Meyer Lemon Curd and Lemon Tart

lemon curd tart recipe

There’s been an anglo-wave sweeping across Paris the past few years, and the latest to excite Parisians has been the return of Marks & Spencer. Their last store in France closed over a decade ago and after a lot of speculation, and anticipation, they’re back. Their initial rentrée was a shop on the Champs-Elysées, which gives more room to clothes than it does to the food. I’ve never heard anyone say they missed the selection of clothes that were available, but a lot of people – French and otherwise – got a little misty eyed over the loss of the availability of scones, le cheddar (pronounced ched-aire), streaky bacon, Chicken Tikka Masala and, my favorite, the crumpets. Since then, they’ve gone on to open specialty food stores in various neighborhoods, to great success.

On British import that’s hard to explain is “curd,” which doesn’t quite translate into something that sounds like it would be tasty, even in English. Explanations tend to bring up notions of curdled custards, lumpy messes floating in a cloudy broth. But in spite of the connotations the word brings up, French people like lemon curd as much as Americans, and British, and I am sure someone else will point out that others like it, too. So let’s just agree that everybody loves lemon curd. (Okay, there are probably some people who don’t like lemon curd. But I’ve not met anyone yet.)

Lemon tart and curd recipe

Most lemon curd is made with tart Eureka lemons, the kind that lend a wonderful puckery character to lemon desserts. (Well, wonderful to those of us that love it.) However someone gifted me a basket of Meyer lemons, which are familiar to Californians, who enjoy their fragrant, sweet juices, as well as a marvelously heady, perfumed zest. Italians have their Amalfi lemons and the Provençaux have their lemons from Menton, a French city that borders Italy, where an annual Fête du Citron takes place, featuring day and night parades with highly ornate floats decorated with thousands of lemons, and other citrus fruits.

Lemon tart and curd recipe

I had big plans for my own little stash of lemons. But then, the holidays rolled around and other cooking projects took priority. And they kind of got put into the “too good to use” category of things that one saves for something special – so special that you don’t want to use them. My Meyer lemons rolled around in the fruit bin in my refrigerator, knocking against the sides of the drawer every time I opened it, to remind me that they were still there.

I didn’t want my precious lemons to suffer the indignity of a slow, moldy death in the back of my refrigerator. So I pulled them out and made a batch of Meyer lemon curd with them. Like blood oranges, cutting into each Meyer lemon is a joy, because the outside reveals little of the splendor within. When you slice a Meyer lemon in half, a spray of flavorful oils spritzes out, making it hard to resist putting one of the halves up to you nose, and inhaling deeply to take it all in.

Lemon tart and curd recipe

Lemon curd is very simple to make. It’s made like a custard, using freshly squeezed lemon juice, some zest for additional flavor, sugar, butter, and eggs. I’ve made versions with milk and starch, but this one is nice when used as a cake filling, spread between two layers of spongecake, and iced with whipped cream. It’s also good piped into cream puffs, served with warm caramel sauce, which was my intention. But the end-of-the year got the best of me and I ended up being mired in last-minute paperwork and dealing with all that less-fun stuff that needs to be taken care of to wrap up the year, and my curd ended up in a jar in my refrigerator.

Lemon tart and curd recipe

However mornings were better once I: A) Stopped reading email until after breakfast (as in, well after it…), and B) I had a couple of pots of sunny Meyer lemon curd to wake up to, and spread on my morning toast.

