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French Lemon Tart | Tarte au Citron

Tarte au Citron – a classic French Lemon Tart with a tangy yet sweet creamy custard in a buttery crisp pastry. It’s the best Lemon tart and deceptively easy to make.

Simply whisk together your filling ingredients, pour the mixture into a sweet pastry case and bake. Et voila, a delicious easy lemon tart worthy of any bakery window.

You’ll find Tarte au Citron on the menu in restaurants and bistros and adorning pâtisserie window displays all over France.

Lemon tart served on a slate with lemon slices and strawberries.

A classic French dessert with its creamy egg custard filling complemented by just the right amount of fresh lemon sharpness.

It is not a lemon curd tart and you won’t find a meringue topping, lately I have seen some meringue versions. But for me, meringue spoils the delicious combination of tanginess and sweetness which make a classic French lemon tart.

I love recreating classic French tarts at home. Home cooked versions may not always be quite as elegant as professional bakes but they can be just as enjoyable.

A slice of tart with the rest of the tart in the background.


My pâte sucrée recipe is my favourite sweet shortcrust pastry to use in tarts. It’s much easier to make than regular shortcrust and easier to handle.

There’s no worry of a leaky tart as holes or tears can be patched when you line your tart case. The crisp buttery pastry has a texture similar to shortbread and this texture is retained when the pastry is chilled. This makes it ideal for tarts which are stored and served cold.

A whole decorated tart with a slice cut out.


The simple lemon custard filling is poured into the part baked tart case and baked. The recipe makes one large lemon tart or eight mini tarte au citron.


The fresh lemon filling and buttery crisp pastry of French Lemon Tart | Tarte au Citron combine to provide a perfect end to a meal. Serve the tart on its own or add a few summer berries.

A decorated lemon pie with one piece cut.


Most of our Summer guests at the Kitchen Shed request lemon tartlets and strawberry tarts are included on the menu.

What equipment do I need ?

  • I use my KitchenAid to cream the butter and sugar together for the pastry. You could just as easily use a wooden spoon or spatula if mixing by hand.
  • Baking beans / pie weights to weigh down the pastry on its first bake. You can also use rice, dried peas, dried beans or lentils.
  • 25 cm / 10 inch fluted, loose bottomed tart tin or 8 x 9cm / 3 ½ inch individual tart tins. A removable base is important as you want to be able to get your tart out in one piece.
  • Whisk – I use a hand whisk to mix the lemon custard but use a handheld mixer if you wish.
  • Large mixing bowl

What ingredients do I need ?

Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients

Flour, butter, ground almonds, icing sugar, salt and egg on a work top.
  • Butter – salted butter at room temperature. If you use unsalted butter, add a ½  teaspoon of salt.
  • Icing sugar / confectioner’s sugar – icing sugar works best because it more easily dissolves into the pastry.
  • A large egg – I’ve used the whole egg.
  • Ground almonds / almond meal – this adds a lovely nutty flavour to the pastry. If you prefer you can substitute with plain flour.
  • Plain flour / all purpose flour

Creamy Lemon Custard Filling Ingredients

Eggs, sugar, butter, cream and lemons on a work surface.
  • Eggs – essential for making the custard set with just the right amount of wobble. I used large eggs.
  • Caster sugar / superfine sugar – I use white caster sugar, as it dissolves more easily.
  • Double cream / heavy cream – double cream contains 48 % milk fat which gives the lemon custard its rich creamy texture.
  • Lemons – I use the lemon zest and juice. You will need 2 large or 3 small lemons.
  • Salted butter – I like to use salted butter because it has a longer shelf life than unsalted butter. If you use unsalted butter, add a ½  teaspoon of salt. The melted butter adds an extra richness to the custard.
  • Icing sugar / confectioner’s sugar – entirely optional whether you dust your tart or not.

How to make French Lemon Tart | Tarte au Citron

Make the Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Case

Pâte sucrée is easy to make and work with. You don’t even have to roll it out if you don’t want too. Small pieces of the soft pastry can be pressed together into your tart tin with no worries of leaky tarts.

