Tarte au citron: Lemon Tart Recipe

lemon tart 1

I’m happy to say that I finally got rid of the two eggs yolks in my freezer. They were packed together in plastic, then again in foil…and of course, quickly forgotten as over the course of the next few months, got pushed further and further back into the morass that is otherwise know as mon congélateur.

The other morning I woke up, and when I went to get an ice cube for my orange juice (one of my perks–I absolutely have to have an ice cube in my morning jus d’orange), everything came tumbling out. Long-forgotten flax seeds from a batch of seriously-healthy scones I’d planned to make, to six 2-cup containers of egg whites, plus a mysterious little foil-wrapped packet whose name had been scraped off after months of being away by jagged crystals of frost. It was like watching the last six months of baking projects crossing in front of my eyes, with a few things landing near my feet.

tart shell

So there I was, at 7:04 am, defrosting my freezer in my jammies, reliving my not-so-distant past, taking everything out, and scraping out massive amounts of ice for the next hour or so.

In the freezer were two frozen baked tart shells from making Paule’s pastry dough, so I let one thaw and decided to make a tart. After all, making the dough is half the battle. And I’d had enough fighting for one morning; the rest was easy.

Later at the market, I found these lovely unsprayed lemons, which I used to make a quick lemon curd. After I squeezed their juices out (one had remarkably adept aim, btw—right in the old œil gauche), I cooked the juice on the stovetop with lots of the fragrant zest, not too much sugar, those long-forgotten yolks, and poured the warm filling into the gloriously-ready tart shell.


Because the filling is quite tart, it makes a modest layer of filling, rather than a big pile o’ curd. Which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound so appetizing, does it? I prefer that, because I don’t like overly-rich desserts and you can confidently eat a wedge of tart and not feel bad about it afterward. (It’s the simplest way to cut the calories of a dessert in half; just eat a portion half the size. Simple, non?)

One could pipe whipped cream on it or top it with meringue, although I wanted to keep it pure and bought some seemingly just-picked raspberries to strew over the top. Unfortunately, they were so good, they didn’t make it to the finish and the tart, nor my guests, ever saw a single berry. Gulp!

So I killed two birds with one stone: I got rid of those two yolks once and for all, and used up one of the two tart shells in the freezer. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to do with all that empty space in my freezer. But I’m sure it won’t last long.
In fact…

lemon tart

Lemon Tart

One 9-inch (23 cm) tart

This makes a modest, but very tasty lemony layer. If you want more filling, feel free to double the recipe; any filling that you don’t use can be spread on toast, fresh biscuits, or scones.

You could substitute fresh lime juice for the lemon and if you have Meyer lemons, reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup (65g). You can use a favorite tart dough recipe, or the one I’ve linked to.

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • grated zest of one lemon, preferably unsprayed
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into bits
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • One pre-baked 9-inch (23 cm) tart shell

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C.)

1. In a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter. Have a mesh strainer nearby.

2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the yolks.

3. When the butter is melted, whisk some of the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly, to warm them. Scrape the warmed eggs back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and almost begins to bubble around the edges.

4. Pour the lemon curd though a strainer directly into the pre-baked tart shell, scraping with a rubber spatula to press it through.

5. Smooth the top of the tart and pop it in the oven for five minutes, just to set the curd.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.

Related Links:

Recipes to Use Up Leftover Egg Whites

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Tips for Freezing Eggs

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  • May 11, 2009 11:19am

    Lemon tarts are in the air…still have one left from this weekend. The picture with the lemons on the “torchon” is gorgeous. No meringue or cream for me…just plenty of lemons and zest!

  • May 11, 2009 11:20am

    Ooh, I think I’m going to have to make this for my birthday party at the end of the month. I am sure it will impress the local Brits, with their love of lemon curd! (Don’t suppose you want to just bring me one? ; ))

  • valisa
    May 11, 2009 11:23am

    I can’t believe you call it modest. It looks absolutely spectacular! And I bet it is yummy.

  • May 11, 2009 11:24am

    Yeah, don’t say “big pile o’ curd”.

    Lovely lemon tart. Lovely pictures.

  • May 11, 2009 11:25am

    Lemon tart is one of my favourites, frugal but indulgent at the same time. Nice photos.

  • May 11, 2009 11:26am

    Egg yolks in the freezer? Seriously? You can freeze egg yolks?

    I am ashamed – all I got are two empty ice cube trays…..

