blow torch or a broiler to brown the top of the meringue. If using a broiler, place the wire rack near the top, about 5 inches from the heating element. Broil on high for 2-5 minutes, turning often, and watching very carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.
  9. Chill for at least 4 hours until set.

Notes

  • Put the can of chickpeas in the fridge overnight. Then shake it up, and strain the liquid into a measuring cup when you're ready to make the meringue. Make sure there are no little bits of chickpea in the liquid.
  • If you don't have cream of tartar, you can sub 1 tsp lemon juice.
  • You can make caster sugar by putting regular granulated sugar in a blender for a few minutes until it becomes super fine.
  • Don't put Pyrex or glass pie pans under a broiler! They can shatter under the high heat. Use a metal or ceramic pie dish that can go under a direct flame.

Nutrition Information:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235

Ali

CONTRIBUTOR

Ali is the former editor of Vegan HW and a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. She is the author of two cookbooks and her favorite vegetable is, believe it or not, the mighty pea. Check out her website to learn more about Ali!

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