Mile-High Copycat Costco Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

published Aug 2, 2023
Copycat Costco Lemon Meringue Cheesecake Recipe

With a toasty graham cracker crust, rich cheesecake filling, lemon custard, and an airy meringue crown, this stunner rivals the viral dessert from Costco.

Serves8 to 10

Prep1 hour

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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lemon meringue cheesecake with slice taken out
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling Debbie Wee

Lemon meringue cheesecake — one of Costco’s latest addition to their bakery dessert roster — is a powerhouse of a hybrid dessert. Upon its immediate release, the internet fully rejoiced over the resplendent, nearly four-pound dessert. 

Just the premise of a lemon meringue cheesecake is exciting, given that people love both treats with fierce devotion. Costco’s bakery always follows through on their promise of delivering gigantic desserts with a cool price tag — and this cake was no exception. In addition to its hefty weight, it is also 10 inches wide, which is enough to feed a crowd without breaking a sweat.

Armed with cheeky promises that supplies of this seasonal treat would not last, I did what anyone in my situation would do: Procured one, studied it, and developed a recipe so I could enjoy it any time the mood struck.

In this process, I learned a few things. I can tell you that both cheesecake and lemon meringue pie have roots in nineteenth-century Philadelphia, but you probably wouldn’t be interested. I could tell you that as I carried my coveted cake home, the top disc of meringue wobbled strangely as if it wanted to detach and form its own nation, but I imagine that wouldn’t interest you either. 

What you are surely dying to know is what all the fuss is about, what each layer contains, and what it tastes like. Let’s break it down.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling Debbie Wee

What’s in a Costco Lemon Meringue Cheesecake?

At the dessert’s base sits a toasty graham cracker crust. On top of that, there’s a layer of  dense, New York-style cheesecake that’s thick enough to hold a fork upright.

Now, I wish I could elaborate more on the layer of lemon filling, but sadly mine had oozed out, leaving nothing but a sweet, mellow memory. (Perhaps the wet lemon syrup was the reason my meringue slid back and forth like a toddler on a slip and slide. I suppose we’ll never know.) 

How to Make the Costco Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Recreating this marvel was no easy feat. I worked my way from the bottom up, ensuring that my crust was crisp and that my cheesecake was thick yet creamy. The lemon filling clearly needed to stay put, and it should be custard-like, as a true ode to the lemon layer in a classic lemon meringue pie. It also needed to taste distinctly lemony and bright, to contrast the sweet meringue and cheesecake filling. 

Finally, in recreating the meringue, I knew I needed to go the route of a Swiss meringue, ensuring that it was stable enough to last several days in the refrigerator, and adhere to the lemon filling without weeping. Any moisture between any of the layers would cause them to slide apart, which was my only issue with the Costco version. 

The final recipe that I’ve created is as true an homage as possible (and possibly better?). So go forth and bake! This treat is a true crowd-pleaser, and I can’t wait for you all to make it for yourselves.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling Debbie Wee

Copycat Costco Lemon Meringue Cheesecake Recipe

With a toasty graham cracker crust, rich cheesecake filling, lemon custard, and an airy meringue crown, this stunner rivals the viral dessert from Costco.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cheesecake:

  • 16 ounces

    cream cheese

  • Cooking spray

  • 13 1/2

    whole graham cracker sheets (about 7 ounces)

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1

    large egg yolk (reserve the egg white for the meringue)

  • 1/2 cup

    sour cream

  • 1/4 cup

    heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

For the lemon custard and meringue:

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 1

    large egg white (from the cheesecake)

  • 4 to 5

    medium lemons

  • 1 3/4 cups

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 5

    large egg whites

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cream of tartar

Instructions

Make the cheesecake:

  1. Let 16 ounces cream cheese sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Coat the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Tear 2 (15-inch) long sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Stack them on top of each other to form an X shape. Place the springform pan on the center of the foil, then bring the sides of the foil up to completely wrap around the outside of the pan.