  • May 11, 2009 11:37am

    The only things in my freezer that I actually use are chicken stock and pastry dough. Everything else there in there is as likely as Walt Disney to ever see the light of day again.

    ps: I love this tart with a thin layer of almondy frangipane baked into the bottom of the shell.

  • May 11, 2009 11:40am

    Lemon must be in the air. I just made mini lemon bundt cakes over the weekend, and I normally don’t even like lemon desserts!

  • LinLaLiLa
    May 11, 2009 11:46am

    Umm… You had me with that first image. There’s just something about a macro shot of a tart’s edge that makes my entire mouth fill with saliva. I’m making this tonight and serving with fresh raspberries. Mmmm. Thanks. :)

  • siri
    May 11, 2009 11:49am

    Do tell..

    Is an ice cube in the morning one of your “perks”- or one of your “quirks”?

    After reading your site for the past half a year, I feel like I can justly classify you with the more quirky bunch. But maybe I’m wrong.

  • May 11, 2009 11:51am

    Just taking a break from the kitchen after making lemon curd for the first time. It was so delicious, I couldn’t stop tasting it! And then I see this recipe!! Gorgeous! Thank you!

  • Emma
    May 11, 2009 11:59am

    It’s such a gorgeous, deep-gold color – thanks for sharing!

  • May 11, 2009 12:12pm

    I think that it is quite reasonable to consider an ice cube in a drink to be a perk in this country… Tarte au Citron is one of my favorites. You have a beautiful tarte there.

  • Brigitte
    May 11, 2009 12:14pm

    Now, I am remembering all the egg whites I threw away because they had spent too much time in my refrigerator. I did not know we could keep yolks and egg whites in the freezer for so long! So many missed meringues! How long do they keep? 4 months? 1 year?

  • May 11, 2009 12:18pm

    what a darling recipe with frozen egg yolks, & i didn’t even know that egg yolks could be frozen! That 1st picture is awesome.

  • May 11, 2009 12:19pm

    David, that tart looks so perfectly beautiful it is a work of art!

  • May 11, 2009 12:35pm

    that has to be the most picture perfect lemon tart I’ve ever laid eyes on. simply stunning!

  • rachel
    May 11, 2009 1:04pm

    I love the colour of the lemon curd and a very beautiful tart!

  • May 11, 2009 1:04pm

    I’m a sucker for anything with lemon. Love the idea of freezing egg yolks. I’ll try that. I hate to waste anything. Très belle tarte au citron. Thanks for sharing.

  • May 11, 2009 1:06pm

    Wow that lemon tart looks so so yumm.
    I learned something new, i didn’t know we could freeze in egg yolks.

  • May 11, 2009 1:13pm

    What’s funny is that because I make so much ice cream, I always have tons of white leftover. That I had two yolks trolling around in the freezer was pretty odd. This was the perfect recipe to use them up. Whew!

    (Although a found a few other things back there that I need to figure out how to use…)

  • May 11, 2009 1:43pm

    I love your blog! I don’t even much like lemon desserts, but this one certainly looks luscious..

    xxo HH

  • Susan
    May 11, 2009 1:58pm

    Your recipe is almost the identical ingredient list I used for the Lemon Sabayon I made for Paule’s tart shell that I experimented with when you presented it. The method of cooking it is different,. It was Thomas Keller’s Lemon Sabayon recipe. It used 3/4 cup of sugar though. I guess it was my neighbors Eureka lemons because, Buddy, that was one tart, Tart! I could barely eat it, until I piled on the whipped cream, that is. What’s the difference between a Sabyone and a Curd, or is it just the place of origins’ name that’s different?

    I have to tell you, that tart crust is so easy and so crisp and flakey that I’ve been all over the net searching for a variety of fillings. It was the first Tart I ever made, and I want to experiment now!

  • Malini
    May 11, 2009 2:18pm

    Ooooh, that tart pastry looks absolutely perfect.
    And that lemon filling is pure lemon.
    Love it.

  • May 11, 2009 2:34pm

    What a delicious way to clean out the freezer!

  • simona
    May 11, 2009 3:11pm

    tartE mon cher David. French difficult language, I know.
    Looks like a very tasty tarte au citron, you tarte.
    The Figaro has declared the tarte au citron de CARL MARLETTI ( 51, rue Censier) the best Tarte au citron of Paris. I’m sure your tarte au citron is at least as good as that one !!!
    Vive la tarte au citron

    Oof! Is there no end to how I abuse this lovely language I’m surrounded by? Merci, toujours…x x -dl

  • Lillianne
    May 11, 2009 3:13pm

    “two egg yolks just trolling around” hahaha you kill me. With the door closed and the light off I can just imagine those two egg yolks hopping around inside the freezer trying to see what kind of trouble they can get into.