Mixing pastry in a KitchenAid.
  • In a stand mixer, use a paddle attachment at medium speed to cream the softened butter, salt and icing sugar.
  • Add the egg with half of the flour and mix on a slow speed until the flour is incorporated.
  • Remove the bowl from the machine and add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Bring the pastry together and mix by hand – keep handling to a minimum.
  • Cover with cling film or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can leave it in the fridge for up to a couple of hours.
Mixing pastry by hand.
  • Prepare your tart tin and roll out the pastry into a circle large enough to fully line the tin.
  • The pastry should be about the thickness of a £1 coin (3 mm / ⅛ inch)
Pastry being rolled out and a coin to show the thickness of pastry.
  • Carefully line your tin, gently pressing the pastry into the “corners”, sides and edges. Try not to stretch the pastry and patch any cracks you might make.
  • Trim off any excess pastry, leaving the sides slightly higher than the tin in case of shrinkage.
  • Prick the bottom of the case with a fork and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  • Line your pastry case with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.
Showing how to line pastry in a tart tin.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the parchment and beans and bake again for 10 minutes.
  • After removing your baked pastry case turn down your oven to: 180℃ / 160℃ / 350℉ / Gas Mark 4
Blind baking pastry using baking beans in the oven.

Make the Lemon Custard Tart Filling

Juice and zest of a lemon on a board with a bowl of whisked eggs and sugar.
  • Whisk the eggs, sugar and double cream together until blended.
  • Add lemon juice and zest and whisk again.
  • Lastly, whisk in the melted butter.
Making lemon custard in a large mixing bowl.

Bake your French Lemon Tart

  • Carefully pour the lemon filling into the pastry lined tart tin. I find it much easier to fill the tart case while it is on the slide out oven shelf. For me this saves the inevitable spilling of custard whilst transferring from work top to oven.
Pouring lemon custard into a tart case in the oven.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until set. The cooked tart should still have a bit of a wobble in the middle.
  • Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
  • Dust with a little icing sugar before serving and decorate with summer berries.

Make Individual Lemon Tartlets

  • Line eight 9 cm / 3 ½ inch individual tart tins with pastry.
  • Prick the bottom of the cases with a fork and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  • Line with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.
  • Place on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the parchment and beans and bake again for 6 minutes.
  • Lower the oven temperature.
Small tartlets filled with lemon custard.
  • Pour the lemon custard into each tart case and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Leave to cool before removing from the tins.
  • Serve just as they are or dust with a little icing sugar before serving.

How to serve French Lemon Tart | Tarte au Citron

Serve once cooled or keep your Tarte au Citron in the fridge until serving and cut into slices using a large sharp knife.

A slice of tarte au citron with lemon and strawberries.

French Lemon Tart | Tarte au Citron is delicious served as is but I like to add a few berries for a finishing touch. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries pair well with this lemon tart.
As an extra indulgence, we like to serve a slice of lemon tart with a dollop of homemade clotted cream.

How to store

French Lemon Tart is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze French Lemon Tart ?

The custard prevents the Lemon Tart from being ideally suited to freezing. However, if you want to get ahead, the raw pastry or tart shell does freeze well. Store the pastry double wrapped in cling film or the tart shell in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.

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A whole tart on a serving slate alongside oven shots of tart.
A whole decorated tart with a slice cut out.

French Lemon Tart | Tarte au Citron

Tarte au Citron – a classic French Lemon Tart with a tangy yet sweet creamy custard in a buttery crisp pastry. It's the best Lemon tart and deceptively easy to make. Simply whisk together your filling ingredients, pour the mixture into a sweet pastry case and bake. Et voila, a delicious easy lemon tart worthy of any bakery window.
5 from 46 votes
Print Pin Rate this Recipe Save Recipe
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 379kcal
Author: Sarah James

Equipment

  • 1 stand mixer – I used a KitchenAid or a large bowl and wooden spoon if mixing by hand
  • 1 large Pyrex mixing bowl
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 set of baking beans / pie weights or rice, dried peas, lentils, beans
  • 1 sheet baking parchment
  • 1 25 cm / 10 inch fluted, loose bottomed tart tin or 8 x 9cm / 3 ½ inch individual tart tins

Ingredients

Pâte Sucrée | Sweet Shortcrust pastry

  • 125 g softened salted butter cut into small cubes or use unsalted butter plus ½ tsp salt
  • 50 g icing sugar / confectioner's sugar 4 tablespoons
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g ground almonds / almond meal
  • 200 g plain flour / all purpose flour

Lemon Tart Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 225 g caster sugar / superfine sugar
  • 225 ml double cream / heavy cream
  • Zest and juice of 2 large lemons or 3 small
  • 75 g melted salted butter or use unsalted butter plus ½ tsp salt
  • Optional: icing sugar / confectioner’s sugar to dust

Instructions

Make your pastry:

  • In a stand mixer, use a paddle attachment at medium speed to cream the softened butter and icing sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy – this should take about 2 minutes.
  • Add egg and half of the flour. Mix on a slow speed until the flour is incorporated.
  • Remove the bowl from the machine before adding the ground almonds and the remainder of the flour.
  • Bring the pastry together and mix by hand but avoid overworking it.
  • Wrap your pastry with cling film / plastic wrap before refrigerating it for between 30 minutes and a couple of hours.
  • Grease 1 x 25cm (10 inch) loose bottomed flan tin or 8 x 9cm (3 ½ inch) individual tart tins.
  • Roll out your pastry between two sheets of baking parchment to prevent it from sticking to everything.
  • Make sure the pastry circle is appropriately sized for your flan tin. The circle needs to be a touch larger than the diameter of your flan tin plus twice the tin depth. Ideally, the pastry thickness should be about that of a £1 coin (3 mm / ⅛ inch.)
  • Carefully line your flan tin with pastry, gently pressing the pastry into the corners, sides and edges. Try not to stretch the pastry, patching any cracks that might appear.
  • Trim off excess pastry but leave the sides slightly higher than the flan tin in case of shrinkage.
  • Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork before popping in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  • Line your pastry case (or cases) with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans, rice or dried beans.

Bake your pastry case:

  • Preheat oven to 200℃ / 180℃ fan / 400℉ / Gas Mark 6
  • Large tart – 15 minutes
  • Individual tartlets – 10 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and carefully remove baking parchment and beans.
  • Pop pastry case back in the oven for 10 minutes (large tart) or 6 minutes (individual tarts)
  • Leave to cool.
  • After removing your baked pastry case or cases, turn down your oven to: 180℃ / 160℃ fan / 350℉ / Gas Mark 4

Make your lemon tart filling:

  • Whisk the eggs, sugar and double cream together until blended.
  • Add lemon juice and zest and whisk again.
  • Lastly, whisk in the melted butter.

Bake your Lemon Tart or Tartlets:

  • Carefully pour the lemon filling into the pastry filled tart tin. It’s much easier to fill the tart case while it is in the oven, saves the inevitable spilling of custard from work top to oven.
  • Bake the large tart for 40 to 45 minutes or 15 to 20 minutes for the tartlets until set. The tart should have a bit of a wobble in the middle.
  • Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
  • Dust with a little icing sugar before serving and decorate with summer berries.

Notes

  • Wrapped in cling film or plastic wrap your dough will store for up to 5 days in the the fridge or 3 months in the freeze. If frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using.
  • Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 951IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 2mg

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Recipe Rating




Debra Fernandes

Saturday 30th of July 2016

So tarts in the oven.....as so excited to taste them. A fantastic recipe as always from the shed. Just one question so I don't spoil it. How do I know when to take it from oven is there a sign as at the moment the centre seems still fluid?

sarahj

Sunday 31st of July 2016

Thanks Debbie, I bet I'm too late with an answer as I wasn't online last night. The best time to take the lemon tart out of the oven is when the centre still has a bit of a wobble as it will set on cooling. Don't worry though, I left a lemon tart in for too long the other week and it was still delicious. let me know how you got on x

Saz Marquis

Monday 29th of June 2015

Tarte au citron is my fave of all desserts and I never knew it was so simple (at least you make it sound so!) will definetely be giving this a go, thanks for sharing :)

sarahj

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

You're welcome Sarah, look forward to hearing how you get on, I'm sure you'll be making your own Tarte au Citron on a regular basis once you discover how easy it is to make :-)

Kat (The Baking Explorer)

Saturday 20th of June 2015

Simple and delicious! Thanks for entering into Treat Petite.

sarahj

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Thanks Kat & you're most welcome :-)

Becky, Cuddle Fairy

Friday 5th of June 2015

That looks amazing, I love lemon tart. I haven't mastered making pastry yet though. I don't put it into the fridge like you do so many that's where I'm going wrong. I will give this recipe a try! Thanks so much for linking up with #foodpornthursdays x

sarahj

Friday 5th of June 2015

Thanks Becky, putting the pastry in the fridge definitely helps the end result & is worth doing. A pleasure to link up with #FoodPornThursdays

Michelle Wallace

Friday 5th of June 2015

I saw the word lemon and had to click! Yum! This looks great. If I'm feeling ambitious this weekend I might have to try this out!

sarahj

Friday 5th of June 2015

Thanks Michelle. Let me know how you get on.