You’re going to love my Classic Lemon Tart! Creamy and delicious, with loads of tart lemon flavor that makes the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Add the crunch of the sweet pastry shell, whipped cream, and fresh berries, and you’ve got the perfect dessert for any occasion.
This is a fairly easy lemon tart recipe, but if you don’t have time or don’t want to make your own homemade crust, you can buy a premade pie crust. Just roll it out for your tart pan and follow the steps for baking the tart shell.
I love lemon desserts, they’re so incredibly refreshing. If you’re looking for another delicious lemon dessert, my lemon cream pie is sure to please.
The creamy texture of this lush lemon tart makes it the perfect dessert for the spring and summer months. But I like to make it all year long.
I know your whole family is going to love this lemon tart!
Ingredients to make Lemon Tart
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make a classic French lemon tart. In Chef Speak, this is called the “Mise en Place,” which translates to “Everything in its Place.”
Not only does setting up your ingredients ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
I used regular lemons to make the curd, but if they’re available, Meyer lemons would be a great choice for this dessert.
How to make lemon curd
Place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan with about one inch of water over high heat to create a double boiler. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low to let the water simmer.
- Add the egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to a metal or heatproof glass bowl on top of the saucepan.
- Whisk the egg mixture until thoroughly blended. Continue to whisk as the lemon curd cooks (whisking the mixture will help keep the curd from curdling). Continue whisking the egg mixture over the heat until the mixture has thickened (about 10 minutes). *If the curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat a little and keep whisking.
- Once thickened, remove the pan from heat.
- Cut the unsalted butter into small pieces, and whisk them into the lemon mixture one at a time. *The heat of the curd will melt the butter.
Place the lemon curd filling in a bowl or jar for storage and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the curd so a skin does not form. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
Once the curd is fully cooled (2-3 hours refrigerated), you can remove the plastic wrap and store the lemon curd in a well-sealed container.
How to make a Lemon Tart
- Add the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse the dry ingredients for a few seconds until combined.
- Add the cold butter to the food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles a coarse meal, about 10-12 pulses. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by using a pastry cutter.
- Add the whole egg and vanilla extract to the mixture.
- Continue to pulse until the dough starts to clump together (about 10-15 seconds). Do not pulse the mixture too much, you don’t want the dough to form a large ball. The dough should be crumbly with clumps. It should be a little stick, not dry.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a ball. The dough should come together easily without being sticky. Flatten the dough ball to form a disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. *The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before use.
When ready to make the tart crust, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for five minutes. This will make it easier to roll out.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin into an 11-inch circle, then gently place it into the tart pan. *I use tart pans with a removable bottom, it makes life a lot easier.
With a sharp knife, trim the edges of the pastry to fit the tart pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes until it’s firm. *Frozen dough is less likely to shrink during the baking process.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven.
Place parchment paper or aluminum foil pressed tightly against the crust. Cover the edges to prevent them from burning. Add pie weights or dried beans to the shell, making sure they’re evenly distributed over the entire surface.
- Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes until the foil (or parchment) no longer sticks to the dough. Carefully remove the pie weights and foil.
- After removing the weights, place the tart shell back into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown and the crust is dry. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Fill the tart shell with chilled lemon tart filling, spreading it evenly.
- Refrigerate the lemon curd tart for at least 4 hours before serving to allow it to fully set.
I think this is my favorite lemon dessert, and I know after one bite, you’ll agree this is the best lemon tart you’ve ever tasted!
I use this 9-inch non-stick tart pan for my lemon tart and other tart and quiche recipes.
The short answer is yes. Although fresh lemon juice is preferred for the best flavor, you can use bottled lemon juice as a substitute if fresh lemons are not available. However, the taste will not be as vibrant and fresh.
Yes, you can make a lemon tart up to two days ahead of time. But It’s best to prepare the tart shell and the filling separately and then assemble and bake the tart shortly before serving for the best texture and flavor.
The fully baked tart can last up to 3 days, well covered in the refrigerator.
Lemon tarts are typically served chilled or at room temperature. They can be enjoyed on their own or garnished with whipped cream and fresh berries.