  • May 11, 2009 4:01pm

    Love Lemon tart such a nice pace of change from my normal indulgence and really easy to make too. My favorite is Dorie’s whole lemon tart so good

  • May 11, 2009 4:38pm

    Oooh…so beautiful! I’ve been craving exactly this dessert lately, although the version I’ve been wanting has a very very thin layer of dark chocolate underneath the curd.

  • Bernadette
    May 11, 2009 4:56pm

    That is a lovely, just perfect tart shell! YES! Someone else that puts ice in their orange juice, yay!

  • Sarah
    May 11, 2009 5:03pm

    GORGEOUS! You could probably sell that for 40$ in any of my local neighborhood gourmet markets.

    I want a dollop of fresh, lightly sweetened, whip cream on my slice please.

    I’ll know when I become a real cook/baker when I save everything I don’t use like your two frozen yolks from the Jurassic period. Me, I dabble, and whatever is left over or unused I toss. When I try to be creative and frugal my fridge just looks messy and then I don’t cook. I wait for something to go almost bad then throw it all out and start over again with a clean slate/fridge freezer. Perhaps it’s a bit of OCD?!?!

    Anyways, I recently read Matt’s blog with his fridge pictured in a lovely photo and article. He’s a real cook. I aspire to be like him.

    Your lemons alone looked delicious. I hate sprayed waxy coated produce. I think there are generations of Americans who don’t know what real produce is supposed to look like. Scary…..

  • Martha in KS
    May 11, 2009 5:16pm

    David, I too put ice in my OJ, also even in milk. Love those c-o-l-d beverages. Tart looks delish!

  • May 11, 2009 5:17pm

    Bernadette: We must be Portuguese, because when I was in Lisbon, almost everyone put ice in their orange juice, too!

    Laura: Chocolate would be good, although there’s something to be said for just a clean, neat wedge of perfect lemon tart. And this was certainly it.

    Susan: I have that recipe in my files but I’ve never made it. (Although the pine nut crust sounds good.) Sabayon is whipped egg yolks over heat, beating until frothy, and this is just a custard, or a curd. I still want to give his recipe a try, but I had these two egg yolks to use up, ya know… : )

  • Lynn in Tucson
    May 11, 2009 5:26pm

    Mmmmm…I have four yolks left behind from a Mother’s Day Pavlova!

  • May 11, 2009 6:04pm

    Thank you for this post — for reminding me of some baking ingredients in my own freezer, from who knows when ! You’ll have to give Christophe Felder a call and have him redo his taste test for Figaro… I imagine you already saw this last week, but just in case, Paris’ best lemon tarts:


  • May 11, 2009 7:06pm

    I’m glad you made this instead of the super healthy scones (isn’t that an oxymoron?)

    Your tart crust is so beautifully thin!

    That sounds like a come on, which it’s not (maybe).

    I really have to clean out my freezer.

    This comment is brought to you by the word, “disjointed”.

  • May 11, 2009 7:12pm

    Thanks, you answered my burning question. I was wondering if the dough froze well!

  • May 11, 2009 7:19pm

    I’ll have mine with meringue on top and confit strands of lemon rind thanks ;)
    very neat result!

  • May 11, 2009 8:16pm

    i love orange juice in the morning! but i like mine chilled, pulpy and undiluted by ice! =)
    the lemon tart looks lovely! hooray for forgotten egg yolks! great pictures….as always!

  • Peggy
    May 11, 2009 8:25pm

    I just discovered your blog and am loving it because it takes me back to the 80s my husband and I lived in Geneva for 2 years. I think all current and former expats can relate to eachothers experiences, no matter what country they live(d) in, and reading your entries makes me smile, laugh, and recall many wonderful (and not so wonderful) memories we have our our time overseas. It’s also amazing how little things change over there!

  • May 11, 2009 8:39pm

    Looks fantastic! But, don’t scare me again by letting a precious tart hang over the edge of the counter that way. Too scary!

  • Meridith
    May 11, 2009 8:52pm

    I want the towel the lemons are resting on

  • Susan
    May 11, 2009 9:30pm

    Well, David, you’ll have to start from scratch. Keller’s recipe calls for 2 eggs and two egg yolks, cold! So fridge’em up before you start!

