This Classic Lemon Tart Recipe features a silky smooth lemon curd flooded into a tender cookie-like tart crust. Our favorite lemon curd has a slight floral note to it thanks to honey, but feel free to make this with white sugar if you prefer. Easier to make than it looks, and always a joy to eat, the lemon tart is a classic for a reason!
Table of Contents
- How to Make Lemon Tart
- Step 1: Make the Tart Crust
- Step 2: Bake the Tart Crust
- Step 3: Make the Lemon Curd
- Step 4: Bake the Tart
- Make Ahead Tips
- More Tart Recipes to Try
- Classic Lemon Tart Recipe
You only need a handful of simple ingredients to pull together one of the most stunning and delicious dessert recipes. Many of these ingredients overlap between the filling and the crust such as the butter, eggs, and cream.
You’ll need 4–6 lemons, depending on size, to make the lemon curd for this tart. Zest the lemons using a microplane (< this is our favorite) before juicing them. You will need a ¼ cup measure of lemon zest and ½ cup lemon juice.
This recipe requires a total of 10 eggs—though we only need the yolk from most of those (2 whole eggs and 7 yolks are used in the curd while 1 yolk is used in the crust). Save the egg whites to make an egg white omelette or frittata, or mix them into your morning eggs for a low-fat, protein-packed scramble.
We love the floral note that honey adds to our homemade lemon curd. You will need ½ cup. If you’d prefer to use sugar you can substitute the honey with ¾ cup granulated sugar.
For this tart you will need 12 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks or ¾ cup)
Unlike make other recipes, both our tart crust and our lemon curd feature a splash of cream for silkiness and decadence.
We’re keeping the tart crust simple and using all-purpose flour. But if you want to make a whole-wheat tart crust, go for it!
Confectioners’ Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
Confectioners’ sugar, also called powder sugar, is ideal for making tender tart crusts. First off, because it’s powdered it blends into the crust smoothly. And secondly, the cornstarch present in confectioners’ sugar makes for a very tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
How to Make Lemon Tart
Step 1: Make the Tart Crust
- Pulse the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and pulse until a coarse meal is formed. Add the egg yolk and cream and pulse until a dough comes together.
- Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill.
Step 2: Bake the Tart Crust
- Roll the dough out into a round then transfer it to a tart pan with a removable bottom (this one is our favorite).
- Loosely wrap the crust in plastic wrap and freeze until firm.
- Remove the plastic from the tart dough and line the dough with two layers of aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or baking beans.
- Blind bake the crust until edges are golden and base is set, this will take about 30 minutes.
- Remove the pie weights and foil, then return the crust to the oven and continue baking until deeply golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Let the crust cool completely.
Step 3: Make the Lemon Curd
- Whisk the egg yolks, egg, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt together in a saucepan until smooth. Add the butter.
- Cook the lemon curd mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture has reached 170-degrees and mixture has thickened, this should take 5 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer.
- Stir in the cream.
Step 4: Bake the Tart
- Pour the curd into the tart shell, spreading with an offset spatula if needed.
- Bake just until the filling has a nice sheen and the center jiggles slightly when shaken, this will take about 10 minutes.
The most common reason why your tart cracked is because the oven was too hot (375ºF is as hot as your oven should be) or the tart was overbaked. It’s best to pull your lemon tart from the oven when its center is still slightly jiggly when the pan is gently shaken.
Another reason your tart may have cracked is if it was still slightly warm when removed from the pan. This is why it’s so important to let the tart cool completely before removing from the pan.
We have heard from a few readers who experienced this and it comes down to the size of eggs you used. Although we love using farm fresh eggs, we recommend buying eggs labeled as Large from your grocery store. This will guarantee your eggs are the correct size and you will get the necessary volume of lemon curd for the tart.
If you are not sure what size eggs you have, you can measure the eggs. A raw egg, without the shell, should weigh 50 grams.
We do not recommend freezing your lemon tart. As much as it may save time, the sacrifice in texture just isn’t worth it.
