How To Keep A Meringue Pie From Weeping

No more crying over pie.

Nothing transforms a humble-looking pie into a stunning work of art better than a towering topping of glossy, snow-white meringue. And nothing is more frustrating to a pie baker than when that meringue "weeps."

Weeping is when brownish beads of liquid appear all over the surface of a meringue or when a layer of moisture pools and separates the top of the pie filling from the base of the meringue. Either way, it's not pretty. But it's no reason to skip the meringue altogether. Thankfully, we have tips on how to prevent this from happening to your favorite lemon meringue or chocolate pie.

Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling; Tina Bell Stamos

Choose a Dry Day

Humid weather or a rainy day can cause the sugar in the meringue to absorb extra moisture in the air and turn sticky or form small, syrupy beads. If you can, choose a dry, sunny day to make a meringue. Let it cool completely before slicing and serving. And avoid storing the pie in the refrigerator—a very humid place—for more than a day in advance.

Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling; Tina Bell Stamos

Use Superfine Sugar

Many meringue recipes call for granulated sugar, which has larger granules and takes more time to dissolve. If you don't mix your meringue well, undissolved sugar will make it gritty and can cause weeping to boot. As an alternative, you can try using superfine sugar, which dissolves more easily when whipped with egg whites. Though superfine sugar is slightly denser, you can use a 1:1 substitution in your recipe.

Try a Swiss or Italian Meringue

A meringue is made of egg whites and sugar whipped together until they are billowy and smooth. French meringue is made with egg whites and sugar beaten until light and airy, then baked in the oven. Some recipes call for a small amount of cream of tartar or cornstarch, which helps stabilize the meringue and prevent it from deflating. But there are other methods for creating a more stable meringue.

Recipes using Italian or Swiss meringue call for slowly whisking hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, which makes a fluffy, stable meringue that doesn't require baking in the oven (the hot syrup takes care of that). Try our basic Meringue Recipe for a stable, weep-free version of meringue that uses the Italian method. You can still bake the meringue to remove moisture and brown it if called for in your recipe.

Make Sure the Pie Filling is Hot

One of the most popular pieces of advice for making a meringue-topped pie is to make sure the pie filling is piping hot when you top it with meringue. The steam from the filling will rise up and pass through the meringue, cooking your meringue from bottom to top and preventing liquid from pooling underneath. As the pie finishes baking in the oven, remove it when the meringue turns light brown. Removing the meringue before it has finished cooking can cause condensation. At the same time, don't overcook it, which can also cause weeping.

Spread Meringue to the Edges

When you spread the meringue on top of your pie filling, make certain to seal the edges of the pie. Leaving gaps allows moisture to collect and seep underneath, causing that dreaded separation between pie and meringue.

If All Else Fails, Use a Paper Towel

If your meringue does weep, you can try to absorb some of the moisture by gently blotting it with a paper towel. This works especially well for removing beads of moisture on top of your meringue.

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