    Thanks for the explaination.

  • May 11, 2009 9:31pm

    My mouth is puckering just looking at it!!

  • EGT
    May 11, 2009 9:46pm

    That “tarte” is absolutely gorgeous!
    And I bet it tastes incredibly good….

  • May 11, 2009 9:51pm

    It looks très magnifique!

  • Su Su
    May 11, 2009 9:57pm

    Thanks, David! Your entry made my day! It’s always great to read your blog! It’s usually the highlight of the day for me. That lemon tart looks yummy! Will have to consider whether to make it for my next baking project since I happen to have lemons in my fridge.

  • May 12, 2009 12:11am

    How do you save the egg yolks in the freezer? Once I tried, they came out “cooked” out of the freezer…

  • Annie
    May 12, 2009 12:21am

    Holy Mackerel! This is one incredibly delicious tarte! I made it tonight with fresh blackberries & raspberries and freshly whipped cream. I like fruit deserts that are that and intense; I’ll skip the super sugary ones. And this fits the bill. I added three drops of lemon extract (yes, I like it THAT tart) and it was such a lovely contrast with the sweet berries and fresh cream. Thank you for the lovely recipe and the very simple and delicious dough recipe as well! My dinner guests were very happy, as was I.

  • May 12, 2009 2:05am

    Kerrin: Yes, I saw that. (I was at Jacques yesterday and he told me he was #2.) Odd that Chef Felder says to put cream in tarte au citron, but the lemon tarts in Paris that I’ve had were on the sweet side, and indeed, more creamy. I prefer them puckery-tart.

    I did go to that pastry shop mentioned and wasn’t all that wild about it. But maybe I need to re-investigate!

    Annie: Yow! More lemon? This lemon oil is pretty delicious, too. It’s pure oil from the skins–and a little goes a lo-o-o-ong way.

    fethiye: At the end of the post, I linked to a page about how to do it. They can be mixed with a small amount of sugar and frozen in a small container, or just in plastic wrap, then foil.

    Merideth: I buy those torchons whenever I see them at flea markets. I don’t want to rub it in, but they’re usually pretty inexpensive: I pay €2-€4, maximum, for one. Those beautiful linen towels are too good to use for kitchen tasks, but I have a nice stack of them that I like to admire ; )

  • june2
    May 12, 2009 2:12am

    I made one like this for friends topped with 65% Green and Blacks long finger curls and it was gorgeous and delicious!

  • jennifer
    May 12, 2009 3:08am

    David, when you say “unsprayed” lemons, do you mean bio? If not bio, what do I look for in the market? Je crois votre francais c’est meilleur de moi

  • May 12, 2009 3:11am

    jennifer: Look for lemons that are non traité, or “not treated”

  • Katarina Johansson
    May 12, 2009 7:59am


    No scraping ice when defrosting.Hellooooooooooooo! lol

    Just boil water and put the pan direct in the freezer and let the ice melt above and under. If you have a big freezer, put a pan with boiling water on every shelf. And change the water with new/ hot as it cools down.

    I have been there and scraped ice in that futter mucker too..lol.there are definately more fun things to waste time on than that! :D

  • Jill
    May 12, 2009 8:02am

    “any filling that you don’t use can be spread on toast, fresh biscuits, or scones” You forgot to mention spreading it on a spoon or finger….

  • judy gal
    May 12, 2009 11:31am

    David, from the San Francisco Chronicle Food section last Sunday:

    (…the Bay area is falling in love with macaroons….)


    I love your blog and get so excited when there’s an update..
    thanks so much!

  • Eileen
    May 12, 2009 11:37am


  • May 12, 2009 12:17pm

    Yummy! I love lemon tart.

  • May 12, 2009 4:19pm

    Thank you for pointing out the link!

    I love saving my whites and use them for pavlova. Hmm,maybe time for it again!

  • May 12, 2009 7:16pm

    Looks like a real beauty!

  • May 13, 2009 2:52am

    Gorgeous! Not sure I would have been able to cut into it~ It’s too pretty.

  • May 13, 2009 11:16am

    Favorite line: “big pile o’ curd”. I’m going to think about it every time I make lemon curd now. Omgosh I can’t stop laughing.

    Simple, not to sweet desserts really can’t be beat. Maybe next time you can buy two baskets of berries. :)

  • Sarah
    May 13, 2009 2:34pm

    Martha in KS…… you too? I thought I was the only one who put ice in my milk. I can only drink and enjoy it when it is super cold. And a chocolate chip cookie without a frosty glass of ice cold milk just isn’t worth it, no matter how excellent the cookie :-)

  • May 13, 2009 3:54pm

    Perfection. Bonus points for using up something from the back of your freezer!

