Best Homemade Lemon Pie Filling Recipe

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There are few things more refreshing than a slice of tart lemon pie. This homemade lemon pie filling recipe is the perfect way to enjoy the classic dessert.

It’s quick and easy to make, and can be used in a variety of desserts, not just pie! Give it a try for cakes, cookies, cupcakes, tarts, pastries or even with crepes and pancakes.

Made with just a handful of simple ingredients, this recipe is easy to follow and produces consistently delicious results.

Lemon Pie Filling Recipe

The filling has a perfectly balanced sweet and tart flavor that’s decadent yet refreshing. The texture is silky smooth and will keep you coming back for bite after bite.

And don’t get me started on the absolutely gorgeous yellow color that will make all your desserts shine!

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Lemon Pie Filling Vs Lemon Curd

When it comes to lemon desserts, there are two common options: lemon pie filling and lemon curd. Both are delicious in their own right, but they also have distinct differences.

Lemon pie filling is usually flavored with lemon juice, thickened with cornstarch and doesn’t have butter. Lemon curd typically has a richer, stronger flavor because it contains lemon zest and butter.

This versatile recipe gives you the best of both worlds!

What Is Lemon Pie Filling Made Of?

There are many different ways to make a lemon filling. This homemade recipe has been thoroughly tested to create the most delicious filling while still being quick and easy to make, with just a few common ingredients.

This recipe uses both lemon zest and lemon juice for a double dose of fresh lemon flavor.

Sugar and vanilla help balance the tartness of the lemon.

Eggs and cream provide a decadent richness and smooth texture.

We’ve also included an option to add softened butter which pushes the recipe into the delicious realm of lemon curd.

And finally, a bit of cornstarch helps thicken the filling and keep its shape when added to a pie crust or other dessert.

Related Recipe: Easy Lemon Loaf Cake

Lemon Pie Filling Recipe

Lemon Pie Filling Ingredients

So let’s get into the actual ingredients you’ll need to create this delicious filling.

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 whole egg + 3 yolks (you can add an extra yolk for extra creaminess)
  • 2/3 cup cream or whole milk
  • 1 tbsp good quality vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (around 2 lemons)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (add another 1/2 tbsp for desired extra stiffness)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp softened butter, optional

How To Make Lemon Pie Filling

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Other: Cool 1 hour to overnight
Yield: About 1.5 cups

Important note: This recipe yields about 1.5 cups of filling which is perfect for a small 6″ pie or filling for cakes or cupcakes. If you’re making a larger pie, double the recipe.

Lemon Pie Filling Instructions

  1. Combine the sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingers to combine thoroughly.
Lemon Pie Filling Process - Sugar Lemon Zest Juice

2. Add in the lemon juice and all of the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Lemon Pie Filling Process - Eggs Cream

3. While continually whisking, heat your mixture on the stove on medium-high heat until it thickens. About 3-5 minutes. Do not stop whisking as you may have bits of cooked egg white throughout.

How To Make Lemon Pie Filling

4. Strain your mixture while it’s hot, getting rid of any clumps or bits of egg.

5. Add a layer of plastic wrap directly to the top of your filling. Make sure the filling is completely touching the plastic. This is to ensure no film develops over the curd). 

6. Let the filling come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator for at least one hour to chill and thicken a bit. Chilling overnight is best for flavor and color development.

7. Add your lemon curd to your favorite cookies, pies, cakes and enjoy!

Ways To Use Lemon Pie Filling

What Can I Make With This Lemon Pie Filling?

The sky is the limit! Here are just a few delicious ideas of ways to use this pie filling.

  • In a pie, of course!
  • Cake filling
  • Cupcake filling
  • Cake In a Jar
  • Cookies – as a filling or right on top
  • Topping for pancakes and waffles
  • Crepe filling
  • Tarts and pastries
  • Muffins
  • Bars
  • Cobblers

Will Lemon Pie Filling Thicken As It Cools?

Yes, the pie filling with thicken as it cools. When heated, the cornstarch will thicken the filling and help it to set and keep its shape. It will continue to thicken as the filling coolings.

How Do You Thicken Runny Lemon Pie Filling?

With this recipe, the filling will start to thicken after adding the cornstarch. If desired, you can add an extra 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch to create an even thicker texture.

Can I Use Lemon Pie Filling Instead Of Lemon Curd?

Lemon pie filling and lemon curd are similar, but have a few key differences. Depending on what you’re using it for and your preferences, you might be able to substitute lemon curd and lemon filling.

Lemon curd typically has a bolder lemon flavor that is sweet, tart and tangy. The texture is more dense, but still spreadable. Lemon pie filling has a more mild flavor and is sweeter. The texture is more similar to pudding.

In the end, the decision to use lemon curd vs lemon pie filling is a personal preference. Or you can go with this recipe we’ve created that is the perfect balance of curd and filling!

Can You Buy Lemon Pie Filling?

Yes, you buy lemon pie filling from grocery stores, Walmart, Meijer, Target and other retailers. You can even order it on Amazon. Common brands of premade pie filling are Lucky Leaf, Duncan Hines, Dr. Oetker, Krusteaz and Jell-O.

It typically comes ready to use in a can. You’ll also find some fillings that come in a packet (usually near the pudding and jello mixes). These are dry filling mixes that need some easy preparation like adding water.


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Yield: 1.5 cups

Homemade Lemon Pie Filling

Easy Homemade Lemon Pie Filling Recipe Feature

This easy homemade lemon pie filling is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It's silky smooth with a gorgeous color. Great for pies, cakes, tarts and more!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 whole egg + 3 yolks (can add an extra yolk for extra creaminess)
  • 2/3 cup cream or whole milk
  • 1 tbsp good quality vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (around 2 lemons)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (add another 1/2 tbsp for desired extra stiffness)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp softened butter, optional

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and zest and rub with your fingers to evenly coat.
  2. Add in all of your other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a saucepan. While continually whisking, heat your mixture on the stove on medium-high heat until it thickens (about 3-5 minutes) Do not stop whisking as you may have bits of cooked egg white throughout.
  4. Strain your mixture while it’s hot, getting rid of any clumps or bits of egg.
  5. If desired, add in the very soft butter and whisk until fully incorporated.
  6. Add a layer of plastic wrap directly to the top of your filling. Make sure the filling is completely touching the plastic. This is to ensure no film develops over the curd).
  7. Let the filling come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator for at least one hour to chill and thicken a bit. Chilling overnight is best for flavor and color development.
  8. Add your lemon filling to your favorite cookies, pies, cakes and enjoy!

Notes

  • Add an extra egg yolk for extra creaminess.
  • Add an extra 1/2 tbsp cornstarch for extra stiffness.
  • Add 3 tbsp very soft butter after straining for more richness and an even silkier texture and mouthfeel.

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Meet Micky Reed, your go-to snack expert and creator of The Three Snackateers—a hub for all the best sweets and treats to make, try, and buy. From whipping up collaborations with industry giants like Ben & Jerry's to being featured on Delish and PopSugar, Micky's delicious adventures are causing a stir in the foodie world. You can find Micky on IG and Pinterest.

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