Whether for a luncheon dessert, alongside an espresso, capping off a dinner party, or for a just-for-me treat, Lemon Tart is a slice of elegance and sunshine. Made with a buttery shortbread crust and fresh lemon curd, this lemon tart recipe is refined, yet is actually easy to make.
Lemon tart tastes like sunshine.
Just a whiff of it is like a dose of vitamin C.
The fresh, bright lemon in the custard filling bursts through its richness, with the homemade, buttery Shortbread Crust complementing the sweetness.
This lemon tart (or as the French say, tarte au citron) is served cold and would do the French proud.
Lemon tart, like Lemon Bars, is allll lemon, baby.
Lemon Tart is Classy and Easy
Pinkies up, this no-bake, classy lemon tart is perfect for your next gathering.
When you hear lemon tart with homemade shortbread crust, you probably imagine hours squeezing lemons and rolling delicate dough.
On the contrary, lemon tart is actually pretty easy to make.
- All the crust ingredients (simple and classic with flour, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt) are blended with a stand mixer, pressed into a pie dish and baked. No pie weights, foil, or parchment paper needed!
- The filling is prepared in one pot on the stove, poured into the prepared crust, then chilled, and DONE.
If lemon pie is what you’re after rather than tart, Grammy’s Lemon Cream Pie is a knockout, made with a cream cheese and lemon custard filling. It’s also no bake, and even better than a lemon meringue pie.
How to Make Lemon Tart
Lemon tart is made with melted butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Super simple!
You can make everything in advance and let it chill overnight.
No turning on the oven required.
- Sugar. To make the fresh lemon tart just-right sweet!
- Lemon. Fresh lemon juice + lemon zest for the full lemon flavor. No lemon extract needed; the lemon here is pure.
- Egg Yolks. For making the custard. You can reserve the egg white for making Egg White Frittata.
- Cornstarch. For making a slurry to thicken the tart filling.
- Prepare and bake the crust.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Mix the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks.
- Whisk egg mixture frequently, until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Make cornstarch slurry in a separate bowl.
- Whisk in cornstarch slurry.
- Increase the heat to medium heat and cook while whisking until mixture is thickened.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve (optional).
- Pour lemon curd mixture over the cooled tart crust and level with an offset spatula.
- Cool for 1 hour, then let set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or (for best results) overnight.
- Remove from tart pan, garnish as desired, and serve chilled. ENJOY!
Lemon Tart Garnishes
The lemon tart is pretty on its own, and even more of a looker with garnishes such as the following:
- Lemon slices
- Fresh berries, such as raspberries or blueberries
- Sliced, toasted almonds
- Dusting of powdered sugar
- Mint leaves
- Whipped cream
- To Store: Keep lemon tart in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze: You can freeze individual slices, the entire tart, or the filling and pie crust separately. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Meal Prep Tip
- Lemon tart is perfect for making ahead as it tastes best after refrigerating overnight.
- Crust can be baked the day before and stored covered at room temperature until filling is prepared.
What to Serve with Lemon Tart
Lemon tart is a beautiful dessert after any meal, or enjoyed as a little slice of heaven all on its own. Serve with a scoop of ice cream and/or a bubbly drink for an even more fun treat.
- Ice Cream. Rhubarb Swirl Buttermilk Ice Cream would be a nice fruity pairing, or the classic creaminess of Oat Milk Ice Cream.
- Champagne. The lemon twist and bubbles in St. Germain Cocktail would be fitting, or the classic French cocktail Kir Royale would make this dessert royal.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Tart Pan. If you’re going to make at tart, let’s go all in and get the proper bakeware.
- Sauce Pan. Thought about upgrading your cookware? All Clad is going to last your lifetime and then some.
- Small Whisk. This little guy works harder than my full-sized whisk. I love how it’s easy to maneuver and can really get into the corners of pans and bowls.
You’re going to feel all kinds of refined when you serve this bright and beautiful lemon tart.
Grab a slice of sunshine!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are different versions of lemon tart: baked and no-bake. This recipe is a no-bake lemon tart (only the crust is baked), and is served chilled.
Tarts are made with a thick, cookie-like crust and baked in a vertical-edged tart pan so they can be presented freestanding out of the pan (this Vegan Chocolate Tart is another example). Pies (like Sweet Potato Pie) are made with a flaky dough crust, filled, and baked and served in a pie dish. A galette is a free-form pie pastry wrapped around the filling and baked without a pie dish.
Tart crust is not the same as traditional pie crust. Pie crust is flaky. Tart crust, while also buttery, is more like a cookie; it is crumbly and more substantial.
- 1 recipe Shortbread Crust
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (separated if opting for the bain-marie method)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 3 lemons – reduce to 2/3 cup for a more subtle lemon flavor
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest from about 2 lemons
- 6 large egg yolks at room temperature, use the egg whites for Egg White Frittata
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water to create a slurry
- Sliced lemon raspberries or blueberries, light dusting of powdered sugar, mint leaves
Prepare the Crust:
- Grease a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick spray.
- In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a rubber spatula (or wooden spoon), combine all the crust ingredients: the butter, all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, water, and lemon zest (if using). Mix until a somewhat dry looking cookie-dough-like mixture forms; when pressed together with your fingers, it should hold together. Press evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the prepared tart pan. Trim off any excess dough that overhangs the pan. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork.
- Freeze the crust for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden. Let cool completely.
Make the Lemon Curd:
- To a medium non-reactive saucepan*, add the butter and melt over medium-low heat.
- Mix in the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Whisk frequently, about 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved—this workout will be worth it. Make sure you are using a small-ish whisk so you can really get into the corners of the pan.
- Whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Increase the heat to medium and cook, whisking every 20 seconds. The mixture will thicken and bubble. Continue cooking, whisking very frequently, until the mixture is noticeably thickened (it will look like lemon curd!), about 1 to 2 minutes more.
- If you are a perfectionist, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to ensure that it’s fully smooth (if you’re happy with the consistency, you can skip this step).
- Pour the hot lemon curd mixture over the cooled tart crust and, with a knife of offset spatula, spread into an even layer.
- Allow the lemon curd to cool in the pie crust at room temperature for 1 hour, then place in the refrigerator to set for 4 hours or (for best results) overnight. Serve chilled with your favorite garnishes.
*A non-reactive pot is on that is made of material that will not react with acidic ingredients. Stainless steel is the most common; enamel-coated cookware is non-reactive also—most non-stick is non-reactive. Do not use cast iron (unless it’s enamel coated), copper, or aluminum.
- TO STORE: Keep lemon tart in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: You can freeze individual slices, the entire tart, or the filling and pie crust separately. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
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