Lemon tart and curd recipe

Lemon Curd and Lemon Tart
Print Recipe
About 2 1/2 cups (625ml)
If you want to make less, feel free to cut the recipe in half. If using regular lemons, such as Eureka lemons, use a total of 2/3 cup (130g) sugar as they are more tart than Meyer lemons. When it’s cooling, taste, and add an additional sprinkle of sugar – 1 to 2 tablespoons – if it’s still too tart. Even though my first batch of Meyer lemon curd didn’t make it into a lemon tart, due to some pleading from my other half, which I’ll admit sounded like a good idea, I went ahead and made a lemon tart a few days later, using regular lemons to make the curd. This recipes makes enough to fill a 9-inch (23cm) tart.
grated zest of two of the lemons
1 cup (250ml) freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (see headnote if using standard lemons)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
12 tablespoons (6 ounces, 170g) unsalted butter, cubed
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1. Zest two of the lemons into a medium sized metal bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
2. In a medium saucepan, warm the lemon juice, sugar, and butter, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.
3. In another bowl, stir together the eggs and yolks.
4. When the lemon juice mixture is warm, starting off gradually, pour it slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly. Scrape the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook the curd, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and starts to coat the spatula. (You may see little bits of cooked egg whites, which is normal.) It will happen relatively quickly – perhaps in less than 2-3 minutes, so watch carefully.)
5. Immediately strain the curd into the zest, pressing the curd through the strainer to get most of it through. Wipe the spatula clean then use it to scrape the curd off the bottom of the strainer and into the bowl.
6. Stir the curd frequently to let the steam and heat out, then continue to let it cool for about 10 minutes. Pour the warm lemon curd into jars, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Storage: Lemon curd will keep for up to ten days in the refrigerator.

To make a lemon tart out of you lemon curd: Spread the curd into a 9-inch (23cm) pre-baked tart shell, and bake in a 375ºF (190ºC) oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until when you jiggle the tart pan the curd looks set. (If adding warm curd, it may take less time.) But rather rely on a fixed time for baking, it’s best to use the baking time as a guide and trust your instinct rather than fixating on the exact minutes. Keep an eye on it and when it looks like it’s just about set, it’s done. Take the tart out of the oven and let it cool completely before serving. If making tartlets that you don’t plan to slice, there’s no need to bake the curd in the tart shells. Simply fill the pre-baked tartlet shells with the curd. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Lemon tart and curd recipe

Related Recipes

French Tart Dough

Whole Lemon Bars

Lime Meringue Tart

Tarte au citron


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64 comments

  • Elle
    December 29, 2014 2:01pm

    What a timely recipe as I was trying to decide what to do with the remaining meyer lemons from my trees. I gave many of them away during the holidays and should probably pick and use the rest soon. Also want to make your kumquat jam too!

  • December 29, 2014 5:24pm

    Sounds like an awesome treat to wake up to! I really must try!

  • Julie
    December 29, 2014 5:34pm

    Love anything and everything lemon, especially Meyer lemon. David, can you share your favorite sponge cake recipe. Would like to make it with Meyer lemon curd for NYE.

    • December 29, 2014 5:49pm
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Julie: The recipe I use, and that’s my favorite, is in my book, Ready for Dessert. However the Gâteau de Savoie is another spongecake that I really like, and this Almond Cake also goes great with lemon curd. The almond cake would be particularly nice split in two, once cooled, and filled with a thin layer of curd, then dusted with powdered sugar!

  • December 29, 2014 5:57pm

    This looks absolutely amazing David! I love lemon curd with shortbread – a lovely tea time treat!

  • December 29, 2014 6:00pm

    Oh David this lemon curd looks amazing, love it!
    The lemon tart is perfect but this time I prefer the lemon curd into a lemon cake. I can’t wait to try it.
    Everything delightful as always.
    Thanks for share!!

  • December 29, 2014 6:43pm

    I, for one, don’t like lemon curd! haha!
    What do you think of letting the curd cool down to room temperature before emulsifying with softened butter with a hand blender? I wonder if the texture would be more velvety this way.

    • Amber
      December 30, 2014 12:30am

      If you want a creamier texture, try Pierre Herme’s lemon cream. He blends in cold butter like you suggest. You can find the recipe online posted by Dorie Greenspan (who collaborated on a couple of his books).

  • Sherry
    December 29, 2014 6:44pm

    That looks gorgeous! I had 400+ Meyer lemons on my tree last year, many of them the size of softballs. (It’s a very happy tree.) So I made jars and jars of lemon curd and put them in the freezer. I quadruple the recipe which makes the process go faster. The curd freezes beautifully and then I have it all year long to use on scones or in tarts or when I need a hostess gift. This year I have even more lemons so making more curd is on my post-Christmas list of things to do this week.