  • May 13, 2009 5:39pm

    i just recently purchased my very first tart pan with removable bottom ever and was so excited to use it. this is the tart that resulted:
    now, seeing this lemon tart is sending my heart racing. oh my gosh, i can barely wait. my tart pan is 9.5 inches. will that still work for your recipe or do you think i need to adjust down the ingredients?

  • May 13, 2009 10:14pm

    Did you use sugar in the yolks or the corn syrup mentioned in your link? I’ve always frozen whites but not yolks. Just wondering if the corn syrup might be better.

    I once read that if you just sprinkled them with salt or sugar you could freeze but as I anticipated, that just drew the moisture out so that when they were defrosted I was left with two golden gelatinous orbs that were like soft cooked yolks.

    The phrase “big pile” might be better saved for those healthy scones!

  • Marianne
    May 13, 2009 11:17pm

    Wow, I made this today and topped it with warm blueberry sauce….it was the perfect blend of flavors…thanks for the recipe!

  • May 14, 2009 1:58am

    kissmyspatula: Since most tart pans are in metrics, the 9-inch measurement is not exact so you can use this recipe as is. Or if you want more filling, simple increase the recipe. As mention, no one will object to having any extra lemon curd around : )

    Marianne: I LOVE blueberries. Unfortunately they’re pretty rare here in Paris. They are available in small barquettes (plastic containers) but you only get a few, and pay a lot for them. I miss those big baskets of blueberries..

    Martha & Sarah: Ok, I can see ice in orange juice. (In fact, I see it every morning.) But ice in milk does sound funny to me. But iced coffee sounds perfectly normal. Go figure!

    Darin: I don’t add sugar, but most folks say that you should to keep them from getting grainy. To be honest, I rarely have leftover yolks…like you…I always have whites, which don’t need anything.

    I was a pastry chef in an Asian restaurant and the chefs were always giving me buckets of yolks because they used the whites for various dishes. For a pastry chef, it was heaven! Although a fairly-rich one..

  • May 14, 2009 2:22am

    David, I love the image of you cleaning the freezer at 7AM in your jammies! That is too precious!! You should have included THAT photo!

    Your photos are the bomb! I just keep coming back to look at them. So lovely!

    Not sure if you got my tweet about making and posting a version of your tart shell with caramelized pineapples. Gods it was so good! Just had a slice again a few minutes ago from the one I made yesterday morning, and the pastry is still holding up. Love it!!!

    Love you!!!!


    ~ Paula

  • May 14, 2009 2:47am

    Hi Paula: That’s a great idea using caramelized pineapple. I could see making this with lime curd, and topping it with fresh or caramelized mangoes as well. Fabulous..although I think I’d better keep pics of me in my jammies to myself!

    Just a note to all: I do read my Tweets, Facebook comments, and stuff, but if there are questions or notes regarding recipes or posts from the site, I prefer to respond to them on the site to keep everything together. (Including my brain…)

    Often if there are questions, others might have the same ones, and it’s nice to share the answers with all. Am happy to get comments, goofy stuff, random thoughts, and passing notes on Twitter. Merci!

    : )

  • May 14, 2009 4:23am

    Mmmmm… caramelized mangoes…. lime curd… tarts a plenty… :D

    Oooooh… how about passion fruit…?

    Now, see what you have gone and started. It’s tart mania around here!!!


    ~ Paula

  • mitra
    May 14, 2009 8:35am

    This was my first time baking a sweet tart and you’ve helped make it a success! It looked and tasted absolutely delicious :) Thanks ever so much!

  • Carey
    May 14, 2009 8:56am

    Off topic….David, thank you for making your new book available on E-readers!!! I just downloaded it to my kindle, and suddenly the reality of being inside all day with the flu seems entirely bearable!! I’m so excited to dig in…

  • Debbie
    May 14, 2009 11:25am

    I saw the tart yesterday and I just had to have it. I of course had to make the working woman/semi-homemade version. Close your eyes, but I bought a frozen pie crust, baked it and then made the filling per your recipe. I did double it so I could have one to share. It was delish!! Thanks…

  • May 14, 2009 2:52pm

    Sounds lovely. My only problem with it is that, when a dessert is short like that, I figure that I can eat twice as much. Which kind of defeats the purpose. Sigh. Glad you don’t have those yolks hanging over your head anymore:)

  • May 15, 2009 3:34am

    J’adore lemon tarts! I love how your filling looks just about right — I, too, dislike lemon tarts that are big, thick piles of yellow. Can’t wait to try this…I’d love to hear what uses you found for the other forgotten items in your freezer!

