#MeatlessMondays – Lemon pie, an American classic

This pie  is an American classic, but in Peru we adopted it as our own a long time ago and don´t want to give it back. Saying that it’s one of the country’s favorite desserts is not an exaggeration, and the main difference with the original recipe is that we make it with Peruvian limes -not lemons-, small, intensely green, and very acidic. We call them lemons, however, hence the name: pie de limón.

To make this addictive pie there’s no need to search in a cookbook because it has only a few easy steps: one can of condensed milk, 4 egg yolks, zest from 1 lime, and 1/2 a cup lime juice. No need to whip or beat, just combine the ingredients with a wire whisk and pour the mixture in the baked pastry shell. Cover with meringue and bake for 17 minutes. As easy as saying pie!

I love this pie de limón, I do. But I have to admit that my personal favorite is the other lemon pie, the one made with a clear filling of lemon juice, egg yolks, cornstarch, and a mile high meringue cloud… but… that´s another another recipe and another story. When I make this one, sometimes I skip the meringue and bake the pie without a topping. When cool, I leave it like that or cover the entire thing with homemade whipped cream for a refreshing new version.

You can buy ready made pie dough at the grocery store, or  make your own. Don’t be scared of getting it wrong, because our no-fail pie dough recipe is here to the rescue. In this case the dough needs to rest for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, but you can make it several days in advance and have it ready. To make things even easier, this dough can be frozen, so every time you are in the mood for pie, you just take a portion out of the freezer, thaw it, and follow the recipe. When making the dough my daughter substituted half a cup of regular all purpose wheat flour with quinoa flour. The texture came out great, the dough was very pliable, and when baked it was crispy and buttery. We couldn´t feel the sometimes invasive quinoa flavor either, so you can fool anyone with this substitution. The only thing we noticed was that -after baked- the crust was a bit darker than expected, but all in all really good.

Do you have a special way of making lemon pie? Tell us about it on the comments below.

Lemon Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 2 cups flour (you may use 1 cup wheat flour and 1 cup quinoa flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, chilled and diced
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 4-5 tablespoons iced water
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • Meringue:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  1. If using a food processor, add the flour, salt, diced butter and shortening to the bowl, close and process for 30 seconds until the mixture looks like coarse grated bread.
  2. Add the water -a tablespoon at a time- and process only until it forms a dough.
  3. Transfer the dought to a floured table and gather everything together, press it and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. At this point you may freeze the dough up to 3 months, or keep it refrigerated up to a week.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  6. Unwrap the dough, and using a rolling pin roll the dough on a floured surface until ⅛ inch thick. Fold in half and then in half again, transfer to a pie pan, pressing the dough. Cut the extra dough and make a nice trim, pressing with your fingers. Prick the base with a fork and put in the freezer for 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the freezer, place a piece of foil over the dough and fill it with raw rice or beans. Bake for 12 minutes. Discard the foil and continue baking for 3 more minutes.
  7. Take the pan out of the oven and cool completely.
  8. Turn down the oven temperature to 350ºF.
  9. In a bowl, combine the condensed milk, egg yolks, lime zest and lime juice, using a wire whisk.
  10. In another bowl beat the egg whites with an electric mixer, adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time until firm and glossy.
  11. Pour the egg yolk mixture on the baked pastry shell, and cover everything with the meringue. Bake for 17 minutes.
  12. Take the pie out of the oven and cool completely before serving.


  1. Do you know where we can get the Peruvian very acidic lime in the US? Do you think the Peruvian Limes are comprable to the USA Keylime, which is a little different in flavor to the regular limes commonly found in the grocery stores here in the USA?

  2. When my siblings and I were growing up, my sister would always bake cakes, donuts, cookies, and pies. Every time, I see a homemade lemon pie, I remember when my sister use to bake us her version of lemon meringue pie. Love your photos and recipe! 🙂

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