  • Mari
    December 29, 2014 6:47pm

    Could this be processed and canned?

  • Esmee
    December 29, 2014 7:27pm

    David — Have you ever tried canning/sealing the curd in mason jars? I made 4 different kinds of curd this fall — they’re so beautiful – and I sealed the jars… but then I was nervous about leaving them unrefrigerated so they’re taking up the entire bottom shelf. What do you think?

    • December 29, 2014 7:31pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not done it but according to the National Center for Home Preservation (University of Georgia and the USDA), it’s possible: canned lemon curd.

  • Pat
    December 29, 2014 7:29pm

    While I love lemon curd, I prefer lime curd. This article brought back a certain memory: I once made a wedding cake, which was a poppy seed cake and the layers were filled with lemon, blood orange and raspberry curds, iced with a lemon french buttercream. When the folks cut into it the reaction was spectacular. It was literally neon. This was not your boring wedding cake.

  • Marie M.C.
    December 29, 2014 7:40pm

    I’m blessed to have a friend who has three Meyer lemon trees — and he shares! I read somewhere you can come close to the taste of a Meyer lemon by using two parts lemon juice (use the lemons from the grocery store) to one part orange juice. Tangerine juice instead of orange juice sounds like a good substitute, too.

    • Esmee
      December 29, 2014 7:41pm

      yes.. fridge is full of 8 jars each of tangerine, meyer lemon, pink grapefruit and cara orange… oh wait, i used a jar of the lemon :)

  • Hillary
    December 29, 2014 8:21pm

    I love lemon curd but have never tried making it! I sometimes see Meyer lemons at this time of year at Whole Foods (even here in New England). I’ll keep my eye out!

    Also, I just love those coffee cups…

  • December 29, 2014 8:23pm

    We found this recipe for lemon curd about a year ago on your blog and have been making it ever since. We had never made it from scratch before because we thought it was hard to make. We couldn’t have been more wrong! This recipe is easy and tastes wonderful! We have made it with Eureka lemons and Meyer lemons and the Meyer are our favorite! I have a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree on my patio and it produces lots of lemons every year at this time. It is covered right now! I am making my first batch of Limoncello with some of them and it should be ready in about 4 weeks! We fill lemon cupcakes and cakes with this luscious curd and everyone loves them! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us David!

  • December 29, 2014 8:46pm

    Curd (of any flavor) have always made me too nervous to try. I’m not exactly sure why, but they just seemed daunting. This recipe (and your lovely explanation of it) has changed my mind! Thanks for sharing!

  • Maia
    December 29, 2014 8:52pm

    The other day I had an amazing passion fruit curd made with olive oil instead of butter (from Craftsman & Wolves in San Francisco). Any chance you’ve experimented with this & have recipes and/or advice? I love curds, of all varieties, but am sadly now severely lactose intolerant and really miss them.

  • june
    December 29, 2014 9:20pm

    weird..!! I just one moment before receiving this email I sliced into a fresh meyer lemon…from my own tree! They just started this season and I’m thrilled…but here’s the real clincher for providence…or as I like to say, the Universe attempting to get my attention….I literally came across a double printing of a recipe for lemon curd just a few days ago and wondered why in the world I had two of the same copy and thought, gee, I’ve never even done this and here it is twice in my stack of print outs…and voila! here you are today with a recipe for lemon curd and touting the accolades of meyer lemons in particular….looks like a batch of curd is coming our way here this week….I have no more excuses!
    have a terrific new year!

  • PREM KISHORE
    December 29, 2014 9:23pm

    How do you come up with those scrumptious photographs?I rarely bake but your recipes are divine..I feel as though I have relished every bite!