  • May 15, 2009 9:20am

    Loved your recent post about Paule’s pie crust! Unaware of your plans, it inspired me to post my own lemon tarte recipe on my blog (On My Plate) today. The recipe is based on the one Paule taught me years ago and is very similar to yours, but slightly richer (more eggs!) and with different treatment of lemon juice and egg whites. Is this grounds for a bake off?

  • May 15, 2009 10:06am

    I just finished reading The Sweet Life……it was wonderful!!
    Such an easy and entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
    I will be linking it on my blog!

    Maybe when we come to Paris in Sept we can have a drink together!


  • Zelda
    May 15, 2009 10:23am

    Thanks David for these great recipes!!I
    Made Paule’s pie crust and the tarte au citron today (my first one…)
    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!!! (I used sour cream though – instead of the butter for the filling) .

  • Mary in Texas
    May 15, 2009 11:07am

    Funny, when I first read this I had just sat down after making a cheesecake with a layer of lemon curd on top. I put a hefty tablespoon of lemon zest in the cheesecake filling, too, just in case it wasn’t lemony enough. Wow, never dreamed of the reaction it would get when served to my friends at bridge! Lemon curd is one of those terrible addictions that are made worse by how easy they are to obtain.

  • Kathy
    May 15, 2009 11:36am

    I’ve had the accidental frozen egg in my old frig that thawed and cooked just fine, so freezing parts seems reasonable to me. Can’t help but think of the fertility clinics and how unbelievable it is that those fertilized eggs and sperm are still viable.
    But, why the 2 cup amounts of whites? David, what recipes do you them in?

  • May 15, 2009 3:26pm

    My quest for the perfect tarte au citron comes second only to my life-long search for the perfect chocolate cake; this one might be le beau idéal.

    Do you end up making a lot of meringues, David, or angel food cake, or macarons, or what?

  • May 16, 2009 12:22am

    Hi David,
    Made the tart today, it was great. LOVE the crust, thanks for sharing. I want to make a chocolate tart, would you recommend par baking the shell before adding choc custard to bake (bakes about 25 minutes), or baking all at same time, or can I even use this dough for baked tarts?

    Thanks, I love your blog and check it everyday.

  • May 16, 2009 3:55am

    Kathy: I freeze them in 2 cup quantities because that’s the size of the plastic container I always store egg whites in, for some unknown reason.

    Sandy: I make a lot of my chocolate coconut macaroons. I often double the recipe and freeze half of the batter. I want to make an angel food cake soon, but I don’t have an angel food cake pan so I’ll need to improvise, but I’m going to wait until berry season is in full swing since I love berries and angel food cake!

    amy: I always pre-baked tart shells, unless they’re going to be filled with fruit filling and topped with crust, like my Easy Jam Tart.

    Carey: Glad you’re enjoying the book on the e-reader. I don’t have one, yet, but I do hope to get one in the future.

  • May 17, 2009 2:08am

    I love lemon tart and it is a favourite dessert of many. Although I never made it the way you made it as lemon curd tart which looks very nice indeed. Mine are usually based on a custard type filling, although they are a bit fiddly to cook. I think the essence of a good lemon tart is that it not only has to taste good, but it should also look smooth and mirror like when it comes to the table and yours just is gorgeous in that respect. Love your site. Excellent and informative.

  • ila
    May 17, 2009 11:29am

    Lemon curd freezes beautifully and thawing can be hastened in lukewarm water. With one of Paule’s “noisette” shells pre-baked, one can make tarte au citron practically for breakfast.

  • Katie Johnson
    May 18, 2009 11:50am

    I made this tart yesterday for a dinner with 2 other couples to plan our trip to France for next Spring. It was a HUGE hit. My tart shell was not quite as golden as yours – probably b/c it wasn’t spread as evenly so some parts were darker than others but no one seemed to mind and it was gone in a flash. This recipe is in the ‘keeper’ file.

  • Susan
    May 18, 2009 12:18pm

    Love the photography…especially shooting the tart half on and half off the counter with the furthest rim blurred. Very nice.

