Lemon Tart

My father and I have been experimenting with lemon tart recipes for a year, without much success, by the way (until now). First there was the disastrous lemon tart from the New York Times, described so well by Deb of Smitten Kitchen; we had a similar inedible result. Then there were my several attempts to make a Meyer lemon confit over pastry dough crust, still way too tart. We finally chanced upon a Charlie Palmer recipe with a fabulous lemon curd filling, but his cornmeal crust tasted like baked polenta. Just didn’t work with the lemon curd. So, we took the fabulous filling and put it in a tried and true shortbread-ish crust. Dad even made a batch of candied citrus peel (you can easily skip this step) days in advance. And voilá, a truly delectable lemon tart.

Lemon Tart Recipe

Garnish with fresh mint and sneak some bites of the mint in between bites of the tart for even more fun with the flavors.



Candied Zest:

  • 1 cup lemon zest, julienned
  • 1 cup sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, or 1/4 pound) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Lemon curd:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Equipment needed:

  • 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom
  • Pastry blender or two blunt dinner knives
  • Double boiler and several metal mixing bowls


Candied Citrus Zest

1 Place lemon zest in a saucepan and cover with water by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, drain the water. Fill up with water again and repeat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, then drain. Add water again, this time adding the sugar as well. Simmer for 30 minutes, drain.

2 Spread the zest out on a sheet of parchment paper. Let dry overnight at room temperature (do not put in the refrigerator). The next day toss the zest with a little more sugar.

Make the Crust

lemon-tart-1.jpg lemon-tart-2.jpg

3 Combine flour, salt, butter, and sugar in a bowl. Use a pastry blender, or two blunt dinner knives, to cut the butter into the flour until the dough forms flaky crumbs and lumps. You can also just mix with your fingers. With a wooden spoon, mix in the egg, almond extract, and lemon juice. Continue to mix until the dough clumps; at first it may seem very dry. Shape into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, refrigerate at least an hour.

4 Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

5 Let the dough sit at temperature for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to work with it. Allow the dough to relax enough to become somewhat pliable before rolling out. Roll out the disk between two sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper), to a circle 2 inches larger in diameter than your tart pan (about a 12-inch round).

lemon-tart-4.jpg lemon-tart-5.jpg
lemon-tart-6.jpg lemon-tart-7.jpg

6 Press the dough into the tart pan. Use your rolling pin to level the dough along the edges of the pan. Place aluminum foil over the foil and gently mold it to the dough in the pan. Add pie weights (dried beans work well, though after you use them once for pie weights, keep them as your pie weight beans and don't try to cook with them.) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Lemon Curd

7 Melt butter and creme fraiche together over a double boiler, stirring to combine. (If you don't have a double boiler, bring a couple inches of water to simmer in a saucepan, place a stainless steel bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the simmering water.) Remove top pan from heat and set aside.

8 In a bowl over a double boiler, whisk the eggs and egg yolks just long enough to warm them. Remove from heat and beat in the butter mixture, then the lemon juice. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl and place over the simmering water. Add the sugar and zest and whisk until warm to touch, about 4 minutes.

Assemble the Tart

9 Pour the lemon curd into the crust and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until set in the middle. Let cool on a rack. Chill in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, top the tart with candied lemon zest. Garnish with fresh mint.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Recipe adapted from Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen.


Never miss a recipe!

Subscribe to Simply Recipes free via email:

Showing 4 of 46 Comments

  • Alexandra

    This tart sounds delicious and is very similar to one that I make, with a cream cheese layer between the crust and the lemon curd! So tasty!

  • Farmgirl Susan

    This looks so good, Elise. Thanks to you and your dad for doing all that recipe research. Lemon desserts are Joe’s favorite, and I’ve been promising him a lemon tart for ages (though what he really loves are baby lemon meringue tarts). I’ll definitely have to try this one. I’m sure it’ll be wonderful – assuming I don’t gobble up all the lemon curd with a spoon before it makes it into the crust. I love that stuff! ; )

  • vanou


    We were also looking for the perfect Lemon pie, we found it in a book called “Classiques du Monde” from MARABOUT. The book is in French, but here the recipe translated.

    225g Flour
    1 table spoon icing sugar
    140g cold butter cut up in dices
    1 egg yolk
    2 table spoon cold water

    75g Maizena (cornstarch)
    220g white sugar
    125g lemon juice
    310 ml water
    2 tea spoon of lemon zest
    3 egg yolks
    60g butter

    3 egg whites
    110g white sugar

    Baking the crust pretty much the same way you did.

    As for the Lemon curd, the good thing about this recipe, is that you don’t need a double boiler.
    Just mix in the Maizena and the sugar in a pot than progressively mix in the lemon juice and the water, mix and medium heat until the Lemon curd becomes thick. Lower the heat, mix 30 seconds more, mix in the lemon zest, egg yolks and butter, cover and let cool.

    You don’t have to put the MERINGUE, I’m not a fan, but my family sure is.

  • pratfall

    I’ve been trying to come up with a way to make this kind of thing without eggs, since my girlfriend is allergic. When I’m baking, I usually substitute yogurt for eggs, but somehow I doubt mixing lemon juice and yogurt is a good idea. I’ve used the dried soy-based egg replacer from health food stores, too, that was nasty. Any suggestions?

View More Comments / Leave a Comment