  • Nancy H.
    December 29, 2014 9:26pm

    Question re:recipe in your “Room for Dessert”. (this tart sent me to your book to see what other recipes you had for tart shells). I have a friend who can’t eat any dairy. Would your Butternut Squash pie work with 1 1/2 cups of homemade cashew “milk” instead of 1 cup cream and one cup milk? Thanks! If there is a better place to ask these questions, please let me know. I did get here from your lemon curd article

  • Pam
    December 29, 2014 9:44pm

    What a coincidence! I received your lovely book MY PARIS KITCHEN for Christmas and I’ve been slowly making my way through it and thoroughly enjoying it. I was reading the part about substituting salted butter in recipes that call for unsalted butter and I agree that most times it doesn’t make a big difference. The only recipe I could think of that I would absolutely use unsalted butter for is a lemon curd. I ran out of unsalted butter once and threw in the salted butter that I had on hand and the difference was huge. The salt dulls the tartness of the lemon and makes it taste like it was made from a box mix. Oh well, cook and learn. It looks like you already knew that!
    Back to reading about cassoulet.

  • Nancy H.
    December 29, 2014 9:45pm

    …whoops! the end of my last comment got cut off. Anyway, I got here from the lemon curd article, but I was wondering if I have questions from your various cookbooks, where you would like me to ask them, Thanks so much!

  • Lisa McNamara
    December 29, 2014 10:04pm

    David, please don’t forget to mention your East-West Ginger Cake with Meyer Lemon Cream! It is my absolute favorite combination–i even once used it as my entry for a competitive baking show and Paul Hollywood, who was one of the judges, said that he’d eat that cake and cream combo “every day, with a nice cup of tea.” Which, of course, was pretty high praise, coming from him;) Anyway, that cake/curd combo is absolute winter dessert perfection! Thank you again and happy new year!

  • Brett
    December 29, 2014 10:16pm

    Bookmarked for the batch of Meyer lemons I just harvested from the tree in the backyard!

  • Lisa
    December 29, 2014 10:46pm

    I do believe the almost-constant availability of Meyer lemons from a friend’s trees may be responsible for keeping me in California…

  • fran
    December 29, 2014 10:54pm

    It’s called lemon butter here in Australia. A more enticing name?

    • December 29, 2014 11:26pm

      It is also called Lemon Honey in Australia and New Zealand.

  • December 29, 2014 11:28pm

    Silly me !! I am worried about making curds…a friend of mine makes all kinds,,inc lime,and orange curd…….she does hers in a pyrex bowl over just simmering water……and if like magic ,,,this lovely voleptoues blob is produced mmmmmmmmmm lovely…..Querino de-Freitas

  • December 29, 2014 11:32pm

    Here is a Passionfruit Curd recipe from Australia – it is delicious as a sponge filling. http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/22190/passionfruit+curd

    (LemonCurd is also called Lemon Butter or Lemon Honey in Australia and New Zealand

  • GuyB
    December 29, 2014 11:43pm

    “I read somewhere you can come close to the taste of a Meyer lemon by using two parts lemon juice (use the lemons from the grocery store) to one part orange juice. Tangerine juice instead of orange juice sounds like a good substitute, too.”

    Yes, that makes sense because Meyer Lemons are a cross between lemon and orange. They are not true lemons. The orange heritage gives them mildness and sweetness.

  • B.Early
    December 30, 2014 12:02am

    Love reading your blog. Is there a way to print out just the recipe without printing the comments, ads, etc.?

    • December 30, 2014 12:07pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, you can cut and paste the recipe into a document file, such as Word or Pages, and print it out. Or use a service like printwhatyoulike.com

  • Arturo
    December 30, 2014 12:20am

    Wow! that is 400 grams less sugar than my goto lemon curd recipe! Must be nice and puckery :)

  • Lynne
    December 30, 2014 12:35am

    David, I have been making Meyer Lemon Curd for years, using a similar recipe as yours. I first discovered this magical fruit in California back in the ’80s, before it became so universally available (and beloved). It is truly liquid gold!

  • December 30, 2014 2:14am

    I’m another spoiled Californian with a tree of my own, They are not ready yet…I don’t know what is taking them so long this year. In a few weeks I will have plenty.

  • December 30, 2014 2:29am

    That curd looks so delicious I would eat it with a spoon, no tart required!

  • Kathleen
    December 30, 2014 4:46am

    What perfect timing! I have a bowl of freshly picked lemons from a neighbor’s tree in the Sierra Madre mountains of Jalisco, Mexico. (This is an uncommon bounty, as limes are the usual and preferred tart citrus here.) Now I know what to do with them. A jelly jar of curd will make our mornings sunnier. Gracias!