  • Dan Bleich
    May 18, 2009 3:16pm

    I am not much of a baker………..but, the simplicity of the recipe piqued my interest enough to give it a try. It was quick, simple, and delicious. I even bought a tart pan so I could try it out. Have since made an apple tart (Jacque Pepin’s recipe), but using this pie crust, and it came out great. Great recipe……….and, I love the blog.

  • May 20, 2009 1:33pm

    Thanks for the kind answer, David, and the pointer to the chocolate coconut macaroons. I’ll have to try those – along with the tart, which with any luck I’ll be making this weekend. I’m a new reader, but I’m really enjoying the blog. I love angel food cake with berries, too.

    @ila: Tarte au citron for breakfast! Now I know I’m among my people.

  • Julie
    May 21, 2009 10:56pm

    This is a wonderful blog, David. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us. Would you consider exploring some recipes of those delicious French jams I have pined for over the past ten years?

  • May 22, 2009 5:37pm

    I just LOVE lemon tarts. This looks wonderful!

  • Monica
    May 24, 2009 6:09pm

    Mmm. This looks delish! I have made double the amount of lemon curd, and am pleased to know it can be frozen. It came out very light and creamy coloured, sadly not as darkly lemony as yours-any tips?

  • May 25, 2009 2:39am

    Hi Monica: The eggs in France have very dark-colored yolks, unlike supermarket eggs in the states, which are very pale. (If that’s where you live.)

    If there’s a farmer’s market or natural foods store in your area, try buying eggs from them, which often have lovely dark yolks.

  • Monica
    May 25, 2009 12:39pm

    Thanks David. I live in London and though the eggs were free range they were from the supermarket. I used the extra curd with mascarpone and cream cheese to make mini cheesecakes.

  • Catherine Buccellato
    May 26, 2009 5:48pm

    Thank you SO much for sharing this recipe, David. It was fantastic. I had given up on making pie crusts, and struggling with those little pea sized bits of butter, and not overworking them to avoid the crust tough, etc. etc. This recipe has resuscitated tart making in our house. It was like magic!!

    And, you are so right about the color of American supermarket eggs, very pale. I went to the local farmers market just for eggs to try out the lemon tart, and farmers market eggs make the loveliest deep yellow. You can also almost always find eureka lemons at the farmers markets as well, which to my taste, have the best lemony flavor of all.

    Thanks again – I so enjoy your blog. Catherine

  • May 27, 2009 4:31am

    Lemon tarts! My favorite dessert after carrot cake. Thank you for this wonderful and simple recipe. I made it last night for guests and looked like a real hero. My only regret is that it is already gone. I may just make another for the family.

  • Anita
    June 10, 2009 4:31pm

    I found this recipe by googling because I couldn’t find my simple French one that has been chasing around here for years. I didn’t like what happened with the egg whites – they cooked into white globs, necessitating that whole straining process very seriously to save the face of the pie! Must not have beaten my eggs well enough. I think the French one I had just used pure yolks. But it *was* good!

  • Karin
    June 22, 2009 1:23am

    I had a sudden urge to bake a tart for the first time when I had some leftover lemon curd. I usually use lemon curd (from Alice Water’s recipe in the “Art of Simple Cooking”) to add to vanilla ice cream or bread pudding. Unfortunately, with the tart I’ve been having problems with getting the curd to set regardless of the amount of time in the oven. Refrigerating it only helped a little. So I tried changing recipes and came upon this one when googling “tarte au citron.” I’m still having the same problem though. Yours looks so dense and smooth while mine is thick, but loose. Any suggestions? Thanks! (Thanks for the freezing yolk/white tip, too! I always felt bad about throwing away extras…)

  • June 22, 2009 2:19am

    Hi Karin: If it’s not setting, it’s likely that the curd isn’t being cooked enough on the stovetop. Cook the filling until it appears to be almost jelly-like and starts to mound up and hold a shape.

    You could also try adding another egg yolk or egg, just to see if that works. But I’ve used both my recipe, and the Chez Panisse one, a lot and never had problems. Good luck!

  • Karin
    June 23, 2009 12:29am

    Thanks, David! I can’t wait to try it again. I’m glad I came upon this blog – it brings back great memories of my year in Versailles where I was inspired to start cooking.

  • Eric
    August 6, 2009 11:24am

    Hi David

    I have made this lemon tart many times already, and it seems I will have to make many more since everyone that tries it cannot get enough. Absolutely a great desert! (and I give you the credit each time!)

