Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
This Lemon Meringue Cheesecake is made with a buttery graham cracker crust, creamy cheesecake, tart lemon curd and toasted meringue! The flavors are absolutely amazing and it’s seriously my new favorite cheesecake!
I have been so excited to share this cheesecake with you. Everything about it is amazing, if I do say so myself. Of all the lemon desserts on the blog, this might just be my favorite. It’s in close competition with the Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake. And of all the cheesecakes, this one is right near the top.
Given that this is based on a Lemon Meringue Pie, I went with a graham cracker crust to get started. Often I’m a fan of using vanilla wafers, but the graham crackers in this are definitely the way to go.
The cheesecake filling has a light lemon flavor from the lemon zest, but is primarily vanilla in flavor. It’s super smooth and creamy, just like I like it. It also gets a lot of great flavor from the full cup of sour cream that’s used in it. So good!
Once the crust and filling are made, the cheesecake is baked. I always use a water bath, even though the extra couple steps can be a pain. It really does give you a much creamier cheesecake that doesn’t crack, doesn’t brown around the edges and doesn’t sink in the middle when it cools. Totally worth it!
Once the cheesecake is baked and cooling, you’ll want to make the lemon curd that goes on top. You can cool the cheesecake completely before adding it, or add it before you put the cheesecake in the fridge. However I’d suggest making the lemon curd right before adding to the cheesecake, rather than making it ahead. This curd is really more like the filling of the pie in that it’s nice and thick when it cools. It’s going to spread into a nicer looking layer if added to the cheesecake right after making it.
That said, the lemon curd will thicken quickly, so once it’s done on the stove add it to the cheesecake immediately and let it set.
The next step is the meringue and again, you can let the curd cool completely or add the meringue first. It just depends on how much you want to break everything up. Unlike the traditional meringue pie, this meringue is cooked over the stove. You can use a double boiler or a mixing bowl over a pot of water, like I do. You want to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved and that the mixture comes to between 120 and 140 degrees, so that it’s safe to eat.
Once it’s heated and ready, whip, whip and whip some more! You want to see that nice soft peaks have formed and then you know it’s ready. Add it to the top of the cheesecake and use a kitchen torch to toast it. It has the most lovely look after toasting!
One thing I will note is that this cheesecake can be made ahead. I wouldn’t suggest making it more than a day or two ahead though. After sitting in the fridge for a bit, the meringue gets a little sticky on top and hard to slice through. It’ll still taste good, but it’ll be hard to keep things together and cut through.
It’s hard to even describe just how good this Lemon Meringue Cheesecake really is. I wish I could give you a taste through the screen. There’s just enough of the lemon curd to give it the perfect lemon flavor. Just enough tart to balance the sweet. And even with it piled high, the meringue is just enough. It doesn’t take away from the lemon. So, so good! Not to mention so smooth and creamy. I always taste my desserts, but I just can’t eat a ton of all of them. However this cheesecake. This cheesecake found it’s way onto my plate over and over again. I hope it finds its way onto yours too.
Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
Yield: 12-14 slices
2 1/4 cups (302g) graham cracker crumbs
10 tbsp (140g) salted butter, melted
3 tbsp (39g) sugar
24 ounces (678g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (207g) sugar
3 tbsp (24g) all purpose flour
1 cup (230g) sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated lemon zest (2-3 medium lemons)
4 large eggs, room temperature
8 tbsp (90ml) lemon juice (3-4 medium lemons)
4 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (104g) sugar
8 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (56g) salted butter
1 cup (207g) sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
2. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
3. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
4. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in (see how I prepare my pan for a water bath). Set prepared pan aside.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (148°C).
6. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour on low speed until well completely combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
7. Add the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest and mix on low speed until well combined.
8. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly to combine after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
9. Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust.
10. Place the springform pan inside another larger pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
11. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The center should be set, but still jiggly.
12. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 30 minutes. The cheesecake will continue to cook, but slowly begin to cool as well.
13. Crack the door of the oven for 30 minutes to allow the cheesecake to continue to cool slowly. This process helps prevent cracking.
14. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath wrapping and place the cheesecake in the refrigerator while you make the lemon curd.
15. To make the lemon curd, combine all the ingredients in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Heat while whisking constantly until mixture thickens and reaches 170-180 degrees. You’ll notice it has already started to thicken nicely and it’ll continue to thicken quickly.
16. Add the lemon curd to the top of the cheesecake quickly, before it cools and thickens.
17. Place the cheesecake back in the fridge until completely cool and firm, 5-6 hours.
18. To make the meringue, combine the sugar, cream of tartar, vanilla extract and egg whites in a large mixer bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan or pot of simmering water. You can also use a double boiler.
19. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm, to between 120 and 140 degrees on a thermometer, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat.
20. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
21. Add the meringue to the top of cheesecake in a slight dome shape.
22. Use a kitchen torch to toast the outside of the meringue.
23. Refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve. Cheesecake is best if eaten within 3-4 days.