  • December 30, 2014 8:56am

    David,

    You have been such an inspiration for me and my venture into making a food blog. Thank you so much for all of the work that goes in to each of your books and blog posts. I recently made the chocolate cake featured in A Sweet Life in Paris and posted it on my blog. Check it out if you have a minute! Thanks again for everything. http://www.probablybaking.com

  • Anisha
    December 30, 2014 9:04am

    I came here for the curd, but I ended up coveting your espresso cups. Are these something I can readily purchase?

  • December 30, 2014 12:36pm

    Hi David,
    this sound absolutely delicious. I just wanted to check 4 eggs + 4 yolks means 8 yolks in total?
    Thanks,
    Lachlan

    • December 30, 2014 12:47pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it’s 4 entire eggs (yolks and whites) plus 4 additional yolks.

  • Shandel
    December 30, 2014 3:02pm

    Those Meyer lemons would make a beautiful lemoncello!

  • Jana
    December 30, 2014 4:54pm

    Funny, I used your 2009 post in making lemon curd for my niece as a Christmas gift. The ingredients were the same but the technique was different. In 2009, you heated everything together from the beginning. Is the two-step process quicker? Better in some other way? Or just different?

  • Dekorasyon
    December 30, 2014 5:50pm

    Wonderful, wonderful. Bravo, David. I want to try this soon.

  • Donna Zell
    December 30, 2014 8:54pm

    In reading the new posts and this recipe a little more thoroughly, I just realized that the recipe we use is like the one Jana, (above), talks about. We heat everything in one pot. It works beautifully! I didn’t realize this recipe was a two step process either. I too am wondering how the different methods affect the end result?

  • Nancy h.
    December 31, 2014 12:06am

    Does anyone know where we can ask questions about recipes in David’s books? Thanks!

  • Regina
    December 31, 2014 1:16am

    I loooove lemon curd but sometimes find that my homemade curd has a metallic taste. Do you know why this might be? I’ve tried to research it and the only solid theory is that I’m letting the temperature of the curd get too high. I would love to solve this mystery if you can help! Thanks!

  • December 31, 2014 2:56pm

    My favourite curd to make is blood orange – such a very pretty colour – but lemon is perfect for these days to add to the promise of the coming of spring.

    For those in the UK I am very excited to discover that Tesco is now selling Myer lemons! I’ve had blogger envy for years with all those Meyer lemon posts that pop up and cannot wait to try them!

  • December 31, 2014 10:02pm

    I have LOTS of Meyer Lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard in Southern California… and have made lemon curd, but now will make this recipe. And not just for the curd…I’m thinking those 4 unused egg whites will be used in macaron. Macaron have been on my “to make” list for some time and this will leave me NO excuse.

    Happy New Year and thank you for another year of wonderful recipes, information and fun here on your blog.

  • rainey
    December 31, 2014 10:35pm

    Truly, someone some day has to come up with a better name for this than curd!

    I’d never take exception to your expertise in the kitchen but I one day came across a recipe that said put everything in a heavy pan and whisk over moderately low heat until the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk. ONE step. (OK, two if you strain it) Know what? It worked wonderfully and I make lemon curd more often now.

    My favorite application is on top of homemade whole milk yogurt sprinkled with a bit of crunchy granola. It’s like dessert for brekkies! https://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634@N00/14961437105/

    Got your newest cookbook from a friend for Christmas. I look forward to cooking my way though it and remembering France again with your stories to revive them!

  • Carla
    January 1, 2015 5:11pm

    Outstanding and easy! Filled one pint jar and quarter pint jar with a tad extra…which I ate directly from the saucepan. Made delicious meringue cups from the extra egg whites. Filled with the curd, topped with berries…OMG. Like a bite of sunshine on a very cold day in Denver, CO.

    Thanks so much for the recipe!
    Happy New Year!

