A lemon tart is a fabulous dessert for daytime luncheons or evening soirees. Zesty, bright and citrusy, the filling of a lemon tart is held in a shortbread cookie-like crust. The simple structure of these treats offers a perfect palette for fancy garnishes and finishing touches (whipped cream swirls and fresh raspberries, anyone?).
Our lemon tart recipe can be prepped and baked in under an hour (less time than a classic lemon meringue pie), so it’s an especially good dessert to bake on a whim or on an already-busy cook day. And apart from the ease of the recipe, sunshiny lemon tarts will light up the dessert table and put a smile on everyone’s face. Let’s be real, though—most of our irresistible lemon desserts are showstoppers in their own right.
Lemon Tart Ingredients
- Eggs: The eggs bind the filling together and give it that thick texture very similar to a classic lemon curd.
- Lemon juice and zest: You’ll need lemon juice for the filling and lemon zest for the crust. Two medium lemons or one large lemon should be enough for what the filling and crust call for. Here’s a refresher on how to zest a lemon.
- Sugar: The sweetness and texture in this lemon tart recipe come from regular granulated white sugar. We don’t recommend swapping it out for brown sugar or sugar alternatives.
- Butter: You’ll need butter for the filling and for the crust. Note that the butter for the crust should be chilled so that it turns out a crumbly crust rather than a tough crust. The butter for the filling, however, should be melted so it incorporates with the eggs and lemon juice seamlessly.
- Flour: This shortbread pie crust calls for all-purpose flour, but if you need a gluten-free pie crust, you can swap for our gluten-free recipe (just make sure all the other ingredients you use in the filling are certified gluten free!). The texture of a gluten-free crust may differ, but the filling will be the same.
- Ground almonds: Ground almonds give the pastry shell a bit of texture and extra flavor. You can grind whole, unsalted almonds yourself by pulsing them in a food processor. If you happen to have leftovers, use them in a traditional Bakewell tart.
Step 1: Bring eggs to room temperature
Take the eggs out of the fridge, and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Mixing room-temperature eggs with the rest of the crust ingredients will make for a more uniform mixture.
Step 2: Make the lemon filling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and orange zest. Once combined, stir in the melted butter, and mix until fully incorporated. Set the lemon filling aside.
Step 3: Create the crust
Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, almonds, lemon zest, orange zest and cubed butter in a food processor until the mixture forms a ball.
Press the dough into the bottom of a tart pan, and bring it up the sides too.
Editor’s Tip: The dough pressed into the sides of the pan should be even with the top. It shouldn’t fold over like the edges of a pie crust.
Step 4: Bake the tart
Pour the lemon filling into the crust. Bake until the center is almost set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and raspberries.
Lemon Tart Variations
- Top with fresh fruit: Fresh raspberries offer a brilliant red pop of color on the yellow lemon tart, but you could also use thin slices of lemons, limes and oranges for a citrusy design. Fresh blueberries would look lovely as well in this lemon tart recipe.
- Use a store-bought crust: Sometimes we just don’t have time to make a from-scratch pie crust. That’s OK! Look for a shortbread crust at the store to keep as close as possible to the original recipe. If you can’t find a shortbread version, a regular store-bought pie crust will work. Our Test Kitchen voted on the best premade pie crusts to make things easier for you.
- Decorate with swirls of whipped cream: You can make whipped cream from scratch to top this beautiful lemon tart. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag to create professional-looking swirls of whipped cream. Place the swirls about 1/2 inch apart so each slice gets a dollop. Leave the whipped cream as is, or top it with fresh fruit.
How to Store a Lemon Tart
Tarts with egg-based fillings, like this lemon tart, need to be kept chilled. Cover the tart tightly, and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Can you freeze lemon tarts?
Yes, you can freeze lemon tarts. They’ll stay fresh in the freezer for about three months. For easier serving later, slice the tart into portion sizes, and freeze individually. Then, you can thaw however many slices you need rather than the whole tart. Thaw in the fridge overnight rather than on the countertop.
Lemon Tart Tips
How do I stop my lemon tart from cracking?
If the top of your lemon tart cracked, it might have baked for too long. Remember, most foods that come out of the oven still bake for a little while during the cooling process. Be sure to remove the tart from the oven before the center is fully set. It should still look slightly wet and jiggly in the center.
You can easily fix a cracked tart surface by covering the cracks with artful fruit and whipped topping. Your secret is safe with us!
What is the difference between pie crust and tart crust?
A pie crust is flaky and buttery, while a tart crust is crumbly (here’s how to make pie crust that’s perfectly flaky). Tart crusts are also usually shallower than pie crusts. You could use a store-bought crust for this lemon tart recipe, but since the homemade crust has almonds and citrus zest, you won’t get the same flavor.
How do you keep fruit tarts from getting soggy?
To keep your fruit tart from getting soggy, you can do a blind bake, which is when you partially bake the crust before adding the filling. You can also brush the pastry with egg whites before adding the filling.