  3. Break 13 1/2 graham cracker sheets into large pieces with your hands and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until fine crumbs form, 5 to 7 (1-second) pulses; you should have about 2 cups crumbs. (Alternatively, place the crackers in a sealed zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin into fine crumbs.)

  4. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Drizzle over the graham cracker crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Pulse until it resembles wet sand and holds together when squeezed, about 5 (1-second) pulses. (If making by hand, transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and add the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until the mixture resembles wet sand and holds together when squeezed.)

  5. Transfer the graham cracker mixture into the springform pan. Press it in with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom and goes up the sides about 1 inch above the crust. Press with the bottom of a measuring cup to make sure it is pressed in evenly and flat, particularly in the edges of the pan.

  6. Bake until golden-brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Place the pan in the freezer to cool down quickly while you make the cheesecake filling.

  7. Bring about 8 cups water to a boil in a saucepan on the stovetop. Meanwhile, make the cheesecake filling.

  8. Wipe out the food processor. Place the cream cheese in the food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add 2 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk one at a time, pulsing between each addition to incorporate before adding the next.

  9. Add the remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until combined, about 5 (1-second) pulses. Add 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pulse in long bursts, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until combined and fully aerated, about 2 minutes total.

  10. Scrape a flexible spatula along the bottom of the processor bowl and mix by hand as needed to ensure no large clumps of cream cheese remain, then scrape the batter into the pan.

  11. Place the springform pan in a baking dish or roasting pan wide enough to fit it. Slide the oven rack halfway out. Place the baking dish with the cheesecake on the rack, and slowly pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan, being careful not to get any water onto the cheesecake. Very carefully slide the rack back into the oven.

  12. Bake until the cheesecake is set but the center wobbles slightly when jiggled, 40 to 50 minutes.

  13. Turn off the oven. Leave the cheesecake inside the oven but prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Let sit for 15 minutes.

  14. Very carefully remove the whole dish from the oven. Transfer the springform pan to a wire rack and remove the foil. Let cool for 1 hour.

  15. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the cake to prevent beads of condensation from forming. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours but ideally overnight. Meanwhile, make the lemon custard.

Make the lemon custard:

  1. Separate 4 large eggs, placing the yolks in a medium saucepan and the whites in a separate bowl. Add the reserved egg white from the cheesecake to the other whites (for a total of 5).

  2. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon into the saucepan. Juice the zested lemon and 4 to 5 more lemons until you have 3/4 cup juice and add to the saucepan.

  3. Add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk until combined. Cook over medium-low heat, gently scraping the bottom and sides of the pot and whisking constantly, until starting to thicken and bubble, 4 to 5 minutes.

  4. Immediately strain through a fine-mesh into a small bowl. Press a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.

Make the meringue:

  1. When ready to serve, make the meringue: Place the egg whites, remaining 1 cup granulated sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large heatproof bowl if using an electric hand mixer).

  2. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 to 2 inches water and place over medium heat. Set the mixer bowl on the saucepan (the water should not boil or touch the bottom of the bowl). Whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is opaque and registers 160ºF on an instant-read thermometer, 4 to 8 minutes.

  3. Place the bowl back onto the stand mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. It should hold its peak when the whisk is inverted and resemble shaving cream.

Assemble the cheesecake:

  1. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Whisk the lemon custard until smooth, then transfer onto the cheesecake and spread it into an even layer. Dollop the meringue evenly over the custard, spread into an even layer, and make decorative swooshes with the back of a spoon or spatula.

  2. Toast the meringue: Toast the meringue with a kitchen torch until lightly browned in spots. Alternatively, place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and broil 5 to 6 inches away from the broiler element until lightly browned in spots, 1 to 3 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Using store-bought lemon curd: 1 cup prepared lemon curd can be used in place of the lemon custard.

Storage: Leftovers can be loosely covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week, but the crust will soften as it sits.

Make ahead: The baked and cooled crust can be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months.