    • Esmee
      January 1, 2015 5:14pm

      meringue cups! Now that’s the loveliest idea i’ve heard yet… except for the right-out-of-the-jar idea. Of course there is that little box of chocolate cups i’ve been hoarding.. Still no word from anyone as to whether the curd can be processed in jars and kept n the shelf… any ideas? any brave souls out there?

  • Marilyn from Montreal
    January 1, 2015 5:31pm

    First, your blog is stellar–keeps me happy and well informed. Excited to read that you will be in New York, not far from Montreal.
    Wishing you and yours all the best for 2015.

  • Karen
    January 1, 2015 6:00pm

    Meyer lemons have made their appearance in the northeast U.S.! For New Years eve I prepared one of your earlier lemon based desserts. Almond cake with raspberry filling and lemon buttercream found in Food and Wine. It was a delicious, special cake.

  • Shelley
    January 1, 2015 7:59pm

    Hi David, thanks for this great article. It was just what I needed! I recently picked a bunch of Meyer Lemons off my brother’s trees in Palm Springs and have been trying to find the best recipes for lemon bars, the kind that are nice and yellow and firm but still give you that wake-up snap of tart and sweet. I followed the links to your lemon bars which I made and loved but the topping is still not as firm as the ones I have seen by professional bakers so…what did I do wrong? And should they be stored in the fridge or outside. My New Year’s resolution is to get this right!! I know you can’t answer many comments and I hope I’ll be lucky enough to hear from you. Bonne Nouvelle Annee!!

    • January 1, 2015 9:20pm
      David Lebovitz

      If they didn’t firm up, you likely didn’t bake them long enough. Check you oven temperature, and rely on doneness clues, rather than just baking times – as ovens (and other factors) can vary. I don’t refrigerate them because they get eaten so quickly (!), but you certainly could.

  • January 2, 2015 10:39pm

    I actually saw Meyer lemons in my mother’s local hypermarket! I have never seen them anywhere else; I didn’t buy them, as they were eye-wateringly expensive, but if I see them again, I might be tempted!

    Last time I made lemon curd, I whisked the eggs (my recipe doesn’t use extra yolks), lemons and sugar together before adding to the melted butter; it seemed to cook more quickly that way. Mind you, I might put an extra yolk or two in the next batch I make, as I now have a new oven that makes sponge cakes well (my old one didn’t), so I want to see if it will make meringues, which my old one didn’t, either.

  • January 3, 2015 10:13pm

    I could use a slice of this lemon tart right about now :)

  • January 3, 2015 11:20pm

    Your description of ‘curd’ had me in stitches… For weeks if not months I thought ‘aaargh’ when I saw lemon curd anywhere in Devon, UK – and you couldn’t walk a few steps without seeing yet another coffee shop or tourist trap selling the stuff. How could anything looking so terrible turn out to be so yummy?! Lesson to learn: Don’t condemn it before you haven’t tried it!
    Also, I learned something today (as it happens frequently when I’m reading your blog): Never heard of Meyer’s lemons up to now, they do sound wonderful…. But on a lemony theme, I just learned to use an unwaxed ripe lemon, cut it in rondelles (round slices or what would you call them?), freeze them and add them frozen to your G&T – cools it down and makes the drink even more delicious…. Cheers!

  • Shannon
    January 7, 2015 11:45am

    I found a pack of 4 meyer lemons on clearance the other day and recalled seeing your recipe and picked them up! Made the curd a few days ago and it’s great! Thanks so much :)

  • Bronwyn Carlisle
    January 9, 2015 5:06am

    Funny, Meyer lemons are the usual sort of lemon in New Zealand. Every house I lived in had a tree until I moved to the far south.
    Lemon curd/honey/butter is extra delicious on Pavlova. With cream, not instead of.

  • January 26, 2015 7:31pm

    I’ve been tinkering with lemon curd recipes for a long, long while now unable to find one with the right balance of sweetness and tang/punch. I can’t wait to give yours a shot this weekend.

    It sounds strange, maybe, but I love to spread curd on my own biscotti — maybe a bit of a sacrilegious endeavor for an Italian but it tastes incredible. Just a plain anise biscotti and you’re set.

    Thanks for the post!

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