Food and Nutrition

Yes, It’s Possible To Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie Without Tons of Sugar—Here’s How

Emily Laurence

Consider this your guide to healthier baking. Chef Mia Rigden and Jenny Dorsey team up to show you how to revamp some of your favorite baked goods to make them healthier and loaded with better-for-you ingredients—without skimping on flavor. See All

Piled high with a fluffy cloud of whipped topping over a tart filling that's the color of sunshine, lemon meringue pie is like a sweet summer day in dessert form. Decadent without being heavy, its many layers of contrasting flavors and textures and can be difficult to get just right. But in the latest episode of Alt-Baking Bootcamp, nutritionist and chef Mia Rigden shows how to do it perfectly, down to the golden brown whips on top.

Of course, creating the most top-notch tasting lemon meringue pie isn't enough of a challenge for Rigden. She also keeps the recipe gluten-free and low-sugar. That way, a wider range of eaters can dig in. Her secret? Focusing on each layer in its own right. "There are three components to a lemon meringue pie. There's the crust, the lemon curd, and the meringue," Rigden says.

First, she shows how to make the gluten-free lemon meringue pie crust. Making it with almond flour means you're getting more fiber, protein, and healthy fats per bite than using all-purpose flour—a reason why even people who aren't gluten-free may want to give it a try. "I like using almond flour for this crust. Traditionally, some people will use a graham cracker crust with a lemon meringue pie and I feel like this almond flour gives me a little bit of that graham cracker feel," Rigden says. She also adds a hint of coconut sugar, egg, and ghee to give it a flaky texture and smooth mouthfeel.

Once the crust is cooking away in the oven, it is time to make the lemon curd. "The most important part of the lemon curd is the egg component," Rigden says, specifying that the egg yolks are used for the curd and the whites are used for the meringue. Lemons, of course, play a starring role in this dessert as well, which is why Rigden strongly emphasizes the importance of using juice from real lemons for the curd. Cornstarch is also used to thicken the mixture up without taking away from the refreshing tartness of the lemon juice. Then comes the tricky part: double broiling. Rigden shows exactly how to do it so the curd gets the perfect texture. (Hint: it's all in the wrist.)

Making meringue comes with its own intimidation factor for many—after all, the process of whipping it in a way that creates stiff peaks while keeping its cloud-like texture is no simple feat. Lucky for us, nailing meringue is one more thing Rigden shows exactly how to master in the video (no advanced skills or special tools required), along with baking it so the meringue has just a hint of brown on top. The end result is downright heavenly.

Scroll down for the complete recipe and watch the episode to see exactly how to do it step-by-step.

Low-sugar, gluten-free lemon meringue pie

Ingredients
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups almond flour
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup ghee, soft

For the lemon curd:
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of sea salt

For the meringue:
5 egg whites
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare the crust.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together almond flour and coconut sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and ghee.

3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and use your hands to form a cohesive dough.

4. Roll out the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper, and transfer to a pie plate. Use leftover dough to fill in any holes and even out the edges.

5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and set aside to cool.

6. While the pie crust is baking, make the lemon curd. Create a double boiler, and add the egg yolks, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk until it thickens, about three to five minutes, then set aside to cool.

7. While the lemon curd is cooling, add the egg whites and powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high until stiff peaks form.

8. Spread the lemon curd out evenly over the cooled crust, layer the meringue on top, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly golden brown.

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