Weepy Watery Meringue for Pies

I beat the egg whites still stiff. I add simple syrup (2-1/sugar-water), a tad of vanilla and cream of tartar until shiny and fluffy. I spread the meringue on hot pie filling, and bake 15-20 mins on 350 until brown and toasty. But after about two hours of cooling, my pie is filled with sugary watery syrup that makes my crust soggy. The meringue is pretty, but the crust is not. HELP!

Sarah Plumley


betteirene May 3, 2011
Another of my "Secrets of a Truckstop Cook," courtesy of my teachers, Mrs. C and Ruthie.

Foolproof Meringue for Puddings and Pies

Keep the pudding or pie filling hot in the cooking pan (don't fill the piecrust) until the meringue is ready.

In a small saucepan, mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1 cup of cold tap water. Stir with a wooden spoon. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is no longer milky, is somewhat translucent and begins to plop. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

For every egg white used, you will need:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with a pinch of cream of tartar
1 scant tablespoon of the cornstarch paste
1/8 teaspoon vanilla (optional), preferably clear imitation vanilla
So, for a meringue made with 3 egg whites, you will need 6 tablespoons sugar, slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the cornstarch paste, and a little less than 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Place a rack in the lowest position of your oven; preheat it to 325 degrees.

Beat your egg whites until frothy: begin adding the sugar/cream of tartar mixture a teaspoon at a time, until soft peaks form. Add the cornstarch paste a tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the optional vanilla.

Pour the hot pie filling into the baked crust (or portion pudding into ramekins placed in a rimmed baking sheet). Dollop all of the meringue around the rim of the pie; spread toward the center of the pie, making luscious swirls, and make sure that there are no gaps between the meringue and the crust so that the meringue doesn't pull away from the edges and shrink during baking.

Place the pie or ramekins in the oven on the bottom rack, Bake for 15-20 minutes until the meringue becomes a golden brown color that appeals to you. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool COMPLETELY down to room temperature before refrigerating.

Unless you're making 2 or 3 pies, you will have extra cornstarch goop. You can refrigerate it until you need it again, or you can thin it with an equal amount of corn syrup and color it with a drop or two of food coloring. Voila! You've made piping gel with which to write on birthday cakes.

spiffypaws May 3, 2011
Powdered sugar could work, but I've seen it make the meringue sort of chalky. I use superfine sugar, and add it gradually.
Soozll May 3, 2011
I've read conflicting advice on meringue placed on cold filling vs the hot filling on every site with a comment section. Rational: hot cooks the meringue from underneath while heat cooks the top. Or... Cold filling won't allow steam under the meringue and keeps it from weeping. I've had good and bad luck with both. Any scientists here to clear up this conflicting advice?
I've also read that it's important to make sure there are no pockets of air in the meringue. It should be a solid layer started by blobing it all in the center of the pie and spreading it down and outward, carefully, while keeping it in contact with the top of the filling with no gaps, and spreading it until it is in contact with the inside edge of the crust.
boulangere May 3, 2011
Definitely cool the pie filling first, and also definitely use a Swiss meringue. If you don't want to do that, please promise me you'll never use simple syrup again! It isn't remotely concentrated enough. What will help you some with a cold French meringue (the kind you're used to using) is if you add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar before you begin whipping the whites. Don't begin adding sugar until the whites are starting to look whipped. Do add sugar a tablespoon at a time, as sdebrango suggests. The cream of tartar will strengthen your whites. Hope this helps!
sdebrango May 3, 2011
Got it, try cooling the filling before spreading meringue also I flash brown the meringue either in the broiler or with one of those hand held devices. Hope it works out for you.
Sarah P. May 3, 2011
Any and all pies I top with meringue. Doesn't matter what flavor.
sdebrango May 3, 2011
What kind of pie?
sdebrango May 3, 2011
I just noticed that you said you spread the meringue on hot filling. Try cooling the pie filling before you spread the meringue. I think that could be the culprit. I cool my filling before adding to the pie crust, then spread meringue and brown. Maybe that will help.
sdebrango May 3, 2011
Interesting question, I have never used powdered sugar in meringue. I remember my mothers meringue was weepy. What if you did a swiss meringue? The same method as if you were doing a buttercream but without the butter of course. Maybe if you heat and melt the sugar then beat you won't have the problem.
Sarah P. May 3, 2011
I have used sugar in the past, and I get the same weepy results. A chef friend of mine told me to use the extra concentrated sugar syrup, and obviously that doesnt work either. Anyone ever use powdered sugar to sweeten meringue?
sdebrango May 3, 2011
I have never used a simple syrup in a meringue maybe there is too much liquid when you do that.Slowly a tsp or tbs at a time beat in sugar your meringue will be glossy and stand up beautifully, no residual liquid should appear if you do this.
Recommended by Food52