However, we’ve got some great make ahead tips below that will save major time—making this totally doable for a dinner party.
Lemon curd is made with both whole eggs and egg yolks. However, the curd mixture is cooked on the stove top to 170-degrees fahrenheit which is above the recommended food safety temperature of 160-degrees. So, lemon tarts are safe to eat!
Make Ahead Tips
- Make the tart crust dough ahead of time: wrapped the dough tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, let the dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- Make the dough and line the tart pan ahead of time: make the dough, roll it out and line your tart pan as directed in the recipe. Wrap the dough-lined tart pan tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- Do not thaw the tart shell prior to baking; blind bake the frozen tart shell as directed in recipe.
We like to keep the serving of this tart simple—a dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh berries do the trick. If can take it a step further with whipped cream, a berry compote or even a berry coulis.
For the best quality, enjoy this lemon tart on the same day as it is made. However, this lemon tarts lasts well for up to three days wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator. Stored any longer and the crust will start to soften and the lemon curd will start to weep.
Because the tart filling is made with eggs, we do not recommend storing this at room temperature overnight.
More Tart Recipes to Try
Tarts are one of our favorite desserts to make so we’ve got quite the archive of recipes for you to try!
- Our Fresh Fruit Tart is unlike any fruit tart you’ve ever had before. Featuring a flavorful whole-wheat tart and a silky mascarpone filling, it’s truly a showstopper.
- In the citrus mood? Our Lemon-Blueberry Tart has been a reader favorite for years!
- When rhubarb season is in full swing, put the fresh ruby stalks to use in our stunning layered Lemon-Rhubarb Tart.
- For something a little funkier and more adventurous, try our Pear, Hazelnut & Blue Cheese Tart.
- In the fall, give our Pumpkin Butter Pop Tarts a try. They’re a fun brunch treat!
- If you’re looking for something a little easier, try our Upside Down Puff Pastry Tarts! We offer 7 different varieties including desserts and savory appetizers.
Classic Lemon Tart
- ¼ cup lemon zest
- ½ cup lemon juice (4 lemons)
- 2 large eggs
- 7 large egg yolks
- ½ cup honey
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Berries, optional
- Confectioners' sugar, optional
- Heat oven to 375ºF (190ºC) with rack set in middle position.
- Whisk 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla together in bowl.
- Process 1 ¼ cups flour, ½ cup sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter 8 tablespoons chilled butter over top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 15 pulses.
- With processor running, add yolk mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 12 seconds.
- Form dough into 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour. (Dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling.)
- Let chilled dough sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, roll dough out to a 11-inch circle on lightly floured surface. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into pan by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into corners and fluted sides of pan with your other hand (make sure edges are about 1/4-inch thick).
- Run rolling pin over top of pan to remove any excess dough.
- Wrap dough-lined pan loosely in plastic, place on a large plate, and freeze until dough is chilled and firm, about 30 minutes. (Dough-lined tart pan can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F (190ºC). Set dough-lined tart pan on baking sheet, discard plastic and line with a double layer of aluminum foil, covering edges to prevent burning; fill with pie weights. Bake crust until golden brown and set, about 30–40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Remove weights and foil and continue baking crust for an additional 5-10 minutes until deeply golden brown.
- Transfer tart crust to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Whisk ¼ lemon zest, ½ cup lemon juice, 2 eggs, 7 egg yolks, ½ cup honey, and pinch salt in medium saucepan until smooth.
- Add 4 tablespoons butter and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with rubber spatula, until mixture thickens and registers 170ºF (76ºC) 6–8 minutes.
- Immediately pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons cream.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Pour warm lemon curd into cooled 9-inch tart crust. Set tart on baking sheet and bake until filling is shiny and opaque and center jiggles slightly when shaken, 10–15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Transfer tart with baking sheet to wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
- To serve, remove outer metal ring of pan, slide a thin spatula between tart and tart pan bottom, and carefully slide tart onto serving platter.
- Top with berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using.