    The last tart I made the lemon curd came out slightly grainy and tasted a bit “off”. Always before the curd was silky smooth and I am just curious to know why a curd might get grainy like that? I made it on a stove unfamiliar to me that runs crazy hot, so my guess is that I either over or under cooked the thing.

    All the best


  • August 6, 2009 11:32am

    hi Eric: If it’s grainy, you could pass it through a mesh strainer, which usually takes care of that. You might have overcooked it. (Some folks cook fillings like this is a double-boiler, for that reason.)

    if it tastes off, it may be your lemons. Sometimes they just taste musty, so if they have any soft spots (or even green fuzzies) you can’t just cut that off–usually that taste permeates the whole fruit.

  • Nick
    August 11, 2009 6:00am

    Hi David,

    How do you store your tart shells in the freezer? Just wrapped in cling film? Do they keep for long?
    Love the blog!


  • August 11, 2009 6:20am

    Hi Nick: I wrap them securely in plastic wrap, then store them in the freezer (baked or unbaked) for up to one month.

  • November 17, 2009 6:34pm

    Hi David

    Quick question, I have frozen a tart shell and am using it this weekend for a lemon tart but was wondering if its best to defrost in the fridge or on the counter


  • November 18, 2009 1:58am

    I normally defrost on the counter.

  • sumaiya
    March 4, 2010 3:22am

    i had a craving for lemon tarts and found this recipe, but my filling turned out bitter! i followed the exact recipe but don’t know where i went wrong!

  • March 4, 2010 3:40am

    Sumaiya: With equal amount of sugar to lemon juice (1/2 cup of each), I can’t imagine it being bitter. Perhaps there was a problem with your lemon juice, or a measurement error.

  • Sharon
    March 22, 2010 1:59pm

    I just found this recipe and love it. I substituted blood orange and sour orange juice for the lemon and backed off the sugar a bit (I could have backed it up a bit more.) It is delicious, but I can decide if I love or hate the salmony-pink color the curd turned out to be!

  • Kate
    March 24, 2010 1:11am

    Great tart, especially the crust method! I used meyer lemons and needed only about 1/4 cup sugar. Mmmmmmmm. And everyone was impressed.

  • megh
    June 12, 2010 9:35am

    I used your French tart shell recipe to make the crust and the lemon curd recipe here.
    I made it for a pre-wedding party yesterday and everyone loved it. Thank you for the wonderful compliments I received thanks to your recipe. I directed everyone who asked me for a recipe to your site :)

  • July 19, 2010 9:38pm

    I made this tart for dessert today using lemons and blueberries from the farmers’ market. It was absolutely delicious; the five of us left a mere wedge on the table! I plan on trying it with lime juice soon as well.

  • Quinne D
    July 31, 2010 1:11am

    Just making this tart right now. I doubled the recipe but put it in for 5 min and it doesn’t seem set. I am going to leave it a bit longer – assuming that because I doubled it for more filling that it should take longer to set?

  • Serena
    August 7, 2010 7:48am

    This is the BEST lemon tart recipe I have ever made. The tart shell is so easy to make and wonderfully crisp. The lemon curd is creamy and tart. I have already made 2 this week and they go down a storm!

  • Joey
    November 18, 2010 5:08am

    i love this tart i mixed lemon and lime it was DELICIOUS

  • January 14, 2011 4:48am

    i’d like to start by saying that i’m a fifteen year old girl from albany, new york who loves writing, food, and travelling. formerly a spanish student, i switched to french this year because i found my kindred spirit in a french teacher at my high school. not only do i have a sudden infatuation with all things french, but lately i’ve been totally and completely obsessing over cooking anything and everything, so when i got an english assignment to make a 4 course french meal, i was simply elated. a friend of mine recommended this site to me, and i kind of kept it as a thought in the back of my head. but looking for a tarte au citron recipe today, i rediscovered the magic of david lebovitz. thank you so much for this recipe! i also made your tarte shell recipe and the tarte looked amazing and was simply to die for. it was definitely a favorite amongst the uncultured palets of my tenth grade english class and some of the french teachers even decided it was some of the best tarte au citron they’d tasted. merci monsieur lebovitz!

  • Min
    February 4, 2011 4:44pm

    Hi David, I made this tart today and loved it. It’s so refreshing and light. Just to be sure about the instructions… when you say “until the mixture thickens and almost begins to bubble around the edges”, does that refer to tiny foam that gathers around the side of the pot? How will I know when the mixture almost begins to bubble? Thanks for the lovely recipe. I enjoyed it very much.